With the notable exception of the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the theater scene in the Twin Cities tends to be quiet during the summer. We're stuck in our homes eight months of the year, after all, so Minnesotans like to spend those rare times they can go outside, you know, outside. For theater lovers who want to get some sun and fresh air with their entertainment, there are a bevy of choices to try out.
Open Eye Figure Theatre's Driveway Tour Through August 9
Why head out for theater when it can come to your neighborhood? The always inventive Open Eye Figure Theatre returns this summer with its latest Driveway Tour. These family-friendly shows are performed in backyards, parks, and, yes, driveways across the Twin Cities. A trio of puppet-based pieces are on tap this year. Tucker's Robot centers on a boy who goes back in time with his friendly robot to confront a bully. In The Adventures of Katie Tomatie, the titular heroine does some digging in the garden and comes face to face with a happy-go-lucky skeleton. The Adventures of Juan Bobo merges puppetry and music in an adventure inspired by Puerto Rican folk tales. Shows are free; a full schedule of locations and times can be found at www.openeyetheatre.org, or call 612-874-6338 for more info.
Cromulent Shakespeare June 4-28
Young Prince Hal must navigate a tumultuous world, assisted by his able (if somewhat soggy) friend Sir John Falstaff in Shakespeare's historical epic Henry IV, Part 1. Cromulent Shakespeare has built its reputation on intriguing interpretations of works by the Bard and other playwrights, and this interactive outdoor production offers more of the same. Jacob Wellington directs the company including Grant Hooyer, Ty Hudson, Anna Lakin, Natalie Schmidt, Mike Swan, Michael Torsch, and host Helen Donnay. Free. Visit www.cromulentshakespeare.org or call 612-251-0991 for dates and locations.
Classical Actors Ensemble June 19 through July 12
The Classical Actors Ensemble moves outdoors for its latest production, the Shakespeare comedy Two Gentlemen of Verona, but retains its signature style, includes acting that hews close to that of the 16th-century, along with live, contemporary music performed between the acts. The two gentlemen in the play travel to Milan and have typically wild and comic adventures along the way to love. In a first for the Bard — but certainly not the last — a young woman disguises herself as a gent to get closer to the one she loves. The production is directed by Hannah Steblay and choreographed by Jessica Smith. Free. For dates and locations, visit www.classicalactorsensemble.org or call 651.321.4024.
Shakespeare and Company June 27 through August 2
A trio of classic works is set for audiences this summer in White Bear Lake, with the Bard's Hamlet and Twelfth Night plus Moliere's The Miser in rep. Shakespeare and Company has been a mainstay of Twin Cities summers for nearly 40 years, providing accessible and entertaining productions for the whole family. Visit shakespeareandcompany.org for performance information. $13-$15. 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays. Outdoor Theatre Complex, Century College 3300 Century Ave. N., White Bear Lake; 651-779-5818.
Mixed Precipitation August 16 through September 20
An opera? In August? That's a tough sell for Minnesota audiences. But what if the opera was outdoors in a beautiful garden and featured a crisp tasting menu? Now in its seventh summer, Mixed Precipitation merges entertainment and eating for a wild, funny, and musically satisfying afternoon. Escape from Alcina's Island: A Picnic Operetta is based on an opera by Handel, with some modern twists. The show is again directed by Scotty Reynolds. A matching menu made from garden-fresh ingredients changes over the season. $10-$20 suggested donation. Visit www.mixedprecipitation.org or call 1-800-838-3006 for details.