Art Hounds celebrate community theater and music

Three people in a performance
Theatre 55’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Courtesy of Bebe Keith

Brad Pappas of St. Louis Park performed in Theatre 55’s concert production of “Hair” last summer. Now he’s looking forward to seeing the company’s performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” opening Friday.

Pappas said the show promises strong actors in a beautiful setting, at the outdoor amphitheater at Caponi Art Park in Eagan.

Lyrics will be provided for the audience to sing along to the title song during the encore, though the audience is welcome to sing along during the show as well. It runs through July 24. Tickets are $15 a person or $30 per vehicle with up to six people inside.

St. Paul actor and director Greta Grosch recently discovered the Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra, and she’s excited to spread the word about this community ensemble with several upcoming concerts. Formed in 1991, the Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra has about 25 musicians playing a range of classical and contemporary music on plucked stringed instruments.

“It's what a community orchestra is supposed to be: people coming together because they have a passion for music,” she said.

Grosch said she was delighted to learn that Minnesota has a rich history of mandolin orchestra. Because the instrument was affordable and fairly easy to learn, mandolin groups were hugely popular in Minnesota in the early 1900s, though they fell out of fashion starting in the 1940s.

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The Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra performs this Sunday at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. An entry ticket to the Arboretum is required.

Upcoming free public performances will be at the Richfield Band Shell on July 26, the Loring Park Art Festival in Minneapolis on July 31, and Centennial Lakes Park in Edina on August 1.

Escape room enthusiast Michael Larson of Minneapolis recommends a new backstage escape room set inside a theater. In “The Show Must Go On,” two to eight participants must find the missing diamonds of a visiting Broadway legend before she takes the stage in 75 minutes. The escape room is designed by David Pisa of Walking Shadow Theater.

Larson appreciates Pisa’s inventive shows, which explore the line between immersive theater and escape room puzzles. There are no live actors in this particular escape room but, like the best puzzle experiences, this one will leave you feeling like you’ve lived through the drama.

“The Show Must Go On” takes place at Daleko Arts in New Prague and runs through the summer. Individual tickets go on sale Friday.