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 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: 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: 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


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: Wayward Theatre Company and Mission Theatre Company Bring a Fun and Thrilling GHOST TRAIN to the Minnesota Transportation MuseumBWW Review: Wayward Theatre Company and Mission Theatre Company Bring a Fun and Thrilling GHOST TRAIN to the Minnesota Transportation Museum
Posted: Apr. 4, 2017


BWW Review: Ten Thousand Things' Signature Bare-Bones Staging Brings New Urgency and Clarity to the Classic FIDDLER ON THE ROOFBWW Review: Ten Thousand Things Brings Urgency & Clarity to FIDDLER
Posted: Feb. 27, 2017


BWW Review: The Guthrie Theater's Production of the New Play WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT is Funny, Innovative, Relevant, and ShockingBWW Review: The Guthrie Theater's WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT
Posted: Feb. 28, 2017


BWW Review: Jungle Theater's Hilarious and Heart-breaking LONE STAR SPIRITS Smartly Examines Small Town Life, Regrets, and FamilyBWW Review: Jungle Theater's Hilarious and Heart-breaking LONE STAR SPIRITS Smartly Examines Small Town Life, Regrets, and Family
Posted: Apr. 12, 2017


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.

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
June 3, 2017

A third new theater company is making its #TCTheater debut this month, following a charming new original musical RAGTIME WOMENby Theatre Elision and LITTLE WARS, a powerful story of women in their prime brought to us by Prime Productions. Now we have Trademark Theater, whose mission is to 'expand the breadth of original theatrical works born in Minnesota by creating, developing, and producing dynamic stage productions.' Their first creation is a new adaptation of an old story - Robin Hood. And it most definitely is original and dynamic. I saw a reading of it as part of Illusion Theater's 'Fresh Ink' series last year and was impressed with the storytelling and original music. But now, with the added elements of movement, costumes, set, lighting, and all of the theater magic, plus a super talented and energetic young cast, it's something truly exciting.

BWW Review: Artistry's WIT Takes the Audience on a Beautifully Painful JourneyBWW Review: Artistry's WIT Takes the Audience on a Beautifully Painful Journey
May 16, 2017

I don't know where to begin with this one.Artistry's production of the Pulitzer Prize winning playWITis simply devastating. But it's also funny, and smart, and philosophical, and enlightening. This is my first experience with the play, and I really can't think of anyone I'd rather see in the lead role thanthe incomparable Sally Wingert. She gives a masterful performance in what has got to be one of the juiciest roles in theater - a smart, educated, independent, confident woman who experiences life in a whole new way while approaching death from cancer. This professor who is an expert in the metaphysical poetry ofJohn Donnehas spent her life contemplating life, death, and the afterlife in theory, and has to rethink everything she believes when faced with the stark reality of it. It's a brilliantly written play given an excellent and interesting staging by Artistry, and Sally's performance is one not to be missed.

BWW Interview: Playwright/Lyricist Laurie Flanigan-Hegge Discusses SWEET LAND THE MUSICAL, Based on the Minnesota-Made Movie, Opening at History Theatre this WeekendBWW Interview: Playwright/Lyricist Laurie Flanigan-Hegge Discusses SWEET LAND THE MUSICAL, Based on the Minnesota-Made Movie, Opening at History Theatre this Weekend
April 28, 2017

A (mostly) local team has been in the process of adapting the 2005 Minnesota-made movieSWEET LAND into a musical for years, and their hard work is finally coming to fruition whenSWEET LAND, THE MUSICALopens at the History Theatre this weekend. I've seen several readings of the work in progress, and I've been so pleased how the creators have held true to the beautiful heart of the movie while adding music that feels organic to the story and only serves to enhance the storytelling. One of the creators, Twin Cities theater artistLaurie Flanigan-Hegge, answered a few of my questions aboutSWEET LAND, THE MUSICAL, the development process of a new work, and the importance of supporting women playwrights and composers.

BWW Review: Mixed Blood Theatre's In-Your-Face New Play VIETGONE Beautifully Captures the Refugee Experience and Challenges the Audience's Perception of the Vietnam WarBWW Review: Mixed Blood Theatre's In-Your-Face New Play VIETGONE Beautifully Captures the Refugee Experience and Challenges the Audience's Perception of the Vietnam War
April 21, 2017

Another smart and funny new play fresh from a successful Off-Broadway run has landed in Minneapolis. In addition to Josh Tobiessen's hilarious and heart-breakingLONE STAR SPIRITSat the Jungle Theater, we also have Qui Nguyen's ambitious and genre-blendingVIETGONEat Mixed Blood Theatre. The playwright tells the story of his parents meeting a Vietnamese refugee camp in 1975 Arkansas in an inventive and totally unique style.VIETGONEis part rap musical, part romantic comedy, part bawdy sex comedy, part war story, and all engrossing. It's in-your-face and squirm-inducing, but is utterly effective in communicating the refugee experience and making at least this audience member rethink their views on the Vietnam War and American involvement.

BWW Review: Jungle Theater's Hilarious and Heart-breaking LONE STAR SPIRITS Smartly Examines Small Town Life, Regrets, and FamilyBWW Review: Jungle Theater's Hilarious and Heart-breaking LONE STAR SPIRITS Smartly Examines Small Town Life, Regrets, and Family
April 12, 2017

Y'all, Jungle Theater'sLONE STAR SPIRITSgot me feeling all the feels! Hilarious and heart-breaking, it's one of the best plays I've seen this year. Brought to us by wife/husband director/playwright team Sarah Rasmussen and Josh Tobiessen, it features crisply drawn characters beautifully brought to life by a brilliant five-person cast, an incredibly detailed and realistic set, family drama, a poignant exploration of small town life, ghosts, country music, and accidental gunshots. I was laughing throughout the show and wiping away tears at the end, which is pretty much my favorite kind of play. Friends, you'd be wise toget on down to the Jungle between now and May 7to experience this practically perfect 90 minutes of theater.

BWW Review: Wayward Theatre Company and Mission Theatre Company Bring a Fun and Thrilling GHOST TRAIN to the Minnesota Transportation MuseumBWW Review: Wayward Theatre Company and Mission Theatre Company Bring a Fun and Thrilling GHOST TRAIN to the Minnesota Transportation Museum
April 4, 2017

Wayward Theatre Company, the company that recently brought us an 'innovatively imagined and well executed' TARTUFFE at the James J. Hill House, is now partnering with Mission Theatre Company to bring us the deliciously fun and spooky GHOST TRAIN in another one of 19th century railroad millionaire James J. Hill's buildings. The Jackson Street Roundhouse was once a maintenance facility for the Great Northern Railway, and now houses the Minnesota Transportation Museum. Filled with old trains and displays about the long ago era of train travel, it's perhaps the coolest space in which I've ever experienced theater. Or maybe that's just my inner Sheldon Cooper talking. But there's no doubt that surrounded by all of this historic equipment and memorabilia, it's quite easy to be transported back to the 1920s by this comedy/melodrama/thriller play and its terrific cast and detailed design.

BWW Review: Open Eye Figure Theatre Re-Imagines Hans Christian Andersen's THE RED SHOES as a 20th Century Noir ThrillerBWW Review: Open Eye Figure Theatre Re-Imagines Hans Christian Andersen's THE RED SHOES as a 20th Century Noir Thriller
March 7, 2017

You may be familiar with the Hans Christian Andersen storyTHE RED SHOES, in which a vain little girl with pretty red shoes is cursed so that her shoes will never stop dancing. But you may not recognize what the ingenious minds of Joel Sass and Kimberly Richardson have turned it into. Yes there are a few (hilarious) runaway dancing scenes, but their 80-minute show at Open Eye Figure Theatre is more 20 Century creepy noir thriller than 19th Century fairy tale. I'll let director Joel Sass describe it to you: 'Equally humorous and hair-raising, our adaptation ofTHE RED SHOESdraws inspiration and influences from the vintage detective novels ofRaymond ChandlerandDashiell Hammett, case studies of amnesia and multiple personality, and black and white film noir movies of the 1940s. Like that cinematic genre,THE RED SHOESevokes a highly stylized landscape of convoluted mystery, subconscious manacle, fever dreams, and existential crisis.' My immediate thought at the end of the show was, 'how do people think of such things?'THE RED SHOESis something so curious and unique, odd and chilling, inventive and charming, it's thoroughly captivating from start to finish.

BWW Review: The Guthrie Theater's Production of the New Play WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT is Funny, Innovative, Relevant, and ShockingBWW Review: The Guthrie Theater's Production of the New Play WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT is Funny, Innovative, Relevant, and Shocking
February 28, 2017

The ending ofWE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT,now playing in the Guthrie's Dowling Studio,is unlike anything I've ever seen in theater. It left me shocked, confused, and a little traumatized, but mostly it left me incredibly moved. It's such a powerful and important piece, forcing us to look at the long-lasting effects of colonialism around the world, its parallels with slavery in America, and how difficult it is to talk about racism. But even though the show leaves on a heavy and intense note, it's also really funny and innovative and theater-y too. It fools you into thinking it's a fun look at actors in rehearsal and then sneaks in some serious issues that soon become almost more than one can bear. Fortunately the Guthrie'sLevel Nine initiativeincludes what they call Community Engagement Activities, which often means a post-show discussion with the cast or creative team or experts on the subject. Take advantage of this - it's a wonderful opportunity to decompress and process what you've just seen, and begin a conversation.

BWW Review: Ten Thousand Things' Signature Bare-Bones Staging Brings New Urgency and Clarity to the Classic FIDDLER ON THE ROOFBWW Review: Ten Thousand Things' Signature Bare-Bones Staging Brings New Urgency and Clarity to the Classic FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
February 27, 2017

It never fails. Whenever I go to see a Ten Thousand Things show, the storytelling is so clear it's as if I'm truly seeing it for the first time, even if it's a piece I've seen one or many times before. In their signature bare bones theater style, they've cut out all the fluff from the beloved musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF to get right to the heart of the story. Even though I've seen the show twice in recent years, I've never been so caught up in and felt so deeply the story of one man's struggle with holding to his traditions, while still loving his family as they begin to change and grow out of those traditions. The brilliant Steve Epp makes Tevye so real and human, and along with the other eight members of this terrific ensemble playing multiple characters, makes the world of Anatevka palpably real and somehow modern, despite still being anchored in time and space. Because 50 years after it was written, this story about a family of refugees fleeing persecution and violence in their beloved homeland to find safety in America is as timely as ever.

BWW Review: Jomama Jones Brings Hope in a Troubled Time with BLACK LIGHT: A SOULFUL EMBRACE OF LOVE AND LIGHT, at Penumbra Theatre through This Weekend Only!BWW Review: Jomama Jones Brings Hope in a Troubled Time with BLACK LIGHT: A SOULFUL EMBRACE OF LOVE AND LIGHT, at Penumbra Theatre through This Weekend Only!
February 9, 2017

In the darkness of the theater, a soothing voice was heard saying 'what if I told you: we're going to be all right.' I exhaled deeply, as if I'd been holding my breath for the last two weeks. Because in my 43 years on this planet, there's never been a time when I've been less sure that 'we're going to be all right.' Jomama Jones in BLACK LIGHT: A SOULFUL EMBRACE OF LIFE AND LOVEwas exactly the balm I needed at this moment in time. Telling stories, singing, and performing, she made me laugh, she brought tears to my eyes, she made me believe, at least for a little while, that there is a light at the end of this tunnel we've found ourselves in (or perhaps, put ourselves in). This BLACK LIGHTis shining through at St. Paul's Penumbra Theatre for a short time only, so don't miss your chance to experience what truly is 'a soulful embrace of life and love.'

BWW Review: 7th House Theater's Pop-Up Production of RHINOCEROS is Wholly Entertaining, Eerily Relevant, and Exactly the Kind of Art We NeedBWW Review: 7th House Theater's Pop-Up Production of RHINOCEROS is Wholly Entertaining, Eerily Relevant, and Exactly the Kind of Art We Need
January 26, 2017

There have been various responses to the new presidency and the current political climate, including Facebook groups, letter writing and calling campaigns, petitions, and a nation-wide women's march. But what do artists do in response to injustice? They make art. Last weekend 7th House Theater opened a short run of what they call a 'pop up production' of the 1959 play RHINOCEROS, written by Eugene Ionesco as a response to the rise in Fascism in pre-WWII Europe. As company member David Darrow explained before the show, their new original musicals take about a year to plan, write, create, and produce, which makes it challenging to stay current. But with this piece, 7th House is presenting 'a specific work at a specific time in history.' After just ten days of rehearsal, they very intentionally opened on the night of the inauguration, a work presented in what David called 'a mostly sort of way.' While the staging is minimal and actors have scripts in their hands, Rhinoceros is a work that is wholly entertaining, eerily relevant, and exactly what we need right now.

BWW Review: Theatre In the Round's A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is a Well-Directed, -Acted, and -Designed Production of a Classic American TragedyBWW Review: Theatre In the Round's A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is a Well-Directed, -Acted, and -Designed Production of a Classic American Tragedy
January 17, 2017

If you're a fan of American theater classics, get yourself toTheatre in the Round in the West Bank neighborhood of Minneapolis. Their excellent production of Arthur Miller'sA View From the Bridgefeatures strong performances from the whole cast (particularly the leads), a really cool set with vintage props, and great staging in their intimate in-the-round setting. This completely engrossing and tragic story of flawed and very real characters navigating hard times and tricky family relations in 1950s working class Brooklyn will get under your skin. It's one of those experiences that makes you feel like you've been on a journey with these characters, one that's hard to shake when you leave the theater. It's probably the second best play I've seen at TRP. Don't let this one fly under your radar.



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