It is the Year of the Dragon, and there just happens to be a nasty, nasty dragon at The Southern Theater in downtown Minneapolis. But don’t worry – an ordinary boy, a magical girl, a boys choir and an aerialist troupe are there as well, in a project that exemplifies collaboration and thinking outside the musical theater box: The Dragons Are Singing Tonight!
TigerLion Arts, perhaps best known for their touring production of The Buddha Prince, a celebration of the life and teachings of the 14th Dalai Lama, helms this project. The Dragons Are Singing Tonight takes a familiar book of dragon poems of the same name (by US Children’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky) and original music by composer Laurie MacGregor to create something magical. Also collaborating are Minnesota Boychoir, Puppet Farm Arts, and Circus Juventas, Isabella Dawis (Minneapolis StarTribune’s “Outstanding Youth Performer” 2004, 2005), Tyson Forbes, Elise Langer, and Maxwell Chonk Thao.
Director Markell Kiefer has extensive experience wrangling complex stories into compelling shows as evidenced by her previous works, many of which have been staged outdoors as walking plays. Outdoor theater offers many distractions and a play on the move must by its very nature have surprises and rewards to keep hold of its audience. I expect both to be in evidence at the Southern Theater.
Projects of this sort combine art and community in a way that brings people together to learn and grow and tell stories, without the need for a central ‘issue’. This musical, while likely having themes of individuality, heroism, and whimsy – it is based on children’s poetry after all – is not driven by a need to teach anyone about social justice, or environmentalism or, well, math. So all the collaborators and audience members get to experience it through their own lenses, reflect on their own experiences and respond as they are moved to. Also, everyone gets to be right. How cool is that? The performers range in age seven to adult. Some are movers, some are actors, singers, puppeteers and they all MUST work together.
At least as cool as the performances at the Southern Theater will be the school residency program to follow. The program involves students from two Twin Cities area grade schools and begins with a field trip to see the full production at the Southern Theater. What follows then will engage around a thousand students in making music and in imaginative play. Musicians, members of Puppet Farm Arts and In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT), as well as other members of the Dragons team will work with teachers and students to learn songs, and to create and share their own dragons and stories. Finally, the students will participate in the HOBT May Day parade in downtown Minneapolis, and will perform the songs from the show in a concert for their friends and family to enjoy.
There are ten performances left of this fun, fanciful show. Tickets are priced in zones to give more people a chance to attend, and when compared to other similar events locally, they are really very reasonable.
Community engagement, learning, and personal growth all while having fun in a child friendly (recommended for ages 4+) environment. I think there is a serious risk of learning things about social justice, environmentalism and possibly even math in the process. Maybe we should keep that last bit to ourselves.
January 26–February 12, 2012
Thursdays & Fridays – 7pm
Saturdays – 1 & 5pm
Sundays – 1pm
Zone 1: $27 Adults, $22 Children & Seniors
Zone 2: $25 Adults, $20 Children & SeniorsChildren (15 & under)
Seniors (65 & over)
1420 Washington Ave S
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454