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'Alcina's Island' fuses theater and food for outdoor magic

​There's more than theater and music on the menu for Mixed Precipitation's production of Alcina's Island. In fact, there's an actual menu to go along with the show, which will tour community gardens around the Twin Cities from this weekend until the beginning of October.

The project is the brain child of performer Scotty Reynolds and chef Nick Schneider (of Spoon River and others), who have produced two previous late-summer garden tours that merged theater and food. In this case, their inspiration is the epic poem Orland Furioso, by way of classical music by Handel and the traditional country-western of Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, and Buck Owens.

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The Handel piece serves as a perfect fit for the production's needs, from the ability to reduce the instrumentation to its clarity when presented in a garden setting, Reynolds says.

Schneider plans to fuse Mediterranean dishes with items inspired by the diners and truck stops of America (though, unlike those eateries, Schneider's dishes will be all vegetarian). It's similar to the fusion Reynolds and the company of actors and musicians make with the source material, which centers on a particular moment from the original epic.

That piece took its cues from the legends and stories of the middle ages, including the tales of Arthur, Merlin, and rest of the Knights of the Round Table. The sliver that they're telling in the piece centers on an evil sorceress who has lured many a brave knight to her island and then transformed them into the animals and plants that live there. It's up to our heroes to set things right, with a few songs tossed in as well.

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The company of 16 is led by Laura Hynes Smith in the title role, and Jameson Jon Baxter as Ruggiero, who Reynolds describes as the "trucking hero."

Items that Schneider is looking to include range from open-faced tomato-and-cheese sandwiches to vegetable-based jerky. Also, to play off the show's fermentation theme, Schneider will present a number of pickled items to augment the dishes.

The menu will change during the run, as different items will be ready for harvest at the tail end of August than at the beginning of October, Schneider says.

The entire experience, from spending a pleasant late-summer afternoon in a beautiful garden, to the performances, to the food, should be something fresh for the audience. "They will taste something or hear something they haven't heard before," Reynolds says.

The tour will stretch from Minneapolis to St. Paul and into suburbs like Falcon Heights and Burnsville. As each garden has a different shape and size, so the staging will be altered from week to week. They're starting out at the Eat Street Gardens in south Minneapolis and spreading their wings from there. 

Showtimes are at 4 p.m. and it will be presented rain or shine (rain sites will be announced for each location). There is a $10-$20 suggested donation to attend. Visit online or call 612.619.2112 for more information.