Karen Bovard

Karen Bovard Karen Bovard has been reviewing theater online, in weekly arts papers, and in scholarly journals for 20 years in New England. In 2016, she relocated to Saint Paul, MN. She's been making theater for more than 40 years, amassing over 70 directing credits. An avid theater goer, she's seen professional productions of all of Shakespeare's plays, completing the canon from the audience pov. She holds a Ph.D. in Theater & Women's Studies. A global educator, she has lived, studied, or worked in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Russia, France, and Germany.


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BWW Review: THE SNEETCHES: THE MUSICAL at Children's Theatre CompanyBWW Review: THE SNEETCHES: THE MUSICAL at Children's Theatre Company
Posted: Feb. 13, 2017


BWW Review: THE LION IN WINTER at Guthrie TheaterBWW Review: THE LION IN WINTER at Guthrie Theater
Posted: Dec. 5, 2016


BWW Review: THE ROYAL FAMILY at Guthrie TheaterBWW Review: THE ROYAL FAMILY at Guthrie Theater
Posted: Feb. 10, 2017


BWW Review: ORPHAN TRAIN at History TheatreBWW Review: ORPHAN TRAIN at History Theatre
Posted: Dec. 15, 2016


BWW Review:  Shimmering SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE at the Guthrie TheaterBWW Review: Shimmering SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE at the Guthrie Theater
June 28, 2017

Design. Pattern. Composition. Balance. Light. Dark. Harmony. These are the principles artist Georges Seurat-as imagined by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine-names in his struggle to paint in a new way. All these principles are present in the musical SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. The current production in Minneapolis is a delight, visually scintillating, gorgeously sung and orchestrated, and successful at melding the two disparate acts into a satisfying whole.

BWW Review: Ambitious, Controversial REFUGIA at Guthrie TheaterBWW Review: Ambitious, Controversial REFUGIA at Guthrie Theater
June 15, 2017

"Refugia" is a Latin term meaning "an area where special circumstances have enabled survival after extinction in surrounding areas." The adventurous theater explorers of The Moving Company (themselves displaced from the renowned Theatre de la Jeune Lune, which closed in 2006) have devised multiple riffs on this idea and related themes, pushing the boundaries of narrative and perhaps, too, of the mainstage Guthrie audiences.

BWW Review: New Company Prime Productions Debuts with LITTLE WARSBWW Review: New Company Prime Productions Debuts with LITTLE WARS
May 15, 2017

There's a brand new professional theater company in the theater-rich Twin Cities. Called Prime Productions, they've got a clear sense of mission: to present work with roles for women over 50, both on and off-stage. LITTLE WARS, by Steven Carl McCasland, imagines a dinner party that never happened. It's 1940 in France, just as that nation falls under Nazi occupation.

BWW Review: A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD Returns to Children's TheatreBWW Review: A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD Returns to Children's Theatre
May 3, 2017

Nearly 10 years after this production garnered three Tony nominations in a Broadway run, it's back at the home that commissioned and created it: Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis. Based on Arnold Lobel's Caldecott and Newbery winning fables about friendship between Frog, a fairly organized fellow, and Toad, who is much less together, it models how we can bond with those unlike us, if we are kind, and we listen.

BWW Review: PROMETHEUS BOUND at Uprising TheaterBWW Review: PROMETHEUS BOUND at Uprising Theater
May 1, 2017

Uprising is one of the younger companies in the Twin Cities' rich and diverse theater landscape. They are very clear on their mission: to tell compelling stories that humanize the issues we grapple with as a society and then to convert audience response into concrete and practical action, immediately.

BWW Review:  World Premiere of GIRL SHAKES LOOSE Triumphs at Penumbra TheatreBWW Review: World Premiere of GIRL SHAKES LOOSE Triumphs at Penumbra Theatre
April 26, 2017

This fresh new musical is a terrific addition to the American musical canon, a show a lot of us have been waiting for. It's a rare thing: the main character is a young African-American woman struggling to find her way in present day USA. Without oversimplifying her struggles with love, sexuality, and work, it takes us all along on her search for self. Tuneful, funny, and soulful, GIRL SHAKES LOOSE is decidedly contemporary and honors the great Sonia Sanchez, a shining light of the Black Arts Movement.

BWW Review: Philosophical BATTLEFIELD at the Guthrie Theater
April 17, 2017

Now in his 90s, innovative and influential director Peter Brook is still making theater. 30 years ago, he staged a 9 hour marathon depicting portions of the great Hindu epic THE MAHABARATA to wide acclaim and some controversy. With BATTLEFIELD, he and his collaborator Marie-Helene Estienne return to that source material for an elegiac and stripped down 70 minute meditation on life, death, and how to resist despair.

BWW Review: MACBETH at Park Square TheatreBWW Review: MACBETH at Park Square Theatre
March 27, 2017

This pared down adaptation of one of Shakespeare's shortest tragedies moves swiftly from an original opening scene to a disappointing final one. As a contemplation of ambition and ruthlessness and the drive to political power, it is ever timely.

BWW Review: THE PAPER DREAMS OF HARRY CHIN at History TheatreBWW Review: THE PAPER DREAMS OF HARRY CHIN at History Theatre
March 20, 2017

Jessica Huang's new play is about a time gone by but the issues it raises feel very immediate. Kaleidoscopic and timely, it turns on the true story of an ethnic immigration ban overcome, a hard-working new American, his efforts to support his village back home while starting anew here, and the way family secrets cause pain down through generations. In this fully staged outing, directed by Mei Ann Teo, the play is uneven but important, bold, and promising.

BWW Review: KING LEAR Kills at Guthrie TheaterBWW Review: KING LEAR Kills at Guthrie Theater
March 6, 2017

'Disciplined' may seem an odd word to apply to a production of KING LEAR, a tragedy that is about personal and societal dissolution into madness, both individually and at large. But the current mounting in Minneapolis earns that moniker, both in actorly control and design restraint. The result is a masterful rendering that eschews excess but allows the human relationships to be bared and centered.

BWW Review: THE SNEETCHES: THE MUSICAL at Children's Theatre CompanyBWW Review: THE SNEETCHES: THE MUSICAL at Children's Theatre Company
February 13, 2017

This world premiere of a new musical based on a short story by Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, has just opened in Minneapolis. It's the latest collaboration between Seuss Enterprises and the Children's Theatre, and it's clearly a parable for our time-despite the fact that it's been in the works for a full four years.

BWW Review: THE HIGHWAYMEN at History TheatreBWW Review: THE HIGHWAYMEN at History Theatre
February 13, 2017

Hats off to the artists seeking a theatrical way to tell the story of how one thriving African-American community was demolished in order to build part of the Eisenhower era highway system. The city here is Saint Paul, MN, but similar history can be found in plenty of places: Charlotte, NC; Baltimore, MD; Pittsburgh, PA, among them. That's the matter at the heart of a new play, THE HIGHWAYMEN, at the History Theater, directed by Jamil Jude.

BWW Review: THE ROYAL FAMILY at Guthrie TheaterBWW Review: THE ROYAL FAMILY at Guthrie Theater
February 10, 2017

Of the three shows currently running at the Guthrie, THE ROYAL FAMILY is definitely the lightweight, longer on comedy and razzle-dazzle production values than on importance. (The other two shows are KING LEAR and PROMISE LAND, a barebones physical theater take on the Hansel and Gretel tale retold as an immigrant story.) Loosely based on the Barrymore acting clan, THE ROYAL FAMILY follows three generations of a prominent and wealthy family of performers, with particular attention to the female line.

BWW Review: PROMISE LAND at Transatlantic Love Affair At The Guthrie TheaterBWW Review: PROMISE LAND at Transatlantic Love Affair At The Guthrie Theater
February 6, 2017

PROMISE LAND is an original work, described as a story of home, and as a re-telling of the Hansel and Gretel tale as an immigrant journey. Devised by the Transatlantic Love Affair, a physical theater ensemble founded in the Twin Cities in 2010, it has been given a supportive home by the powerful Guthrie Theater, which maintains a 9th floor black box experimental space where all tickets are just $9.

BWW Review: FLOWER DRUM SONG at Mu Performing Arts & Park Square TheatreBWW Review: FLOWER DRUM SONG at Mu Performing Arts & Park Square Theatre
January 31, 2017

FLOWER DRUM SONG is a hard show to mount. It requires credible brief performances in the style of Beijing Opera, multiple large production numbers in a variety of nightclub styles, plus a large cast of Asian American characters who can sing, dance, and act.

BWW Review: ORPHAN TRAIN at History TheatreBWW Review: ORPHAN TRAIN at History Theatre
December 15, 2016

Among the many vital functions of theater are these: to give voice to the voiceless, to tell stories that are lost to time, and to give audiences empathic access to lives they never personally intersect.* Saint Paul's History Theatre scores well on these aims with their remounting of ORPHAN TRAIN, set in 1889, which first premiered as a commission by the theater in 1997.

BWW Review: THE LION IN WINTER at Guthrie TheaterBWW Review: THE LION IN WINTER at Guthrie Theater
December 5, 2016

Holiday gatherings of dysfunctional families are nothing new. James Goldman's crackling script for THE LION IN WINTER is set at Christmas 1183, and since the family is a royal one with questions of succession looming, the scheming and double-crossing are fevered.

BWW Review: CINDERELLA at Children's Theatre CompanyBWW Review: CINDERELLA at Children's Theatre Company
November 14, 2016

There's something for everybody in this raucous and hilarious CINDERELLA: plenty of glitter and stage magic and romance (lite) for the kids, but also cat videos, a Tshirt slingshot, a killer drag rendition of Joe Cocker's You are So Beautiful and even a poop emoji blanket. It's a really smart show that hews to the moral center of the old fairy tale but steers entirely clear of stuffiness.

BWW Review: THE OLDEST BOY at The Jungle TheaterBWW Review: THE OLDEST BOY at The Jungle Theater
November 14, 2016

Sarah Ruhl's recent play puts a contemporary mother's dilemma at the center of the story. This is not the only radical thing about the show. It also includes depiction of a live birth on stage, carefully staged so as not to offend audience sensibilities. And it steps directly into the treacherous but vital terrain of cross-cultural connection, conflict, and appropriation.

BWW Review: THE PARCHMAN HOUR at The Guthrie TheaterBWW Review: THE PARCHMAN HOUR at The Guthrie Theater
October 21, 2016

In 1961, Parchman Penitentiary served as a detention site for the Freedom Riders, mixed race and mixed gender groups of activists who put their lives on the line to protest segregation. To keep their spirits up in jail, they sang. This documentary theater piece is rich in music, and tells their story while tying directly to themes about race and justice in America today.



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