Klingons, wookies, and John McClane get into the holiday spirit: A-List 12.5

Morgan Thorson at the Walker Art Center

Morgan Thorson at the Walker Art Center Bobby Rogers

Check out our top picks for this week.


'Elf' Joan Marcus


Elf the Musical
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

Buddy, the guileless hero of Elf, is returning to lead the search for genuine yuletide mirth. Like the 2003 movie, this musical adaptation traces the adventures of an orphan who has been raised as one of Santa’s elves in the North Pole. Upon learning of his true human nature, Buddy ventures to NYC in search of his birth family. The reunion proves far from euphoric, as Buddy’s exuberance often comes across as derangement, even to the department store worker with whom he falls in love. The songs composed for Elf, by acclaimed duo Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, are intrinsic to the whimsical design, lending heartfelt sentiment to the cleverly adapted book by Tony Award-winning Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin. Arriving at a time when social and cultural disenchantment seems to be running rampant, a dose of Buddy’s optimistic energy should make for a potent Christmas tonic. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. $40-$114. 345 Washington St., St. Paul; 651-224-4222. Through December 30 —Brad Richason

Sean Patton
Acme Comedy Co.

Sean Patton has performed comedy on four continents this year, and has learned a lot about other cultures. “Over here, people talk about how America is losing freedom of speech,” he says. “Go spend a week in China where they actually don’t have freedom of speech. We’re not losing shit.” He points out that he can repeatedly talk negatively about the president on the phone. “I don’t fear suddenly being detained. In China, you can’t talk negatively about [Chinese president] Xi Jinping. It’s troublesome to do so. You’re told you can’t talk about Taiwan, Tibet, or Tiananmen Square—not even in casual conversation.” One of the clubs Patton was scheduled to play in Shanghai was closed before he arrived. “The concept of improvisation is not allowed,” he explains, “and in a comedy show there’s a good chance of that happening. They want to approve everything you’re going to talk about onstage.” The exposure to so many other cultures has helped cement his approach to comedy. “I try and stay away from topics I know other comedians might go after, which is a lot,” he notes. “My material comes through experiences and from places people aren’t really looking.” 18+. 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $18. 708 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612-338-6393. Through Saturday —P.F. Wilson


Cocktailian Chris Juhn


City Pages Cocktailian 2018
The Depot Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel

This week, City Pages’ Cocktailian returns to the Depot in downtown Minneapolis for a booze-fueled evening of hard liquor from local distilleries and artisans. On your adult-beverage voyage you’ll be able to sample everything under the sun (vodka! gin! whiskey!)—though you probably won’t want to. This event is all about choosing your favorites and pacing yourself. Some booths will be mixing drinks, others will serve pours neat, and some will have both options. Around 20 distilleries will be on hand, including Vikre, Bent, 10,000 Drops, Lawless, and Loon Liquors. Makers of things that showcase booze, including Bittercube bitters, will also be on hand. Grab snacks from Red Stag, Pat’s Tap, the Bird, Pinstripes, and Kyatchi, and enjoy tunes from Zacc Harris. VIP tickets score you early admission at 6 p.m. Find more info at 21+. 7 to 10 p.m. $30/$35 at the door (if available); $50/$55 VIP. 225 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-375-1700. —Jessica Armbruster

Finesse Mitchell
Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy

“If you haven’t been to an adult comedy show in a while, this is one you don’t want to miss,” says comedian Finesse Mitchell. Probably best known as a former cast member of Saturday Night Live, Mitchell started comedy late, at least by his reckoning. He was 28 and selling insurance during the day. “I guess there’s no perfect time to start, but if you’re really going to be good,” he says, “you should probably start when you’re 18. That gives you more time to do what you want to do.” Mitchell made up a lot of ground, however, being cast on SNL after just five years in standup. In addition to touring, he also acts steadily and works on his other passion: being, as he describes it, “the dopest dad in the world.” How does he accomplish that? “You’ve got to do more listening than talking,” he explains. “You’ve got to be present and engaging.” And, of course, you have to be funny. “You have to find some sort of funny in you to get your kids laughing. There’s nothing like making your kids laugh and them thinking you’re the funniest person on Earth. They become your friends, they trust you, and that’s how you become the dopest dad in America.” 16+. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. $16-$23. 408 E. Broadway, Mall of America, Bloomington; 952-858-8558. Through Saturday—P.F. Wilson

Morgan Thorson and Alan Sparhawk: Public Love
Walker Art Center

Since relocating from New York to Minneapolis in 1992, dance maker Morgan Thorson has developed a rep for work that combines intellectual rigor, theatrical flair, and choreographic audacity. Thorson co-creates with her dancers, gives them power and choice, and comes out of an open-ended process with works of formal beauty and architectural power. That’s a rare achievement. For her second Walker commission, Thorson picks the brains of a mighty cadre of performers, including Jessica Cressey, Non Edwards, Sam Jonson, Alanna Morris-Van Tassel, Valerie Oliveiro, Allie Hankins, and writer Casey Llewellyn. Public Love celebrates tactility—the reciprocity of touch and our need for it in these divisive times. A sound score by Alan Sparhawk of Low, combined with some pop songs and plenty of sculptural elements and visual surprises, should make this production a love fest and a half. 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. $28. 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. Through Saturday —Linda Shapiro

Wicked Wenches

Wicked Wenches

Wicked Wenches: Strip Wars Holiday Special
The Minnsky Theater

The Star Wars Holiday Special is so notorious that there’s a live-action version onstage this season. For those unfamiliar with the trainwreck: The program, which aired one time only in 1978, follows Chewbacca’s family as they prepare to celebrate Life Day. Will the Empire ruin the family holiday? Will Chewie and Han Solo make it home in time to save the day? Why is Bea Arthur here? While we don’t anticipate any Golden Girls cameos from the Wicked Wenches at Minnsky Theater, we do expect some bombastic musical numbers, sexy wookies, and plenty of holiday camp. 7:30 p.m. Fridays through Saturdays, plus Thursday, December 6; 1:30 p.m. Sunday, plus Saturday December 15. $15-$30. 1517 Central Ave. N.E., Minneapolis. Through December 15 —Jessica Armbruster

Who Brought the Humbug?
The Lab Theater

The irrepressible, effervescent, indubitably creative Ricci Milan is back on the boards, this time with his own show. The dancer and choreographer, who you may know from the wayback days of 10FootFive and more recently with Rhythmic Circus, wants everyone to “tap” into the holiday spirit with this high-energy, interactive, all-ages show. Classic and original holiday songs, wild and wicked tap dancing, a seven-piece horn band, a crazy-cool beatbox sensation, Broadway-style Minneapolis funk—the holidays couldn’t be jazzier or more fun when Milan’s directing the action. This show will get you happy in a heartbeat. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 1:30 p.m. Saturdays; 4 p.m. Sundays. $30-$35; $40-$45 VIP. 700 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612-333-7977. Through December 16 —Camille LeFevre

Holiday Pop-Up Markets
Various locations

We’re in the thick of it now, with holiday markets popping up like Starbucks in the ’90s. The Queer Bizarre at Insight Brewery (2821 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis) will feature giftables from a variety of LGBTQ artists. There will also be beer and soda while you do some shopping on Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. Raging Art On is back this week at Gamut Gallery (717 S. 10th St., Minneapolis) with an ongoing sale sure to please artsy types. Thursdays through Saturdays, from 1 to 7 p.m. through December 22, the gallery will be packed with the work of 50 or so artists. Pieces will be hung floor to ceiling, with booths selling jewelry, pottery, and other items. The Holiday Emporium at Geek Partnership Society (1121 Jackson St. NE, Ste 106, Minneapolis) will host an event with a family-friendly CON vibe, offering gloriously nerdy items, snacks, and visits from Santa. The event is on Saturday, and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This weekend, the always epic Holiday No Coast Craft-o-Rama returns to Midtown Global Market (920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis) with gig posters, beauty products, handmade toys, and bitchy Christmas cards (the best kind) from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. If you’re looking for local markets that will also feature beer, be sure to check out happenings at Sisyphus Brewing (noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at 712 Ontario Ave. W., Minneapolis), Tattersall (noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at 1620 Central Ave. NE # 150, Minneapolis), and Modist (noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at 505 N. Third St., Minneapolis). —Jessica Armbruster

L-R: Brett Kallusky, 'Strawberries'; Hale Ekinci, 'Untitled (American Family)'; Tiffany Lange, '90s Baby'

L-R: Brett Kallusky, 'Strawberries'; Hale Ekinci, 'Untitled (American Family)'; Tiffany Lange, '90s Baby' Image courtesy Rosalux


Open Door 14: Juried Exhibition
Rosalux Gallery

Nicole Soukup, who coordinates the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Project at Mia, curates this year’s “Open Door 14” at Rosalux. At Mia, Soukup not only oversees the MAEP program, but has assisted big shows like “More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness,” “The Sports Show MN,” and “Sacred.” She also helped organize the citywide Guerrilla Girls’ Twin Cities takeover in 2016. “Open Door” draws artists from all over the country; this year the show includes Chicago-based Turkish interdisciplinary artist Hale Ekinci and Iowa-based artist Noah Doely, who uses sculpture, photography, and video. There are plenty of Minnesota artists as well, including Lisa Bergh, Justine Di Fiore, Emmett Ramstad, and Christopher Harrison. There will be an opening reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, December 7. 1400 Van Buren St. NE #195, Minneapolis. Through December 30 —Sheila Regan

A Very Die Hard Christmas
Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater

Explosions, blood, bad guys, and yuletide wishes will be pouring out of Bryant-Lake Bowl this December, as A Very Die Hard Christmas returns to the stage. The brainchild of Twin Cities theater veteran Josh Carson, this show combines the badass story of John McClane, an off-duty cop turned action-movie icon, with the warmth and charm of some of your favorite Christmas TV specials. Each year, Carson adds and changes material to keep up with current events and pop culture, but he doesn’t compromise on the comedy, catchphrases, or holiday cheer that has made the production a staple of BLB during the holidays. Best of all, each show brings in a surprise guest to play the role of Santa Claus. Past cameos have included athletes, actors, musicians, and even former mayor Betsy Hodges. Come for the fake blood splatter, stay for the spirit of the holidays. Yippee ki-yay, Father Christmas. 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. $15/$18. 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-825-3737. Through December 22 —Patrick Strait

'Nutcracker (Not So) Suite'

'Nutcracker (Not So) Suite' Dan Norman Photography

Nutcracker (not so) Suite
The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts


There will be glitter and grime at this naughty take on the Nutcracker. In this production, originally created by Myron Johnson in 1993 for Ballet of the Dolls, Marie is celebrating Christmas in 1960s NYC. Instead of the eponymous gift, she receives Barbie and Ken dolls. Things get rowdy when they spring to life, whisking Maria away for an adventure that includes run-ins with beatniks, brides, and a Rat Queen, all set to pop tunes, rock ’n’ roll, and a bit of Tchaikovsky’s original score. Bradley Greenwald reprises his Mama Flo, Maria’s socialite aunt, and Steven Epp takes on the Uncle/Drosselmeyer role. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. $40-$45. 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-206-3636. Through December 22 —Jessica Armbruster

A Klingon Christmas Carol
Mounds Theatre

A stage production featuring Klingons probably doesn’t spring to mind when you think of holiday traditions. However, A Klingon Christmas Carol has been crushing expectations for many years now. An annual offering at Mounds Theatre, this production teaches the true meaning of SQuja’, a story of courage and honor (and bloodshed, we’re talking about Klingons here) on the eve of the Long Night. This is a lesson that transcends language and culture, as you will be able to follow the play despite it being presented entirely in the Klingon language (rest assured, there will also be English supertitles). While this tale is dark and cold and a little bit like a fairy tale from another era, in the end the true spirit of the holidays shines through and warms hearts. 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Monday, December 10, and Thursdays starting December 20; 4:30 p.m. December 23. $18-$35. 1029 Hudson Rd., St. Paul; 651-772-2253. Through December 29 —Jessica Armbruster

Elizabeth Price, 'Kohl'

Elizabeth Price, 'Kohl'


Elizabeth Price
Walker Art Center


Neckties are loaded with symbolism. Among their connotations: social rank or status, coming of age, a celebration of color or mood, a sign of professionalism or politics, an outward expression of the phallus. Kohl is an adornment originated by the ancient Egyptians. All of that, and more, inform the large-scale moving images London-based artist Elizabeth Price has created for the Walker Art Center galleries. In her first U.S. museum commission, Price offers two works: FELT TIP and KOHL. In the first, she layers necktie imagery sourced from photography, animation, and motion graphics to examine gender and workplace. In KOHL, she integrates video from four fictional characters discussing the cosmetic and the material, and coal as a source of energy and fuel. Together, the works present a singular perspective on the body, dress, and gender. 1750 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. Through February 23, 2020 —Camille LeFevre

2018 Holiday Bake Sale
Union Depot

It’s not just booze we turn to for comfort; sugar also helps us get through the holidays. This weekend, the Union Depot will make it easier for you to score some of the sweet stuff at their annual bake sale. Sample and purchase delicious edibles from bakeries and businesses like Heavenly Treats, Mademoiselle Miel, Nikkolette’s Macarons, North Mallow, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Potter’s Pasties, St. Croix Chocolate Co., and the Buttered Tin, among many others. Between doses of sugar you’ll find market vendors peddling wares, be they soap, salsa, granola, or many other options. Workshops include food and drink pairing sessions, and there’s a chance you’ll win something super sweet at the cakewalk. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. 214 E. Fourth St., St. Paul; 651-202-2700. —Jessica Armbruster