Dig Deeper – Results from Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays!

April 16th, 2014 No comments »

Thanks to all of you that came out to see The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) at Lyric Arts Main Street Stage and voted for who YOU think wrote Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Henry V, Midsummer Night’s Dream and all the rest!  Over the past 200 years over 80 different authorship candidates and groups of people have been proposed as the “true” Bard.  We offered up just a few choices and here are the results…

In last place, with 28 votes:  Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, patron of the Blackfriars Theatre.

4th place, with 30 votes:  Plays by Committee and Other Nominations Category, which included Queen Elizabeth I, Miguel de Cervantes, and Sheik Zubayr bin William.

3rd place, with 33 votes:  Sir Francis Bacon, philosopher & scientist

2nd place, with 65 votes:  Christopher Marlowe, poet & dramatist, pioneer of Elizabethan blank verse

1st place, with 150 votes:  The Man From Stratford, William Shakespeare!

Click here to find out more about the Authorship Question from the Royal Shakespeare Company and thanks to everyone for playing!



Drumroll, please! It’s our 2014-2015 season!

April 15th, 2014 2 comments »

Last night we unveiled our 2014-2015 season, and we couldn’t be more excited! Keep an eye out for more information coming soon about season tickets and more, here on our website and on our Facebook page. We’ve got big things in store and we can’t wait to move forward with you!


September 2014: The Glass Menagerie

by Tennessee Williams
In this shattering classic, an aging Southern Belle longs for her youth and dreams of a better life for her children. Her restless son Tom—a would-be poet and the story’s narrator—gets swept up in his mother’s funny and heartbreaking schemes to find his painfully shy sister, Laura, a husband.

This four-character memory play—one of the most beautiful dramas in American theater—premiered in 1944 and catapulted Tennessee Williams from obscurity to fame.

This production will be directed by Resident Director Scott Ford.


October 2014: Young Frankenstein

Book by Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan; music & lyrics by Mel Brooks
This hilarious musical comedy is a wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Frankenstein legend based on Mel Brooks’ film masterpiece, hailed by the American Film Institute as one of the funniest movies of all time.

The story follows bright, young Dr. Frankenstein as he aims to fulfill his grandfather’s legacy by bringing a corpse back to life. With help and hindrance from servant Igoe, buxom lab assistant Inga, and needy fiancée Elizabeth, his experiment yields success and unexpected consequences.


Christmas 2014: A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas

Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, book by Mike Ockrent & Lynn Ahrens. Based on the story by Charles Dickens
This theatrical and spirited version of A Christmas Carol puts the fantastic qualities of Dickens’ classic tale center stage. A swirling, dancing chorus of ghosts weaves through this uplifting holiday story of redemption, magic, and hope.

This faithful, loving, and brilliantly re-imagined Christmas Carol is, at turns, scary, delightful, dazzling, and laugh-out-loud-funny.


December “Mainly for Kids” 2014: Beauty and the Beast

By Mike Kenny; based on the book by LePrince de Beaumont
This adaptation of the classic fairy tale was originally produced by England’s Oxford Touring Theatre in 2005 and is a refreshing, funny new twist on a classic tale.

Beauty is a spoiled girl who has never had to work. To teach her a lesson, her fairy Godmother creates a series of challenges for Beauty that ultimately traps her in the estate of the Beast. It is when Beast releases Beauty that she realizes she loves him, and returns to Beast’s castle just in time to save him from death. It is a story of self-realization that will make you think, feel, and chuckle.


January 2015: Blithe Spirit

by Noël Coward
While doing research for his new novel, the fussy and cantankerous Charles Condomine invites the implausible medium Madame Arcati to his house for a séance.

Whilst consumed in a trance, Madame Arcati unwittingly summons the ghost of Charles’ dead wife Elvira. Appearing only to Charles, Elvira soon makes a play to reclaim her husband, much to the chagrin of his new wife, Ruth.

Blithe Spirit is one of Coward’s most sparkling comedies and the funniest ghost story ever written.

This show will be directed by Resident Director Bob Neu


Spring 2015: Into the Woods

Book by James Lapine, music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
A rare modern classic, Into the Woods follows Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack—of beanstalk fame—and a baker and his wife, as they take a journey into the woods to make their wishes come true.

It’s a magical, bewildering place full of witches, wolves, giants and mysterious strangers, where familiar fairy tales get tangled up together. Wishes are granted here, but at a price.

Even storybook characters must face the music—of which there is plenty—in Sondheim and Lapine’s irreverent and beloved Tony Award–winner.


April 2015: Good People

by David Lindsay Abaire
In South Boston, this month’s paycheck covers last month’s bills, bingo is a night on the town, and tough, sharp-tongued single-mom Margie Walsh has just been let go from yet another job. Scrambling to make ends meet, she looks up an old flame—now a successful doctor—and risks everything in the hope he’ll help her make a fresh start.

An insightful comedy of class and culture, this recent Broadway hit about how the twists of fate determine our path is both darkly funny and surprisingly touching.


April “Mainly for Kids” 2015: Bunnicula

James & Deborah Howe, authors; Jon Klein, playwright; Chris Jeffries, composer
Chester the cat and Harold the dog are the best of pals. But, one dark and stormy night, their family comes home with a very strange baby rabbit who has sharp fangs instead of buck teeth, and who sleeps all day and prowls around his cage all night.

Meanwhile, all the vegetables in the house are drained of their color and turn white. Could this possibly be a coincidence, or could Bunnicula be a vampire? Chester thinks so – he’ll stop at nothing until he vanquishes the new arrival, even if it means the end of his friendship with Harold.


June 2015: Boeing Boeing

By Marc Camoletti, translated by Beverly Cross, revised by Francis Evans
It’s the 1960s, and swinging bachelor Bernard couldn’t be happier—he has a flat in Paris and three gorgeous stewardesses all engaged to him without knowing about each other. But Bernard’s perfect life gets bumpy when his friend Robert comes to stay and a new and speedier Boeing jet throws off all of his careful planning.

Soon all three stewardesses are in town simultaneously, timid Robert is forgetting which lies to tell to whom, and catastrophe looms. Boeing Boeing is a riotous farce and a hysterical whirlwind of mayhem.

This show will be directed by Resident Director Scott Ford.


Summer Musical 2015: Grease

Book, music & lyrics by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey
Danny and Sandy fall for each other during a carefree summer fling. But when the school year begins, Danny is torn between his feelings for good-girl Sandy and his image with the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies.

This simple and well-known plot is set against the backdrop of 1959, a pivotal moment in American history, when rock and roll was in its infancy and everything in American culture was about to be turned upside down.

At its heart, Grease is an unconventional and rebellious musical about America’s tumultuous crossing over from the 1950’s to the 1960′s—all fueled by cars, drive-in movies, and, more than anything, rock and roll.

Donations Are Rolling In!

April 14th, 2014 No comments »

We’re officially in preparation mode for the 15th Annual Cabaret Fundraiser, coming up on May 9th and 10th, 2014. May seems like a long way away with all the crazy weather we’ve been having, but now that it’s officially spring the time is flying by!

wine bottles

We wanted to give a quick update and remind everyone that tickets are on sale now online or by calling the box office at 763-422-1838.

We’re accepting donations through April 26th, and we’re still in need of bottles of wine for our fun wine drawing game! To play the game, guests make a $15 donation, and then choose a bottle of wine anonymously by number. Everyone who plays walks away with a nice bottle of wine worth at least $15, but some players will get even luckier and walk away with some expensive, delicious selections!

If you’d like to donate a bottle (or three) to this fun game, we would love to have your support. Did you know that just a $15 donation from one bottle of wine would buy activity books for a whole education workshop class? Ten bottles could buy new drills for our scene shop volunteers! If you’d like to make a contribution, you can drop off a donation at the box office during regular business hours, mail it to the theater (420 East Main Street, Anoka, MN 55303) or schedule a pickup by calling 763-422-1838.

We’ve received a lot of very generous silent auction donations – here’s a sneak peek of a few great items you could take home from the silent auction!

  • Keurig coffee maker
  • Nikon Coolpix camera
  • Bloody Mary drink supply basket
  • Beach supply basket
  • Herb garden supplies
  • Famous Dave’s barbecue kit
  • Liquor chiller refrigerated tap machine
  • Margarita supplies
  • Trendy, stylish purse and scarf combo from Jenson’s in downtown Anoka
  • Beautiful homemade scarves
  • Delicious Rainy Lake coffee supplies and mugs
  • Home decor items
  • And so much more!
herb garden basket beach basket Cabaret Bloody Mary Basket

Digging Deeper – Shakespeare Shorthand

April 9th, 2014 No comments »

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) was originally created by The Reduced Shakespeare Company.  They specialize in taking big ideas like Shakespeare, Comedy, and America and reducing, compressing, and distilling them in irreverent ways.  We found a website that does the same thing – with comics!  Here are some great examples of how Shakespeare’s beautiful, complex literature can be reduced to something you might read in your Sunday paper…  (All these and more provided by Mya Gosling at the io9 website.)


Macbeth ComicMidsummer


Cabaret, Cabaret, Cabaret: Meet the Emcees!

April 7th, 2014 No comments »

There’s always a lot going on at Lyric Arts, but now that spring has officially (we hope!) sprung, our planning for the 15th Annual Cabaret Fundraiser is in full swing!

Emcee Nick Menzhuber

As song choices and performers are being finalized, we don’t want to give away too much, but we can confirm the rumors that this year’s show will be emceed by none other than the amazing Tony Johnson and the fantastic Nick Menzhuber! These two will keep up the banter throughout the evening and have everyone in the audience rolling on the floor with laughter all night.

Emcee Tony Johnson

Audiences will recognize these two from past productions; Tony has emceed the Cabaret Fundraiser in the past, as well as performing in Picnic, DoubtMr. A’s Amazing Maze Plays, and more at Lyric Arts. Nick is currently acting in The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), and has been involved in five other plays at Lyric Arts, including The Laramie Project, Noises Off, and Little Shop of Horrors.

We’re also still looking for donations to make this event the very best it can be – our goal is to raise at least 200 bottles of wine for our fun wine game – and we only have a month to make it happen! Check out our donation page to see all the different ways that you can get involved.Stay tuned for more cast announcements and song hints as we get closer to the wonderful day, and don’t forget to reserve your tickets – table seating is still available!

Dig Deeper – Can You Name Every Shakespeare Play?

March 19th, 2014 No comments »

In our upcoming show, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), 3 actors perform all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 97 minutes!  Can you name them all?  See how many plays you recognize listed below and get your tickets now to see how our three actors achieve this monumental comedic feat!PremiereImage_Shakespeare

The Histories
Henry VI Part I, II, & III
Richard III
King John
Edward III
Richard II
Henry IV Part I & II
Henry V
Henry VIII

The Romances
The Winter’s Tale
The Tempest
The Two Noble Kinsmen

The Comedies
The Comedy of Errors
The Taming of the Shew
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Love’s Labour Lost
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Much Ado About Nothing
As You Like It
Twelfth Night
Troilus and Cresside
All’s Well That Ends Well
Measure for Measure

The Tragedies
Titus Andronicus
Romeo and Juliet
Julius Caesar
King Lear
Antony & Cleopatra
Timon of Athens

Dig Deeper – Costume and Character in Godspell

March 13th, 2014 No comments »

For the last 40 years, directors have been re-imagining the setting and characters for Godspell.  As a story about a modern community, the visual style of productions have shifted from decade to decade.  The show presents an interesting challenge:  to create characters that are clearly living in the present moment and to create a costume element or elements that provides a dramatic moment in which each characters joins the community of followers.  The most difficult challenge, as Stephen Schwartz describes below, is to create the illusion of everyday characters that could have walked in off the street but with very specific choices that illuminate character personalities and their individual dramatic arc.


Godspell Cast 2014
Lyric Arts Main Street Stage

The concept Don Scardino used in the Lamb’s Theatre revival, which was somewhat more relevant during the 80′s in New York City than it is now, was to start with the eight disciples as homeless people. So their garb continued the idea of “found clothing”, as if they selected items they found discarded or lying around. (Nevertheless, of course, these were actually carefully designed to reflect their characters, in the same way that the costumes the characters in CHORUS LINE wear, while appearing to be what they threw on to come to a dance call, are actually carefully designed from a characterization standpoint.) The point of the costumes in GODSPELL, whatever their style, should be that these eight people are replacing their daily clothes with something hastily put together which sets them apart from society and becomes an outward manifestation of their decision to follow the Jesus character. In the original production, the characters were never intended to be hippies, but rather to have chosen to put on bright, more colorful and slapdash raiment to match the sort of “contemporary clown” look that Jesus had.

Add the 15th Annual Cabaret Fundraiser to your Calendar!

March 11th, 2014 No comments »

On May 9 and 10, 2014, the Lyric Arts Main Street Stage will once again be transformed for their annual Cabaret Fundraiser. This year marks the 15th anniversary of this fun-filled event, where guests are treated to hors d’oeuvres and beverages, games, raffles, a silent auction, and a fantastic variety show!

Following past years’ successful themed shows, “Broadway Salute,” and “Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Musicals we Can’t Afford to Produce,” this year’s show will be more loosely themed, comprised of hit songs and dream roles that the actors have always wanted to perform. You’ll hear selections from your favorite Broadway shows, as well as numbers from classic musical movies and more! This year, the show will bring all your favorite Lyric Arts performers together and give them a chance to do what they love – put on a spectacular show full of numbers they’ve always dreamed of performing on stage, and all for a great cause!


The “Cabaret,” as it has come to be known, is the only annual fundraising event benefiting Lyric Arts Company of Anoka, a 501(c)(3) non-profit theater. This two-day fundraiser is a chance for the community to show their support of Lyric Arts, while at the same time enjoying some of the theater’s high quality entertainment. Managing Artistic Director, Laura Tahja Johnson commented, “I am amazed by Lyric Arts tremendous growth and how, almost 20 years later, Lyric Arts continues to grow. That growth is due, in no small part, to the astounding support we receive from this generous community.”

The fundraiser helps to support the many programs Lyric Arts offers to the community throughout the year. In addition to a full season of stage performances, Lyric Arts offers productions just for children, educational outreach programs, year-round theater education workshops, and intimate live music events as part of their “Music in the ‘Burbs” Concert Series. This year’s motto throughout the theater is ‘keep up the good work,’ as Lyric Arts strives to keep expanding and pushing their limits as an organization, bringing bigger and better shows to the stage in the same high quality fashion that their audiences have come to expect.

Tickets to Lyric Arts’ only fundraiser of the year include bottomless beverages, delicious hors d’oeuvres and appetizers from a variety of local vendors, and scrumptious desserts. Each year, the silent auction is packed with gift baskets and other items donated by local businesses, area performing arts organizations, and other Lyric Arts’ supporters. Some auction items sure to get bidding attention include wine baskets, artwork, fine jewelry, and weekend getaways.

Doors open for the 15th Annual Cabaret Fundraiser at 6:00pm on May 9th and 10th, giving guests time to peruse the silent auction, play games, and enjoy the festivities. At 7:30pm, the curtains open on the stage. Tickets for this one-of-a-kind experience start at $50, or $60 for Box Seats and Table Seating.  For complete ticket pricing information call the Box Office at 763-422-1838 or visit the Cabaret web page

Dig Deeper – Day by Day Tops the Billboard Chart!

February 26th, 2014 No comments »

Due to the Broadway revival and the availability of Godspell, Jr. from Music Theater International, lots of new productions of Godspell have sprung up over the last few years  – and those directors have lots of questions!  Luckily, Stephen Schwartz generously provided an online forum:  a resource for those questions on his website.  Here’s an interesting question and answer about the wild popularity of the original cast recordings…

Question:  By the way is that true about Day by Day being the last song to go number 1 on the pop charts directly from a Broadway production?
“Day by Day” was the last showtune to chart as performed by the original cast (it was the Off-Broadway cast, the Broadway cast was never recorded). There have been showtunes since then that have charted but they were covers by other artist (such as “Somewhere” from West Side Story by Barbra Streisand), not the original casts.

Copyright by Stephen Schwartz 2010 all rights reserved.

Dig Deeper – Godspell’s Experimental Roots

February 20th, 2014 No comments »

Godspell began in 1970 as a master’s thesis project at Carnegie Mellon University.  At around the same time, Jerzy Grotowski (1934-1999), founder and head of the Polish Laboratory Theater, was on his way to become one of the most important and influential theatrical innovators of his time.  Grotowski visited New York in 1969 and a year later published his seminal book, ”Towards a Poor Theater.”  Grotowski became famous for proposing the idea that theater, as an art form, can do without lights, music, scenery, it could even do without a theater. What it needed was one actor and one member of the audience.

1720pGrotowski 2 img325

Jerzy Grotowski

For Grotowski, theater, through the actor’s technique, provides an opportunity to reveal real substance. “This opportunity must be treated in a disciplined manner, with a full awareness of the responsibilities it involves. Here we can see the theatre’s therapeutic function for people in our present day civilization.”  The interaction between the actor and the audience is at the heart of this revelation.  “It is true that the actor accomplishes this act, but he can only do so through an encounter with the spectator…”

In a 1969 interview, Grotowski acknowledged that this emphasis on the relationship between actor and audience was inspired by Julius Osterwa, a Polish actor and director, who ”treated acting as a human experience that exists not for the public, but vis-a-vis the public.”  The idea, he said, was to ”enlarge on images deeply rooted in the collective unconscious.” His theater was spiritual, ritualistic and nonliterary — and extraordinarily challenging for the actor and for the audience.  This theoretical foundation lies beneath much of the playful, improvisational, and visual style of Godpsell.

Sources:  The New York Times and “Towards a Poor Theatre” by Grotowski

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