With more theater seats per capita than any U.S. city outside New York, Minneapolis is a culturally progressive city that takes a commanding lead in the national arts scene. A marquee theater destination, Minneapolis Saint Paul is home to 75 professional theater groups and more than 30 performance venues.
The glittering Hennepin Theatre District is home to the opulent State, Orpheum, Pantages and New Century theaters and the country’s oldest satirical theater, Brave New Workshop. Broadway shows, headliners and home-grown shows fill the marquees. In fact, big-name shows like “The Lion King,” “Victor/Victoria,” and “Sweet Charity” made their debuts in Minneapolis before heading to Broadway. Classics like “Hamlet” grace the stage of the globally renowned Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theater. From cabaret to storytelling, unique playhouses like the Illusion Theater, The Lab Theater and the Southern Theater also add flavor to the downtown scene. The sparkling Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts rounds out the scene.
Brimming with bohemian coffee shops and topical theater, the Uptown and Lyn-Lake neighborhoods of Minneapolis are always abuzz. In Uptown, Brave New Workshop Student Union draws laughs from audience members of all ages. Uptown’s edgy cousin, Lyn-Lake, is home to the Jungle Theater, which is set among a cluster of fabulous ethnic eateries. Just blocks away, funky hangout Bryant-Lake Bowl features an old-school bowling alley and an offbeat 99-seat theater.
The Dinkytown and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods cater largely to the young urban college crowd with hot spots like the Mixed Blood Theatre, promoting cultural pluralism, and Theatre in the Round, the state’s oldest community theater, featuring a unique arena stage for classic productions. The Varsity Theater and Rarig Center at the University of Minnesota are popular spots for live music and theater.
In Saint Paul, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts hosts Broadway hits and also is home to the Minnesota Opera and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Minnesota Public Radio fans can look on as Garrison Keillor broadcasts “A Prairie Home Companion” live from the Fitzgerald Theater, named after the famous Minnesotan, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
WORTH THE DRIVE
Nestled on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, the city of Excelsior is home to the country’s oldest continuously running theater, Old Log Theater. Prince fans may want to take a drive by Paisley Park on the way to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres where three stages feature musicals and comedy improv as the largest Equity dinner theater in the U.S.
FOR THE KIDS
The only theater for young people to ever win a Tony Award, Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) produces first-rate performances that delight audiences of all ages. Time magazine named CTC the top theater in the country for kids.
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in South Minneapolis uses various forms of puppetry inspired by cultures around the world to tell its stories, while the Stages Theatre Company brings children’s literature to life.
DID YOU KNOW?
>>> Minneapolis is home to the largest non-juried theater festival in the U.S. – the Minnesota Fringe Festival. The annual festival packs theaters across the city every August. It’s the ideal time for lovers of the stage to experience the city’s diverse theater scene risk-free – each show is just one hour and only $12 plus a festival button. Bonus: Your festival button gets you discounts all year long!
>>> Minneapolis-Saint Paul is home to 75 professional theater companies.
>>> American Style ranked Minneapolis amond the 10 best mid-sized art cities.