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.


MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Review: Accomplished and Raw Performance Centers LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR AND GRILL at Jungle TheaterBWW Review: Accomplished and Raw Performance Centers LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR AND GRILL at Jungle Theater
Posted: May. 27, 2018


BWW Review: Pushing the Existential Envelope:  UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL at Theater Latte DaBWW Review: Pushing the Existential Envelope: UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL at Theater Latte Da
Posted: Jun. 5, 2018


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: FAMILIAR at GuthrieBWW Review: FAMILIAR at Guthrie
Posted: Mar. 20, 2018


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
Posted: Jun. 28, 2017


BWW Review: CARDBOARD PIANO at Park Square TheatreBWW Review: CARDBOARD PIANO at Park Square Theatre
Posted: Jan. 29, 2018


BWW Feature: Upcoming World Premiere of FIVE POINTS at Theater Latte DaBWW Feature: Upcoming World Premiere of FIVE POINTS at Theater Latte Da
Posted: Mar. 30, 2018


BWW Review: Brilliant ASSASSINS at Theater Latte DaBWW Review: Brilliant ASSASSINS at Theater Latte Da
Posted: Feb. 13, 2018


BWW Review: Heightened Silliness Meets Speculative History: 
 LORD GORDON GORDON at History TheatreBWW Review: Heightened Silliness Meets Speculative History: LORD GORDON GORDON at History Theatre
Posted: May. 16, 2018


BWW Review: INDECENT at the GuthrieBWW Review: INDECENT at the Guthrie
Posted: Feb. 28, 2018


BWW Review: Pushing the Existential Envelope:  UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL at Theater Latte DaBWW Review: Pushing the Existential Envelope: UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL at Theater Latte Da
June 5, 2018

This one character philosophical scavenger hunt of a play has been staged all over the US and Europe since it premiered in 2001. It follows a fictional Dutch librarian who tries to track down the patron who returned a book to the overnight slot 113 year late. Her starting clues include hand written marginalia in the book and a dry cleaning ticket used as a bookmark. That leads her to a pair of abandoned trousers in London. These furnish another hint, and so on.

BWW Review: Accomplished and Raw Performance Centers LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR AND GRILL at Jungle TheaterBWW Review: Accomplished and Raw Performance Centers LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR AND GRILL at Jungle Theater
May 27, 2018

Twin Cities native Thomasina Petrus and legendary director Marion McClinton have teamed up to mount a definitive production of this famous concert show about the great jazz singer Billie Holiday. The show is structured as a club performance late in Holiday's career in a small Philadelphia venue, after she was barred from performing in New York nightclubs due to multiple drug convictions. Her voice has lost some of its power and flexibility. She is worn out by a hard life of multiple childhood traumas, abusive lovers and subsequent addiction made even harder by the endemic racism in the United States. It's March 1959. Her heyday is well behind her. Death will come in a matter of months, when she is just 44.

BWW Review: Heightened Silliness Meets Speculative History: 
 LORD GORDON GORDON at History TheatreBWW Review: Heightened Silliness Meets Speculative History: LORD GORDON GORDON at History Theatre
May 16, 2018

The History Theatre is having fun this month, with a world premiere by the popular writing duo known as 'Hatchling': Jeffrey Hatcher (book) and Chan Poling (music and lyrics). LORD GORDON GORDON is a romp of a musical in the tradition of con man stories like THE MUSIC MAN. It's based on little known true events in Minnesota and New York in the 1870s-events that eventually led to the fleecing of a bunch of investors (including the wealthy robber baron Jay Gould) and a Minnesota militia marching on Canada.

BWW Review: A Brand New Look for AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE at the Guthrie TheaterBWW Review: A Brand New Look for AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE at the Guthrie Theater
May 11, 2018

The plot of AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE seems ripped from today's headlines: think Flint, think Detroit. Of course, Norwegian Henrik Ibsen (an iconoclast in his day, generally regarded as "The Father of Social Realism" in western theater history) penned this prescient piece back in 1882. What the Guthrie is producing is a new adaptation by Brad Birch, first staged in 2016 in Wales. It's undergone further revision for this production. Birch's adaptation is most welcome. The familiar story is lifted up to a whole new level by the striking visuals and swift, intriguing transitions devised by director Lyndsey Turner and her design team.

BWW Review: Tender and Topical THIS BITTER EARTH in Regional Premiere at Penumbra TheatreBWW Review: Tender and Topical THIS BITTER EARTH in Regional Premiere at Penumbra Theatre
May 7, 2018

In this 50th anniversary year of the Loving vs. State of Virginia Supreme Court case that made interracial marriage legal in all 50 states, it is right that the renowned Penumbra Theatre, which puts questions of social justice at the center of its artistic mission, should take up gay rights. THIS BITTER EARTH centers on a love affair between two men, one black, one white.

BWW Review: GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER at The GuthrieBWW Review: GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER at The Guthrie
April 23, 2018

The Guthrie can be counted on to mount beautifully designed and lit shows on its two main stages, peopled by fine actors under crisp direction, and this production of GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER is no exception. Playwright Todd Kreidler, who worked for many years with August Wilson, penned this adaptation of the iconic screenplay fromthe famous movie from the 1960s.Staged on the thrust space, the production is also surprisingly funny, without demeaning any of the characters. It stands in dialogue with the Guthrie's last production on the proscenium stage: Danai Gurira's FAMILIAR.

BWW Review: Full On Teen Female Bonding in THE WOLVES at Jungle TheaterBWW Review: Full On Teen Female Bonding in THE WOLVES at Jungle Theater
April 2, 2018

The WOLVES are a girls travel soccer team of highly competitive high school athletes, many hoping to be noticed and recruited by college coaches. Yes, they are fierce, and yes, they howl. They also grapple with issues as varied as (spoiler alert!) genocide and justice, social anxiety, love and sex and abortion, loyalty, injury, honesty, playing time, disordered eating, religious belief, how to play when you have your period, and death. Just as real young women do.

BWW Feature: Upcoming World Premiere of FIVE POINTS at Theater Latte DaBWW Feature: Upcoming World Premiere of FIVE POINTS at Theater Latte Da
March 30, 2018

FIVE POINTS is an ambitious, tuneful, dance-rich new musical in the final stages of preparation for its world premiere in Minneapolis at Theater Latte Da, the locally famous small house committed to smart re-imaginings of traditional musical theater pieces but also-and with real vigor-to playing a significant role in creating "the dramatic canon of tomorrow."

BWW Review: FAMILIAR at GuthrieBWW Review: FAMILIAR at Guthrie
March 20, 2018

Gurira's family drama FAMILIAR has just opened in a lavishly designed and carefully calibrated production at the Guthrie. It's familiar in many ways, as a well-made play on a single set (the interior of an upscale household in Minnetonka, MN) unrolling in real time, that dives into the secrets and dreams of a family, whose distinctive characters are all drawn together now for the wedding of the elder daughter.

BWW Review: INDECENT at the GuthrieBWW Review: INDECENT at the Guthrie
February 28, 2018

INDECENT is a play about a play: Sholom Asch's GOD OF VENGEANCE, first performed in 1907 in Berlin, then widely across Europe, and eventually in 1923 in New York. There it was censored and the acting troupe was arrested and jailed. It's also about how writers work, about forbidden love, about family, about being an immigrant to the US who speaks with an accent, about Yiddish theater and changing tastes on Broadway, about McCarthyism, and, yes, about the Holocaust.

BWW Review: Faithful and Funny Updated PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Park Square TheatreBWW Review: Faithful and Funny Updated PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Park Square Theatre
February 20, 2018

'History is something that we can and should improve upon' sings the modern Major General in an added lyric in this cleverly refreshed production of the Gilbert & Sullivan classic. The laugh-out-loud show remains faithful to the original while integrating historical asides and contemporary political memes, all with a knowing wink at the audience, which had a roaring good time on opening night.

BWW Review: Brilliant ASSASSINS at Theater Latte DaBWW Review: Brilliant ASSASSINS at Theater Latte Da
February 13, 2018

It's hard to imagine a better production of the Sondheim/Weidman dissection of the perpetrators of violence toward US presidents than the ASSASSINS that has just opened in Minneapolis at Theater Latte Da. Running a brisk 100 minutes without intermission, it is staged, sung, and performed with terrific assurance and brio.

BWW Review: A CRACK IN THE SKY at History TheatreBWW Review: A CRACK IN THE SKY at History Theatre
February 12, 2018

A CRACK IN THE SKY is a new autobiographical play about an immigrant from Somalia who arrived in the Twin Cities in 1997. As a civic project-something the arts can and should provide-this event is hard to beat. Still, it is true that as a play, A CRACK IN THE SKY is not very compelling theater.

BWW Review: CARDBOARD PIANO at Park Square TheatreBWW Review: CARDBOARD PIANO at Park Square Theatre
January 29, 2018

CARDBOARD PIANO is an ambitious play centered on questions of trauma: what can and can't be fixed. It opens with life-affirming and joyous love between two young women in Uganda.

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.



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