The Twin Cities area is known throughout the Midwest for its thriving theater scene. But most of the attention surrounding theater and drama seems to skip over St. Paul and latch onto Minneapolis instead. It’s no wonder Minneapolis gets so much attention: after all, it is home to esteemed theaters such as the Guthrie, the Orpheum and the Children’s Theatre. Minneapolis is also a short drive from the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. However, it would be a shame for any Twin Cities resident or visitor to miss out on the equally fantastic St. Paul theater scene. The following St. Paul theater venues offer a variety of excellent performances throughout the year.
1. Fitzgerald Theatre
Best known as the home stage of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” the Fitzgerald Theatre also plays venue to many other St. Paul theater productions and events. Built in 1910 and originally named the Sam S. Shubert Theater, the Fitzgerald Theatre is the oldest remaining St. Paul theater. In its early years, the Fitzgerald Theatre produced mainly vaudeville shows, which were quite popular at the time. From 1933 until 1981, this St. Paul theater was used as a movie house and was known as the World Theater. The World Theater then became the home of “A Prairie Home Companion,” and was renamed the Fitzgerald Theatre, after the famous author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who originated from St. Paul.
Today, the Fitzgerald Theatre hosts radio shows such as “A Prairie Home Companion,” “Talking Volumes,” and staged essays and poetry by local authors and poets such as Patricia Hampl and Phebe Hanson. The Fitzgerald Theatre also hosts a variety of musical performances by local artists and college music ensembles.
2. Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
If you enjoy Wicked, Guys and Dolls, the Phantom of the Opera and other Broadway musicals, you should check out the Ordway Center. This St. Paul theater performs several of America’s favorite musical shows each year. The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera and the Schubert Club also call the Ordway Center home. These music groups stage performances at least once a week.
The Ordway Center can seat 1,900 in its Music Theater and 306 in the McKnight Theatre. There are also two massive rehearsal halls and several spectacular lobbies, such as the second-floor Marzitelli Foyer which is completely surrounded by glass.
3. Lowry Theater
Located in the heart of the St. Paul theater district, the Lowry Theater is home to the Actors Theater of Minnesota. The Lowry Theater is part of the historic Lowry Building, one of St. Paul’s best known architectural landmarks. Recently renovated, the Lowry Theater offers historic beauty and charm along with modern comfort and convenience. Past performances held at the Lowry Theater include Bye Bye Liver, Hockey Mom, The Woman In Black, and Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, in which audience members played the friends and family of main characters Tony and Tina.