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Sheldon Theatre's momentum building: Schock reflects midway through season

Cirque Mechanics comes to the Sheldon Theatre 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10. Submitted photo

By Cate Zenzen - news@rivertowns.net

The Sheldon Theatre 2018-2019 season, which began in September, has dazzled audiences of new and returning theatre-goers. With such crowd-pleasers as comedian Louie Anderson and silent films featuring the venue's in-house organ, the first half of the season was full of sold-out shows and fresh faces, Executive Director Bonnie Schock said.

"Lots of enthusiastic crowds coming to see a wide range of different things," Schock said. "We are definitely seeing a lot of people who have not been here before, growing the family of people who enjoy coming to the Sheldon."

This success is just as evident on paper. Last season was a record-setting year for ticket sales and the venue continues to see an upward trend by 15 percent.

The fun continues into 2019 with new and returning acts. Notable performances include musical guests ranging from the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet (Feb. 16), Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (May 4), and the progressive bluegrass ensemble Leftover Salmon (April 28). Local favorites Arts Alive (Feb. 15), the Sheldon Theatre Brass Band (April 14), and the annual performance by the MInnesota State College Southeast ensembles (April 6) will return as well as a comical performance of "The Norwegians" by the Phoenix Theatre (March 21-24).

"We have a lot of great stuff coming up," Schock said. "The thing I'm probably the most excited about, if I had to pick one, is Cirque Mechanics. In the Sheldon's 30-year modern history, it hasn't had a show like this."

Participating in a revival of spectacle-oriented performances, American circus company Cirque Mechanics stage productions intentionally meant for small-scale venues. The size of the Sheldon is perfect for an up-close display of the artistic and athletic ability of the performers. That show is 7 p.m.Sunday, Feb. 10.

Out-of-the-box acts enter performances by rescue animals in the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater (April 12), puppets with a call to action in "The Pigeoning" (April 26-27), and ukulele pop genius Jeremy Messersmith (May 11). With this selection, theatre-goers are bound to find shows that will both satisfy and expand their appetite.

"My mantra is 'try something you're not familiar with,'" Schock said. "See what happens, there is such a huge world of performance out there that we don't always get to take advantage of."

The Sheldon Theatre will be open this summer for further programming, including the annual Phoenix Theater musical. The announcement for next season's performances will take place in May.

For more information on the 2019 offerings, visit www.sheldontheatre.org. Tickets can be ordered online, at the box office, or at 651-388-8700.