Winter Guide to the Twin Cities 2012

The best winter warm-up drinks, cool concerts, must-see plays, and carnival activities in the metro

RihannaXcel Energy Center | March 24

Rihanna's work ethic is astounding. The 24-year-old Barbados-bred star has already put out seven albums, and each has foisted songs upon us that are deeply embedded in life. "We Found Love," "Umbrella," "Rude Boy," and countless others marry her island sass with the scientists behind proven pop hits. Her latest is Unapologetic, and that word has been key to her hard-charging success. Chris who? With A$AP Rocky. $39.50-$125, 6:30 p.m. 199 Kellogg Blvd. W., St Paul; 800.745.3000.

Five Must-See Winter Plays

By Ed Huyck

The opening months of 2013 promise to be busy ones for Twin Cities theater, with world premieres, exciting new works, and intriguing revivals all on the docket. Here is just a sample of what is coming up over the next few months.

The Book of MormonOrpheum Theatre | February 5–17

Tickets for the touring production are as hard to get as they are on Broadway, where the satirical musical, from the creators of South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) and Avenue Q (Robert Lopez), has been playing to more than 100 percent capacity since it opened. With a bevy of Tony Awards behind it, the show is off on its first national tour with a pair of original Broadway cast members in tow. Tickets are going extremely fast. $54-$154. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 800.982.2787. (photo: Joan Marcus)

The SevenTen Thousand Things Theatre  February 15–March 10

Hip-hop artist and playwright Will Power tackles Aeschylus'  The Seven Against Thebes, about the battle for control of the city by two of the sons of Oedipus (as you might guess, it doesn't go well for them). Sarah Rasmussen, fresh off her strong work on the Jungle's In the Next Room, directs the production. As always with the company, the show will be presented in prisons, homeless shelters, and other nontraditional venues before playing for the general public at Open Book in Minneapolis. Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.203.9502. (photo: Peter Vitale)

AidaTheatre Latte Da at the Pantages Theatre  January 3–27

Peter Rothstein directs Theatre Latte Da's production of the Elton John/Tim Rice musical, which takes its cues from Verdi's opera. The company has always been able to find surprising depth in the most commercial of projects, while the partnership with the Hennepin Theatre Trust should give the production an extra sheen. $39-$59. 710 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis; 800.982.2787. (photo: George Byron Griffiths)

BuzzerPillsbury House Theatre/Guthrie Theater February 8–March 3

One of the best local productions of 2012 gets remounted in early 2013. Tracey Scott Wilson's play about race, relationships, and gentrification is a dazzling and disturbing look into the complex interactions among a young trio of characters. Last season's world-premiere run at Pillsbury House's space was sold out. $22-$30. 818 S. Second St., Minneapolis; 612.377.2224.

DoubtMinnesota Opera | January 26–February 3

The Ordway Center hosts the world premiere of Doubt, featuring music by Douglas J. Cuomo and a libretto by John Patrick Shanley. The work is adapted from Shanley's play and film, which center on the battle of wills between a nun and a priest in the early-1960s Bronx. She suspects he has engaged in improper relations with one of the boys at the school; he denies it. The ever-shifting truth has dazzled audiences, while the strong emotions make the story a natural fit for an opera. $35-$200. 345 Washington St., St. Paul; 612.333.6669

Top Five Winter Carnival Activities

By Ed Huyck

There are essentially two ways to handle a Minnesota winter: hide in the dark for five months until the April (or May) thaw, or face it head-on. For more than a century, folks in the Twin Cities have chosen the latter with the St. Paul Winter Carnival. The 2013 edition promises plenty of fun for everyone between January 24 and February 3. For more information, visit or call 651.223.4700. (photo courtesy of St. Paul Pioneer Press/

The Medallion Hunt

The glory of finding the Winter Carnival medallion — not to mention the potential for a $10,000 prize — draws hordes of treasure hunters to the St. Paul area each year with high hopes. Fed by daily clues, the hunters comb the area to find their elusive prize. Why not join in the fun? Just don't hack the website for early clues.

Red Bull Crashed Ice

Last year, extreme winter sports met the Winter Carnival with tremendous results. The borderline-insane athletes of Crashed Ice return for an event that looks like something out of a Mad Max remake set in Norway, as they hurtle down a frozen course on ice skates, or just tumble down out of control. Either way, fun for everyone!

The Beer Dabbler

What makes a chilly winter day even better? Cold beer, of course. The Beer Dabbler in Lowertown offers more than 100 breweries and 300 varieties of beer, several stages of live music, and a home-brew contest. And if you are hankering for something hot, a number of popular food trucks will be on site to fulfill your wishes.

Snow sculptures and ice carving

Making snowmen is a rite of passage for Minnesota youth, but many folks continue beyond Frosty to craft things that are much grander. See the results at the Snow Park at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. You can also watch artists using a different form of water captured in a solid state with the magnificent ice carvings at Rice Park.

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