Twin Cities Winter

Occasionally it’s sane to get away and taste something different. A slew of Twin Cities attractions enhanced the heck out of this past warm winter weekend. They were all about creating community, with art, theater and winter spectacularly bringing people together.

Minneapolis’ Heart of the Beast Theatre has been holding soiree for decades now in a funky old Powderhorn District cinema. This past week, Stromboli’s Medicine Show! filled HOBT seats. A dedicated constellation of puppeteers, circus, burlesque and sideshow performers conspired to heal the audience and to cleanse the dust of daily life off our souls.

The theater’s aisles were constantly filled with a parade of wraiths and visions. Cast members crawled over the few empty theater seats to snare some in the audience and pull them into the show. Mists and essences, blasts and chants enveloped us in an other-world. Parades of costumed players bedazzled, mesmerized, disturbed. The house band was stacked from ceiling to floor: the top tier tympani; lower, violin; a single guitar at the base. 

Dr. Stromboli (Dahn Polnau) amazed us: “You will look into your self as abstract wreakage. Tonight will unveil what the demons say to you in dreams. You’ll see enigmas. There will be healings, purifications, catharsis.” 

Stromboli drew upon a melange of elixirs throughout the show composed of ectoplasm, milk from Eve, blood from Charlie Chaplin. The doctor ate low on the food chain, some of his menu sporting exoskeletons.

Terrific dancers performed Arabic, Bharati, Hopi, Gyfti solos with gorgeous burlesque as well. Superb lighting and special effects. Huge vulture puppets. Exquisite Irish harp duets. Scarf tricks. Juggling of swords. Diablo feats. A world-class event.

And guess what? This astounding three hour evening cost $10 or “pay what you can”. The breadth of and quality of entertainment was phenomenal. The inclusiveness at the door, heartening. With ticket prices rising in Duluth, it would be gratifying if our more prominent theaters thought of those who cannot pay $20 a shot; shades of the Un-Fair campaign. Teatro Zuccone has led the way with occasional pay-what-you can. How about the others?

Saint Paul offers its own lollapalooza through this weekend: the Winter Carnival. Many events, many no-cost. Last weekend were the ice carving and snowplow competitions, disc throwing, sled dog races, roller skating, cat show, fire truck rides and Ice Bar. This week, the juried art show continues at Lowertown’s Black Dog Cafe. There’s free ice skating, geocaching, tournament bridge and cribbage, and lots of kids’ activities at Landmark Center and Rice Park.

This St. Paul mythical adventure involves King Boreas, head of Winter, and his nemeses, the Vulcan Krewe. They vie, and inevitably, the Vulcans overcome. The celebration Saturday includes a torchlight parade, the overthrow of Boreas, and fireworks. The Twin Cities rule.