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: 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 Reviews: The Guthrie Theater and Lyric Arts Present Two Different Versions of the Heartwarming A CHRISTMAS CAROL
November 23, 2014

Charles Dickens' novella A CHRISTMAS CAROL has become a staple of holiday traditions. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that this classic story can currently be seen on multiple stages in the Twin Cities. The biggest of these is the Guthrie Theater; this is the 40th year that the Guthrie has produced A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I think it's safe to say this is one of their most popular shows every year, with many families incorporating it into their annual traditions. Lyric Arts is also producing the show on their Main Street Stage in Anoka. I was lucky enough to see these two different interpretations of this classic story on back-to-back nights. And while I do have a clear favorite between the two, it's really unfair to compare them too closely. Both are entertaining and creative interpretations of Charles Dickens' heartwarming story about the rich-in-money poor-in-friends businessman who learns through the visitation of four ghosts that it's better to be kind than rich.

BWW Reviews: One Final Weekend to See the Salty, Sassy Princesses of the Hilarious Musical Satire DISENCHANTED
November 19, 2014

The princesses of DISENCHANTED will cast their spell on you in a whole different way than their Disney predecessors. While Disney portrays such fairy tale princesses and historical figures as Snow White, the Little Mermaid, and Pocahontas as sweet, mild-mannered, passive ladies waiting for a prince to come along and save them, the salty, sassy princess of DISENCHANTED are smart, strong, and unwilling to put up with crap from anyone! This new musical comedy by Dennis C. Giancino is currently in its second production here in the Twin Cities. Casting Spells Productions has brought back three of the princesses from last year's fantastic production at the Ritz Theater, added a few new and equally fabulous princesses, spiffed up the costumes, and included a few tweaks by the creator. It's still a super fun show for anyone who loves and/or hates Disney princesses. These are the kind of princesses little (and not so little) girls should emulate!

BWW Reviews: Two Small Theater Companies Impress - nimbus theatre's Delightfully Bizarre GHOST SONATA and Candid Theatre Company's Compelling True-Crime HAUPTMANN
November 7, 2014

Readers of Broadway World Minneapolis are familiar with the big splashy Broadway tours that come through Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre and St. Paul's Ordway Center for the Arts, as well as what's happening at our own big theaters like the Guthrie. But my goal as a Broadway World contributor is to make you aware of the great work that some of the smaller companies around town are doing. Two great examples right now are nimbus theatre, which does consistently good work as well as hosts other small companies at their Northeast Minneapolis home, and Candid Theatre Company, which recently won an Ivey for their new play DOGWOOD. nimbus' production of August Strindberg's GHOST SONATA combines original music, ingenious set design, and video projections to enhance the deeply layered 100 year old play. Candid's production of the historical true-crime drama HAUPTMANN presents a compelling story with the barest of sets and costumes. Both are worth your time and deserve a bigger audience than the ones I was a part of. Keep reading for more details on both shows. Moral of the story: don't be afraid to venture off the beaten path and give a new theater a try. You might discover something pretty great.

BWW Reviews: Park Square Theatre's 33 VARIATIONS Combines Fascinating Music History with Poignant Family Drama
October 31, 2014

33 VARIATIONS is part fascinating music history, part poignant family drama, and part classical music concert, which adds up to an entertaining evening of theater. Park Square's production of the Moises Kaufman play satisfies on several levels - intellectual, emotional, musical - and features a great seven-person cast (plus one talented pianist) who bring the past and present together in an intriguing way. This is just one of two shows currently playing at Park Square; St. Paul is the place to be for quality theater.

BWW Reviews: Bloomington Civic Theatre's Brilliant Musical NEXT TO NORMAL is Beautiful and Heartbreaking
October 21, 2014

Diverging from the usual feel-good classic musicals, Bloomington Civic Theatre is currently presenting NEXT TO NORMAL, one of the few musicals to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama and perhaps the most brilliantly written musical of this century. Unlike shows like Guys and Dolls or Singin' in the Rain, you won't leave the theater feeling happy and carefree. You'll leave feeling emotionally exhausted and perhaps continuing to think heavy thoughts for several days. NEXT TO NORMAL is not an easy show to watch, but it's such a rich and rewarding experience. I couldn't be happier that there are not one but two local productions if it this season, at BCT now through November 15, and at Yellow Tree Theatre next spring. This was my fifth time seeing NEXT TO NORMAL, and BCT's production is as beautiful and heartbreaking as ever.

BWW Reviews: Ten Thousand Things' Minimalist Production of ROMEO AND JULIET Brings the Classic Story to Life in a Unique Way
October 19, 2014

No one does Shakespeare like Ten Thousand Things. They manage to boil the text down to its bare essentials, and convey the heart of the story in a way that feels fresh and modern. This season they bring their unique Shakespeare style to perhaps his most well-know play, the story of star-crossed lovers that inspired all others, Romeo and Juliet. In the typically minimalist production (since TTT performs on location at prisons, homeless shelters, and community centers, the paid public performances are also in a small, fully lit room with little in the way of sets and costumes), director Peter Rothstein and his fantastic cast of eight playing multiple characters bring this familiar story to life in a unique way.

BWW Reviews: In Theater Latte Da's Magnificent Production of MASTER CLASS, Sally Wingert Embodies the Legendary Maria Callas
October 14, 2014

I don't know opera, and I don't believe I had ever heard the name Maria Callas before seeing Theater Latte Da's MASTER CLASS. But I have been educated. I now know that Maria Callas was one of the most talented, dedicated, and fascinating artists of the 20th century. Her paintbrush was her voice, her canvas was the stage, her creation was opera. She sacrificed everything for her art, and had very strong opinions about what art is and what it isn't. She shared those opinions in a series of master classes at Julliard in the early '70s. Playwright Terrence McNally used those classes as the backdrop against which to tell the story of who this woman was in his 1996 Tony-winning play. Her attitude towards art may not lead to the healthiest and happiest of lifestyles, but it does in some cases lead to some exquisite art, both in her singing, and in this magnificent production by Theater Latte Da.

BWW Reviews: Children's Theatre Company Brings the Novel SEEDFOLKS to Life in a Mesmerizing One-Woman Show
October 9, 2014

'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.' This Margaret Mead quote greeted me upon exiting the theater after seeing Children's Theatre Company's SEEDFOLKS. I don't know if this quote is always in their lobby, or if it's specific to this show, but it is the perfect summation of this beautiful play. Paul Fleischman's 1997 novel tells the story of a vacant lot in Cleveland being transformed into a community garden from the perspective of multiple different characters. In CTC's adaptation, all of these characters and more are portrayed by one woman - Sonja Parks. She brilliantly transforms from a young Vietnamese girl, to an elderly Romanian woman, to a Guatemalan boy, and everything in between in the course of just over an hour. It's an epic journey of a neighborhood that transforms from one of fear and distrust to one that, while it might still have those things, is more deeply connected and supportive, all due to the growing of plants. A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens change the world, or at least their small corner of it.

BWW Reviews: Walking Shadow's GABRIEL is a Chilling and Captivating Look at a Little Known Facet of WWII History
October 7, 2014

As I left the theater yesterday afternoon, I clutched my sweater close around me to ward off the chill. Not the chill in the crisp fall air, but the chill from the play I had just seen - Walking Shadow's GABRIEL. This story about a little known facet of WWII history is so captivating, horrifying, chilling, and completely engaging that it hangs with you well after you leave the theater. The excellent cast and realistic set make you feel like you're right there, as this family fights for survival on a Nazi-occupied British island. It's only playing for one more weekend, but it's well worth it if you can make it. You won't soon forget this beautifully done, powerful play.

BWW Reviews: RADIO MAN, A New Play by Garrison Keillor, Captures Everything You Love About A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION and More
October 3, 2014

Full disclosure: I'm a huge fan of Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion. He's the Mark Twain of our generation, and is Minnesota's best export. If A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION is one of the things that Minnesota is most known for, I am proud to be a Minnesotan. So of course, I absolutely love his new play RADIO MAN, the first he's written. I saw a reading of it early this year as part of the History Theatre's Raw Stages festival and loved it then, but this full production, now playing at the History Theatre, is so much more polished and complete, and really a thing unto itself and not just an episode of A Prairie Home Companion on stage. Yes there is the familiar music, the jingles for Powdermilk Biscuits, rhubarb pie, and ketchup, stories from Lake Wobegon, and beloved characters including Dusty and Lefty and Guy Noir. But there's also a story and a character (the host of a radio show called A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION who bears a striking resemblance to Garrison) who we get to know as he reminisces about his past and contemplates his future.

BWW Reviews: Yellow Tree Theatre Recruits an All-Star Team for their Sweet, Funny, Beautiful Production of THE RAINMAKER
September 22, 2014

Sometimes something or someone comes along in life that changes everything. Such is Starbuck, aka THE RAINMAKER, to the Curry family in Depression era middle America in N. Richard Nash's play 60-year-old play. Yellow Tree Theatre is mounting a lovely new production of this play with an all-star team of YTT regulars and newcomers. It's funny and sweet, hopeful and devastating, a prime example of the beautiful theater that Yellow Tree has been doing for going on seven years, made only richer by the influx of talent from the larger Twin Cities theater scene.

BWW Reviews: THE NEW ELECTRIC BALLROOM Offers a Complex, Disturbing, and Completely Engrossing Enda Walsh Play
September 17, 2014

Enda Walsh seems to be a perfect match for Frank Theatre. Their mission is 'to produce unique work that stretches the skill of the artists who create the work while simultaneously challenging the everyday perceptions of the audience.' In other words, they do weird stuff, but weird in the best possible way, in the way that challenges the audience and encourages us to look at things in a new way, even if we don't quite understand it. Irish playwright Enda Walsh also writes weird and interesting and challenging and utterly unique plays. As with last year's Ivey award-winning MISTERMAN, Frank once again does beautiful work with this weird, challenging, disturbing, completely engrossing, crazy brilliant play.

BWW Reviews: TigerLion Arts' Outdoor Walking Play NATURE at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Embodies the Spirit of Nature Through the Lives of Emerson and Thoreau
September 15, 2014

I went for a walk today. The sky through the trees caught my eye. The sound of music floated in and out between the calling of the birds, and the smell of the late summer prairie was all around me. I followed Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau through their lives, studies, and friendship. I thought about nature not as something to be visited occasionally, but as something we live in the midst of daily, whether we're aware of it or not. Sometimes her voice is obscured by the busyness of modern life, but she's always there if we take the time and listen hard enough. TigerLion Arts' outdoor walking play, NATURE, is more than just theater, it's an experience. The story of the life of writers, philosophers, scholars, and friends Emerson and Thoreau includes one very important character, nature, as experienced through the beautiful grounds of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

BWW Review: Multiple Fantastic Performances by Just Two Actors Highlight the Return of The Jungle Theater's Hit THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP
September 8, 2014

Vampires, werewolves, Egyptian mummies, English moors, haunted portraits, a sophisticated Lord and Lady, an Irish maid, a Scottish stable hand, and a euphonium. Mix it all up and you have the ridiculous and hugely entertaining farce that is THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP. This 2010 Jungle hit is back again this year with the same director/scenic designer, Joel Sass, and one of its stars, Bradley Greenwald (proving once again there truly is nothing he can't do). The role(s) previously played by Stephen Epp is played by another Stephen, Cartmell, and he brings his own kind of brilliance to the show. Watching these two actors fully commit to the distinct outrageousness of multiple characters is a joy.

BWW Reviews: TAKE IT WITH YOU, Live Radio Theater from Duluth, Charms with its Great Music and Hometown Humor
August 22, 2014

There's something cool going on in Duluth. I mean, there are lots of cool things going on in Duluth; it's one of Minnesota's top tourist destinations, with the lake and the big ships and all. But specifically on the music-theater front, which is what brings joy to my heart, there is something new and cool going on. It's called TAKE IT WITH YOU and it's live radio theater, recorded monthly at The Underground in Duluth's historic Depot, and available for free online listening. This scripted serial radio program hearkens back to the days when people used to gather around their radios to listen to music and stories about their favorite characters. Now we can gather around our computers to listen, or plug into a podcast, as we follow this quirky cast of characters on their monthly adventures. It's described as 'CHEERS meets A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION meets AUSTIN CITY LIMITS,' but I encourage you to give it a listen and see for yourself just how charming and funny and silly and musically delicious it is.

BWW Reviews: Sally Wingert Transports the Audience through 20th Century Jewish History in Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company's ROSE
August 14, 2014

Who can resist a one-woman show by Sally Wingert, one of the Twin Cities best actors? Add to that an intimate in-home setting and an epic story that encompasses the entire scope of Jewish history in the 20th Century, and you have an unforgettable evening of theater. Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company's production of Martin Sherman's play ROSE, which is being performed in homes around the Cities, is inspirational, horrifying, funny, charming, disturbing, brutally honest, and entirely compelling.

BWW Reviews: The Ordway's BROADWAY SONGBOOK: THE FIRST 100 YEARS OF BROADWAY is Once Again an Informative and Entertaining Look at Musical Theater History
August 8, 2014

The Ordway is opening its fourth season of the BROADWAY SONGBOOK series with a retrospective of the first 100 years of Broadway. If you're like me, your first question is - when did Broadway begin? It's debatable, but Professor James Rocco - who presides over what feels like a college seminar on musical theater history with live show-and-tell by the Twin Cities' best musical theater performers - tells us that the beginning of Broadway can be marked by THE BLACK CROOK in 1866. This is just one of the things you'll learn in this BROADWAY SONGBOOK, but don't worry, it is anything but dry and pedantic. The stories are fascinating and entertaining (at least to a musical theater nerd like myself), James has chosen just the right collection of songs to illustrate his points, and music director Raymond Berg has beautifully arranged the songs, which are performed with much passion, emotion, and humor by the talented cast of actor/singer/dancers.

BWW Reviews: Minnesota Fringe Festival Mid-Week Favorites - FAILURE Is A Success!
August 7, 2014

It's day 7 of the 11-day Minnesota Fringe Festival, in which 169 one-hour plays, musicals, dramas, dance performances, and comedy shows are presented at 19 venues across Minneapolis. I've seen about half of my 30-some planned shows, and one stands out above the rest - Failure: A Love Story. I love this piece so much because it is so many things at once - funny, heartbreaking, clever, innovative, tragic, and absolutely beautiful. Read about this and five other shows I loved.

BWW Reviews: The Guthrie Theater's VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE Entertains with Deliciously Over-the-Top Comedic Performances
August 4, 2014

In a lovely bit of symmetry, the Guthrie is closing a season that began with Chekhov's Uncle Vanya with a new play by Christopher Durang that uses Chekhovian characters and themes in a decidedly modern way - Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Whatever Durang's inspiration was, the result is a hilarious comedy about a dysfunctional trio of siblings and the wacky people that surround them. Even though I'm sure I missed many of the Chekhov and other references, I thoroughly enjoyed the play. It's great fun, with fantastic performances by everyone in the six-person cast.

BWW Reviews: Mu Performing Arts' Production of Sondheim's A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC is Another Must-See Summer Musical
July 28, 2014

A few weeks ago I wrote that the Guthrie's My Fair Lady is the must-see summer musical. Correction: it's one of two. Mu Performing Arts' production of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music should also be on your must-see list; it's every bit as good as My Fair Lady. The songs might not be as 'hummable and quotable,' but they're clever and beautifully complex in a way that only a Sondheim score can be. The music sounds gorgeous, the costumes are luscious, the show is funny but a little sad too, and the cast is fantastic (and by the way, they also happen to be Asian-American). It's another gorgeous production of a classic.