Since its 1974 stage debut, “The Wiz” has been credited with taking a favorite children’s book from 1900 and refashioning it in the context of African-American style — and bringing soul music to Broadway. The Tony Award-winning musical’s legacy continues with a star-studded revival in Minneapolis co-presented by Children’s Theatre Company and Penumbra Theatre, the leading African-American theater company in the country. Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with book by William F. Brown, “The Wiz” follows Dorothy and her friends as they ease on down the road to a mixture of rock, gospel and soul music. The local production features an all-star cast starring “American Idol” finalist Paris Bennett as Dorothy, direction by Penumbra founder Lou Bellamy, lively choreography by Patdro Harris and costume design by Guthrie Theater veteran Mathew LeFebvre.
When: Jan. 23–March 18
Where: Children’s Theatre Company, 2400 3rd Ave. S.
“Ishmael” is adapted from the Herman Melville classic, “Moby Dick” by Hollywood producer-actor-director Leo Geter, who returns to his theater roots to direct this Jungle Theater production of a 2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival hit. The first of the Jungle Theater’s pair of innovative plays combinining a theatrical performance with live music, the story follows a country schoolteacher named Ishmael after he signs on to a whaling trip with a captain he’s never met. Three musicians, including members of popular Twin Cities bluegrass band Pert Near Sandstone, accompany “shape-shifting” actor Jack Weston, who stars as Ishmael. Together, members of the quartet bring to life an amusing, thoughtful and harrowing story of one man’s quest to see the world.
When: Jan. 13–Feb. 4 (previews Jan. 11 and 12)
Where: Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave. S.
Cost: $32–$47 ($15 previews)
‘Fuse / Surprise Party’
Themes of memories and perspective rendered in colorful abstractions are at the center of “Fuse / Surprise Party,” a pair of exhibits of new work by Minneapolis artists Tara Costello and Ashely Peifer. In “Fuse,” Costello’s abstract landscape paintings made from Venetian plaster use varying textures to explore shifts in perspective and evoke energy, emotion and memory. The mixed-media paintings of Peifer’s “Surprise Party” combine paper, panel and shaped plywood to explore the distortion of memory over time and nostalgia, translating it into colorful, expressive patterns and graphic forms.
When: On view through Jan. 28; public reception Saturday, Jan. 13, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
Where: Rosalux Gallery, 1400 Van Buren St. NE
Russ White: ‘Loose Change’
Before the advent of photography, coins and medals were a way of transmitting an image of a ruler more widely than any other medium and became an important way to assert power and influence. “Loose Change,” an exhibition of new colored pencil portraits by Minneapolis-based artist Russ White, reframes the concept of coin portraiture as a form of fine art. White lends his photo-realistic portraits a modern edge through his use of variety of vibrant color palettes, a larger-than-life scale and his choice of subjects. Instead of showcasing presidents and dignitaries, the portraits depict everyday people from many walks of life to show the beauty in the individual and our shared humanity. With its combination of realistic style and contemporary colors, the works of “Loose Change” feel both classic and of-the-time.
When: Jan. 11–Feb. 11; opening reception Thursday, Jan. 11, 6 p.m.–8 p.m. Artist talk: Thursday, Jan. 25, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins
Each year, the American Swedish Institute explores a different theme through a series of exhibitions and programs. For 2018, it will explore the art of the handmade in “The Handmade,” a suite of programming that touches on themes such as identity, heritage and sustainability within the realm of handcrafted objects. It kicks off with “CraftBOWL,” an exhibition project that explores vessel design and craft traditions represented through a variety of handcraft mediums, spanning from wood to glass to ceramics, practiced in Sweden and around the world. The exhibition explores the work of three established Swedish masters, Jögge Sundqvist, Bertil Vallien and Swedish National Treasure Ingegerd Råman, delving into the artists’ respective philosophical approaches and reflections on Swedish culture.
The opening night party includes hands-on activities, craft demonstrations, food and drinks and a live performance by Sundqvist in which “wood, sweat and woodchips” mix with rock ‘n’ roll.
When: Jan. 19–April 8; opening night party Friday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m.–10 p.m.
Where: American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
Cost: $10 museum admission (discounts available); $15–$20 for opening night party
The Great Northern
Last year, several of Minnesota’s signature winter events joined forces to create the Great Northern, a collaboration that encompasses the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships and the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival. For the 2018 event, the festival coincides with the Super Bowl LII, which will take place at the U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4. Here’s what to expect during those chilly two weeks.
When: Jan. 25–Feb. 4
Where: Across Minneapolis & St. Paul
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
The history of the ice castle in Minnesota dates back to 1886, when the first Saint Paul Winter Carnival ice palace was built, created from blocks of ice from the Mississippi River and Lake Como. For this year’s carnival, the ice palace returns for the first time since 2004 with a 70-foot version in Rice Park made out of 4,000 blocks of ice. The festival also features parades, ice carving and snow sculpting competitions, a giant snow slide, barstool ski races and more.
When: Jan. 25–Feb. 10
Where: Various locations in St. Paul
Cost: Free for most events
City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival
Since it was founded by a small group of local skiers in 2002, the Loppet Foundation has brought Minnesotans together around a shared love of the outdoors. What started as a single ski race has grown to a full-blown winter festival featuring cross-country ski events, ice installations, snow sculpting contests, dog sledding, snowshoeing and winter bike races.
When: Jan. 27–Jan. 28 and Feb. 3–Feb. 4
Where: Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis
Cost: Free to attend, registration required for competitions
U.S. Pond Hockey Championships
This annual tournament capitalizes on Minnesota’s hockey heritage, gathering hockey enthusiasts from all over North America — many with pro and college hockey bona fides — to celebrate their love of the game in makeshift rinks on a frozen Minneapolis lake.
When: Jan. 25–Jan. 28
Where: Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis
Cost: Free to attend, registration required to participate