By Jacob Froelich
From the neighborhoods of East St. Paul to the shores of Lake Minnetonka, no one is safe from the loving ridicule of Miss Richfield 1981. She’s bold, sassy and blissfully “Doesn’t Care!” about holding back and following the unwritten rules of ‘Minnesota Nice’. Miss Richfield 1981, as played by Russ King, has been a holiday cult classic, going 17 years strong and she has never looked so good! She embodies the characteristics of many a Great Aunt stuck in the 80s. Her big hair and glasses add a campy, good-natured feel to her off-hand remarks about “the gays,” religious groups and race in America. If only my Great Aunts would also dress in drag for the holiday gatherings.
If you’re an avid follower of the happenings of Miss Richfield 1981 you might remember her advice from last year about creating a “Cone of Silence” around taboo holiday topics, such as politics, religion and social justice. Well, the veil has been lifted and so have her skirts! This year she’s getting ready to run for “President of Minnesota” and her advice from the campaign trail might just get you through an overnight with the in-laws. Her show is light-hearted and bumbles along reenacting the parody of the 2016 election, trash talking suburbs of Minneapolis and even putting a few people on the spot; no one in the front section is safe!
If after Act 1 you’re still a bit high strung from all the holiday stress, grab a beer or glass of wine and get ready to unwind with a more classically themed holiday show. Illusion Theater is on the 8th floor of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts and has a large lobby providing a unique view of Hennepin Avenue from above. Refreshments and photographs are allowed during the show, but only if you’re going to spread the good word of the show.
Act 2 reopens to a delightfully over-decorated living room furnished by Miss Richfield 1981’s favorite Christian book stores and by what appears to be decades’ worth of arts and craft shows. She introduces us to her pianist (Todd Emanuel Price, accompanist with the Minnesota Boychoir) and the two manage to lead the audience in a rousing round of international Christmas carols. You’ll be apt to wonder if Miss Richfield 1981 would ever lend a helping out your local churches nativity play, certainly her years of expertise on stage couldn’t hurt.
All in all, spending an evening with Miss Richfield 1981 this holiday season may be just what the psychiatrist ordered. No need to bring your political filters, everyone will get a good laugh out of her deep misunderstanding of politics and faith in the Christmas spirit. People of all ages can enjoy the show; although teenagers may be the youngest to actually appreciate some of the jokes. You might even learn a few presidential historical facts to share at holiday parties, just be sure to double-check Google when you get home. The show runs Wednesday-Sunday for the next two weekends in December.
Ticket prices begin at $32. Group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more people. Tickets are available at the Illusion Theater Box Office at 612-339-4944 or online at http://www.illusiontheater.org.