If you’re looking for an evening getaway this summer, a 30-45 minute drive could find you solving a mystery with the world’s greatest detective or witnessing treasonous murder in a Scottish castle at one of the excellent theatres in southeastern Minnesota. To make the outing irresistible, try our recommended spots for dinner before or after the show.
Lanesboro: An Elementary Evening
Located in picturesque Lanesboro, the Commonweal Theatre Company is a professional theater now celebrating its 25th season. Producing a variety of plays from comedies to dramas, musicals to classics, the Commonweal presents performances that are transcendent and relevant.
“We choose solid stories with commitment to the art and get to the heart of the story,” explains Associate Artistic Director Adrianne Sweeny.
With seating on three sides of the stage, every audience member is close to the stage, and there isn’t a bad view in the house.
“The Commonweal Theatre offers an intimate atmosphere,” explains Sweeny. “The audience gets swept away by the production.”
This spring and early summer, the Commonweal will feature “A Doll’s House” by Henrick Ibsen, April 14–June 11; “Blithe Spirit” by Noel Coward, May 10–Sept. 7; and “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” by Steven Dietz, June 21–Oct. 28. For more information visit commonwealtheatre.org or call 800-657-7025 or 507-467-2525.
Be sure to make a reservation to dine at Intermission, conveniently located next door to the Commonweal. A fine dining experience with casual style, Intermission’s menu includes a variety of entrees such as salads, fish and pastas. “I use fresh ingredients, and everything I serve is prepared in house,” says David Harrison, owner of Intermission.
The menu changes weekly at this seasonal establishment, so go soon and be sure to check out a few of David’s specialties like pan-seared walleye, smoked duck breast with a dried cherry demi-glace and chocolate raspberry torte. For more information, call 507-467-3381.
Mantorville: A Melodramatic Midsummer
The Mantorville Theatre Company, now in its 41st season, is located in the Mantorville Opera House in the heart of historic downtown. Plays at this fun venue are professionally directed, but volunteer actors perform in the shows which include entertaining melodramas during the summer, a murder mystery dinner theatre in the fall and a variety of other plays throughout the year.
The Mantorville Theatre Company will continue its tradition of audienceinteractive summer melodramas this year with “Professor Pembroke’s Predicament” or “A Curse Comes Home” by Gregory Miller, June 14–July 7; “Dogsbreath Devereaux, the Dastardly Doctor” or “Nurses, Foiled Again!” by Billie St. John, July 12–28; “Willy Picadilly’s Woes” or “Is This How the West Was Won?” by Sally Audis, Aug. 2–18 and “One Bad Apple” or “Rotten to the Core” by Sandra H. Miller, Aug. 23–Sept. 15. For more information visit mantorvillain.com or call 507-635-5420. So go on out and spend an evening cheering on a heroine or booing a villain (or vice versa) at these energetic offerings.
For a complete evening in Mantorville—and discounted tickets—check out the dinner and theatre combination at the Hubbell House Restaurant, kitty-corner across the street from the Mantorville Theatre Company. Located in a historic building that was once a hotel and popular stagecoach stop in the 1800s, the Hubbell House embraces its heritage while serving fine steaks, chicken, pasta and more. Visit hubbellhouserestaurant.com or call 507-635-2331.
Winona: A Date With The Bard of Avon
Celebrating its 10th-anniversary season this year, the Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) in Winona showcases Shakespeare’s timeless tragedies, histories and comedies. These midsummer nights’ tales, performed by professional actors from all over the United States, begin June 26 and include both daytime and evenings performances through August 4.
If you have never seen Shakespeare performed, GRSF is a great place to experience the Bard for the first time.
“Time and again we have patrons who tell us they never thought they would enjoy—or even fully understand—live Shakespeare, but after seeing a play at GRSF, they understand the story so well and enjoy the clarity of the storytelling,” says Irene ErkenBrack, sales and marketing director at GRSF.
This summer, GRSF will be producing Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night” and his history play “King Henry V” on the main stages while the intern/apprentice project features his classic tale “Macbeth.” Visit grsf.org or call 507-474-9376.
To make it a day of theater in Winona, check out a matinee at GRSF and then take a break for an early dinner at Signatures before returning for an evening performance. Signatures restaurant offers casual specialties at The Grill—fried stuffed pickles and hand-dipped Wisconsin white cheddar cheese curds—or fine dining entrees such as dry-aged rib eye and New York strip. All of these are served with unparalleled customer service in a tranquil setting. Visit signatureswinona.com or call 507-454-3767.