Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thrillist: A Best of Business Guide to the North Loop

The North Loop is Minneapolis' retail equivalent of a rags to riches story...

Photo courtesy of Thrillist

And it's one that will be told for a very long time. Once considered one of the most undesirable areas of the city, the North Loop has become one of the hottest real estate markets around. This comes with all the problems that gentrification has to offer, of course, but a few stalwart mainstays are still around after spending years in this area. I worked with a sponsor for Thrillist on this piece featuring some of the awesome legacy businesses that are currently flourishing in the North Loop; read more about it here by clicking on this link, and let me know: what did I miss? What would you add? What do you still want to see in the North Loop? It's an exciting time for the city; let's keep improving it together!


There’s nothing like a good rags-to-riches story. In Minneapolis, that means you’re talking about the North Loop. Relegated to the bargain basement of the real estate world even a few short years ago, the area has since become one of the hottest territories in Minneapolis. With great real estate comes great commerce, and you’re in luck if you’re looking for some trendy places to spend your paycheck. From innovative restaurants to luxurious clothing and home goods stores, the North Loop has something to suit every shopper’s taste. Here are the people and places responsible for making the North Loop an experience that only Minneapolis can offer.

MartinPatrick3 is a legendary cornerstone of the North Loop, and for good reason. Long (as in decades long) before the Dayton Brothers set up shop in the North Loop, MartinPatrick3 was serving up the classiest, chicest men's store around -- but it wasn’t in the center of it all when it opened.

“For years the vacancy rate was very high in The North Loop,” says the company’s CEO Dana Swindler. “Owners and tenants are taking care of their buildings again. Foot traffic is on the rise as well. We have heard other store owners say that if MartinPatrick3 can thrive in the North Loop, then we can too. I guess we helped establish that the area is viable for retail and other businesses.”

Curated by Swindler and co-proprietor Greg Walsh, the store remains one of the only places in Minnesota to find cult beauty brands such as Santa Maria Novella and Malin + Goetz on hand. Brand manager Erick DeLeon also keeps the place on the cutting edge of men’s lifestyle.

The front half of the store is replete with drool-worthy home goods arranged in approachable vignettes that invite customers to sit down and handle the items, truly making the purchasing process hands-on. The rest of the store’s high-end wares are stocked in a similar fashion, with elegantly designed displays that help you instantly imagine the objects in your own home.

“We have more new customers exploring The North Loop for shopping,” says Swindler. “We are able to add more high-end merchandise to service the customers that have lost Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, and Saks over the last several years. We are also able to offer a large range of ‘good, better, best and luxe’ vendors, to support the growing demand.”

There are ways to take the MartinPatrick3 experience outside of the store as well. You can commission the owners’ impeccable taste to design your home’s interior, and if you purchase items from the store make sure to sign up for their rewards program for discounts on future purchases.

To truly maximize your experience, make sure to follow MartinPatrick3 on Facebook for more information about upcoming events, where you can peruse the store with a free drink in hand, enjoy delicious catered snacks, and find special promotional deals around the stop. With everything from luxe home goods to tailored clothing classics to rich accessories & cheeky gifts, MartinPatrick3 is the only store you'll find women envying their men for.

Wander around the store with a whisky and the building's resident pair of poodles the next time you have a few hours to burn in the North Loop. And while you’re there, enjoy other OG North Loop haunts like the ethereal Lappan Lighting, followed by a well-earned dinner at the 40-years-strong Monte Carlo across the street.

Destination North Loop (aka D.Nolo) hasn’t yet had its fourth birthday, but it has had a great three years and counting. The female yin to MartinPatrick3’s yang, D.Nolo is serving up luxurious female fashion in a modern cooperative atmosphere. Housing nine retailers in fashion, style, and home decor, it’s the product of owner Veronica Clark’s iterated ethos: Quality trumps quantity. Its high-end offerings elevate the  grade of co-op and consignment shops, while also affording greater opportunity to more daring, experimental, and fledgling designers. While high-end offerings abound in the neighborhood, D.Nolo is the launchpad for what other shops will be selling the day after tomorrow.

“All of the retailers here are small-business owners,” says Clark, who carefully balances the space’s offerings between local creators, the American coasts, and European designers. “Two of them have other stores in other locations and the rest of us are just represented here. The concept is a great way for retailers to try something new in another neighborhood, another market, and for up-and-coming retailers or people who want to go into business to afford opening or having a store in a certain capacity.”

Located just across the street from MartinPatrick3, the women’s boutique shopping center is a much-wanted counterpoint for stylish couples looking to do some day shopping, which Clark describes as a “little sister” to her frequent colluders at the men’s store.

“Four years ago it was just me and MartinPatrick3. It’s evolved quite a bit over the years,” she says. “I was really excited to move to the North Loop and be a part of this community. It’s up and coming. I wanted to be a part of that process and contribute to that.

“It reminds me of Brookyln. I think we’re the Brooklyn of Minneapolis,” says the 10-year veteran of New York living, adding, “We all work together to put on community events a few times a year.”

Here, you can peruse from the cream of Twin Cities luxury fashion, with a plethora of cult-favorite brands. That includes high-end casual looks by Elizabeth & James and Citizens of Humanity from bluebird boutique; luxe basics including sterling Alexander Wang and Helmut Lang pieces from bumbershute; and more. If you are just browsing that’s fine, but the discerning shopper will zero in on Collective, where the crème of that cream is curated.

“What I really wanted was a great group of savvy people who understood the industry or the business who could work together well,” says Clark. “The idea is we all complement each other. And we don’t compete against each other. We all work together and help each other out finding new brands. We want it to be a one-stop shop.”

Focused on the “shop your closet” movement? Refresh your existing wardrobe with one of a kind jewelry from rosegold. There’s a piece for every taste, from skull adorned gold rings to enormous chandelier earrings to dainty jeweled necklaces.

You can also bring D.Nolo’s curated aesthetic into your home with unique interior furnishings from Witt + Bliss, an affiliation with Minnesotan designer Martha Dayton Design. Witt + Bliss’s dreamy, light, clean Amagansett aesthetic will have you dreaming of the beach in your home even during the coldest winter months.

Clark has said that community is the utmost quality of any small business environment, and proves it in her ever-refining finery. Make sure to round out a full ladies’ day out shopping with stops across the street at C’est Chic Boutique for more unique apparel and Shoester’s to peruse a curated selection of women’s shoes.

Minneapolitans are familiar with the Blue Plate Restaurant Co., which has given us time-tested gems such as The Lowry and the Highland Grill. But you haven’t really experienced Blue Plate’s excellence until you’ve checked out Freehouse, the restaurant group’s flagship location in the North Loop.

Not only does Freehouse take advantage of the exploding trend of craft breweries by offering an excellent selection of beers conceived and created on-site (I personally recommend the No. 2 IPA), but it also offers a thoughtful menu that will please even the pickiest of eaters in your group. Dinner features can go anywhere from oysters to rotisserie sandwiches to banh mi to seafood mac ‘n’ cheese. Instagrammers, vegans, and gluten free fans alike will all be pleased with snap-worthy dishes featuring trendy ingredients like daikon, quinoa, avocado, edamame, and tabbouleh.

Don’t feel limited to coming for dinner, however; Freehouse has options for all of your day’s culinary needs. Brunch is an excellent time to stop by and enjoy the sunny patio with a side of pork belly benedict and handcrafted cocktail. If you’re feeling extra, grab the breakfast gnocchi, featuring mushrooms, pesto, bacon, and arugula.

A frequent host for other local beers, Freehouse serves other brands' brews right alongside their own, as their website proclaims, “with the belief that the quality and selection of our ingredients and the care and craft of our brewmaster shines through in every batch we brew and every pint we pour.” That admirable open market also gives the rest of the brewing community its chance to thrive. They recently hosted a collaborative dinner with Stillwater’s Lift Bridge Brewery, who “helped Freehouse brew their first batch of beer before the brewery and restaurant opened.” Neighbors helping neighbors and then toasting each other over dinner sounds like the best plan to build community.

If your dining companions are not fans of the craft brew trend (no judgment), there are options for them as well. There’s an extensive cocktail menu and wine list, so all of your crew’s libation needs can be satisfied.

Whether it’s bison tartare, deep-fried rabbit legs or Korean Rockefeller oysters, Freehouse is truly bringing the word “innovation” to your plate in the best way. It’s the face of Minneapolis that needs to be shown to people who think this city’s culinary experiments end at a hot dish. To make it a day-long affair, you can also pregame at one of the many breweries nearby such as Modist Brewing and burn off your delectable dinner at The Alchemy, a luxurious new gym around the block.

Jeromeo is a Minneapolis mainstay. Formerly located on Nicollet Mall, the shop migrated to the North Loop a few years ago and expanded beyond its lifestyle and wellness offerings (everything from antiques to essential oil) to massage therapy. Located in a beautiful converted timber frame and stone 1880s bakery/factory facility, Jeromeo choose to enter its new era in the burgeoning North Loop.

“I wanted to create a business that put all my passions into one unique outlet,” says Scott Johnson, the owner of Jeromeo. “As a creative person, traveler, collector, jewelry maker, artist, and massage therapist, I opened Jeromeo to be a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Johnson certainly succeeded in his mission. He provides a wide variety of original, one-of-a-kind goods that are both local and imported throughout the shop. In addition to the gorgeous global antiques Jeromeo has always featured, customers can now find a stunning selection of furniture, ceramics, art, furniture, essential oils, and artisan-made treasures from a variety of sources, including a line of jewelry made in-house by Scott himself. Jeromeo is front-to-back an expression of his personality. To be here is to let him guide you through his interests -- and to find your own.

If you’d rather find respite from the thrill of the shopping hunt, Jeromeo features a wellness center, which provides relief and relaxation through various styles of massage therapy including deep tissue, Swedish massage, Thai massage, and more. The comfortable and intimate atmosphere of the center is accompanied by PureomEO™, the shop’s original line of essential oils, body products, and natural perfumes. Designed to enhance the already meditative nature of Jeremeo’s space through aromatherapy, the signature scents are great to take home, for when you want a sense memory to transport yourself right back to your Me Day.

And more is on the horizon. Johnson says he’s planning to add “a line of American-made, upholstered furniture, plus a unique tea and dumpling cafe that will focus on plant-based food options and tea drinks with unique flavors.” Jeromeo is the clear go-to for those looking to explore and savor the subtler joys of simple living.

If you're heading somewhere as calming and classy as Jeromeo, you need something else to up the ante, right? Work out like Misty Copeland at the Bar Method, one of the Twin Cities' first true barre studios. Across the parking lot is surefire new hit Dalton and Wade, where you can fill up on beautifully-executed Southern food and one of the restaurant's more than 200 bottles of American-made whiskey. For a lighter, more bourgeois touch, hit Bev's Wine Bar right next door for a cheese plate and a beautiful glass of rosé. If you need a place to sleep off that delicious massage, look no further than the highly trendy Hewing Hotel down the block.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Strikingly Fresh Christmas Carol

Traditions may be so-called for a reason, but it doesn't mean they can't be freshened up a bit. 

Photo by Dan Norman

It's been a long time since I've attended a production of A Christmas Carol.

As any good Minnesotan I've seen the Guthrie's hallowed production before, of course, a few times. It's *fine* but hasn't ever been a source of much excitement for me. I love the work of Charles Dickens and love the book version, but the Guthrie's piece tended to feel like a fusty old show to me, and in a busy holiday season it hasn't often slid to the top of my list of priorities.

Photo by Dan Norman

This year I figured what the heck; it's been a while, my guy's never seen it, so what do I have to lose? May as well check it out again and see what's up.

Let me tell you friends: this was an excellent decision. Why? Let me tell you.

Photo by Dan Norman

Let's start with Director Lauren Keating. She's making her Guthrie debut on this production and it's a stunner. Smart choices, from a lush set to diverse casting to tightening transitions (the entire production clips in at two hours including intermission - be still my Scroogian heart!), abound throughout this show. I kept hearing the audience mention how different this was - no one could quite put their finger on exactly what sets this Christmas Carol apart from prior renditions, but believe me in that it's a long overdue refresh and one that I found charming. Audiences lucky enough to see Charity Jones debut the first-ever (to my knowledge) female Scrooge in one of only four elite performances she's delivering have my full jealousy; I'd adore to see a woman take on this vaunted role and imbue some fresh meaning into it. Guthrie, here's my plea: consider running the role with a female lead (*coughcough*charityjones*coughcough*) next year? And to anyone who is complaining about a woman playing the part: why can't a woman play a stinge too? We are equal opportunity offenders when it comes to selfishness. Give it a shot, you might be surprised how much you love it.

Photo by Dan Norman

In case you haven't seen one of the myriad movies, plays, or somehow also missed the book, here's the short version of A Christmas Carol: Ebeneezer Scrooge is the embodiment of miserly selfishness. From the pauper's wages he pays his employees to his utter loathing of Christmas and general happiness, Scrooge terrifies and upsets every person he encounters until one Christmas he is visited by his former business partner Jacob Marley's ghost. Marley, who exhibited the same greedy qualities of Scrooge while he was alive, has been doomed to purgatory in the afterlife. Marley warns Scrooge to change his ways before befalling a similar fate and that Scrooge will be visited by three ghosts in the middle of the night: one of Christmas Past, one of Christmas Present, and one of Christmas Future. Through his journeys with these ghosts we learn of the source of Scrooge's horrible personality, see a softer side to the man, and witness a full change of heart. He emerges from the experience a completely changed person and becomes the personification of generosity with everyone he meets.

Photo by Dan Norman

Part of this production's excellence is due to its all-star cast. Nathaniel Fuller returns to the Guthrie for his 80th role, this time as Ebeneezer Scrooge. He's an inspired if predictable choice and perfectly captures the bipolarity of Scrooge's nature. His entrance at the start of the show is downright terrifying, and witnessing the breadth of Fuller's emotional scope is a pleasure. Meghan Kreidler and Kris Nelson serve as Mrs. Cratchitt and Bob Cratchitt, respectively, and they provide a warm contrast to Scrooge's cold heart. Ryan Colbert is perfectly cast as Scrooge's nephew Fred, spreading joie de vivre and compassion throughout his role. Kendall Thompson is marvelous in her Guthrie debut as the Ghost of Christmas Past, with a fiery delivery that lights a new spark to this part. Ansa Akyea is warm as ever as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and John Catron is a terrifying, terrific Jacob Marley.

Photo by Dan Norman

The set, designed by Walt Spangler, may be the most lavish I've seen yet at the big G. No, really: this has it all, from the snow dusted trappings of a 19th centruy London street to Scrooge's dank office to his chilly, spare bedroom. The entire building of Scrooge's home does a full 360 degree rotation (very hard to explain but extremely cool in real life) and an innumerable amount of props and furniture pieces are whisked throughout the show. There are lots of special lighting effects from Christopher Akerlind that lend a ghostly air to the whole production. Mathew LeFebvre's costumes are gorgeous, perfectly suited to each role and especially imaginative in the form of the ghosts. And although he's tucked away at the back of the program, I suspect Assistant Director Tyler Michaels' fingerprints are all over the reasons why this production seems just a little bit different (and a little bit better) from years before.

Photo by Dan Norman

As I was re-watching A Christmas Carol tonight I found myself wishing the story wasn't so intrinsically tied to a single holiday. After all, there are many Ebeneezer Scrooges scattered throughout the world today; I'm willing to bet we all know at least one. It's wonderful to uplift the ideas of love, joy and charity at this time of year, but shouldn't we do that year round too? A Christmas Carol has such a wonderful message of forgiveness, second chances, giving as receiving, valuing love above material goods, and so much more that is always timely to share. I loved seeing this production get a refresh and take a step towards reflecting a diverse, inclusive society on stage. Hats off to Ms. Keating for a stellar directorial debut - please stick around and provide some more amazing work for us here in #tctheater! A Christmas Carol runs at the Guthrie through December 30; for more information or to buy tickets, click on this link.

Waitress is Wonderful

Could Waitress have arrived in Minneapolis at a better time? 

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust

With all of the sexual harassment allegations swarming the cultural conversation, women coming forward every day to tell stories of abuse and hardship, and an increasing focus on telling women's stories, what better than to enjoy this positive, aggressively normal story of women supporting each other and emerging from their damaging pasts?

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, a quick overview: Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a master pie baker who married too young and is stuck waitressing at a diner, where she bakes each of the pies they sell fresh every day. We immediately learn that Jenna is recently pregnant by her abusive, deadbeat husband Earl, a fact she thoroughly laments. The rest of the story takes us through Jenna's pregnancy as she conducts an affair with her doctor, watches her waitressing friends find love and affairs of their own, and plans to enter a national pie baking contest in order to win enough money to leave Earl behind. Things don't go exactly as Jenna plans but they do improve her circumstances; while this is no fairy tale, isn't that how life goes?

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust

Does this sound like a rather platonic, boring story? It's not. I was immediately swept into Jenna's narrative (the exceedingly catchy orchestration by Sara Bareilles doesn't hurt) and the familiar, loving characters surrounding her life. The cast really sells this script, starting with Desi Oakley as an incandescent Jenna. Oakley has a deceptively big voice for such a small frame, and she trills with ease through every Bareilles-penned musical flourish. Charity Dawson is magnificent as Jenna's friend and co-waitress Becky; my only lament is that she only had one solo (give her her own show, please! She has talent in spades). Lenne Klingman is absolutely hilarious as the third waitress Dawn, especially when paired with Dawn's lover Ogie. Jeremy Morse knocks the socks off of Ogie's role, and as my date said: Morse's songs, played to utmost comedic effect, are the highlight of the show.

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust

Ryan Dunkin brings great swagger to his role as Cal, the waitress' boss, and Larry Marshall embodies the trope of the benevolent old man as Joe. Bryan Fenkart is probably the weakest link as Jenna's lover Dr. Pomatter, but his soft-spoken delivery and awkward characterization endear him to the audience even in the back row. Nick Bailey is despicable as Jenna's husband Earl, to the point that the audience booed him at the curtain call. And Minnesota native Prewitt Anderson is hands-down adorable as Jenna's daughter Lulu in a gorgeous reveal at the end of the performance - she did great for being only five years old.

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust

The set and props for Waitress are shockingly complex considering how quickly they are removed and arranged. This is a fully operative diner with every small (and working!) accouterments, down to refillable ketchup and mustard bottles, coffee pots and creamers, silverware, and of course Jenna's myriad baking supplies. It's a dizzying amount of items to track, and hats off to the stage hands for keeping everything perfectly in place and quickly re-set. The band delightfully sits on a track on stage and periodically takes a trip across, giving us a full view of the music at work. There are several beautiful scrims at work here as well, including a vista at a rural bus stop, a shitty mobile home, and the latticed crust of a cherry pie. Costumes by contrast are exceedingly simple and mostly kept to uniforms for each character's respective profession. The overall effect is to make this seem a familiar, warm world which comes alive with the lovely performances. It's perfect for the holidays and especially well suited to Thanksgiving week.

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust

I've always been a fan of stories about "normal" people. I get frustrated in the amount of escapism prevalent in our media; while it's nice to fantasize, most of us are never going to possess Kardashian-level riches and that doesn't make our lives terrible! Jenna's heartbreaking story of abuse, reluctant motherhood and inability to change her circumstances is one that faces so, so many people in this country, and it was really great to see it get a chance to shine. Through Jenna's baking escape we are able to see that everyone has a gift to share with the world; you don't need a lot of things to be happy, just inner peace; with the help of your community you can leave abusers and demand better for yourself; and being nice to everyone you meet is never a bad strategy to get ahead in life. Pretty perfect summation of the reason for the season, #amiright? Waitress runs through the holiday and closes at the Orpheum on November 26. It's a great family show and well worth a visit if you need to get out of the house this weekend. For more information or to buy tickets, click here: https://hennepintheatretrust.org/.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Better than Broadway: Mixed Blood's Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-Time

Broadway isn't always better.

At least that was my thought upon watching A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the latest (terrific) offering from Mixed Blood Theater. I was lucky enough to see the touring Broadway production of this show last year (you can read my review here), and as much as I enjoyed it then the humbler origins of Mixed Blood's version made the story much more alive for me than ever before.

I'll skip the plot overview this time (a detailed one can be found by clicking here for last year's review), but I want to point out the facets of this production that really impressed me. Chief among them is the stunning performance by MacGregor Arney as Christopher, the main character. Arney's performance is riveting and career-making. He has clearly done his homework, blasting through the show with a kinetic energy that grips you by the throat. Arney has a relatively short resume to-date but I imagine that's about to change after this terrific, star-worthy performance, which is what really sets this production apart from the Broadway version I saw last year. The flashing lights and fancy tech of that production may have had all of the bells and whistles theater can possibly offer, but Arney's immersive, thoughtful take on Christopher in Mixed Blood's production is truly next level and really encapsulates Christopher's character. Go see Arney - you won't regret it.

Another favorite was new-to-me Regan Linton as Christopher's teacher Siobhan. Linton has a warm, comfortable stage presence that enfolds the entire narrative in the emotional equivalent of a plush blanket. It was so wonderful to see a differently abled performer (listen to the TCTB convo about the challenges faced by such performers on our YouTube channel here) on stage with no fuss or irony, just allowed to give a strong, profound performance - and Linton really delivers. I hope she sticks around the Twin Cities for a while, we need more of her.

Zack Myers is back at Mixed Blood (last seen in How to Use a Knife) as Christopher's father Ed. Myers reprises the darker energy of his last role, this time tempered with the frustrated love of a besieged parent at their wit's end. I'm really coming to enjoy Myers' restrained masculinity on stage, and he's a great choice for this part. Miriam Laube is perfectly cast as Christopher's estranged mother Judy. Laube brings real tears and an accessibly broken heart to her performance, and she and Myers make powerful foils for each other as the plot progresses.

There isn't much set to speak of for this performance other than a few artfully arranged cubes that can serve intermittently as doors, tables, beds, etc., and a number of psychedelic projections. It's Mixed Blood's signature spare delivery, and I honestly didn't mind the lack of embellishment. The performances in this show are so necessarily vivid and vital that a lavish staging would take the focus away from where it needs to be, and this approach allowed the audience to fully engage with Arney's showstopping acting. Props are cleverly handled and selected by Abbee Warmboe, and the ingenious idea to embed the extras in the audience throughout the show (thanks to Movement Director Brian Bose and Producer/Director Jack Reuler) not only keeps the energy going at a fast pace but further enhances the feeling that the audience is truly a part of this story.

To my mind, the most extraordinary element of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is the way in which it fully embeds us into the head of "the other." Christopher is someone we "normal" people (although what even does that mean, really?) encounter all the time but don't always know how to understand or reach. By placing us squarely into Christopher's perspective and forcing us to engage with the world through his eyes, we are all exposed to the wonderful things he sees and able to access far more compassion and admiration for his condition than we otherwise might. The miraculous revelations sprinkled throughout this show like so many magical breadcrumbs really do change your perspective after you leave the theater, and there's a lot to think about thanks to Arney's magnificent performance. Mixed Blood always delivers thoughtful, important work, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is planted squarely in their wheelhouse. Take an extended date night and make sure to check out this emotional play before it closes on December 3; for more information or to buy tickets, click on this link: https://mixedblood.com/on-stage/curious/.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas Steals the Show

I'm always blown away by companies who manage to make true fiction come to life on stage.

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

Especially when the art is abstract. To my mind, adapting an animationS auteur like Dr. Seuss to the stage would be a nearly herculean task - between the eye popping colors and truly abstruse shapes and silhouettes, it seems like something that would be very difficult to replicate accurately.

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

Thank goodness then for the Children's Theatre Company (CTC), who makes live action Dr. Seuss seem effortlessly easy. This was most clearly evident last weekend as I attended How The Grinch Stole Christmas, a beautifully adapted version of the classic Christmas story that had the audience literally gasping out loud with delight at the beautifully designed show.

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

For a brief recap in case you live under a rock, How The Grinch Stole Christmas tells the story of an evil creature named the Grinch who lives alone atop Mount Crumpet, overlooking a small village named Whoville. Christmas is the biggest day of the year in Whoville and the Grinch absolutely hates it. After decades of lamenting the existence of Christmas, the Grinch discovers a way to kill the holiday off completely by sneaking into the Who's homes and stealing everything - their presents, their food, their trees, even the logs for their fires. What the Grinch doesn't reckon with is encountering a small Who child named Cindy Lou Who. Cindy Lou treats the Grinch with greater compassion than he has ever known and begins to melt his icy cold heart. Cindy Lou's kindness, coupled with the fact that the Whos celebrate Christmas anyway by singing carols even after all of their trimmings are gone, leads the Grinch to realize that true happiness and joy lie in healthy, loving relationships, and not in things. He decides to bring all of the stolen goods back to Whoville and reintegrates into the town, abandoning his lonely perch on Mount Crumpet and becoming a member of society once again.

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

Anchoring this cast is Reed Sigmund as an absolutely superb Grinch. I've seen Sigmund in several roles (including as a hilarious ugly stepsister in last year's Cinderella, or in last season's performance of another Dr. Seuss classic, The Sneetches), but he was born to be the Grinch. From every sinister glance to every deliciously drawn-out line, Sigmund signs off every Grinch-y scene with a flourish. The audience literally gasped with delight when he first emerged from his Mount Crumpet cave, and I can't think of a better embodiment of this role. Fellow CTC company member Dean Holt is also lovely as the narrator, the elder version of the Grinch's pet dog Max. Holt has a warm, comforting presence that helps balance some of Sigmund's inherently freaky delivery (some very small kids may be scared; Sigmund is really good at being Grinch-y), and Holt is exactly the narrator the show needs to stay on familiar footing.

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

The rest of the cast is composed of several other regulars, who are equally delightful. Natalie Tran is perfectly poised as the Young Max, lending a crystal clear voice to her role. Mabel Weismann is the embodiment of charm as Cindy Lou Who, with several lovely solos that melted not only the Grinch's heart but those of everyone in the audience. Max Wojtanowicz and Sara Ochs are hilarious as Grandpa and Grandma Who, respectively, and Autmn Ness and Dwight Leslie reprise their parental roles as Mama Who and JP Who, respectively.

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

The orchestra, led by Conductor Victor Zupanc, does a lovely job with each song and provides a thorough soundtrack for the show, keeping it firmly in approachable kiddo territory. The sets, designed by Tom Butsch, and costumes, designed by David Kay Mickelsen, are swoon-worthy and will please even the most die-hard Dr. Seuss fans. I can't praise them highly enough: from the gently sloped and curving Christmas trees to the shockingly cerulean fur of the Grinch, it's a stunning achievement, and the eye candy alone is worth seeing this show.

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

The Grinch has been a mainstay in America's cultural firmament for decades for a reason, and this production is a a perfect representation of why. We all know (and we all contain) a little bit of the Grinch, and it's always worth a reminder to value people and love above things. Although this is technically a Christmas story the lessons the Grinch teaches us can apply year round. After a year of extreme political polarity, natural disasters, stress and general malaise all around, isn't it lovely to have the opportunity instead to focus on the things that unite and fulfill us? Delight your kids and inspire your better self with this pitch-perfect adaptation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which shows at CTC through January 7. For more information and to buy tickets, click on this link.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

THRILLIST: Best New Restaurants of 2017

As the weather cools down, date night heats up... 

The brunch at Dalton & Wade is *legit*

And comes indoors. Rather than spending halcyon picnics by the lake or tubing down the river, we must now turn inward (literally) to the cozy warmth of public establishments to break our winter blues. But where should we go?

If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the state of our unceasingly volatile restaurant industry, join the club. Thankfully, I worked with Thrillist to compile a list of the best new restaurants to grace our local scene in 2017, and there are some fabulous new additions. They may not replace time-worn favorites (R.I.P. Piccolo and Vincent's), but they have some exciting new things to say and are definitely worth a visit. Check out my full list by clicking on this link here, and let me know: what did I leave out? What restaurants are you most excited for in 2018? Let me know what to add to my must-try list!


The last few years have marked a shift for the Twin Cities dining scene. Several cornerstones of our culinary heritage have closed, among them La Belle Vie, Vincent’s, Piccolo, Saffron, and Haute Dish... but let's focus on the future. A host of ambitious newcomers have created outstanding food inspired by cuisines spanning the world, and it's all at your fingertips. Understated, elegant Japanese food? Check. Perfectly executed Southern barbecue, exploding with flavor? Check. Better happy hour deals and multi-course tasting menus? Check. Here are the best restaurants to grace Minneapolis and St. Paul in 2017, and here's hoping they stay forever.

Esker Grove
Lowry Hill
Fresh, artfully arranged food to enjoy at the art museum
Minneapolis master chef Doug Flicker may have closed his beloved restaurant Piccolo last year, but he's back with this gorgeous new restaurant at the famed Walker Art Museum. The recently revitalized space overlooks the stunning new sculpture garden and features an expanded patio that is as stylish as the world-class museum it adjoins. Flicker carries that stylishness over to his impeccably arranged, Instagram-worthy small plates, and Esker Grove’s menu has everything from breakfast boudin noir to chestnut soup, all made by sourcing impeccable ingredients and letting them sing with few accoutrements. Whether it’s an artfully arranged herb and seaweed salad, a coconut and squid ink-bathed tuna crudo, or a dashi-tinged pumpkin, you’re guaranteed to receive it impeccably cooked at peak freshness. No wonder Anthony Bourdain loves this Flicker's work.

Downtown Minneapolis
Downtown's best party spot runs on booze, decadent food, and a wood-burning oven
Mercy, the latest iteration of Le Méridien Hotel's mercurial restaurant space, is one of the best places to pick for groups. In addition to twice-daily happy hours and incredible food, Mercy has not one but two liquor-strong punch bowl options -- perfect for group dates and long chats. It’s easy to stay put a while since the old space feels fresh again with the addition of handsome dark wood finishes, warm globe lighting, and a windows that have been swathed in plants. Food-wise, do not skip the crab-stuffed grilled cheese on brioche with a side of red pepper soup for dipping; it's just as luxurious as it sounds. Order the beer can chicken and you’ll get a boozy chaser with your entrée, free of charge. And the happy hours are no slouch either, featuring discounts on a range of seafood items and an appealing list of extravagant cocktails.

Hi-Lo Diner
Boozy milkshakes, twice-daily happy hour, and a helluva history
Not many places in Minneapolis or anywhere else can claim an origin story like Hi-Lo's. It's a beautifully restored, art deco 1957 Fodero Diner that was shipped piece by piece from a field in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, and it's become an instant hit with the Minneapolis foodie community. All the standard diner fare can be found on its menu, but not without a twist to elevate it from ho-hum to, well, high-low. Minnesota-sourced ingredients like crawfish, tart apples, cheese curds. and juniper inflect the menu with a truly local flavor. Hi-Lo serves comfort food in abundance alongside healthy options to suit every dietary need, and even the pickiest eaters should have no problem finding something they like. The time-capsule facility is parked only a few blocks away from the gorgeous Mississippi river, and any trip to Hi-Lo requires that you accompany your meal with a short stroll by the water.

A French bistro with a great bakery and not a shred of pretension
Since the day his plane landed from NYC, chef Gavin Kaysen has kept his pedal firmly pressed to the culinary metal, most recently opening Bellecour, an accessible French bistro with everything from snails to rabbit sausage to roasted cauliflower. What could be a stiff and formal experience is infused with approachable warmth through every facet of Bellecour’s existence, bringing French dining into the modern era. It's so approachable, that -- if you want -- special chef’s tables are available in the kitchen for the most avid culinary voyeurs to feel a part of the process. As for the menu items, try the black truffle country pâté; or the roasted bone marrow with gremolata, or the warm foie gras gingerbread. The best part: Those are just the appetizers. Of the explosion of new French restaurants in the Twin Cities this is easily one of the best. Kaysen has smartly designed every aspect of the experience to evoke a tasteful fantasy of French life, right down to a bakery that allows diners to bring home freshly minted breads and pastries post-meal. (Which you have to do. Duh.)

Kado no Mise
North Loop
A traditional Japanese restaurant with an amazing omakase tasting menu
More than most other restaurants that opened this year, Kado no Mise is fancy and particularly focused on its elegant, minimalist aesthetic. Every detail in this multi-story gem is considered -- down to the delicately patterned plates -- and you are sure to leave with at least a few Instagram-worthy snapshots by the end of your meal. It helps that Kado no Mise is a truly great traditional Japanese restaurant. Along with simple and impeccably crafted Japanese staples from agedashi tofu to seasonal miso soup, this place has the freshest nigiri on this side of Lake Superior. Like the décor, the food's flavors feel traditionally Japanese: clean, understated, and extremely fresh. The locally based Tattersall Distillery anchors the cocktail menu with intriguing mixers like grapefruit crema and lemongrass, but Kado no Mise also carries an extensive list of sakes or, better yet, Japanese whiskys. Pro tip: It’s expensive, but spring for the traditional omakase tasting menu. You won't regret it.

Northeast Minneapolis
Maniacal attention-to-detail in an otherwise-calm dining room
Bardo serves modern New American food in a calm, blue and white dining room, and its name "bardo" is defined as "the state of the soul between death and rebirth" -- which on the outside seems to be as serene and meditative a restaurant concept as ever existed. Just wait until you taste the food. It's clear chef Remy Pettus has infused time, care, and personal attention to every aspect of his dining experience -- from hand-made sauces to herbed dusts and powders that finish every dish. Everything is taken just a little bit further than it needs to be into an over-the-top success. When is the last time you had salted cucumbers and yogurt in your cocktails? Or a rich rye whiskey blended with, among other things, peaches, thyme, and egg whites? Why stick with scalloped potatoes when you can make an aligot potato with fresh chevre? It all works marvelously, of course; Bardo's food is staggeringly good. And when the weather warms up again, the restaurant boasts one of the most luxurious off-street patio spaces in the Twin Cities.

Como Park
The best pizza brunch -- yes, pizza brunch -- in town
Thank God Delicata came to St. Paul. The space is filled with warm woods, cheery hues, and bright lights, practically guaranteeing you will stay for hours. The friendly aura extends to the staff and servers, all of whom are ready to ply you with pizza and a wink and a smile. Delicata's menu is anchored with a thoughtful mélange of pizzas, with classics like pepperoni nestled alongside more exotic offerings like shrimp and pesto; artichoke and feta; and delicata squash and prosciutto pizzas. If you are one of the many who prefer pizza in the morning, you’re in luck here too. Delicata serves a slam-dunk brunch that mercifully skips old faithfuls like eggs Benedict for more creative options like a breakfast pizza smothered in either maple butter, bacon, fontina, agrodolce, and apples; or a Southwestern take with eggs, roasted chili sauce, chicken, onions, queso, sour cream and cilantro. Cap off your day with a trip to the Como Zoo and a scoop of Delicata's hand-made gelato.

Gray Duck Tavern
Downtown St. Paul
A casual bar in the Lowry Hotel with excellent food options
More isn’t always better, of course. When you need somewhere to get filling, straightforward dishes executed with panache and passion while wearing your comfiest jeans-and-sweater combo, Gray Duck is the spot. Gray Duck’s approachable pricing fills a long-vacant void in downtown St. Paul’s dining options: an appealing medium between overpriced fine dining and dirty dive bars. It only gets better during happy hour, when diners can find deals on noshes like East African samosas, tamarind chili wings, and Calabrian chili-laced chong qing chicken. If you stay through dinner, you can savor creative dishes like duck schnitzel; a casserole filled with ground brisket, strozzapreti pasta, and a plethora of cheeses; or fresh carved meats that rival those of Fogo de Chão. That knack for fusion and creativity applies to the tightly curated cocktail menu as well, which includes oddities like paprika-laced mezcal alongside rum and salted caramel options. Minnesota Wild fans in particular will appreciate Gray Duck Tavern’s free ride program, guaranteeing safe passage from their doors to the game.

Dalton & Wade Whiskey Common
North Loop
A whiskey bar and restaurant with Southern roots and decor
For the Twin Cities’ most thoughtful whiskey experience, look no further than Dalton & Wade Whiskey Common. Diners can find classy takes on down-home soul food like smoked bologna sandwiches, pan-fried lake trout, pimento cheese Texas toast, and that beloved foundation of Minnesota winter meals, a bourbon mushroom cream-infused hot dish. If you’re feeling extra, dive into a perfect barbecue spread of brisket and hickory-smoked pork shoulder with a side of rye biscuits, sorghum butter, corn pudding, and fried apples. The restaurant is lined with cozy booths tucked right next to floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a bright view of Minneapolis’ trendy North Loop. All of this -- and the very Southern chandelier made of leather belts -- makes Dalton & Wade feel as comfy as a well-worn flannel shirt, and one of the best new spots to toss back a few.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sister Act is Again a Surefire Hit at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

What a difference a few short years can make. 

Photo courtesy of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

When Sister Act last came to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (CDT) it was 2015. The presidential election was just kicking into gear, Charlottesville had never happened, and Harvey Weinstein was still Hollywood's friendliest movie producer.

Oh how times change.

In that first Sister Act, the production was fun but in retrospect a little glib. I enjoyed it quite a lot (you can see my original review here) but it lacked a certain gravitas to really make it sing.

After a hugely successful run then and a couple more years of experience under their belts, most of that original cast has returned (with a few key additions) and wow - what a change. This cast is older, wiser, graver, funnier, and clicks much more soundly than they did before. I'm not going to summarize the plot in this review - again, you can always watch the inimitable Whoopi Goldberg's film original or read my previous review for that - but I do want to detail what's changed and what I really enjoyed.

Photo courtesy of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

For starters, let's hit the cast. Regina Marie Williams is back in the title role of Deloris van Cartier and wowza what a return! I always enjoy her work (see my thoughts on the perfection that is Nina Simone: Four Women here), and she was good last time, but she really knocks it out of the park in this production. You can tell that Williams has had time to really get comfortable in Deloris's shoes, and the way Williams sashays through each line (and wallops her powerful voice through each song) left such a huge smile on my face. Williams has also clearly worked with the cast to update several of the key jokes, and there are some sly contemporary references here that had the whole audience in giggles.

Several other CDT stalwarts have returned. Norah Long is back as the inimitable Mother Superior and she is an absolute riot. Like Williams, Long is clearly much more comfortable in her role and anchors it with a steadfast gravitas that draws a firm line between her church's walls and the world of sin outside. Britta Ollmann remains fabulous as the shocking soprano Sister Mary Robert. Ollmann absolutely nailed her rendition of "The Life I Never Led" - seriously, it will give you chills, and she's a showstopper. Seri Johnson remains a fine and funky Sister Mary Lazarus, and the eternal Keith Rice is the gift that keeps on giving as a Kanye-sunglasses-clad Monsignor O'Hara.

Photo courtesy of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
A few new additions really beef up the casts's potential and build this reprise into a towering crescendo. One of my all-time Chanhassen faves Therese Walth (aside: CDT, please, PLEASE reprise Hairspray with Therese - I would do anything to see it again) levels her trademark Nikki Blonsky comedic chops and booming voice at the heart of the role of Sister Mary Patrick, and she's a stitch. Fernando Collado is a welcome surprise as Pablo, especially after his recent lovely turn as Sonny in In The Heights (another piece I wouldn't mind seeing again). Andre Shoals is spot-on creepy as the evil Curtis. It's been a while since he was last seen at CDT, and he's a great choice for this part. Kasano Mwanza remains a scene-stealer as Curtis's nephew TJ, and once again I found myself mourning that he only had a few brief moments in which to shine.

Photo courtesy of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
The costumes - for the most part nuns in habits, although there are a few choice show costumes sprinkled throughout - are essentially the same as before. The same is true of the set, although it drew me in more than it had circa 2015. The moment when the church's stain glassed windows turn "on" was especially poignant, and the set's economy never holds it back from letting you know exactly where we are in the story. The simplicity of all this musical's accouterments keep the focus on the cast's enormously talented vocals, a wise choice that needs no further explanation. There were a few moments that troubled me in the show, particularly the disrobing of a trans character that was used for laughs near the end of Act I; I wish and hope that the "man in a dress" trope can go away, especially as our trans family faces increasingly dangerous times. Be aware of those moments if you plan to go.

Photo courtesy of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

I'll be honest: I was initially hoping the next show at CDT would be something I hadn't seen before, so I felt a little blue when it was announced that this was coming back. But on viewing I found myself quite moved by this production of Sister Act, bringing us full circle to the importance of societal context. To sit in my church (a darkened theater), communing with fellow patrons at the altar of a group of magnificently talented women who celebrate sisterhood; band together to protect themselves from the violence of bad men; who strive with unceasing personal sacrifice to bring more peace and beauty and faith to a world in pain - well, what message could possibly be more timely than that? I can't remember the last time I saw so many women on stage at once, and it was really inspiring to see such a critical mass; what a wonderful experience it must be for all of these actresses. There is such a pure joy to this show, which is bolstered by the clear camaraderie between these castmates, that truly served as a balm to the soul in our troubled times. We all deserve a little more peace of mind, and I can guarantee that you will find it here at Sister Act. Sister Act runs through the end of February 2018; for more information or to buy tickets, click on this link.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Reviewed in Brief: Collide's Dracula is a Campy Delight

If you liked Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, you will LOVE this show.

Dracula from COLLIDE THEATRICAL on Vimeo.

Cross necklaces? Check. Vampy face paint? Check. Perfectly tailored pleated pants? Check. Moody emo rock band? Check. Ubiquitously smeared eyeliner paired with thin strapped halter tops? Check, check, check.

If there was any doubt that the 1990s are back in full force, Dracula, now showing at the Ritz Theater, sweeps it straight into the trash. This campy reimagination of the traditional horror story shouldn't work but somehow it does, and the firmly planted 1990s roots definitely help.

The story here is an extremely simplified version of Dracula with a few twists. There is no dialogue; in fact, the entire show is told through modern dance and covers of carefully chosen pop songs. Everything is set in the modern era (I'd place the influence in the 1990s, but the aesthetic is right at home with today's latest Kendell Jenner lewks). In this light, Dracula comes off more as a whiny stalker than a virile vampire king, and the effect is oddly... heartwarming?

I love things that expand my mind and are hard to describe, and this definitely fits the bill. Clocking in at a tight 90 minutes (INCLUDING intermission - why even bother at that point? Just skip it!), it had my jaw open from the get-go and really won me over. The performers are clearly passionate about the show and fully invested in making it sing, and that is key to making this work. The musicians are quite talented, especially Michael Hanna as Dracula. Hanna lives everyone's dark twisted fantasy of being a shadowy rock god slicing his vocals over the surprisingly solid rock band like fangs in a virgin's neck (sorry guys, I had to). He'd be perfect starring in a focused musical about Queen, and he is able to narrate the show through his few songs.

The other half of the performance is composed of some eccentric, captivating modern dance (when is the last time you heard that word combo?). The show begins with what I can only describe as a balletic grunge club mash-up, devolving about halfway through the show into a brilliant parody of a Sia music video and culminating in a Thriller-esque group sashay near the end. Like the music it's an extremely random combination of elements, but it works. I found myself drawn to the dancers' consuming physicality and as an avid fan of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, I was grinning from ear to ear by the time we left.

If you want something 100% unique, performed by a highly talented mix of young performers and straight from the brain of a mad theatrical scientist, Dracula is for you. It sounds strange (and I suppose it is), but it made for a great date night and plenty of conversation after the show. I'm eager to see what else the new-to-me company of Collide has up their velvet sleeves. Dracula runs at the Ritz Theater through November 12; for more information or to buy tickets, click on this link.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Finding Neverland is Filled With Magic

It's always fun to get a peek behind the scenes. 

Photo by Jeremy Daniels

I mean, who doesn't want to feel like an in-the-know insider? With the ubiquitous ability to be a voyeur just about anywhere these days thanks to social media, is there anything we don't already know?

Photo by Jeremy Daniels

When it comes to pre-internet works, the answer is: absolutely. Finding Neverland, a lovely new show now playing at the Orpheum, tells just such a story about the origins of much-beloved Peter Pan. It's miles better than the recent movie and well worth a stop if you want to escape our early November snow.

Photo by Jeremy Daniels

Finding Neverland begins with J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, strolling in Kensington Gardens as he brainstorms plots for his newest play. He runs into a woman named Sylva and her bevy of boys, whose boisterous playtime and honest assessment of his work rigorously reinvigorates his imagination. Enchanted with the vivacity with which they approach life after the death of their father, Barrie begins to spend more and more time with Sylvia and her sons, alienating his wife Mary to the point that she leaves J.M. Barrie completely. The theater Barrie works at is in dire straights and desperately needs a new play to bring in revenue. Barrie writes the stories he tells the boys into a manifesto to childhood named Peter Pan; the company initially resists the story but changes their minds when they see the magic it contains. Sylvia contracts consumption and dies shortly after the play is released, and J.M. Barrie continues to partake in the boys' lives after their mother dies.

Photo by Jeremy Daniels

I wasn't sure what to expect from this. I watched the vaunted 2004 film of the same name but I gotta be honest: I was not very impressed, despite a terrific cast that included Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. I expected much of the same here, but I'm happy to report that the stage version is SO much better than the film. Something about the film lost all of the magic and whimsy to me. Broadway has infused that absent magic and whimsy into the stage version in spades, and this production is utterly charming. It helps that it's set to a really gorgeous soundtrack, with new-to-me songs like "All That Matters," "Neverland," "Stronger," and "When Your Feet Don't Touch The Ground" soothing my ears. The aural aesthetic is like a mashup of the soundtracks of Titanic, Once, Mary Poppins and British pub songs, and it's an appealing mix that will have you tapping your toes in time.

Photo by Jeremy Daniels

The cast is perfectly suited to their roles, beginning with Billy Harrigan Tighe as J.M. Barrie. Tighe is lithe and lustrous of body and song, and his mischievous performance captures Peter Pan's endlessly youthful spirit in spades. Lael Van Keuren is a perfect match to Tighe as Barrie's muse Sylvia. Van Keuren has a gorgeous voice that soars through the show with a warm delivery and a loving touch. Their sinuously backlit duet on "What You Mean To Me" is easily one of the best moments of the show, as is Van Keuren's glittering, balletic exeunt for Sylvia's death at the end of the show. Whoever paired these two knew what they were doing - they are the new Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers!

Photo by Jeremy Daniels

The rest of the cast is equally exciting. John Davidson is wonderful as theater owner and inspiration for Captain Hook Charles Frohman. Davidson has a gruff yet approachable demeanor that helps infuse the many sad moments with honest comedy, and he's a natural anchor of the cast. The children playing Peter, George, Jack and Michael (rotating every night) are absolutely wonderful and will impress your pants off, particularly in the gorgeous a capella performance of "We're All Made of Stars." The rest of the ensemble cast is great as well, although one quibble: the magnificent baritone of Dwelvan David never really gets the chance to shine, and as the only person of color in the cast with speaking lines, his casting as Nanna at the end of the show was particularly alarming. I'm sure it was innocently intentioned, but it's a bad look, and I truly wish they had managed to arrange it differently (he'd make a marvelous Captain Hook - let him at it, Broadway!).

Photo by Jeremy Daniels

The production team did a beautiful job of making a warm, inviting environment for this creative play, in the truest sense of the word. The choreography is deceptively elegant, adding so much to the story with just a few thoughtful gestures. There are some true dancers among the cast, and it's a pleasure to watch them pirouette through the stage. Sets alternate between vibrantly painted scrims and several lush projections. Props land the audience squarely in varied environments ranging from a decadent park to a formal dinner party to a children's performance in a back yard and are quickly whisked in and out. The costumes are straightforwardly gorgeous, featuring that early 20th century aesthetic I so enjoy and rich textures you can see even from the back of the hall. And small attention to detail, like the impressive use of shadows and negative space, or the clear influence of the resident "air sculptor" (I don't even know what that is but it's in the program and it definitely paid off), bring out the child in all of us.

Photo by Jeremy Daniels

Finding Neverland hits the full emotional spectrum and arrives at the perfect time. Things can feel so dark and dreary these days, both in the weather and society at large. The holiday season is so often completely overwrought and quickly becomes more about things and stuff and to-do lists than the reason it supposedly exists: giving thanks, appreciating your blessings, and sharing time with loved ones. If there's one message of Finding Neverland (and Peter Pan, too), it's that no matter what bad things you might face in life, there's never an excuse to live it without a little magic and gratitude. Finding Neverland is something kids can enjoy but grownups will enjoy even more, so keep that in mind when buying tickets. Stories about Peter Pan have always been of mediocre interest to me, but Finding Neverland captivated in a totally unexpected way. It was a sweet surprise, and one I'd encourage you to check out if you can. For more information or to buy tickets, click on this link.