Jill Schafer

Jill Schafer

A native Minnesotan, Jill is an enthusiastic theater-goer in the Twin Cities area and an advocate for local theater companies small and large. After becoming a Guthrie season subscriber in 2003, she found herself attending more and more theater, so decided to start an independent theater blog called Cherry and Spoon in 2010. With no background or training in theater (other than a few stints in the pit orchestra in high school), Jill writes from an audience perspective. Read more of Jill’s writing on cherryandspoon.com.




MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Review: The Old Vic's Charming, Magical, Fun, and Poignant New Musical DR. SEUSS'S THE LORAX Receives its Triumphant U.S. Premiere at Children's Theatre CompanyBWW Review: The Old Vic's Charming, Magical, Fun, and Poignant New Musical DR. SEUSS'S THE LORAX Receives its Triumphant U.S. Premiere at Children's Theatre Company
Posted: May. 1, 2018


BWW Review: Yellow Tree Theatre's World Premiere New Play STILL DANCE THE STARS is a Heart-Wrenching and Heart-Warming Story of Grief, Love, and FamilyBWW Review: Yellow Tree Theatre's World Premiere New Play STILL DANCE THE STARS is a Heart-Wrenching and Heart-Warming Story of Grief, Love, and Family
Posted: May. 1, 2018


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: Chanhassen Dinner Theatre's Summer Blockbuster NEWSIES is a Big, Bold, Energetic, Rousing Regional PremiereBWW Review: Chanhassen Dinner Theatre's Summer Blockbuster NEWSIES is a Big, Bold, Energetic, Rousing Regional Premiere
Posted: Mar. 20, 2018


BWW Review: Mixed Blood Theatre's Production of the Broadway Hit THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is Smaller in Scale but No Smaller in ImpactBWW Review: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME
Posted: Nov. 16, 2017


BWW Review: The Ordway's Fan-Freakin-Tastic JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Closes this Weekend - Don't Miss It!BWW Review: The Ordway's Fan-Freakin-Tastic JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Closes this Weekend - Don't Miss It!
Posted: Jul. 28, 2017


BWW Review: Illusion Theater's Funny and Sobering New Play DANCING WITH GIANTS Explores the Intersection of Sports and Politics Through Pre-WWII BoxingBWW Review: Illusion Theater's Funny and Sobering New Play DANCING WITH GIANTS Explores the Intersection of Sports and Politics Through Pre-WWII Boxing
Posted: Feb. 15, 2018


BWW Review: The Intense Two-Hander A STEADY RAIN is a Brilliantly Written Play that's Impeccably Executed by the Team at Gremlin TheatreBWW Review: The Intense Two-Hander A STEADY RAIN is a Brilliantly Written Play that's Impeccably Executed by the Team at Gremlin Theatre
Posted: Jan. 20, 2018


BWW Review: Penumbra Theatre and Children's Theatre Company's First Collaboration is a Hit - the Fabulous and Inspirational THE WIZBWW Review: The Fabulous and Inspirational THE WIZ
Posted: Jan. 30, 2018


BWW Review: Don't miss the MINNESOTA FRINGE FESTIVAL, Continuing through This Weekend!BWW Review: Don't miss the MINNESOTA FRINGE FESTIVAL, Continuing through This Weekend!
Posted: Aug. 9, 2017


BWW Review: Yellow Tree Theatre's World Premiere New Play STILL DANCE THE STARS is a Heart-Wrenching and Heart-Warming Story of Grief, Love, and FamilyBWW Review: Yellow Tree Theatre's World Premiere New Play STILL DANCE THE STARS is a Heart-Wrenching and Heart-Warming Story of Grief, Love, and Family
May 1, 2018

Last week in the cozy intimate space of Yellow Tree Theatre, in a strip mall in Osseo, I saw a world premiere new play that's unlike anything I've seen before. As someone who sees a lot of theater (and I mean a lot), that's a rare occurrence. While playwright Jayme McGhan's STILL DANCE THE STARSreminds me a little of the Pulitzer Prize winning musical NEXT TO NORMAL, in that it deals with parents grieving the loss of a child in different (and sometimes hallucinatory) ways, the storytelling is completely unique, combining very real and natural dialogue, fantastical dream sequences in which stuffed animals come to life, dance, and music to tell a heart-wrenching and heart-warming story of grief, love, and family. It's a great choice of play for Yellow Tree, my favorite theater in the 'burbs, and the cast and creative team do a beautiful job of bringing the play to life with all of its humor, grace, silliness, and beauty.

BWW Review: The Old Vic's Charming, Magical, Fun, and Poignant New Musical DR. SEUSS'S THE LORAX Receives its Triumphant U.S. Premiere at Children's Theatre CompanyBWW Review: The Old Vic's Charming, Magical, Fun, and Poignant New Musical DR. SEUSS'S THE LORAX Receives its Triumphant U.S. Premiere at Children's Theatre Company
May 1, 2018

Unless. What a powerful word. So many scary things might happen. Unless. Unless what, you ask? 'Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.' The best thing to happen lately in this dark and scary world is people caring a whole awful lot about things, and taking to the streets and the polls to make them better. That's the heart of Dr. Seuss's story THE LORAX, which specifically is talking about the environment, nature, the wilderness around us. The Old Vic Theatre in London has turned this beautiful story into a charming, playful, and poignantly relevant musical that is now receiving its US premiere at Minneapolis' Children's Theatre Company (in conjunction with San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, where it will play this summer). It gave me all the feels, and had me walking down the street on this first truly spring-like day in wonder. Such is the power of theater, of stories, of people who care a whole awful lot.

BWW Review: Mixed Blood Theatre Adds Music to a Rolling World Premiere Play to Create a Funny, Sweet, Relatable, and Poignant New Original Musical MERMAID HOUR: REMIXEDBWW Review: Mixed Blood Theatre Adds Music to a Rolling World Premiere Play to Create a Funny, Sweet, Relatable, and Poignant New Original Musical MERMAID HOUR: REMIXED
April 13, 2018

On a snowy Sunday afternoon, several of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers gathered in an old firehouse in Minneapolis to witness the rolling world premiere of a new play called MERMAID HOUR, which means that the premiere is happening in several theaters around the country. In this story of a 12-year-old transgender girl, her parents, and her friends, playwright David Valdes Greenwood set out to 'write a real portrait of a family life, not just an 'issue' play with a message of 'do this' or 'do that.' From where I was sitting, he succeeded. But what makes Mixed Blood Theatre's production of Mermaid Hour special is that it's the only one of the world premieres to feature music; the Mixed Blood team worked with the playwright to turn his play into a musical. As a musical theater nerd who thinks every play is better with music, I couldn't be happier with this turn of events. MERMAID HOUR: REMIXED is not only a real and relatable family story that features transgender characters, too often under- or mis-represented onstage, but it's also done in song!

BWW Review: Illusion Theater's THE PINK UNICORN is a Funny, Poignant, Relatable Story of a Small Town Woman Turned Activist in Support of Her Gender Queer ChildBWW Review: Illusion Theater's THE PINK UNICORN is a Funny, Poignant, Relatable Story of a Small Town Woman Turned Activist in Support of Her Gender Queer Child
April 10, 2018

When you need to dig in your purse for a tissue to blow your nose after seeing a play, you know it was a good one. I don't cry, but @IllusionTheater #pinkunicorn made me cry with its beautiful message of love, hope, & acceptance. #tctheater #bringtissues #openheart #walkwithme Thus reads my 280-character immediately post-show Twitter review of Illusion Theater's production of the one-woman show THE PINK UNICORN. Kate Guentzel plays the widowed mother of a teenage girl who one day says she doesn't identify as a girl, she's gender queer. In Elise Forier Edie's beautifully written play, we witness this small town woman's journey to reluctant activist, all for the love of her child. With this very personal script in Kate's deft hands, it's a incredibly moving experience. THE PINK UNICORN plays for three weekends only, so waste no time in making your way to Illusion's inviting space on the 8th floor of the Hennepin Center for the Arts in downtown Minneapolis.

BWW Review: The History Theatre and COLLIDE Theatrical Dance Company Join Forces on the Wonderful Original Dance Musical DANCE 'TIL YOU DROPBWW Review: The History Theatre and COLLIDE Theatrical Dance Company Join Forces on the Wonderful Original Dance Musical DANCE 'TIL YOU DROP
April 6, 2018

What do you get when you combine COLLIDE Theatrical Dance Company, known for creating original dance musicals, with the History Theatre, dedicated to creating new work based on or inspired by true events in Minnesota history? You get DANCE'TIL YOU DROP, a dance musical about a Minnesota dance team who competed and set a record in a dance marathon in the 1930s. Let's call it an original historical dance musical! Like all COLLIDE productions, it features exquisite storytelling through dance, and like all History Theatre shows, it's an informative and compelling look at history and how it relates to today. It's fun, inspirational, nostalgic, and over in a quick two hours that will leave you wanting more.

BWW Review: Only One Weekend Left to See Skylark Opera Theatre's Beautifully Moving Contemporary Opera AS ONEBWW Review: Only One Weekend Left to See Skylark Opera Theatre's Beautifully Moving Contemporary Opera AS ONE
March 22, 2018

The new incarnation of Skylark Opera Theatre, under new Artistic Director Robert Neu, is presenting their third work of accessible, intimate opera. As someone who usually stays on the musical theater side of the music-theater spectrum, this approach seems like a good one for me, sort of bridging that gap between opera and music theater. After last year's stripped down adaptation of CARMEN and an immersive DON GIOVANNI, they're now presenting a contemporary opera about a very timely subject. AS ONE is a two-person 90-minute English language opera about Hannah, a transgender woman becoming herself. She is played by both a man and a woman, pre- and post-transition. It's a beautiful, heart-breaking, inspirational, ultimately hopeful story gorgeously told through music. The intimate new space that is North Garden Theater, in St. Paul's West 7th neighborhood, is the perfect location to experience this sparse-in-spectacle but rich-in-substance opera. But act fast - only three more performances remain this weekend.

BWW Review: Chanhassen Dinner Theatre's Summer Blockbuster NEWSIES is a Big, Bold, Energetic, Rousing Regional PremiereBWW Review: Chanhassen Dinner Theatre's Summer Blockbuster NEWSIES is a Big, Bold, Energetic, Rousing Regional Premiere
March 20, 2018

The Children's Crusade: kids walk out of their jobs or schools to take to the streets and stand up for what they believe in, for a fairer and safer world. Does this describe recent current events, a historical event, or the plot of a Disney musical? Trick question - the answer is all of the above! At the same time that the children of Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of latest tragic school shooting, are leading children across the country in making their voices heard, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is presenting the regional premiere of NEWSIES, a new musical adaptation of the 1992 Disney movie based on the historical newsboy strike of 1899. As is happening today in real life, the kids involved the historical strike and the characters in the musical demand that the people in power listen to them in their call for justice. But the latter group does it with music and fabulous dancing. Children truly are our hope for the future, and NEWSIES celebrates that idea while providing a fun, entertaining, and inspirational show.

BWW Review: Theater Mu and Mixed Blood's Successful First Collaboration on the Hilarious New Play TWO MILE HOLLOW Provides Smart Commentary on Race and Class in AmericaBWW Review: Theater Mu and Mixed Blood's Successful First Collaboration on the Hilarious New Play TWO MILE HOLLOW Provides Smart Commentary on Race and Class in America
February 22, 2018

My 280-character (or less) review of Theater Mu and Mixed Blood Theatre's first ever collaboration: 'Friends, run don't walk to see #twomilehollow (co-production from @theatermu and @mixed_blood). I can't decide whom I love most in this cast of comic geniuses! But behind all the wackiness and humor is some seriously smart commentary on race and class in America.' If you don't have time to continue reading this post, that pretty much tells you what you need to know. Or stick with me as I expand on this tweet by a few hundred more words. Either way, if you like your theater smart, funny, relevant, and painfully true, TWO MILE HOLLOW is not to be missed.

BWW Review: Illusion Theater's Funny and Sobering New Play DANCING WITH GIANTS Explores the Intersection of Sports and Politics Through Pre-WWII BoxingBWW Review: Illusion Theater's Funny and Sobering New Play DANCING WITH GIANTS Explores the Intersection of Sports and Politics Through Pre-WWII Boxing
February 15, 2018

I'll admit it. Before I was a theater geek, I was a TV geek. I grew up watching TV, and my best friends were characters on TV shows. I'm still a TV geek, and I still consider TV characters* my friends. So when I heard that an actor from two of my favoritecurrentshows was doing a play in Minneapolis, I didn't even care what or where the play was. I was going to seeRebecca Bunch's mother/Deanna(who's Deanna?) no matter what. As it turns out, Tovah Feldshuh has some ties to the #TCTheater community, having studied and worked at the University of Minnesota and the Guthrie back in the day. Her brother, playwright/director David Feldshuh, has an even deeper connection, specifically withIllusion Theater, which is premiering his new playDANCING WITH GIANTS. I'm happy to report that not only is Tovah a delight live on stage, but this is also an entertaining, educational, funny, and sobering play. It's obviously a labor of love for the Feldshuh family, and Minneapolis/St. Paul theater-goers are lucky to be able to experience it first.

BWW Review: In the Heart of the Beast's MAKE BELIEVE NEIGHBORHOOD Pays Homage to the Beloved Mister Rogers, as Well as the Heroes of Its Own NeighborhoodBWW Review: In the Heart of the Beast's MAKE BELIEVE NEIGHBORHOOD Pays Homage to the Beloved Mister Rogers, as Well as the Heroes of Its Own Neighborhood
February 13, 2018

I, like millions of children in America and across the world, grew up watching MISTER ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD, which aired on PBS from 1968 through 2001. But I don't think I realized at the time what an exceptionally good and kind human Fred Rogers was, a strong advocate for children's education and development, and for kindness towards all. All I knew as a kid is that MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOODwas a comforting place to spend a half hour, and I especially loved the Neighborhood of Make Believe (where I first experienced opera). In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, located in the Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis, is premiering an original multi-media play called MAKE BELIEVE NEIGHBORHOODthat pays homage to the work of Fred Rogers, as well as to the good work being done in their own neighborhood. I spent much of the two hours with tears behind my eyes, so moved by the kindness of my childhood favorite, and by the inspirational people working to create and strengthen community in Phillips. In a world of increasing violence, negativity, and divisiveness, spending a little time in this MAKE BELIEVE NEIGHBORHOOD, and learning how one neighborhood is making Mister Rogers' vision a reality, is a balm to the soul.

BWW Review: Penumbra Theatre and Children's Theatre Company's First Collaboration is a Hit - the Fabulous and Inspirational THE WIZBWW Review: Penumbra Theatre and Children's Theatre Company's First Collaboration is a Hit - the Fabulous and Inspirational THE WIZ
January 30, 2018

'Combining CTC's critical literacy work and Penumbra's racial justice work allows us to forge something together that neither could do alone.' These words in the playbill of THE WIZ, the first collaboration between these two acclaimed #TCTheater companies, brought tears to my eyes before the show even started. Especially after wading through a sea of children of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds. In an increasingly divided world, Penumbra (one of the longest-running and most acclaimed African American theater companies in the nation) and Children's Theatre (ditto for children's theater) give me hope, as individual companies and especially in this collaboration in which an all-black cast tells a story of a young black woman who discovers her own power through the help of friends. They give me hope that maybe we can overcome our seemingly insurmountable differences and join together in song and awesome dance to solve our problems. It's possible, right? Can't you feel a brand new day? Indeed I can.

BWW Review: The Intense Two-Hander A STEADY RAIN is a Brilliantly Written Play that's Impeccably Executed by the Team at Gremlin TheatreBWW Review: The Intense Two-Hander A STEADY RAIN is a Brilliantly Written Play that's Impeccably Executed by the Team at Gremlin Theatre
January 20, 2018

For their second show in their new space, Gremlin Theatre is presenting the intense two-hander A STEADY RAIN. Buckle up, friends, this is a tough one. But so beautifully done. In what's basically a treatise on toxic masculinity and the damage it can do, playwright Keith Huff has created two complex characters in a brilliantly written play that's impeccably executed by the team at Gremlin. Two incredible acting performances, tight and clear direction, simple yet powerful design that heightens the storytelling, all in an intimate space that makes it feel all too real. This is the kind of show that's tough to shake. The rest of the day, and even into the next, I found myself back in that room inside that brutal story. It may only be mid-January, but no doubt A STEADY RAIN will be one of the most memorable plays of the year.

BWW Review: The Ordway's Swell Production of ANNIE Will Leave You Feeling Optimistic About Our Female FutureBWW Review: The Ordway's Swell Production of ANNIE Will Leave You Feeling Optimistic About Our Female Future
December 14, 2017

'The future is female.' If the main stage at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is any judge of it, this statement is true, and gives one hope for the future. The story of one 11-year-old girl who changes hearts and minds with optimism and determination is an inspiring one, as is the boundless energy and talent of the young females on stage who bring this story to life. Watching ANNIE last weekend, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic for the Great Depression, when at least the president cared about the people and developed (with Annie's help of course) a New Deal that would help lift the country out of poverty. A stark contrast to today's reality, when the current resident of the White House seems to care only for the rich, and those in need get served newly crappy deals nearly every day. Maybe we need to send Annie to the Washington to get Democrats and Republicans singing together about the hopeful future of America! In the meantime, head to the Ordway to see this swell production of an American musical theater classic and get your dose of optimism about our female future.

BWW Review: The Guthrie Theater's BLITHE SPIRIT is Pure and Pleasant Escapist Entertainment, an Exquisitely Written and Executed ComedyBWW Review: The Guthrie Theater's BLITHE SPIRIT is Pure and Pleasant Escapist Entertainment, an Exquisitely Written and Executed Comedy
December 9, 2017

If you're looking for a fun, light-hearted, escapist night at the theater (and really, who isn't in need of that?!), look no further than the Guthrie's sublimely entertaining production of No l Coward's BLITHE SPIRIT. Featuring Guthrie favorites and newcomers in this perfect concoction of a cast, breath-takingly gorgeous design, and the witty words of one of 20th Century England's favorite writers of comedy, BLITHE SPIRIT will keep you warm with laughter on a cold winter's night, and make you forget about the seemingly endless despair happening outside of the theater walls (this is why I prefer to say in the theater as much as possible). BLITHE SPIRIT continues through January 18 and is a hilarious duet partner to that other ghost story across the hall.

BWW Review: The Jungle Theater's Charming New Production of MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY is a Delight for Any SeasonBWW Review: The Jungle Theater's Charming New Production of MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY is a Delight for Any Season
November 30, 2017

Writing a sequel to one of the most beloved novels in English literature is a daunting and risky task. Audiences have such attachment to the original, and it could go wrong in so many ways. But playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margo Melcon have gotten it so, so right in their theatrical sequel to Jane Austen's novel PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. In a sparkling new production at Jungle Theater, MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY is very reminiscent of Jane Austen, but also fresh and modern and new. It's a witty, smart, utterly charming new play that celebrates not just literal sisterhood, but women working together and supporting each other, both onstage and behind the scenes. I can think of nothing we need more at this moment in time.

BWW Review: Mixed Blood Theatre's Production of the Broadway Hit THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is Smaller in Scale but No Smaller in ImpactBWW Review: Mixed Blood Theatre's Production of the Broadway Hit THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is Smaller in Scale but No Smaller in Impact
November 16, 2017

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME racked up awards in both London and NYC, including winning the Tony Award for best play in 2015. Just last year the Broadway tour stopped in Minneapolis, which I saw and was impressed by the clever and inventive storytelling. Now available for regional productions, Mixed Blood Theatre is bringing us their take on the play. The West End/Broadway production was very tech-heavy, and I was curious what this story with a smaller-scale production and in a smaller house would look like. It turns out I like it even better. The 15-person Broadway cast has been reduced to just 9, with very smart casting and direction. There are still some pretty impressive tech effects, but also some great low-tech effects that all serve this story of a 15-year-old boy with an unspecified autism-like condition who goes on an epic journey in search of the truth.

BWW Review: New #TCTheater Company SOS Theater Impresses with Funny and Poignant New Play ROLLER DERBY QUEENBWW Review: New #TCTheater Company SOS Theater Impresses with Funny and Poignant New Play ROLLER DERBY QUEEN
November 14, 2017

A new #TCTheater company is debuting a new play by a first time playwright in a new St. Paul theater space that just opened this summer. What's more exciting than that?! The good news is that ROLLER DERBY QUEEN is a great play - smart, funny, and well-written, with quirky but real characters played by a dreamy cast, clearly directed in this intimate space. I'm not entirely sure what SOS Theater is about yet, but based on the first offering of this 'new production company dedicated to producing evocative works that present fresh and entertaining perspectives of this ludicrous thing called life,' I'm intrigued, and hope to see more.

BWW Review: Twin Cities Theater Provides Many Great Options for the Halloween SeasonBWW Review: Twin Cities Theater Provides Many Great Options for the Halloween Season
October 27, 2017

Happy Halloween, my #TCTheater friends! If you're looking for a theatrical way to celebrate the spooky holiday, I have a few suggestions for you. All of the below have performances on this Halloweekend, and many on Halloween itself and even continuing into early November. Keep reading to find details, recommendations, and contact info, and then make plans to experience some wonderfully theatrical spooky stories.

BWW Review: Penumbra Theatre's WEDDING BAND is a Beautiful and Tragic Love Story that Speaks to Race, Racism, and PrivilegeBWW Review: Penumbra Theatre's WEDDING BAND is a Beautiful and Tragic Love Story that Speaks to Race, Racism, and Privilege
October 26, 2017

I love a good tragic love story, and it doesn't get much more tragic than an interracial couple in 1918 South Carolina. But Penumbra's gorgeous production of the 1966 play WEDDING BAND by Alice Childress (whose TROUBLE IN MIND was seen at the Guthrie last year) is not just a beautiful, complicated, and ultimately tragic love story. It's also (not unlike TROUBLE IN MIND) a still timely work that speaks to the issues of race, racism, and privilege in ways that feel entirely relevant. With a super talented cast directed by Penumbra's founder Lou Bellamy (who recently passed the Artistic Director baton to his daughter Sarah) and gorgeous design, WEDDING BAND is a show not to be missed, and my favorite of my five-show weekend.

BWW Review: Frank Theatre Makes a Powerful Statement in REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN.BWW Review: Frank Theatre Makes a Powerful Statement in REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN.
October 10, 2017

Potatoes and bluebells and watermelon, oh my! Just before Frank Theatre's production of Alice Birch's new play REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN, I posted on Instagram: 'I'm not sure what I'm in for but I'm pretty sure it's gonna to be awesome. And 70 minutes no intermission.' I was right on all counts. I'm still not entirely sure what happened, but it definitely was awesome, and short. Short, intense, and powerful. A six-person cast, a half dozen or so scenes, and a descent into organized chaos. All around the concept of feminism, and deconstructing our assumptions and language around it. Brave and outrageous and impactful and yeah, pretty awesome.



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