After a herky-jerky two years, familiar faces and voices and new talent are emerging onstage and off in the Twin Cities. Here are 10 impressive actors, singers, dancers, storytellers and directors to look out for this fall.
She seemingly flew out of the ether to land the female lead of Ariel in "Footloose" at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. A triple-threat performer with fluid dancing, strong singing and honest acting, this Viterbo University graduate made the rebellious minister's daughter a winner. Richardson will be back in Chanhassen's next show, "The Prom," as the secret girlfriend, Alyssa.
He has stepped out of the ensemble and pit into his own spotlight. A gifted multi-instrumentalist, Riehle has for many years played piano, guitar, percussion and other instruments in concert and for theater shows. Also an ensemble actor, he has emerged recently as a headliner, starring in "Memphis" at Artistry and as the jury foreman in the premiere of "12 Angry Men: The New Musical" at Theater Latte Da. Next up, a starring role as the father in the rock musical "Next to Normal" at Latte Da.
The Twin Cities theaterscape may not be able to keep her for long. A graduate of the Guthrie Theater/University of Minnesota BFA program and star of the Jungle Theater's "Cambodian Rock Band," Troiano is a talented singer-songwriter who released an EP in spring, going viral as alter-ego D'Lourdes. Her music, like her performance, draws fans with its passion, openness and honesty.
Sometimes someone who has been there all along just starts to shimmer, and you're taken by their light. It wouldn't be the first time for this actor, dancer, singer and Alaska native, who has been performing in the Twin Cities since 2007. She was one of the radio singers in the Guthrie's landmark "Caroline, or Change" in 2009. A few years later she performed in the U.S. premiere of "The Lorax" at Children's Theatre Company. Doublette stands out today as grounded wife Vi Moore in Chanhassen's "Footloose."
Mixed Blood Theatre's new artistic director, who assumed the full reins in July, first wants to get to know the community. So for his first season, he has commissioned 12 artists to present works in neighborhoods and communities from St. Paul's Little Mekong and Rondo to Maple Grove and Bloomington. In taking art to the people, the approach also builds on Mixed Blood's community-minded brand. "A big part of this is doing theater without walls," said Valdez. "We're trying to meet people where they are, get to as many places and serve more people in as many ways as we can."
He settled in the Twin Cities four years ago, landing in "Guys and Dolls" at the Old Log and "Mary Poppins" at Artistry. The actor, who has credits in Chicago, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, stood out as impatient and rude Juror No. 3 in Latte Da's "12 Angry Men." He was a beautiful singer and totally present actor. Look for him as blustery Broadway producer Joe in "Merrily We Roll Along" at Latte Da.
The McKnight Foundation is one of the largest supporters of the arts in Minnesota, investing about $10 million in artists annually. As the foundation's arts program director, a post she assumed in June 2020, Cummings helps to shape the cultural ecology of the state and the region. She came to McKnight from Juxtaposition Arts, the innovative north Minneapolis arts lab and incubator that she co-founded. Now she takes her arts ecology-building skills to the next level.
Isabella Star LaBlanc
If the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota actor and storyteller is better known elsewhere than in her home state, it may have to do with the range of her work. The 2021 Princess Grace Foundation honoree has been an audio book narrator (Angeline Boulley's "Firekeeper's Daughter"), a film actor and a stage performer. She will be at the Jungle this season in an as-yet-unannounced project.
Imagine smooth-voiced soul singer Sam Cooke as a star of the theater stage. This Concordia College-Moorhead graduate has the sweet tenor, the charisma and the acting craft to pull it off. He played the title character, Marvel Thunder, in "Thunder Knockingon the Door" for Ten Thousand Things and is in the ensemble of Latte Da's "Merrily We Roll Along."
Vanessa Brooke Agnes
It seems like the whole world was asking "What can I do?" after George Floyd was killed. The up-and-coming director founded a company, Dark Muse Performing Arts, which aims to "heal through bold storytelling." Agnes, who works by day in education at the Guthrie, works around town.