SantaCon bar crawl, 'Star Wars' art, Open Streets: A-List 12.13-19

Nigel Parry

Nigel Parry

This week's top events include a party with the Hamm's Bear, Star Wars related fun, and the always wild Lowertown SantaCon.

Oh yes, this is really happening.

Oh yes, this is really happening. 'Star Wars Holiday Special'


The 11th Annual Star Wars Holiday Special 
Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater

As the latest Star Wars installment, The Last Jedi, hits movie screens, it’s evident that Lucasfilm/Disney has crafted a franchise juggernaut from a carefully calibrated brand identity. Such standards were not always the rule, however, as evidenced by the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special (1978). Meant to capitalize on the blockbuster success of the original film, the universally panned TV special combines variety-show oddities with a schlocky space adventure involving reuniting Chewbacca with his Wookiee family for Life Day. Along the way, viewers are subjected to bizarre cameos from the likes of Art Carney, Bea Arthur, and Harvey Korman, along with musical interludes from Jefferson Starship and Diahann Carroll (who coos seductively to Chewbacca’s father, Itchy, during a wondrously ill-advised virtual reality “fantasy”). Broadcast just once and never officially released to the general public, the infamous special became the stuff of legend: a fever dream too brazenly atrocious to have been real. Yet here it is, screening at the Bryant-Lake Bowl for the 11th year as a benefit for Toys for Tots. Come endure the embarrassment of the rebel heroes as they take a break from intergalactic warfare to celebrate the holidays. 4, 7, and 10 p.m. Admission is free with a new, unwrapped toy donation. 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-825-3737. —Brad Richason

The Phantom of the Opera
Orpheum Theatre

The Phantom of the Opera’s enduring appeal can be attributed to the familiarity of a sumptuously told narrative, adapted from the novel by Gaston Leroux, centering on the enigmatic title figure’s obsessive mentoring of rising star Christine. Famed for its dynamic score by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the musical embraces an extravagance of spectacle, from the lavish recreation of the Paris Opera House to the Phantom’s eerie subterranean lair. This touring production boasts of being “bigger and better than ever before,” alluding both to the critically lauded scenic design of Paul Brown and to the Tony Award-winning costume design of Maria Björnson. This emphasis on scale can even be seen in a cast and orchestra that numbers 52, making Phantom the largest contemporary touring production. Setting aside the work’s impressive scope,Phantom continues to attract audiences thanks to a paradoxical intimacy, one that resonates with every beat of heartsick longing propelling this doomed romance. Showtimes vary, see for the complete schedule. $39-$139. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-339-7007. Through December 31 —Brad Richason

Sean Patton
Acme Comedy Co. 

Sean Patton has been quite the world traveler lately. “I was in Norway, England, and Ireland,” he says, “and I did a month at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival.” During his time in Europe, he had a chance to perform with local comics. He was especially intrigued by performers for whom English was not a native language. “They’ve spoken English for maybe five or six years, but they learned to speak it specifically so they could do standup,” he says. Some perform in English and their native tongue. The latter was sometimes a challenge for Patton if he had to perform on the same bill. “A lot of those comedians would perform in, say, Norwegian, on certain shows,” he explains. “The audience is laughing... I don’t know what he’s talking about or what he’s saying. Am I going to go up there and just talk about the same things in a different language? It’s very interesting when you break it all down.” Back in the U.S., Patton is building and tweaking his next hour, which he hopes to shoot next year. 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

Marcel Michelle Mobama

Marcel Michelle Mobama Kashi



Bust out your leather garb and leave your inhibitions at the door: Daddy, a queer variety show and dance night, is returning to Icehouse for its fifth incarnation. Get your motor running at 10 p.m. with a DJ set, followed by multiple acts from the local burlesque, drag, fashion, literary, and performance-art scenes onstage. Things are capped off with a DJ spinning tunes that will have you dancing your ass off until 2 a.m. Daddy is the brainchild of musician Brent Pennington and cartoonist, sexual health educator, and podcaster Archie Bongiovanni. It’s meant to be a sex-positive safe space for the queer community, emphasizing consent and as much sweaty, risqué fun as you can handle. Attendees are known for showing up in outrageous outfits and wild makeup, so don’t forget to primp to the hilt. In addition to facilitating mingling among members of the LGBTQ+ community, Daddy raises money for local queer nonprofits like Reclaim, Navigate MN, and Cafe Southside through sales of T-shirts, handkerchiefs, and (of course!) condoms. 21+. 10 p.m. $10. 2528 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis; 612-276-6523. —Erica Rivera

Meet the Hamm’s Bear
Skinner’s Pub and Eatery

The Hamm’s Bear is a 65-year-old mascot born of an era when it was okay to use cartoons to peddle adults-only products. Though the beer bear is now semi-retired, he is still much loved in Minnesota, showing up on collectibles, in beer- and local-history exhibitions, and even in a six-foot statue paying tribute to him on the Seventh Street Mall. This Thursday, some dude will put on the Hamm’s Bear costume and show up at Skinner’s. It’s not creepy; just roll with it. During the happy hour, folks will be invited to pose with him for pictures, shop for memorabilia, and enjoy canned Hamm’s for $1. 5 to 7 p.m. Free. 919 Randolph Ave., St. Paul; 651-291-0146. —Jessica Armbruster

Preacher Lawson
Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy

Comedian Preacher Lawson is probably most widely recognized for being a finalist on last season’s America’s Got Talent. While he lost to ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer, he still increased his fan base significantly. Having moved over 20 times before he was 10 years old, he quickly figured out that no matter where he wound up in the United States, being funny was the best way to connect with people and make friends. These days he unabashedly likes himself, which is why he has his own picture as his phone’s screen saver. A girl he once dated accused him of being conceited. “How am I conceited if I have a picture of me on my phone?” he asks an audience. “That’s’ like walking into a house and saying, ‘Man, you’ve got pictures of you and your family everywhere.’” His popular YouTube channel features shorts highlighting cooking and travel tips. 18+; 21+ later shows. 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Friday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 9:30 p.m. Sunday. $25.95. 408 E. Broadway, Mall of America, Bloomington; 952-858-8558. Through Sunday —P.F. Wilson

Dan Norman Photography

Dan Norman Photography

FRIDAY 12.15

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

Nutcrackers are a dime a dozen this time of year. This not-so-sweet edition, however, is more naughty than nice, and features drag, cheekiness, and a fab ’60s setting. The story follows Marie (Deanna Gooding) as she receives her gift from Mama Flo, a New York socialite played by Bradley Greenwald. In this interpretation, Marie soon enters a dream world filled with urban seediness and posh glamour. It’s all led by James Sewell Ballet, with Eve Schulte as Barbie and Jordan Lefton as Ken. Though this annual production is now a tradition, choreographer Myron Johnson promises a performance that isn’t cookie-cutter. “This is a show that needs to be different every year,” he says. “There are musts, of course—like Barbie and Ken—but part of the thrill of the show is that there are surprises every time we do it.” These shows are quirky, but also pretty family-friendly. If you’re looking for a little more raunch onstage, be sure to check the schedule for the more adult Naughty Nutcracker nights. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, plus Wednesday, December 27; 2 p.m. Sunday, December 17. $30-$50. 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-206-3636. Through December 30 —Jessica Armbruster

Clockwise: Russ White, Sean Lynch, Joe Rheault, Corey Favre.

Clockwise: Russ White, Sean Lynch, Joe Rheault, Corey Favre. Images courtesy Gamut


In A Gallery Far, Far Away
Gamut Gallery

This week, Star Wars fans are going to be freaking out over the release of The Last Jedi. In between posting on Rotten Tomatoes, writing new fanfic, and watching the Star Wars Holiday Special at Bryant-Lake Bowl, consider taking in a bit of culture at Gamut Gallery. Starting on Thursday, the downtown space will be hosting a three-day group show featuring pieces inspired by the sci-fi series. The collection, curated by Mark Dean and Kurtis Johnson, will feature fan-driven art by local talents. That includes Drake Johnson, Tony “Etones” Larson, Erin Sayer, Leslie Barlow, and Russ White. Come see how these Minnesotans draw inspiration from the 40-year-old franchise. The closing party on Saturday will run from 7 to 11 p.m., and will feature music from Adam Conrad’s Improvestra, DJ Andy Fitton, and the Headspace Collective. Come in costume. 1 to 7 p.m. Thursday through Friday; 1 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Free; $5 closing party. 717 S. 10th St., Minneapolis; 612-367-4327. Through Saturday —Jessica Armbruster

Open Streets Holidazzle
Nicollet Mall

For the first time, Open Streets Minneapolis will host an event in winter. During the day, folks will be able to explore Nicollet and Grant Street with the roads closed to motor vehicles. Take a stroll on foot, hop on a bike, or even cross-country ski or pull the kids along via sled if there’s snow. Along the route, you’ll find sidewalk sales, outdoor sports, live music, and more hosted by businesses in the neighborhood. Step inside for a drink, or pack a thermos with hot cocoa for warmth. The route ends at Loring Park, where Holidazzle will offer an ice rink, a beer garden, traditional food, shopping, and fireworks. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (fireworks are at 7 p.m.). Free. Nicollet Mall, from Fifth Street South to Grant Street onward to Loring Park in Minneapolis. —Jessica Armbruster

Drew Peterson

Drew Peterson

Hurry Up and Wait
Public Functionary

Artist Drew Peterson slows it way down with his new series of prints. For “Hurry Up and Wait” at Public Functionary, he skips the high-tech processes used in modern printmaking, choosing to work instead almost entirely by hand. Scrapping 21st-century tools, Peterson makes mammoth-sized pieces using a technique that combines screen printing and watercolor painting. In an era where consumer culture is constantly telling us we have to be faster, more productive, more connected, Peterson’s off-grid approach is intriguing. These works are filled with a complexity of color, stormy angles, and an undercurrent of emotional expression that is flooring. By embracing the labor that goes into making art, Peterson proves that the tortoise does indeed win the race sometimes. There will be an opening reception from 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday, December 16. 1400 12th Ave. NE, Minneapolis. Through January 13, 2018 —Sheila Regan

Lowertown SantaCon X
Lowertown St. Paul

The best bar crawls don’t need T-shirts, wristbands, or entry fees. They only require booze, good cheer, and... booze. SantaCon is the ultimate holiday-themed bar crawl, with hundreds of thousands of people participating in cities all over the world. The Twin Cities SantaCon takes place in Lowertown St. Paul. Now in its 10th year, the event stays true to the spirit of the season by inviting anyone who loves Christmas, drinking, and causing a festive scene to join the fun. While the name might imply that this is only for the jolly big man, there really isn’t a formal dress code. Though you will see Santas of all kinds, you may also spot elves and reindeer throwing back Fireball shots shoulder-to-shoulder with Hanukkah chickens and Kwanzaa hams as half-goat, half-demon Krampus, punisher of bad kids, walks by. So save the money you’d spend on some generic bar crawl ticket, throw on that ugly Christmas sweater you haven’t worn since last December, and come take back the streets of St. Paul with the yuletide mob scene of the year. The itinerary tonight includes stops at Big River Pizza, Kelly’s Depot Bar, and Biergarten Germania. You can also follow the shenanigans live via Twitter at @santacon55101, and visit for more info. 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Free. —Patrick Strait

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

SUNDAY 12.17

Ugly Sweater Party for Dogs
Excelsior Brewing Company

It was really only a matter of time before dogs got involved in the ugly holiday sweater fad. This weekend, you can put your dog into the most festive sweater he or she has (or buy one at the event for $10) and head out to the most adorable holiday party of the season. No Dog Left Behind is teaming up with Excelsior Brewing Company and Chuck & Don’s for an epic afternoon rager that will include a contest with prizes for the ugliest dog sweaters, human sweaters, and the always necessary dog-and-human group costume. Aside from raising funds for the Brooklyn Center-based dog rescue, you’ll also be able to score free samples and coupons, and get a fun family photo of you and your dog courtesy of Dog Pet Photography. Best of all, unlike most ugly sweater parties, if your date pukes it doesn’t mean the evening has to end. 2 to 5 p.m. Free. 421 Third St., Excelsior; 952-474-7837. —Patrick Strait

L-R: The Illuminated Reef Collective, Jonathan Rodriguez and Ali OReilly.

L-R: The Illuminated Reef Collective, Jonathan Rodriguez and Ali OReilly. Steven Lang


Energy: Made Here
Various locations

Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Made Here series is back, this time highlighting the work of more than 30 artists who have all created pieces around the theme of energy. They’ll fill 20 storefront windows in downtown Minneapolis, as well as two large-scale photography exhibits outside of the Mayo Clinic Square. For “Legendary,” Tom Baker, Hannah Foslien, and Maya Washington created portraits of “Purple People Eaters” Carl Eller, Alan Page, and Gene Washington (the nickname refers to the 1970s Vikings defense). The second show, “Urban Mandala” by Neal Peterson, features two large collages made up of photos taken around Minneapolis. Other projects include underwater artistry by the Illuminated Reef Collective, pieces by Sarah White and Marissa Murdy highlighting the work of Global Rights for Women, and showcases by artists Bianca Pettis, Galen Higgins, Akiko Ostolund, and Tana Hargest. For the launch event, visitors can take a walking tour of all the window displays and public-art projects. A reception at Mercy Bar and Dining (Le Méridien Chambers, 901 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis) will run from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 19. RSVP at, or find a map of installations at Free; RSVP is suggested. Through March 21, 2018 —Sheila Regan