Bedlam Lowertown celebrates long-awaited opening

On Saturday, Bedlam Lowertown will mark its official opening to the public with a full day of festivities.

Bedlam Lowertown celebrates its grand opening to the public on May 31. (Photo courtesy Bedlam Theatre)

The 21-year-old theater company's venue is located across the street from St. Paul's Union Depot, at a Green Line stop.

"Bedlam being located in Lowertown is just too perfect for everything this neighborhood has been and is becoming," said Executive Artistic Director John Bueche. "It’s exciting to be part of taking it to the next level as an artist-defined neighborhood and anchor in the Twin Cities."

Bedlam Theatre maintains a design center in Minneapolis, but it's been without a performance space/social hall ever since it left its Cedar-Riverside location to make way for a mosque, three and a half years ago.

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"We moved to Lowertown with the notion that this was a space that we could open up right away, but once we started really looking at the space and the infrastructure we realized we needed to gut everything to get it to where we wanted it to be," said Bueche. "And then working with the landlords to get us switched over to St. Paul’s District Energy took an entire year. It was annoying to have to wait an extra year, but it was totally worth it."

Bedlam got a $150,000 Cultural Star grant from the city of St. Paul to get started.  It's also receiving funding from foundations. But Bueche says what really impressed him was the neighborhood support.

"We looked all over and the thing about this spot was the neighborhood coalition came together at every level. New and longterm residents were part of the bandwagon pitching this neighborhood."

The new performance club will be open seven days a week from 11am to 2am, offering an array of locally sourced food and beverages.

Bueche says the company's mission is based in inclusivity and access, and so he'll be working to provide a space where everyone feels welcome.

"Assuming that it’s similar to our last space in Cedar-Riverside, the lunch ends up getting used a lot for meetings, classes, workshops, and community organizing," he said.

In the evening Bueche says patrons can expect cabaret shows, music and dance parties. He estimates they'll average three types of performance each night.

The opening celebration will include puppet shows for all ages, ribbon cuttings and live music by Prophets of Peace and Sex Rays starting at 9 p.m.