Best Places to See Performing Arts and Drag Shows in Minneapolis
Sit back, relax (or participate) during a theater performance or drag show at these Minneapolis gay- and queer-friendly venues.
Article By Brett Burger
The Twin Cities is an extremely vibrant place when it comes to the arts. While many believe we are just known for our cold winters and tater tot hotdish (yes, hotdish and not casserole), we are actually known for having one of the biggest theatre scenes next to New York and Chicago. However that extends into so many other forms of artistry and performance. When I’m not working my main job, I actually am an arts and entertainment writer so you know I’ve got my finger on the pulse for some of the best places to see the highest quality of shows.
Orchestra Hall originally opened in 1974 and features a large variety of concerts during the year. Now I know what you’re thinking, classical music? Maybe it’s not for you and that’s ok because Orchestra Hall doesn’t play just that. They often will put on Film Concerts where audience members will watch a movie but with the live orchestrations being played. These movies range from your favorite Disney classics to the magical world of Harry Potter. Let me say you don’t know how epic it is watching Star Wars until you hear a live orchestra playing the Imperial March right in front of you.
Orchestra Hall is also the premiere spot in the Twin Cities to see concerts by some of your favorite Broadway singers. A few years ago I saw Leslie Odom Jr., yes from Hamilton, perform a concert and it was one of the best experiences I’d ever had there!
One of my personal favorite theatres in Minneapolis is located right off Lyndale in the incredible Uptown neighborhood. The Jungle Theater focuses primarily on telling stories that matter, with deep care and attention to detail. Last year I saw A Doll’s House, Part II and it remains today to be one of my favorite local performances I’ve ever seen. In my mind, great theater is not only there to entertain but also help challenge societal views and spark a conversation on challenging topics which the Jungle does flawlessly.
Don’t take my word for it, check out the numerous awards they’ve won over the years. They clearly know what they are doing. Tickets for the intimate 150-seat theater typically run between $40 - $50 which is a steal for the quality and caliber that these performances are. Before or after you go to a show, check out Lynlake Brewery located directly across the street!
LOCAL TIP: The Jungle Theater is right off of the busy Lyndale ave which means parking can be a bit of a pain. There is a lot behind the theater you can pay. If you’re looking for free street parking, there is plenty around and you can take a nice stroll, weather permitting of course.
Recently celebrating their 40th season, the Twin Cities Gay Mens Chorus is one of the largest LGBTQ+ arts organizations in Minnesota. Through the power of music and inclusivity, they continue to confront homophobia and intolerance so that they can affect positive social change. Not to mention they are just fantastic. TCGMC performs all across the state and has such a wide array of programming. Be sure to stay up to date on their calendar by visiting their website. You can also buy their music to bring the concert straight to you by purchasing their music online!
The Drag Brunches that are usually hosted on Union Rooftop and produced by Flip Phone Events have quickly grown to be a queer staple in Minneapolis. These brunches have also expanded to Crave, The LynHall and more. There is a wide variety of themes from specific artists to pop culture moments and even TV shows. They’ve done everything from Disney Villians to Schitt’s Creek. Yup, that’s right. Ever wanted to enjoy your breakfast with Moira Rose giving her infamous fruit wine monologue because you totally can. Be sure to bring some singles to tip these hardworking, creative and entertaining drag queens. Queens that make reappearing performances include, but are not limited to, RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants Utica and Mercedes Iman Diamond, Julia Starr, and Tygra.
These events typically sell out, sometimes within hours of going on sale. Tickets can be purchased here. Their brunches often help raise money as well for OutFront Minneosta which is a local nonprofit committed to providing LGBTQ excellence and advocacy work for MN.
So You Think You Can Drag?
Wednesdays at the Gay 90’s
Hosted by the hilarious Alotta Shots, this amazing talent show is hosted at the Gay 90’s every Wednesday. It’s an open stage contest is open to all drag artists and experiences and often includes guest appearances by other established artists. Many of the largest drag queens in the city got their start at the historic Gay 90’s and in competitions just like this. Bring your friends, grab a drink, laugh a lot and enjoy these fantastic performances.
Owning the State, Orpheum and Pantages theatre along Hennepin Ave, Hennepin Theatre Trust helps bring Broadway to the Twin Cities. Every year they bring an incredible line up of touring Tony-award winning Broadway shows like Wicked, Dear Evan Hansen, The Book of Mormon, Hamilton and more. HTT also brings a lot of standup performances to the State and Pantages theater specifically including Chelsea Handler, Ali Wong and the hilarious Kathy Griffin.
After you’re done seeing a show at any one of these historic theatres, the Saloon is just a short walk away for you to enjoy in some more quality entertainment, drink and a late night snack. Try the chicken fingers, you’ll thank me later.
About the Author
Brett Burger is a freelance writer, based in the Twin Cities, covering entertainment, arts and theatre. His writing can be found both locally and nationally including Mpls. St. Paul Magazine, Lavender, Broadway World and a variety of other publications. When he’s not writing, he is endlessly scrolling through instagram looking at various golden retriever photos. Brett can be found on Twitter at @BrettDBurger, Instagram at @BrettBurger or through his website at www.BrettBurger.com.