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.



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: 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: Banned in Burnsville, Brilliant in Bloomington! CAUCASIAN-AGGRESSIVE PANDAS AND OTHER MULATTO TALES is Smart, Funny, Thoughtful Commentary on Race in AmericaBWW Review: Banned in Burnsville, Brilliant in Bloomington! CAUCASIAN-AGGRESSIVE PANDAS AND OTHER MULATTO TALES is Smart, Funny, Thoughtful Commentary on Race in America
Posted: Jun. 13, 2018

BWW Review: Mixed Blood Theatre's AN OCTOROON is Kinda Brilliant in a Crazy Sort of Way, and Has Lots to Say About Race in America Past and Present
October 26, 2015

The word octoroon is defined as 'a person of one-eight black ancestry.' THE OCTOROONis a 19th Century play by Irish playwright Dion Boucicault about which Wikipedia says, 'among antebellum melodramas, it was considered second only in popularity to Uncle Tom's Cabin.' AN OCTOROON is a new play by playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who adapted the play and added himself as a character, writing the play and playing all the while male parts in white face, with the original playwright and his assistant playing roles in redface and blackface, while a rabbit seems to pull the strings behind the scenes. Got all that? Believe me, it's a lot to take in, and the play says some pretty profound things about race and racism in the past and present. But despite being a little perplexing and intentionally offensive (in a way that's not really offensive because it's satire), the whole thing is kinda brilliant in a crazy sort of way.

BWW Review: Roger Guenveur Smith Gives a Masterful Performance in his Artfully Constructed One-Man Show RODNEY KING
October 6, 2015

'Can we all get along?' This famous plea uttered by Rodney King during the 1992 L.A. Riots, a reaction to the acquittal of the four LAPD officers who severely beat him a year earlier, is often what he's most remembered for. I admit that after more than 20 years, I had forgotten many of the details, and didn't even realize that he died three years ago. But in this one-man show written and performed by Roger Guenveur Smith, Rodney King's story comes alive again - the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's a virtuoso performance that is poetic and lyrical, harsh and disturbing. Roger has performed this piece around the world and has brought it to St. Paul's Penumbra Theatre for just two weeks. It's definitely something to see.

October 1, 2015

Friends,Theater Latte Da has done it again. They've created a music-theater production that is so stirring and chilling, it's nothing short of brilliant. After the delightfully innovative and stripped-downINTO THE WOODSthis spring, they return to Sondheim with a similarly innovative and stripped-downSWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET. But where INTO THE WOODSwas a fun and slightly sinister mish-mash of classic fairy tales,SWEENEY is all darkness and death, albeit with a bit of dark humor. Director Peter Rothstein again cast just ten actors in the show, many playing multiple roles and all perfect for the parts, and Denise Prosek leads a pared down orchestra of just four, that still somehow sounds musically full on this gorgeous and disturbing score. With a couple of actors not known for their singing leading this talented cast, and a cohesive look to the set, costumes, and theater space that is well used, thisSWEENEYis completely engaging and all-consuming, and brilliantly shows what Latte Da can do with not musical theater, but theater musically.

BWW Review: Yellow Tree Theatre's Production of the Irish Classic DANCING AT LUGHNASA Will Leave You With A Warm and Wistful Feeling
October 1, 2015

Irish playwright Brian Friel's DANCING AT LUGHNASA is a perfectly lovely play, and a wonderful choice for the perfectly lovely Yellow Tree Theatre. The eight-person cast is actually on the large side for their cozy and intimate space nestled inside an Osseo strip mall, but the warm, humorous, and melancholic tone is a perfect fit. It's a beautiful play and a beautiful cast, and will leave you with a warm and wistful feeling.

BWW Feature: The Ivey Awards Celebrates an Amazing Year of Theater in Minneapolis and St. Paul
September 23, 2015

On Monday night I attended my 9th Ivey Awards. Yes, even beforeI started Cherry and Spoon in 2010and started getting press tickets to the event in 2013, I was still a theater geek (read all the words I've written about the Iveys here). The Ivey Awards are my favorite theater night of the year, not so much for the awards themselves, but because it's a celebration of another year of amazing local theater that gathers all of my favorite theater artists in one room. Even though I've met many of them, I still get starstruck when I walk through the crowd and every other face I see is someone I've enjoyed watching on stage. I love to watch awards shows on TV so it's a thrill to get all glammed up and actually attend one in person. I even painted my toenails with a glittery green called 'One Short Day' - appropriate because of itsmusical theater geekinessand and because this event that I look forward to all year goes by in a whirlwind of people and honorees and loud music and conversations. And now it's over for another year, but more great theater is still to come which we will be celebrating next year!

BWW Review: Jungle Theater's Production of the New Play ANNAPURNA is Gorgeous, Funny, Heart-Breaking, and Starkly Poetic
September 9, 2015

Annapurna is the tenth highest mountain in the world, named after the Hindu Goddess of nourishment. In the new play by Sharr White, Ulysses writes an epic poem about his ex-wife Emma in which he uses climbing Annapurna as an analogy for their long, complicated, fractured relationship. The revelation of the poem comes at the end of 90 minutes of taut, natural, funny, heart-breaking, real, beautiful dialogue between these two layered and well-defined characters. And you couldn't ask for two better actors than Angela Timberman and Terry Hempleman to play Emma and Ulysses. Everything about the Jungle's production of ANNAPURNA, from the set to the acting to the music to the direction to the costumes (or lack thereof), is gorgeous in a starkly realistic yet poetic kind of way.

BWW Review: Dark & Stormy Delivers an Intense and Terrifying Production of the 1980s Play EXTREMITIES that is as Relevant and Topical as Ever
August 31, 2015

Withtheir sixth productionin the three-year life of the company,Dark & Stormyonce again delivers a short, intense, well-acted and directed play in an unconventional space. ButEXTREMITIEShas none of the dark humor that could be found in some of their past shows. It's all violence and drama and complex moral questions. This 1982 Broadway play turned 1986 movie starring Farrah Fawcett explores the weighty themes of sexual violence, power, and justice. There's no clear winner in this story, no obvious right and wrong, just a lot of grey area, where most of us live. Each of these four characters, beautifully portrayed by this excellent cast, is at times sympathetic and at times infuriating in their words and choices. More than 30 years after it was written,EXTREMITIESis as relevant and topical as ever.

BWW Reviews: The Minnesota Fringe Festival Delivers an Amazing Smorgasbord of Theater
August 6, 2015

Helly my Broadway World Minneapolis friends. I know it's been a while since I've shared anything with you, but that's because I've been all-consumed by the 174-show 11-day festival that is the Minnesota Fringe. If you have not yet sampled from this glorious smorgasbord, don't worry, the fest continues through August 9 with 4-7 shows offered each day at 15 venues in Minneapolis, plus 9 site-specific shows. Believe me, I understand that this can be overwhelming, but I'm here to help. Read on to see a list of my 10 favorite shows of the Fringe so far. Now get out there, open your eyes and your heart and your mind, and see some of the beautiful, challenging, hilarious, disturbing, silly, profound, amazing theater that this festival has to offer.

BWW Reviews: Children's Theatre Company's Immersive Walking Theatrical Experience 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA is the Best Game of Make-Believe Ever
July 22, 2015

Children's Theatre Company's latest offering 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA isn't what we usually think of as theater. But it is the best game of make-believe ever, and what is theater if not an elaborate game of make-believe? CTC is an expert at playing to their target audience while still creating art that we grown-ups can enjoy as well. And kids are quite familiar with playing make-believe, acting out their favorite stories, TV shows, books, or movies. That's pretty much what this show is - fan fiction (created by the wonderfully inventive team of Ryan Underbakke and Nick Ryan) about Jules Verne's novel with a fantastic team of actors playing the characters and leading the audience, who are also playing characters, through the story. It's an exercise in the collective power of imagination, something that comes naturally to kids, but that's necessary for adults to take part in occasionally as well. 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA is a super cool and totally unique experience.

BWW Reviews: Girl Friday Productions' Rendition of the Classic American Comedy THE MATCHMAKER is an Absolute Delight
July 20, 2015

Girl Friday Productions is a theater company that specializes in large cast classic American plays. The bad news is they only do one production every two years. The good news is it's worth the wait. In their first time partnering with Park Square Theatre, they're presenting Thornton Wilder's comedy THE MATCHMAKER. With a funny and poignant story about love, money, and adventure, smart period set and costumes, a cast that is sheer perfection, and direction that keeps it all running smoothly, this MATCHMAKER is an absolute delight from top to bottom, start to finish. Go see it now (playing through July 26), or wait another two years for your chance to see this great company.

BWW Reviews: Classical Actors Ensemble's TWO GENTLEMAN OF VERONA is Shakespeare As It's Intended - Playful, Energetic, Immediate, and Outdoors!
June 28, 2015

The best thing about living in Minnesota is: a) theater, and b) lakes. Combine those two, and you have about as perfect of a Minnesota experience as you can have.Classical Actors Ensembleis presenting Shakespeare's comedyTWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONAat Lake of the Isles (and other select locations) this summer. I saw the matinee yesterday, and it was a lovely way to spend a picture perfect Minnesota summer afternoon. The show is utterly charming, and something about doing it outdoors in a public space makes Shakespeare seem more immediate, natural, and real, like this is a story that's happening in our world here and now. I sometimes have a hard time getting into Shakespeare, but this company makes it extremely accessible and so easy to become engaged in the stories, characters, and Shakespeare's beautiful words, which sound modern and fresh in this context. Their mission is: 'Classical Actors Ensemble is dedicated to engaging audiences by capturing the spirit in which plays of the English Renaissance were originally performed - with immediacy, passion, and as popular entertainment.' Mission accomplished.

BWW Reviews: ONCE Is Not Your Typical Broadway Musical, Using Music Organically to 'Speak and Sing of What It Is to Be Human'
June 24, 2015

There's no big opening number, no splashy dance with dozens of chorus girls and boys, no pit orchestra, no large moving set pieces, no colorful glamorous costumes. ONCE is not your typical musical. In fact, according to The Cherry and Spoon Music-Theater Spectrum it's not a musical at all, but rather a play with music. Yet this atypical not-really-a-musical musical won eight Tony Awards in 2012. Why is that? Why was this quiet and quirky musical based on a little Irish movie awarded Broadway's biggest prize? Perhaps because it is different from other musicals. Perhaps the voters awarded the creative and organic way music is used to tell this beautifully simple and non-traditional love story. ONCE is a new kind of music-theater, and proves that musicals don't always have to be big and loud to have a profound effect on the audience. ONCE is quietly, beautifully stirring.

BWW Reviews: The Guthrie Theater's CHOIR BOY Uses Music to Perfection in Telling This Affecting Coming of Age Story
June 23, 2015

What do you get when you combine a talented young playwright, an excellent cast that includes five up-and-coming actors and two beloved veterans of local stages, stirring a capella gospel music arranged by a local musical legend, and the Twin Cities' best director of 'theater musically?' You get CHOIR BOY, a lovely and affecting play about a young gay man coming of age in an African American boarding school. The playwright is Tarell Alvin McCraney of the excellent Brother/Sister trilogy that Pillsbury House Theatre has produced in its entirety in the last several years. While those plays have an epic, mythical quality, CHOIR BOY is more grounded in reality, but just as beautifully written. Add in musical direction and arrangement by Sanford Moore and direction by Peter Rothstein, an expert at using music in the best possibly way to enhance the theatrical storytelling, and you have something quite special going on in the Guthrie's Dowling Studio.

BWW Reviews: Skylark Opera Offers Two Different but Equally Satisfying Music-Theater Shows in their Annual Summer Festival
June 16, 2015

One of the theatrical highlights of the summer,Skylark Opera's Annual Summer Festival, is upon us! As usual, the two shows playing in repertoire include one that's more of a traditional opera (but always in English) and one that skews a bit more towards musical theater:Puccini'sLA RONDINEand the Sondheim musical revuePUTTING IT TOGETHER(put together by Sondheim himself). As someone who loves musical theater but doesn't venture into the world of opera very often, Skylark's Summer Festival offers a fun, easy, accessible way to enjoy to dip my toes into the opera scene and indulge my love of musical theater. Both shows are highly entertaining with excellent casts and orchestras. But the runs are short with just four performances of each show. So read on, take your pick, andget your ticketsbefore this all-too-brief Summer Festival is gone like the all-too-brief Minnesota summer!

BWW Reviews: In the Capable Hands of Gremlin Theatre, the Challenging New Play H2O is Funny, Painful, and Engaging
June 11, 2015

The 2015 Torch Theater/Gremlin Theatre season at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage continues with the first all-Gremlin production, after the joint production, the dark and disturbing DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, and Torch's perfect screwball comedy BOEING BOEING earlier this year. For their production Gremlin is tackling H2O, a new play by Jane Martin. In the capable hands of director Ellen Fenster and a couple of compelling three-named actors, Peter Christian Hansen and Ashley Rose Montondo, this intense 90-minute two-hander is a funny, painful, and engaging story of fame, faith, and art.

BWW Reviews: Pillsbury House Theatre's Moving THE GOSPEL OF LOVINGKINDESS Provides a Bit of Hope for a Weary World
June 3, 2015

Watching the news can make one feel discouraged and hopeless about the state of the world, with increasing violence around the world and in our own neighborhoods. At Pillsbury House Theatre, they're trying to make some sense of it and provide a bit of hope by preaching THE GOSPEL OF LOVINGKINDESS, a new play by Marcus Gardley. It's beautifully and poetically written, full of life and humor that balances out the devastation and death of the situation. It's heavy, and not easy to watch at times, but so worthwhile and necessary. THE GOSPEL OF LOVINGKINDESS is one of those plays that is about so much more than theater.

Summer Stages: BWW's Top Summer Theater Picks - Minnesota
May 31, 2015

For some people, summer means baseball, barbecues, boating, and other outdoor activities. For me, summer means more theater (and iced mochas)! Here are a few shows I'm looking forward to this summer.

BWW Reviews: Ten Thousand Things Delights with FORGET ME NOT WHEN FAR AWAY, a New Play about Coming Home
May 11, 2015

?The village of Farmingtown has been devoid of men for so long that when one returns from the far away and long-lasting war, the first woman he meets rushes up to him and inhales him deeply. This hilarious and oddly touching moment at the beginning of Kira Obolensky's new playFORGET ME NOT WHEN FAR AWAYsets the tone for this playful and poignant fairy tale about a soldier returning to a home he once knew.Ten Thousand Thingshas been on the road with the show for a few weeks, performing at correctional facilities, community centers, and other unlikely venues. As director Michelle Hensley said in her introduction of the show, the fact that this play has resonated with such diverse audiences in different ways is a credit to the skills of the playwright, who has created a world outside of time and space that somehow feels familiar and relatable to everyone. This world is brought to life in the beautifully sparse way that only Ten Thousand Things can do, with a brilliant cast of six performing in a fully lit room in a space so small that they literally trip over the audience. The fanciful story is grounded in truth and made to feel very real by the universality of the story, the charming accessibility of the language, the up-close-and-personal performances by the actors in whom you can feel every nuance of every emotion through a look in the eyes, the twinge of a facial muscle, or a subtle movement of the body. Ten Thousand Things harnesses the magic of theater in its most basic form like no other company can.

BWW Reviews: It's the Story Between the Hits that Makes JERSEY BOYS a Continued Success
April 30, 2015

The jukebox musicalJERSEY BOYSis a crowd-pleaser. The story ofFrankie Valli and the Four Seasonswill celebrate 10 years on Broadway this fall and the tour is making its third stop in Minneapolis this week. At times during last night's opening night, the crowd reacted like this was a Four Seasons tribute concert. But it's so much more than that. This jukebox musical is not just hit after hit strung together with some loose threads we're supposed to accept as a plot. Rather this beloved and familiar music is woven into the true life story of the rise and fall of these Hall of Fame rock-and-rollers. It's like an episode of VH1's Behind the Music, revealing that all was not rosy behind those crisp harmonies and sharp dance moves. Fame and celebrity at a young age rarely lead to a smooth road in life. Any show that featured a string of hits from the '60s would be sure to sell out to a population dominated by baby boomers, but it's the clever book that weaves the hits together and tells a story worth hearing that is responsible forJERSEY BOYS' critical success and staying power.

BWW Reviews: PETER PAN Takes Flight in a Magical New Production at Children's Theatre Company
April 27, 2015

?Being a grown-up is hard. You have to be concerned about things like bills, a job, a house, traffic, the deterioration of the environment, and violence and injustice in our backyards and around the world. It's really a drag - no wonder Peter Pan doesn't want to be one! And while we boring and worried grown-ups don't have the option of returning to a blissful childhood, we can go to the Children's Theatre Company and forget about all of our grown-up worries, remembering and reveling in the joy and freedom of youth. What better choice for CTC, then, than the musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie's iconic tale about the boy who won't grow up? Kids love it because they see themselves in Peter, and we grown-ups see an even deeper meaning in the story as we watch the children around us grow up in an increasingly dangerous world, and long for our own days of innocence. It's a perfect choice perfectly executed by the entire cast and creative and technical teams. ThisPETER PANis something quite magical, and quite simply the best thing I've seen at CTC.