Two great theaters in one week

We saw two great shows (a play and a movie) at two very different Minneapolis theaters last week —King Lear at the Guthrie and Manchester by the Sea at the Riverview.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are known as a good cities for live theater, for several reasons. There are many smaller companies around town that have managed to thrive (or at least survive), and several renovated classic old theater buildings that bring in Broadway shows and such. But the Guthrie is the big daddy – it has the name, the reputation, and the history. While some may not like the relatively new (10 years) home as much as the old one, and while some may have other reasons for staying away, the Guthrie Theater continues to be a regional — and national — force in the theater world.

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The (new) Guthrie Theater had just been built when I shot this photo (June, 2006) from under the Stone Arch Bridge. It was designed by architect Jean Nouvel to make the most of (and fit into) an industrial site amid the old flour mills on the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. You can see its big, blue, protruding observation deck jutting toward the river.

This was my first King Lear, and I was enthralled by the whole production. (and the less-than-half-priced rush line tickets in the 6th row didn’t hurt.) It was a wonderful night, with the Guthrie doing what it does best.

An article in today’s paper says that attendance at the Guthrie is up this year, under the leadership of new artistic Director Joseph Haj.  But on Thursday evening, there were plenty of seats available.  So join the “Rush Club”, go on a week night, and get good seats at a deep discount.

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A bar at the Guthrie is dramatically lit — and gives a terrific views of the Mississippi River. The ghost-like projected figures of playwrights show up in unexpected places all around.

On the other hand, the Twin Cities have not been so kind to our movie theaters. St. Paul only has two operating movie houses within its city limits, and Minneapolis only has a handful. But one of them is a gem, and fortunately, not too far from home for us.

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Planning for the Riverview started a decade earlier than its late-1948 opening, but construction was delayed by WWII.

 

The Riverview Theater is a mid-century modern beauty that has managed to stay open for nearly 7 decades in a quiet neighborhood at the corner of 38th St. and 42nd Ave. South in Minneapolis. Just as with every American city, there used to be many neighborhood movie theaters, but most are gone now.

Any baby-boomer who walks through the Riverview’s lobby will feel nostalgic.  The colors, the furniture, lights, shapes, lines all remind us of what the world looked like when we were kids.

How do they do it, you ask? How have they survived when so many have failed?  A loyal following of regulars, yes.  An attention to preserving the mood and style of the time, yes. But here’s an idea for a business model for you:

  1. Show 3 or 4 different movies each day (one screening each) — some big names, some lesser known films or indies.
  2. Charge a small amount per ticket ($3.00 . . . and $2.00 for seniors!!!!!!!) and get very large crowds who buy lots of not-overpriced popcorn and other stuff. This place has a lot of seats, and they often fill most of them.

It’s one of those “so crazy it just might work” kind of plans. And it does work.

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So, with two memorable theater experiences, a visit from the grandkids, and 5 more weekdays of being old enough to not have to go to work, life was pretty good last week. Continuing my Photo-a-Day project (for 10 weeks now), here’s a snapshot from each day of the week.

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(3/5/17) Fun with static electricity

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(3/6/17) Apparently we’re not in a drought this spring, even with the lack of snow. Lake Nokomis is overflowing its banks in some places, making for some unexpected reflections (and wet shoes).

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(3/7/17) One more picture from the Riverview Theater.  Have you ever seen a cooler entrance to theater bathrooms?

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(3/8/17) Karen made these colorful ladies quite a few years ago out of scrap materials from re-siding her house. They used to be the “Swamp Girls”, living in the wetland behind her back yard.  When she sold the house two years ago, we moved to a rental house and because she wasn’t sure where we’d eventually land, she gave them to her friend Judy.  When we bought this house last spring, Judy thought they would look great in our back yard — and she was right. They are, from left to right – Kayci, Karen, and Karen’s Mom, each one holding a birdhouse or bird feeder.

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(3/9/17) The windows in the Guthrie Theater’s bridge to nowhere provide some interesting views. Glass enclosures around the openings give funhouse-style looks at the surrounding area. The upside down sign is the iconic “Gold Metal Flour” sign from the top of the grain elevator.

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(3/10/17) My neighborhood coffee shop, “Sovereign Grounds”.

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(3/11/17) Minnehaha Creek, downstream from the falls.