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The magic continues: Sheldon 2018

Arena Dances will present “The Main Street Project” at 7:30 p.m. April 11 on the Red Wing stage. Submitted photo 1 / 3
Tommy Ryman will deliver laughs with Mary Mack at 7:30 p.m. March 17 at the Sheldon Theatre. Submitted photo2 / 3
Rhonda Vincent and the Rage bluegrass band will play at 7:30 p.m. March 9 at the Sheldon. Submitted photo3 / 3

Selling more tickets than in the past is great, but Bonnie Schock is even more pleased about the enthusiastic feedback she's getting from people who attend events at the Sheldon Theatre.

"It's important," the Sheldon's executive director said. "I feel like the work we do is (accomplishing) what we intended."

People are making connections — and new memories, she explained. "They are spending time together that they value, and sometime they are learning something."

Overall, shows during the first half of the 2017-18 season sold at about a 50 percent higher rate than last season, "which was a record selling season itself," she noted.

"We had seven sell-out performances since September," which also is more than in past seasons. Those shows ranged across all the series themes — from family and youth to great sounds, traditions to holiday shows.

"We hope the second half of the season will continue with that," Schock said.

"We have been pushing at the edges of the historical expectations for the technical capacity of the theater," she noted. Shows have been bigger in scope and scale, and have had lots of bells and whistles, Schock explained.

The success of those shows is in part responsible for why many people feel this season is a little different. "We have chosen projects that we might not have dared to dream in the past," she said.

"Some things looked deceptively simple" — but only because of the magic of theater.

The magic will continue in 2018, she promised.

"What I am most excited about," Schock added, is "two really phenomenal children's theater productions" coming up in February and April. She credited the high quality of professional family programming that is available today.

The first is "Petra and the Wolf" by Lionheart Youth Theatre out of Austin, Texas. "It's a delightful reinterpretation of 'Peter and the Wolf" with a female protagonist," she said. The production combines live actors with puppets and live music.

Two performances are scheduled — 7 p.m. Feb. 1 and 10 a.m. Feb. 2. The evening show is a Kids Play Free event, which means free admission to a child 14 and under with a regular adult admission. The matinee is a school show.

Coming up April 20 at 10 a.m. and April 21 at 3 p.m. is "Seedfolks," a touring production of Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis, which Schock described as "one of the finest in the country." The afternoon show is a Kids Play Free event.

Based on a Newbery Medal-winning book by Paul Fleischman, "Seedfolks" is about how a community garden transformed an immigrant neighborhood. The one-woman production features Sonja Parks as 11 distinct voices.

Schock also is enthusiastic about "Ondekoza," a Taiko drum company from Japan that is traveling as part of the Arts Midwest World Fest. They'll be in Red Wing for a week-long residency; 13 activities are planned in the schools and the community leading up to a Feb. 10 concert. "This is one of the premier Japanese ensembles," she said. And it's also Kids Play Free, all courtesy of Noontime Kiwanis and Jones Family Foundation.

Nearly two dozen productions are scheduled from mid-January through mid-May. The schedule offers a broad variety of entertainment styles, including music, comedy, drama and dance.

February also brings the Ailey II modern dance ensemble. "It's a rare treat for them to come to a community this size," Schock said. "They will perform their seminal work, 'Revelations', a piece set to Gospel music." Tickets here will be only $20 for the Feb. 23 performance, she added.

Among the March highlights is "Live from the Edge,"

presented by the spoken word hiphop theater company Universes. The show is a compilation of their well-known pieces woven into a single performance. They'll be in residence for two days leading up to the March 3 event.

From March 22-25 the local Phoenix Theatre troupe will present an adult drama, "Appropriate," which won the 2015 Obie Award for Best New American Play. Schock will be making her Red Wing directorial debut.

In April, she said, look for "The Main Street Project," presented by Arena Dances, a modern dance company. It's a blend of modern movement with techno-pop music, folk-inspired songs and filmed interviews with people from many Main Streets near and far.

A weeklong residency will culminate in the April 27 event. Plans are being made for a community collaboration addressing the topic of Main Streets.

The season will conclude May 17 with a Great Sounds concert featuring 10,000 Maniacs, a multi-platinum band that's been making music for 35 years. Their early version of alternative rock blends American folk-rock, poetic lyrics and a powerful, socially conscious sound.

Following that concert, the Sheldon Theatre will be closing for four months of renovation. There will be no summer season.

Information and reservations can be found on the Website www.sheldontheatre.org, or people can visit the box office or call 651-388-8700 for tickets.

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