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NEWS: Ordway Announces 2019-2020 Season

A groundhog, an animal whose mid-winter emergence is immortalized in the 1993 film Groundhog Day – one of several famous films whose musical versions will be appearing at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul in 2019-2020. Photo by Linnaea Mallette.

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts announced its 2019-2020 season on Tuesday night. The season announcement party included vocal performances by Sierra Boggess and Rajané Katurah Brown, as well as a tap performance by Jared Grimes with Maddie Hilligoss and Krysti Wiita.

The six shows on the Ordway’s new season are:

  • Smokey Joe’s Cafe (September 9-22, 2019), Ordway Original
  • The New One (October 17-19, 2019),
  • Ever After (December 3-29, 2019), Ordway Original
  • Once on this Island, (February 4-9, 2020)
  • The Color Purple (March 31-April 5, 2020), and
  • Groundhog Day (July 21-Aug. 9, 2020). Ordway Original

Coming up first in September is Smokey Joe’s Cafe, a long-running Broadway musical revue that was recently relaunched in New York City. In October comes Mike Birbiglia’s celebrated solo play/comedy show The New One, a send-up and tell-all about the travails of parenting. Rajané Brown of Sounds of Blackness gave audiences a taste of “Hound Dog”, one of many classics collected in the revue.

December brings a month-long run of Ever After, a musical adaptation of the 1998 alternative Cinderella film of the same name. Written by Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler, the musical just finished a February run at Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Sierra Boggess, who starred as Danielle de Barbarac in the Alliance production, was on-hand at the announcement party to sing “I Remember” and “”Who Needs Love” from the show.

Come February comes the touring production of Once on this Island, an early-1990s cult classic musical with a recent reimagined production on Broadway. This tale of race, class, and African mythology colliding in a postcolonial Caribbean is filled with Caribbean rhythms and distinctively beautiful songs such as the duet “Forever Yours” and the effusive, clever “Waiting for Life”. Well before Ragtime, this is the show that made Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty famous and praised.

April is said to be the cruelest month, to which Minnesotans looking at March just point at the snowdrifts still outside. The Ordway’s answer is to end March with the national tour of The Color Purple. This 2005 Broadway hit features a book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, and adapts Alice Walker’s celebrated 1982 novel about an African American woman growing up in the American South. The score draws on blues, ragtime, gospel, and jazz; a recent Broadway production walked away with the 2016 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.

Rounding out the season is Danny Rubin and Tim Minchin’s musical Groundhog Day, another film-to-stage adaptation. The pair previously worked together on Matilda the Musical, and took up Groundhog Day‘s banner after Stephen Sondheim decided he had nothing to add to the film. The show enjoyed a celebrated limited run in London in 2016, winning an Olivier Award for Best New Musical, but had a lukewarm reception on Broadway the following year. It was nominated for seven Tony Awards in a competitive season, losing out to Dear Evan Hansen for Best Musical.

Twin Cities Arts Reader