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.




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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: Ten Thousand Things' Magical THE GOOD PERSON OF SZECHWAN is a Fitting Swan Song for Artistic Director Michelle HensleyBWW Review: Ten Thousand Things' Magical THE GOOD PERSON OF SZECHWAN is a Fitting Swan Song for Artistic Director Michelle Hensley
Posted: May. 29, 2018


BWW Review: Park Square Theatre's Regional Premiere of MARIE AND ROSETTA Brings Two Gospel Legends to Vivid LifeBWW Review: Park Square Theatre's Regional Premiere of MARIE AND ROSETTA Brings Two Gospel Legends to Vivid Life
Posted: Dec. 8, 2018


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: Chronofon Productions and Open Eye's DEAR LENNY: BERNSTEIN'S LIFE IN SONGS AND LETTERS is a Delightful 90 Minutes of Music, History, and InspirationBWW Review: Chronofon Productions and Open Eye's DEAR LENNY: BERNSTEIN'S LIFE IN SONGS AND LETTERS is a Delightful 90 Minutes of Music, History, and Inspiration
Posted: Aug. 25, 2018


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
Posted: Feb. 22, 2018


BWW Review: Shoot the Glass Theater's Minimalist Production of Sondheim Favorite INTO THE WOODS is a DelightBWW Review: Shoot the Glass Theater's Minimalist Production of Sondheim Favorite INTO THE WOODS is a Delight
Posted: Jun. 22, 2018


BWW Review: Take a Chance on an Unfamiliar Musical and You Might Just Fall in Love with THE BAKER'S WIFE at Artistry
November 3, 2016

I had a rare experience at the theater recently - I went to see a musical I knew nothing about and was absolutely charmed by it. Stephen Schwartz's WICKED may be the 10th longest-running show on Broadway and one of the most 'popular' musicals of recent years, but his 1976 musical THE BAKER'SWIFEnever made it to Broadway and is rarely produced. I'm grateful that Artistry's resident Music Director Anita Ruth was finally able to do her 'dream show,' and what a dream it is! The absolutely lovely score, the touching story about love and forgiveness, and the cast, led by everyone's favorite Bradley Greenwald and soon-to-be everyone's favorite Jill Iverson, make this a dream show indeed. Head to Bloomington before November 12 and take a chance on an unfamiliar musical, you just might fall in love.

BWW Review: For Just $9 in the Guthrie Theater's Level 9 Dowling Studio, You Can See the Relevant and Moving One-Man Show HOLD THESE TRUTHS
October 20, 2016

'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.' I remember learning this quote in history class. And I remember my teacher saying that what the authors of the Declaration of Independance really meant was, firstly, men and not women, and secondly, the implied qualifiers of white, land-owning, and age 21 or older. In the last 200+ years, we have worked to expand that definition, but the road towards that expansion has not been easy and it hasn't been linear; it's more of a two steps forward one step back kind of thing. And one huge step back was the internment of Japanese people during World War II. It's unthinkable that the president ordered this and our government allowed it, yet at the same time, it's scarily similar to what's going on today in terms of fear of immigrants and 'others.' The one-man play HOLD THESE TRUTHS, now playing in the Guthrie's Dowling Studio, tells the specific story of one man who defied these orders in a way that makes the injustice feel real and personal, and reminds us that we must never let it happen again.

BWW Review: Park Square Theatre Brings Will Eno's Funny, Weird, and Moving Play THE REALISTIC JONESES to Life with a Fantastic Four-Person Cast
October 7, 2016

THE REALISTIC JONESESis an odd little play. But I shouldn't be surprised; the other Will Eno play I've seen (THOM PAIN (BASED ON NOTHING) by Loudmouth Collective) is exceedingly odd. But odd in the best way. THEJONESESis a little more, well, realistic, than the one-man show THOM PAIN, with an actual plot and characters in conversation with each other. But I still don't understand everything that happened, and sometimes characters say things that don't make sense, and there's no resolution to the problems the characters are facing. But that's OK. I like theater that doesn't tie things up in a neat bow in the end, that's a little unexpected and even jarring. I'm happy to spend 90 minutes or so in this odd and sometimes uncomfortable world populated by odd and sometimes unlikeable people, beautifully brought to life by this fantastic four-person cast.

BWW Review: Playwright Michael Elyanow Reimagines MEDEA in the Uncategorizable THE CHILDREN at Pillsbury House Theatre
October 4, 2016

Medea. Even if, like me, you've never seen or read the play, we all know the story of the mother who kills her children. Worst mother ever, right? But maybe, as they say on CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND, the situation is a bit more nuanced than that. Maybe there's more to the story, maybe other people in the story see it differently. Playwright Michael Elyanow (see also the beautiful play with music LULLABY) wanted to explore the story from the children's viewpoint. He writes in the playbill, 'I started writing THE CHILDRENas a response play where somebody does take action to defend those kids. In the writing, the piece revealed itself to be a fever dream, a time-traveling mystery, a fish-out-of-water comedy, a theatrical event with a perception shift in every scene until we get at what the play is ultimately, singularly about: trauma survival.' That's about as good of a description as I could imagine. THE CHILDRENis not an easy play to categorize, but it is a wonderful one to experience for 80 minutes. It'll challenge your perception of Medea, as well as your perception of time and space.

BWW Review: Loudmouth Collective WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT is a Clever, Funny, and Silly Companion Play to the Beckett Classic
September 28, 2016

WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT is definitely the lightest and funniest show Loudmouth Collective has done in their five seasons. And friends, it's really funny. Playwright Dave Hanson has written a clever, smart, and silly companion play to Beckett's classic absurdist play WAITING FOR GODOT, in which two understudies are waiting backstage for their moment in the spotlight. Much like the original, WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT is kind of just two idiots blathering about nothing. But in doing so the play touches on the nature of acting and waiting and being. It's another great choice for Loudmouth. As much as I love their dark and intense side, what a treat it is to watch them be fun and playful, while still putting on a sharp and all-around high-quality production with a dream team of cast and creative. In short - go see it!

BWW Review: Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre and St. Paul's Ordway Center Bring Us a Reinvigorated PAINT YOUR WAGON About the Diverse Cultures that Built the American West
August 19, 2016

I had never even heard of the 1951 Lerner and Loewe musical PAINT YOUR WAGON when the Ordway announced it as part of their season. I guess that's not too surprising; it ran for less than a year on Broadway and has never been revived. The story was significantly rewritten for the 1969 movie adaptation starring Clint Eastwood, which also included a few new songs. Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre scrapped both the original and revised book (they're a little bit racist, and sexist) to write a new story set in the Gold Rush era of California, making it more reflective of the many diverse cultures that came together to build the great American West. This production has moved to the Ordway for two weeks, with a few local additions to the cast. This thrilling story of the beginnings of the American West with a beautifully diverse cast has rescued this gorgeous Western and Mexican influenced score from the place where problematic old musicals go to die.

BWW Review: A Few Suggestions at the Halfway Point of the Minnesota Fringe Festival, or, Time to Get Your Fringe On!
August 10, 2016

It's the halfway point of the 11-day, 168-show Minnesota Fringe Festival. I've seen 29 shows in the last 6 days, with 20+ more scheduled for the final 5 days of the fest. The new system of daily wristbands that get you into any and all shows that day seems to be working great. The handy Fringe website has all the information you'll need about schedule, venues, cast and creative team, and reviews from people who have already seen the show. The Fringe continues through Sunday August 14, so there's still time to get your Fringe on!

BWW Review: Head to Charming Excelsior for a Nostalgic and Musically Thrilling MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET at Old Log Theatre
August 4, 2016

Carl Perkins, 'the king of rockabilly.' Jerry Lee Lewis, 'rock and roll's first great wild man.' Johnny Cash, 'one of the best-selling musicians of all time.' Elvis Presley, simply 'the king.' In 1956, these four men were in their 20s and at the early stages of their influential and prolific careers. They came together for one night at Sun Records in Memphis for a jam session, which was recorded and released as the 'Million Dollar Quartet.' So of course, this story had to be made into a musical. Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux did just that; the musical MILLION DOLLAR QUARTETopened on Broadway in 2010. It only ran for a year, but found success on tour and regionally, as such crowd-pleasing jukebox musicals do. Despite a fairly thin book, it's a great show, precisely because we all know and love these songs and these singers. Even if we weren't alive in 1956, these four artists and their music are an integral part of our musical heritage. The Old Log Theatre recently opened a long run of the show with a fantastic cast that's definitely worth the drive out to charming lake town of Excelsior in the Western Metro.

BWW Review: After Nearly 60 Years, The University of Minnesota Concludes their Summer Melodrama on the Showboat with the Delightful UNDER THE GASLIGHT
August 1, 2016

For nearly 60 years, the University of Minnesota has been presenting a summer melodrama on a docked showboat on the Mississippi River, currently across from downtown St. Paul. The Minnesota Centennial Showboat was christened in 1958, as those who know their Minnesota history could guess. The first show was UNDER THE GASLIGHT, which returns this summer for their last season at the Showboat. While this is only the second U of M show I've seen at the Showboat, I'm sad that it was my last. The creative team includes some of the top talent in town, and the cast is chock-full of talented young people that are the future of theater in this town. The melodrama is a fun, entertaining, and little-seen genre that encourages the audience to 'vocalize appropriately.' The Showboat is a unique and charming venue, and I hope that someone puts it to good use. Whether you've seen dozens of Showboat melodramas, or none, it would behoove you to board the Showboat one last time for this uniquely pleasing theatrical experience.

BWW Review: Jungle Theater's New Play LE SWITCH is a Feel-Good Summer Rom-Com with a Little More Depth and Significance than the Usual Rom-Com
June 27, 2016

Two years ago I saw Philip Dawkins' one-act play FAILURE: A LOVE STORYat the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and it was one of my favorite things I've ever seen at the Fringe. In fact I called it 'everything I want in theater,' a perfect blend of comedy and tragedy, with tons of heart. At the time I didn't know who Philip Dawkins was, but now I know he's a Chicago-based playwright who is a core writer with the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. His name has come up again recently when his new play CHARM(also a mix of comedy and tragedy with heart) was produced at Mixed Blood earlier this year. And now comes LE SWITCH, developed at the Playwrights' Center and having a rolling world premiere this year, including at the Jungle Theater. I'm happy to report that like FAILURE, it gave me all of the feels. Like FAILURE, LE SWITCHis a funny and beautiful love story, but not just a romantic love story. It's also a love story between a brother and a sister who are each other's only family; a love story between childhood best friends who, despite their differences, still love and support each other unconditionally; a love story between the main character and a man who was more of a father to him than his biological father ever was or could be. It's a fantastic new play and I'm excited to see where it goes next.

BWW Summer Stages: Great Theater Choices Abound in Minneapolis/St. Paul this Summer, Inside and Out!
June 9, 2016

It's finally summer in Minnesota, and that means lakes, parks, camping, hiking, and best of all - summer theater! You can't spend every moment of the summer outdoors, because you wouldn't want to get a sunburn, and also sometimes it rains. So take a break from outdoor activities to see some great theater this summer (or watch theater outdoors!). Here are a few of your choices for summer theater playing on stages and in parks around Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding area.

BWW Review: Transatlantic Love Affair's Remount of the Ivey-Winning BALLAD OF THE PALE FISHERMAN is a Simple Story Beautifully Told
June 8, 2016

Devised physical theater company Transatlantic Love Affair won an Ivey in 2012 for BALLAD OF THE PALE FISHERMAN, an original work based on the legend of the selkie, a seal who takes human form. I did not see that production, having only 'discovered' TLA shortly before their Ivey win through their Fringe show ASH LAND. I saw it at the final 'audience pick' show because it was the talk of the festival that year. Seeing TLA for the first time was one of the most moving theater experiences I've had, and I haven't missed a show since. I'm thrilled they're bringing back BALLAD OF THE PALE FISHERMAN as part of the Southern's ARTshare program. Seeing it last night, it's obvious why it won the Ivey. No one casts a spell like Transatlantic Love Affair, as they tell a story and create an entire world with nothing but their bodies, voices, and souls. BALLAD OF THE PALE FISHERMAN is an achingly beautiful and completely engrossing 75 minutes of storytelling.

BWW Review: Walking Shadow Theatre Company's Excellent THE CHRISTIANS Examines the Power of Belief to Unite and Divide
May 30, 2016

Why do we believe what we believe? Can our beliefs change? What happens when those we love don't believe the same things we believe? How important is it to find a group of people that believe in the same things you do? These are just a few of the questions raised by Walking Shadow Theatre Company's excellent production of the thought-provoking play THE CHRISTIANS. In just 90 minutes or so, we witness the pastor of a hugely successful church lose everything because he preaches what he believes, which contradicts the teachings of the church, causing everyone in his life to reexamine their beliefs as well. And it just might have this same effect on the audience.

BWW Review: The Guthrie Theater's Production of the 60-Year-Old Play TROUBLE IN MIND Starts an Important Conversation that's Still Relevant Today
May 26, 2016

Friends, something exciting is going on at the Guthrie Theater. In the wake of (not unjustified) criticism about their lack of diversity onstage and backstage, they are currently presenting a 60-year-old play written by Alice Childress, one of the most important female African-American playwrights of the 20th Century, and directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, the first African-American woman to ever direct on a Guthrie mainstage. And I'm happy to report that TROUBLE IN MIND succeeds on so many levels. First of all, it's hilarious, engaging, and entertaining, and offers a behind the scenes look at the theater world we love so well. But more importantly, it talks about racism, sexism, classism, ageism in a smart and nuanced way that has as much resonance in today's world as it did in the 1950s NYC theater world depicted in the play. I was fortunate enough to attend on a night when there was a post-show discussion with the cast, which just made the experience that much richer. The best and most important work of theater is to start conversations about the world we live in, give voice to everyone's stories, and in doing so help us to better understand our fellow human beings. Trouble in Mind, and the conversations it will hopefully spark amongst its audience, is a fantastic example of that.

BWW Review: Four Humors Brings the Classic THE INGENIOUS GENTLEMAN DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA to Life in a Delightful Way with a Clever Adaptation and Inventive Design
May 18, 2016

When the ingenious gentlemen of Four Humors apply their unique, clever, and hilarious storytelling style to a classic such as THE INGENIOUS GENTLEMAN DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA, it's a thing not to be missed. And even though I've experienced many such unique adaptations by Four Humors, as well as original work, last night's world premiere opening night still gave me something unexpected. As the play points out, everyone knows Don Quixote, even if you're never read the book or heard the name Miguel de Cervantes. Four Humors tells the classic story about honor, chivalry, and madness in a unique way using puppetry projection and by making Cervantes a character in the play, allowing the characters to step outside the story and comment on it. I believe this is Four Humors' debut at the Guthrie, which will no doubt expose a new audience to their often accomplished mission 'to create art that celebrates the humor, stupidity, and beauty of our world by letting the artist connect with the audience in a vulnerable and honest way.'

BWW Review: The Moving Company's New Work EVERY SENTENCE IS FOR THE BIRDS Speaks to the Nature of Science and Art and What it Means to be Human
May 2, 2016

The Moving Company is a unique theater company in this town of over 70 theater companies. The descendant of the beloved departed Theatre de la Jeune Lune, MoCo's productions are typically original ensemble-based creations. Like the proverbial box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get with them: over-the-top ridiculous comedy, lovely achingly beautiful poignancy, or more likely, somewhere in between. Their new piece EVERY SENTENCE IS FOR THE BIRDSfalls more towards the sublime end of the ridiculous-to-sublime spectrum that they cover. The two-person show about a scientist and her subject is both simple and profound, dealing with topics no less than the nature of science and art, and what it means to be human. Words are inadequate to describe The Moving Company's work, so you should just go see it for yourself. I guarantee it's unlike anything you will see on any other stage in town.

BWW Review: CHARM at Mixed Blood Theatre Charms with a Powerful True Story and Ground-Breaking Casting
April 27, 2016

Sometimes theater is more than just theater. Sometimes theater is about giving a voice to people whose voices are not often heard. Sometimes theater is about increasing our understanding of people who seem different than us, but who really are the same. Sometimes theater is about giving everyone a chance to see their lives and experiences reflected back at them, validating their existence and importance in the world. Mixed Blood Theatre's work often checks all of the above boxes, as is the case with the new playCHARMby Phillip Dawkins. Inspired by thetrue story of a transgender woman who teaches a charm schoolto homeless and at risk transgender youth,CHARMpremiered in Chicago last fall, but Mixed Blood's production is the first to include five transgender actors in the cast, which lends an air of poignant authenticity to this moving, funny, and at times difficult story.

BWW Review: Children's Theatre Company World Premiere of DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE MUSICAL is Irresistible
April 26, 2016

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE MUSICAL- I've got an animal heart for you. Even though I have no familiarity with the successful book series or movies, I felt obliged to see Children's Theater Company's world premiere musical adaptation because of the talk about a possibly Broadway run, and producer Kevin McCollum also produced my favorite musical RENT. But all sense of obligation quickly went out the window as the show won me over with it's clever and musically diverse score, universally relatable story of a kid trying to find himself in middle school, and most of all this incredible cast of mostly Twin Cities youth. Whether you're a kid stuck in the middle (school), or a jaded grown-up, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE MUSICALis simply irresistible, and I think it's going to go far.

BWW Review: The Jungle Theater's CONSTELLATIONS is a Fascinating Trip through Multiple Universes in the Story of One Relationship
April 18, 2016

The theory of the quantum multiverse suggests that many different universes simultaneously exist, based on every choice we ever (or never) made. I don't know if I believe that, but I do believe that we are where we are in life based on a million choices we've made in our life, both significant and seemingly insignificant. It's intriguing to think that if we had made one or a hundred choices differently, we might be in a completely different place in life, doing something completely different, surrounded by completely different people. English playwright Nick Payne's new play CONSTELLATIONS, the second production in the Jungle Theater's 2016 season, plays with that idea to great effect. In one of my favorite plays that I've seen all year, we are taken on a journey of a relationship, but not just one single linear journey, rather countless iterations of that journey, some funny, some heart-breaking, some hopelessly romantic, all focused on these two people that are connected in some way in every one of the universes traveled.

BWW Review: Nautilus Music-Theater Reinvents the World's Longest Running Musical THE FANTASTICKS with Atypical Casting and an Intimate Staging
April 11, 2016

It may be spring (almost) outside, but inside Nautilus Music-Theater's tiny studio space in Lowertown St. Paul, it's most definitely September. The kind of September 'where grass is green and grain is yellow,' and 'no one weeps except the willow.' A lovely hopeful youthful September that slowly fades into a wiser, darker, and nostalgic December. While Nautilus is primarily dedicated to developing new works of music-theater, with their newest full production, they are presenting a new take onthe longest running musical in the world. 56 years ago,THE FANTASTICKSwas just the kind of piece that Nautilus would have developed, supported, and produced - an inventive piece of music-theater storytelling that pushes the envelope of what the genre can do. While that glow of newness and inventiveness has somewhat faded over the years, Nautilus is bringing it back in a new way with age-conscious and gender-conscious casting, and by presenting the piece as it originally was - in an intimate small-scale setting that allows the simple beauty and humor of the piece to shine. With limited seating and only 12 performances,make plans soon for this rare opportunityto see this classic musical performed by some of the Twin Cities best theater artists up close and personal.



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