Cue the Applause

Cue, the fine-dining restaurant in the new Guthrie, neatly combines high food ethics and high style

The year was 1959, and a bunch of theater bigwigs, led by Tyrone Guthrie, the greatest British director of his time, decided that Broadway had gotten too commercial, and a future loomed in which the amount of money a show would need to recoup for its production would prevent any classics, like Shakespeare or the Greek tragedies, from ever being staged again. (This, mind you, was decades before The Producers and Hairspray were even a glimmer of valuable name-brand identity in a marketer's eye.) Anyhoo, in 1959, Mr. Guthrie and co. issued an open call, through the New York Times, for cities willing to imagine another model of theater financing by subsidizing a regional theater devoted to staging the classics. The good private citizens of Minneapolis rushed in with a donated chunk of land (the space beside the Walker) and a rich capital campaign, and thus beat out Detroit, San Francisco, and other interested cities. Nonprofit theater was pioneered, Mr. Guthrie was knighted, and the heavily discounted last-minute "rush" ticket became a staple joy of every Twin Cities resident with more taste than cash. And somehow a little bit of anti-commercial, or better-than-commercial, DNA was wound into the deep soul of the Guthrie Theater, and now it can be seen everywhere, even in the tasty, mostly local, morsels at the end of every theater-goer's fork.

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