When my cousin's daughter was in town from Los Angeles for the NCAA playoffs a few weeks ago she commented over dinner that she had heard the Twin Cities is second only to New York City in live theater per capita…so of course we had to take her to the spectacular Guthrie Theater!
We didn't have time to attend a production, but the evening we visited there were three live performances in progress. We have become accustomed to the many offerings available, but she was awestruck. Having multiple performances going simultaneously in the same complex is something she knew in movie theaters…but not in live theater!
The original Guthrie Theater opened in 1963, the result of the desire of Sir Tyrone Guthrie to create a resident acting company that would produce and perform the classics in an atmosphere removed from the commercial pressures of Broadway. The Twin Cities responded enthusiastically to a small published invitation in the New York Times in 1959 and the rest is history.
In 2006, the Guthrie center for theater performance, production, education and professional training moved to its spectacular new home overlooking the Mississipi River. Not only does the stunning design by award-winning French architect Jean Nouvel boast three distinctly different stages, multiple restaurants and bars and a gift shop, it also features some of the best views to be found in the city.
To take full advantage of the magnificent views, the main gathering spaces are on the fourth floor, and a dramatic 4-story escalator carries you up to the two main theater stages with a stunning two-level cantilevered lobby reaching toward the river in an 'endless bridge'. The 'bridge' gives spectacular views of the river, St. Anthony Falls and nearby historical landmarks…but the views don't end there.
The 'amber box' of the Dowling Studio perched higher on the side of the building gives more dramatic views…with a warm glow. This third theater is home to University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. acting students and Guthrie Experience for Actors in Training.
The Guthrie is open every day for you to explore the public spaces on your own and self-guided audio tours are available whenever the box office is open. 45-minute backstage tours are scheduled Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings at 10:00 am.