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: 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 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
Posted: Nov. 30, 2017


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
Posted: Dec. 9, 2017


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
Posted: Nov. 14, 2017


LAST 365 DAYS

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: 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: 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: Old Log Theatre's GHOST THE MUSICAL is Better than Broadway; the Smaller Cast and Fewer Magic Tricks Serve the Story BetterBWW Review: Old Log Theatre's GHOST THE MUSICAL is Better than Broadway; the Smaller Cast and Fewer Magic Tricks Serve the Story Better
Posted: Jun. 27, 2017


BWW Review: The New Play NATIVE GARDENS is a Comedy with a Conscience - Funny and TopicalBWW Review: The New Play NATIVE GARDENS is a Comedy with a Conscience - Funny and Topical
Posted: Jul. 31, 2017


BWW Review: Trademark Theater Debuts with THE BOY AND ROBIN HOOD, an Exciting, Engaging, Creative, and Bold New Take on an Old TaleBWW Review: Trademark Theater Debuts with THE BOY AND ROBIN HOOD, an Exciting, Engaging, Creative, and Bold New Take on an Old Tale
Posted: Jun. 3, 2017


BWW Review: The Jungle Theater's Production of the Off-Broadway Musical FLY BY NIGHT is an Infectious Retro-Folk-Pop-Rock DelightBWW Review: The Jungle Theater's Production of the Off-Broadway Musical FLY BY NIGHT is an Infectious Retro-Folk-Pop-Rock Delight
Posted: Jun. 21, 2017


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.

BWW Review: Pillsbury House Theatre's Odd and Oddly Titled [ALMOST EQUAL TO] is a Uniquely Entertaining and Starkly Relevant Look at CapitalismBWW Review: Pillsbury House Theatre's Odd and Oddly Titled [ALMOST EQUAL TO] is a Uniquely Entertaining and Starkly Relevant Look at Capitalism
September 27, 2017

Swedish playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri's* work makes its area debut with Pillsbury House Theatre's excellent production of the odd and oddly titled ALMOST EQUAL TO . But odd in a good way, odd in that it's uniquely structured and covers many topics and doesn't always entirely make sense. In fact pre- and mid-show announcements break the fourth wall a bit and tell us what to expect (or not). According to the program, the play 'is a commentary on the constraints and effects of living within a capitalist economic system.' A mix of economics, sociology, and family drama, ALMOST EQUAL TO will leave you questioning the very meaning of money. In a world with vast inequalities of wealth, that's a worthy thing to think about in a play that's also engaging and entertaining.

BWW Review: Yellow Tree Theatre Opens 10th Season with Remount of the Original Play that Started it All - the Charming, Funny, and Quirky Rom-Com STRINGBWW Review: Yellow Tree Theatre Opens 10th Season with Remount of the Original Play that Started it All - the Charming, Funny, and Quirky Rom-Com STRING
September 24, 2017

Seven years ago, just a few months after I started this #TCTheater blogging adventure I call Cherry and Spoon, a friend told me about this little theater in a strip mall in Osseo. Since at the time I worked just a few miles away, I organized a group of coworkers to go see a play after work one day. That play was STRING, and the theater was Yellow Tree Theatre. Now, to celebrate their 10th season, they're bringing back STRING, written by Yellow Tree co-founder Jessica Lind Peterson and co-starring her and her husband and co-founder Jason Peterson, their first time on stage together in years. If you're a Yellow Tree fan, it's a wonderful opportunity to celebrate this full circle moment with them, and if you've never been to Yellow Tree, it's time to make the (not that long) drive to the Northwest suburbs to see this charming, funny, quirky, sweet little play that started it all, a play that is 'as Yellow Tree as plays get.'

BWW Review: A New Original Musical about Hockey THE ABOMINABLES Debuts at Children's Theatre Company with Plenty of Minnesota CharmBWW Review: A New Original Musical about Hockey THE ABOMINABLES Debuts at Children's Theatre Company with Plenty of Minnesota Charm
September 20, 2017

A musical about youth hockey with an abominable snowman, er... yeti? It's gotta be Minnesota, and it's gotta be the Children's Theatre Company. It's no surprise that this new original musical is a surefire hit, the only surprise is that it took them so long to come up with the idea. THE ABOMINABLES was developed by The Civilians, a NYC-based theater company, and researched and workshopped right here in Minnesota. This feels like authentic portrayal, if a bit extreme and fantastical. I attended a backstage tour at the Children's Theatre a few weeks ago, which was hugely exciting as things were starting to come together. It's such a thrill to see the final product this opening weekend and to report to you that this is not only a super fun and entertaining new original musical for kids and adults alike, but also one that celebrates the good (and gently mocks the less than good) of our beloved state of Minnesota while telling a heart-warming story about teamwork, friendship, community, and family that, yes, brought tears to my eyes.

BWW Review: Theatre Unbound Presents a Timely Piece on Immigration in the Dark Yet Charming ALIENS WITH EXTRAORDINARY SKILLSBWW Review: Theatre Unbound Presents a Timely Piece on Immigration in the Dark Yet Charming ALIENS WITH EXTRAORDINARY SKILLS
September 14, 2017

Immigration has been a hot topic in the news for many months now, most recently with the current administration's announcement to end DACA. Unfortunate for the people adversely affected by the decision, but perfect timing for Theatre Unbound to open their 18th season of presenting the work of women artists and telling women's stories with ALIENS WITH EXTRAORDINARY SKILLS. Staviana Stanescu, herself an immigrant from Romania, has written a sweet story about undocumented immigrant clowns who just want to do their work, make a living, and make people laugh. The winning cast brings the dark but charming story to life, showing just how difficult immigrant life is, even for clowns.

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

We're halfway through the 11-day, 15-venue, 167-showMinnesota Fringe Festival. I've seen 25 shows, with another 20-some on the schedule for the next five days. Here are a few of my favorites so far. I haven't seen everything onmy must-see listyet, so be sure to check that out for more recommendations and tips for Fringe newbies. And you canread all of my Fringe mini-reviews here. There are five days left of Fringe - so get out there and see some shows! Full schedule, venue, and ticketing information can be found on theFringe's handy dandy website.

BWW Review: The New Play NATIVE GARDENS is a Comedy with a Conscience - Funny and TopicalBWW Review: The New Play NATIVE GARDENS is a Comedy with a Conscience - Funny and Topical
July 31, 2017

'I think comedy is disarming. I mean literally. You let down your armor so you can laugh. And if you laugh, you're taking things in. I want people who disagree to watch this play and be able to laugh at themselves.' Mission accomplished. The new playNATIVE GARDENSbyKaren Zacarias (from whom this quote comes),now playing on the Guthrie proscenium stage, accomplishes this and more. Through the lens of neighbors disagreeing about a fence, she exposes our many prejudices, fears, and defenses. Everyone in the audience can recognize themselves and the prejudices they harbor, or the ones they've faced, and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. The two couples in the play are on opposite sides of many issues, but through this dispute they eventually come to realize that despite their differences they both want the same thing - a nice yard to live in and friendly neighbors.

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!
July 28, 2017

The Ordway's recent string of excellent locally produced Broadway sized musicals continues with the popular Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, and it's fan-freakin-tastic. Unlike the Ordway's last original, WEST SIDE STORY, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTARis not one of my favorites; I've only seen it once before and never really listened to it. So I went into the show with mostly fresh eyes. I still think the piece is a bit weird, but there's something kinda fabulous about it. And the number one reason to see the show at the Ordway is this mostly local cast that is absolutely spectacular. The show is completely sung through, most of it at full volume, and everyone in the lead and featured roles just knocks it out of the park. And every member of the 30+ person ensemble (including several sweet-singing children) completely gives it their all. Notably, this cast is racially diverse (including an African American Jesus), a beautiful example of color-conscious casting by the Ordway.

BWW Review: Gremlin Theatre Opens Their New St. Paul Performance Space with DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER - Escapist Entertainment Perfect for a Warm Summer NightBWW Review: Gremlin Theatre Opens Their New St. Paul Performance Space with DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER - Escapist Entertainment Perfect for a Warm Summer Night
July 21, 2017

Good news friends, Gremlin Theatre is back with a new performance space in St. Paul! Four years after losing their space on University and Raymond, which also hosted other theater companies and the Minnesota Fringe Festival, they've opened a brand new space just a few blocks away on Vandalia. They are continuing to make improvements to the space that includes a spacious lobby and an intimate thrust stage, conveniently located near the Green Line, just off highways 94 and 280, and right next door to Lake Monster Brewery, whose libations can be brought into the theater. And there's also free parking! What more could you ask for from a theater space? Just one more thing, and that's great theater. The inaugural production at the new Gremlin fulfills that last requirement - the hilarious and tight comedy DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER. It's a really funny and fast-moving show with a fantastic cast, and a great way to christen this exciting new St. Paul theater space!

BWW Review: Girl Friday Productions Returns with their Biennial Production - the Smart, Funny, and Sobering IDIOT'S DELIGHTBWW Review: Girl Friday Productions Returns with their Biennial Production - the Smart, Funny, and Sobering IDIOT'S DELIGHT
July 11, 2017

IDIOT'S DELIGHTis one of those deceptive plays that makes you think it's a light and fun romp through the past, until you begin to see the seriousness behind the beautiful clothes and pretty music. WWI vet Robert E. Sherwood's play premiered in 1936 and is eerily prescient about the impending war in Europe. Or maybe not; maybe it was obvious at the time that the world was heading to another Great War, only 20 years after the first one. But even now, 80 years after it was written, the themes of nationalism, loyalty, changing borders, and a great sadness at the cost of war on all sides ring true. This one left me feeling a little depressed, but with much to contemplate, and also thoroughly entertained, as always, by Girl Friday Productions' biennial contribution to the #TCTheater world. Girl Friday specializes in 'larger scale American plays of exceptional literary merit that are less frequently produced today,' andIDIOT'S DELIGHTis indeed a delight, but one that is most certainly not for idiots.

BWW Review: Old Log Theatre's GHOST THE MUSICAL is Better than Broadway; the Smaller Cast and Fewer Magic Tricks Serve the Story BetterBWW Review: Old Log Theatre's GHOST THE MUSICAL is Better than Broadway; the Smaller Cast and Fewer Magic Tricks Serve the Story Better
June 27, 2017

Old Log Theatre's contribution to the summer blockbuster musical isGHOST THE MUSICAL,based on the popular 1990 movie. It premiered on Broadway in 2012 and ran for only a few months, and when Isaw the tour the following yearI was not impressed. At the time I wrote, 'At its core,GHOST is a small intimate love story, butGHOST THE MUSICALis a big splashy techno-heavy 'show,' in which the beauty of that story gets lost. The story would be better served with less tricks, a smaller cast, fewer showy songs, and a greater focus on what we really care about - the relationship between Molly and Sam.' I'm thrilled to report that Old Log has done just that. The score, which is quite good, the story, and the relationships between the characters are more the focus of the show, with lower tech effects that serve the story rather than drawing attention away from it. If you're looking for a satisfying summer musical experience,head out to Old Log Theatre, one of the oldest theaters in Minnesota, in lovely Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka.

BWW Review: The Jungle Theater's Production of the Off-Broadway Musical FLY BY NIGHT is an Infectious Retro-Folk-Pop-Rock DelightBWW Review: The Jungle Theater's Production of the Off-Broadway Musical FLY BY NIGHT is an Infectious Retro-Folk-Pop-Rock Delight
June 21, 2017

A new original folk-rock musical? It's like FLY BY NIGHT was created and brought to the Jungle just for me. The rare bird that is the new original musical is my favorite thing in the world, and folk-rock/folk/Americana is my favorite genre of music. I was primed and ready to love this show, and love it I did. Charming and funny yet poignant, with a fantastic score played by greats from the local music scene, and a cast that couldn't be better - what's not to love?

BWW Review: Nilaja Sun's Beautiful One-Woman Show PIKE ST., on Tour at Pillsbury House Theatre, is Not to Be Missed!BWW Review: Nilaja Sun's Beautiful One-Woman Show PIKE ST., on Tour at Pillsbury House Theatre, is Not to Be Missed!
June 8, 2017

Pillsbury House Theatre is hosting New York based theater artist Nilaja Sun's acclaimed one-woman show PIKE ST. for three weeks, and my Minnesota theater friends - this is an opportunity you don't want to miss. A native of the Lower East Side, Nilaja brings all the beauty, diversity, community, and difficulties of her neighborhood to life in a show so all-engrossing, it's a shock to the system to be returned to reality after 90 minutes. She tells one specific story of a family in a hurricane, playing all of the different characters, but it's so much more than one family's story. It's about returning war vets, the joys and frustrations of living in a close community, the joys and frustrations of caring for a child with special needs, family, love, loyalty, and New York City - 'the greatest city in the world.' PIKE ST., which Nilaja also wrote, is a remarkable piece, and hers is a remarkable performance.



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