Enjoy the Twin Cities’ Best in Arts & Entertainment
Provided by Twin Cities Living
The Twin Cities boasts more than 30 performance spaces, 75 working theater companies, 20 dance companies, and two professional orchestras. Every night of the week you’ll find a play, concert, or event to attend.
Theater is one of the Twin Cities main cultural draws. Original works and touring Broadway always make a stop in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is the place to see hit shows in the capital city. In Minneapolis, the home of Broadway is on Hennepin Avenue. Known collectively as the Hennepin Theatre District, the Orpheum, State, New Century, and Pantages theatres prove that sometimes the stage can be as enthralling as the plays. Built between 1908 and 1921, the district’s four main downtown Minneapolis theaters boast Art Deco and Beaux Arts architectural features, separating them from the modern stages around town. Today, the theaters draw in big-name concerts, traveling Broadway shows, and well-known comedians, packing in more than 500,000 patrons annually.
But regional theater has really cemented our reputation as a theater town. Two Minneapolis stages have earned Regional Tony Awards: The Guthrie Theater (1982) and the Children’s Theatre Company (2003).
Minneapolis made its mark on the national theater scene in 1963 when Sir Tyrone Guthrie chose to locate his dream theater in the city. Since then the Guthrie Theater has remained a nationally recognized home for quality performance. The theater’s Jean Nouvel-designed home, a three-stage architectural wonder, earned the honor of “Best Cultural Space” from Travel + Leisure in 2007, and helped the French architect win the prestigious international Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2008. But it’s what’s on the stages here that really impresses: a mix of modern and classic performances led by a seasoned cast of talented performers.
Established in 1965, the Children’s Theatre Company is a professional company dedicated to enriching the lives of children through performance. The acclaimed Minneapolis theater underwent 2005 renovations and now features two distinct performance spaces: the 747-seat UnitedHealth Group Main Stage and the Cargill Stage, a 298-seat flexible staging area.
Small theaters such as Theatre in the Round, Park Square Theatre, and Jungle Theater also showcase great performances. The performers of the Mixed Blood Theatre and the Penumbra Theatre promote diversity with their productions, while the History Theatre performers use theater as a tool for a history lesson.
Performance of all types finds a voice, a space, and an audience in the Twin Cities. Ballet enthusiasts can rejoice in the fact that the area is home to many talented performance groups, including the James Sewell Ballet, the Metropolitan Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Ballet Minnesota, and the innovative Ballet of the Dolls. In fall 2011, the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts opened its doors to celebrate the art of dance in the Twin Cities. The Cowles Center building blends the architecture of the historic Shubert Theatre, built in 1910, with modern performance spaces inside.
The Southern Theater also draws the best of dance with a mix of innovative performances from local companies, including Ananya Dance Theatre and Mu Performing Arts. Another well-regarded company, the Ragamala Dance, dedicates itself to preserving the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam.
The sounds of classical music can be heard across all corners of the metro area. The more-than-a-century-old Minnesota Orchestra performs in Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall. A critic for the New Yorker recently called the Minnesota Orchestra “the greatest orchestra in the world.” Across the river, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the nation’s only full-time professional chamber orchestra, performs at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, which also showcases the Minnesota Opera and the Schubert Club. Vocal talents VocalEssence and the Rose Ensemble also perform regularly at the Ordway.
Art and architecture put our museums on the map. Stunning inside and out, these museums have earned us raves from Travel + Leisure and GQ, cementing our reputation as a city that values culture.
The Weisman Art Museum is one example of how our museums are as beautiful on the outside as they are inside. The stunning landmark and Frank Gehry-designed museum shimmers from its perch on the Mississippi River, its striking stainless steel-and-brick exterior accentuating the river shoreline. The Weisman is the only Gehry-designed art museum in the United States, and displays a collection of early 20th-century American art along with a diverse selection of contemporary art.
Minneapolis’s contemporary art museum the Walker Art Center underwent renovations in 2005 and now boasts twice as much gallery space. The Herzog & de Meuron designed building’s modern exterior mirrors the art on the gallery walls. Newsweek magazine called the Walker Art Center “possibly America’s best contemporary-art museum.” At the encyclopedic Minneapolis Institute of Arts, guests can see everything from ancient Chinese ceramics to Native American beading. The best part is that you can explore all 80,000 objects in the permanent collection with free admission.
For families with children, the Twin Cities is also great place to explore. Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul ranked tops in Parents magazine’s list of the best children’s museums. The museum is a hands-on paradise for toddlers to tweens, and its creative traveling exhibits are always educational and exciting. Its neighbor, the Science Museum of Minnesota, is the most popular museum in the Upper Midwest, probably because of the variety of exhibits for all ages. The museum, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007, continues to be a destination for active kids and adults who enjoy the variety of hands-on exhibits teaching visitors about electricity, water power, and biology, among other topics.
After you settle into the Twin Cities, you may want to bone up on state history so you understand what makes our area special. The American Swedish Institute, the Minnesota History Center, and the Mill City Museum all have great permanent and traveling exhibits that explore the area’s history.