'The Master Butchers Club' ends early at the Guthrie

Critical acclaim won't stop The Master Butchers Club from closing a week early, as the show is now slated to end its premiere run at the Guthrie on October 30. The production, an adaptation of Louise Erdrich's novel about life between the wars in rural North Dakota, has been well reviewed (with a few exceptions) but tickets weren't selling for the final week, so away those performances went.

The Guthrie also cited the impending remount of A Christmas Carol as another reason to cancel the final week of performances. Carol has a new script and staging--the first complete revamp in 15 years--so plenty of additional technical issues need to be worked out, including new costumes and a bigger set.

When I saw The Master Butchers Singing Club it felt like it was still finding its legs--not surprising in a premiere production. While the characters had depth (thanks in a large part to an excellent cast), the show as a whole sagged whenever it wandered into sub plots that only touched faintly on the larger scheme of things.

Literary adaptations may come with a built-in audience, but there are often troubles bringing sprawling narratives that exist inside the heads of the main characters to stage. Sure, this can offer exciting challenges for the playwright and the theater, but often it just gets glossed over with a few quick set changes and the inclusion of an all-knowing narrator that guides you along instead of letting you discover the story for yourself.

Interested in seeing the show before the curtains close? The production runs through October 30.

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