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: FRANKENSTEIN--PLAYING WITH FIRE at the GuthrieBWW Review: FRANKENSTEIN--PLAYING WITH FIRE at the Guthrie
Posted: Sep. 23, 2018


BWW Review: SOMETIMES THERE'S WINE at Park Square TheatreBWW Review: SOMETIMES THERE'S WINE at Park Square Theatre
Posted: Sep. 21, 2018


BWW Review: Consummate Performance Anchors THE GREAT SOCIETY at History TheatreBWW Review: Consummate Performance Anchors THE GREAT SOCIETY at History Theatre
Posted: Oct. 9, 2018


BWW Review: FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE / WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF at Penumbra TheatreBWW Review: FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE / WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF at Penumbra Theatre
Posted: Sep. 24, 2018


BWW Review: Prime Productions presents TWO DEGREES at Guthrie's Dowling StudioBWW Review: Prime Productions presents TWO DEGREES at Guthrie's Dowling Studio
Posted: Oct. 14, 2018


BWW Review: Case Study of Allyship in THE AGITATORS at Park Square TheatreBWW Review: Case Study of Allyship in THE AGITATORS at Park Square Theatre
Posted: Oct. 9, 2018


LAST 365 DAYS

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


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: INDECENT at the GuthrieBWW Review: INDECENT at the Guthrie
Posted: Feb. 28, 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: FRANKENSTEIN--PLAYING WITH FIRE at the GuthrieBWW Review: FRANKENSTEIN--PLAYING WITH FIRE at the Guthrie
Posted: Sep. 23, 2018


BWW Review: Prime Productions presents TWO DEGREES at Guthrie's Dowling StudioBWW Review: Prime Productions presents TWO DEGREES at Guthrie's Dowling Studio
October 14, 2018

Tira Palmquist's TWO DEGREES could not be more timely. Written in 2014, it centers on a woman paleoclimatologist, Emma, as she is called to Washington to testify before a hostile Senate committee about climate change-a committee that, she is told, is "easily bored by facts." She's been invited by her old college friend, Louise, now a powerful senator.

BWW Review: Consummate Performance Anchors THE GREAT SOCIETY at History TheatreBWW Review: Consummate Performance Anchors THE GREAT SOCIETY at History Theatre
October 9, 2018

Pearce Bunting delivers a visceral gut punch as Lyndon B. Johnson in THE GREAT SOCIETY. Rarely in 50 years of serious theater going have I seen a more fully inhabited physical performance. It's masterful. Menacing and charming by turns, Bunting channels LBJ's ability to manipulate people into positions they didn't originally intend. The arc he travels is long: beginning brash and aggressive, we see him move incrementally into weariness and eventually descend to emotional exhaustion. And all of it is credible.

BWW Review: Case Study of Allyship in THE AGITATORS at Park Square TheatreBWW Review: Case Study of Allyship in THE AGITATORS at Park Square Theatre
October 9, 2018

Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony were friends for 45 years through tumultuous times. The strategic interests of their respective causes did not always align, which caused rifts between them. In AGITATORS, Playwright Mat Smart has mined this rich terrain to create an episodic examination of their relationship, fully aware of the relevance it has to the present.

BWW Review: FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE / WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF at Penumbra TheatreBWW Review: FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE / WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF at Penumbra Theatre
September 24, 2018

In keeping with their tradition of honoring the ancestors and artistic leaders of past generations, Penumbra Theatre is opening this season by revisiting Ntozake Shange's groundbreaking iconoclastic work, for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, which won an Obie in 1976 for its Broadway run, which I saw. Let's pause to note that it was the first Broadway show written by a Black woman since Lorraine Hansberry's RAISIN IN THE SUN in 1959.

BWW Review: FRANKENSTEIN--PLAYING WITH FIRE at the GuthrieBWW Review: FRANKENSTEIN--PLAYING WITH FIRE at the Guthrie
September 23, 2018

30 years ago, Minneapolis based playwright Barbara Field penned an adaptation of Mary Shelley's famous novel for the Guthrie. Now, on the 200th anniversary of the novel's composition, the Guthrie is opening their season with a new production of Field's script, titled FRANKENSTEIN-PLAYING WITH FIRE. Beautifully designed, as ever on Guthrie main stages, the script is quite postmodern in that different moments in the chronological sequence interpenetrate. Despite strong work by skilled actors in the six roles, the whole somehow falls short.

BWW Review: SOMETIMES THERE'S WINE at Park Square TheatreBWW Review: SOMETIMES THERE'S WINE at Park Square Theatre
September 21, 2018

Women making comedy can be a radical act. The best moments of SOMETIMES THERE'S WINE at Park Square Theatre in Saint Paul are truly funny and border on radical, by offering glimpses of how real women sometimes talk to each other when no one else is listening. For theatergoers who never have access to such moments, it may be revelatory or discomfiting or embarrassing; but it will likely make others laugh in identification, as it did during the final preview I saw.

BWW Review: World Premiere Adaptation of LITTLE WOMEN at Jungle TheaterBWW Review: World Premiere Adaptation of LITTLE WOMEN at Jungle Theater
September 17, 2018

For the opening of her third season as Artistic Director at Minneapolis' spunky Jungle Theater, Sarah Rasmussen and her team commissioned a new adaptation of LITTLE WOMEN from Kate Hamill in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the novel's publication. Kate Hamill is an actor who has, of late, gained notice for her skillful adaptations of classic novels for the stage (several Austen works, Vanity Fair, etc.), to the point that she was one of the 10 most frequently produced playwrights in the US last season.

BWW Review: Flying Foot Forum's FRENCH TWIST Frolics at Park Square TheatreBWW Review: Flying Foot Forum's FRENCH TWIST Frolics at Park Square Theatre
July 13, 2018

Flying Foot Forum is one of the Twin Cities' most original performing companies. What they do-full evenings of original percussive dance, often with a historical or cultural jumping off point, and always with a big dose of humor-is unique. FRENCH TWIST (or parts of it) has been in their repertoire since 2008. A revival with new bits plays just through July 15 at Park Square Theatre's basement space in Saint Paul, as the company celebrates its 25th experimental season.

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.



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