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Where to Watch Plays, Musicals and Other Live Performances in Minnesota

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State Theatre / Meet Minneapolis

Where to Watch Plays, Musicals and Other Live Performances in Minnesota

By Amy Rea

Minnesota has an incredibly strong performing arts community. Venues range from venerable institutions to community-oriented startups and summer stock theaters. At just about any time of the year, people can find noteworthy performances, including touring Broadway shows, locally written and produced dramas, concerts from regional and international musicians, modern and traditional dance routines, and standup routines from rising and reputable comedians.

Here's an overview of essential live settings throughout the state, along with some key programming in the current and upcoming arts season.

The Amber Box at Guthrie Theater

The "Amber Box" at Guthrie Theatre  / Bonnie Fechter

Minneapolis

The Guthrie Theater

A world-class theater that’s well-known across the country, the Guthrie will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2023. It was originally part of theWalker Art Center complex but moved into its own building on the Mississippi River in 2006. Its dramatic Jean Nouvel design is worth visiting for its widescreen views of the river and Stone Arch Bridge, along with multiple theaters that allow the company latitude to stage a wide range of works, from classics to comedies to experimental theater.

Coming Up:

  • The Little Prince (Dec. 10-Feb. 5), based on the beloved Antoine de Saint-Exupéry book.
  • Blues for an Alabama Sky (Jan. 28-Mar. 12), a character drama set in Depression-era Harlem by African American playwright Pearl Cleage.
Exterior of the Orpheum Theater in downtown Minneapolis

The grandiose Orpheum Theater in downtown Minneapolis was once owned by Bob Dylan

Hennepin Theatre Trust

The Trust is comprised of three historic venues: the OrpheumState and Pantages theaters. Together, they showcase touring Broadway troupes, a wide range of musical acts, and side-splitting comedy shows.

Coming Up at the Orpheum Theatre:

  • Hairspray (Jan. 10-15), a Tony-winning musical fully endorsed by film director John Waters>
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Feb. 14-19), based on the classic Harper Lee novel, with Richard Thomas in the lead role of Atticus Finch.

Coming Up at the State Theatre:

Members of the Minnesota Orchestra playing

Minnesota Orchestra / Travis Anderson

Orchestra Hall

Orchestra Hall is home to the internationally renowned Minnesota Orchestra, which performs classical and contemporary pieces, often with such genre-jumping guest stars as Minneapolis’s own Dessa and the St. Cloud-based indie band Cloud Cult.

Coming Up:

The Cowles Center

The Cowles Center

The Cowles Center

The Cowles Center focuses on dance in its myriad forms — everything from classical to international to modern.

Coming up:

Exterior of Brave New Workshop comedy theatre

Brave New Workshop is the state's oldest improv theatre / Meet Minneapolis

Brave New Workshop

This comedic improv and sketch comedy theater has been a heavyweight in the Twin Cities for decades with its irreverent, hilarious takes on current events. Troupe alums include former Saturday Night Live star Al Franken and The Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead.

Coming Up:

Dancer Amanda del Valle of Ballet Hispanico

Dancer Amanda del Valle of Ballet Hispanico / Rachel Neville

Northrop

This beautiful, historic building on the University of Minnesota’s East Bank promotes all manner of live performances, from dance to comedy to music.

Coming Up:

  • Joffrey Ballet (Jan. 20-21), bringing three works: George Balanchine’s Serenade, Justin Peck’s “sneaker ballet” and a dance performance inspired by Of Mice and Men and commissioned by the Northrop Centennial Commission.
  • Ballet Hispanico’s Dona Peron (Feb. 25), with Latinx choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa channeling the controversial legacy of Eva Peron.
Theatre in the Round, Minneapolis

Theatre in the Round  / Annie Wang, Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

Theatre in the Round

Minneapolis’ longest-running theater has the unique attribute of having a stage in the middle of its main room surrounded by viewers. It is also one of the state’s oldest community theaters, with a season that’s split between classic and contemporary plays.

Coming Up:

  • The Book Club Play (Jan. 27-Feb. 19), a comedy about a book club being filmed for a documentary when their intimate discussions go awry.
  • Eurydice (March 10-April 2), a reimagining of the tale of Odysseus through the eyes of Eurydice.
A dance performance at the Ordway in St. Paul

A dance performance at the Ordway in St. Paul  / Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

St. Paul

The Ordway

St. Paul’s jewel of a performance space is beautifully located across from Rice Park and the St. Paul Hotel. It is home to the Minnesota Opera and hosts Broadway tours, concerts and dance performances.

Coming Up:

Duluth Entertainment Convention Center

Duluth Entertainment Convention Center 

Duluth

Duluth Entertainment Convention Center

This beautiful convention center houses ballrooms and a concert hall that showcases the local symphony and touring Minnesota Ballet.

Coming Up:

The Mayo Civic Center in Rochester

Mayo Civic Center / Dean Riggott Photography

Rochester

Mayo Civic Center

The home of the Rochester Civic Theatre Company has both performance and exhibit spaces within its 120,000-square-foot space, a major stop for touring musicians and live events in Southern Minnesota.

Coming Up:

  • Styx (March 18), the classic rock band known for such everlasting singles as "Come Sail Away".
Amy Rea

Amy Rea is the author of several Minnesota guidebooks and writes about Minnesota food for Heavy Table. She grew up in northern Minnesota and now makes her home in the Twin Cities.