We went out to the Minnesota Centennial Showboat this evening to see Sherlock’s Last Case. This was Andrew’s first time at the Showboat, but hardly mine.
Back when I was in high school, my aunt Maggie would visit once or twice a year. This meant that my Mom was always looking for fun things for us to do when Maggie was in town. I don’t remember what year it was, but one summer Mom found an ad (or review) for the Showboat. We decided that it sounded like the perfect thing to take Maggie to.
Honestly, I don’t remember what shows we saw there. The experience, however, was always fun. The Showboat has generally played melodramas (at least in the summer shows we’ve gone to). This means that the show is generally a little campy, but also that the audience gets to participate by “boo”ing the villain and “yay”ing the hero. More than that, the show is always accompanied by “olio”s between the scenes. These olios often outshine the show itself. They defy explanation that will do them justice, but suffice it to say that they are silly, often hilarious, comedy-musical shorts.
I remember the Showboat being an old-fashioned paddle boat, complete with a large paddlewheel. I was a bit disappointed by the new showboat, which is really just a floating theater. According to the Showboat’s website, the boat I remember was shut down in 1993 for repairs. Sadly, it was destroyed in a fire set by a stray welding spark in 2000. A new showboat was commissioned, and opened in 2002. I suppose I can’t blame them for designing a new venue which would maximize stage and seating over a design with a paddlewheel, but still.
The current play is the first I’ve gone to at the new theater, and I must say that they have upheld the high standards I remember from my youth. The play was very well done, even if it was hard to tell sometimes who, exactly, the villain was. (At one point, the audience actually boo-ed Holmes, and egged on the man trying to kill him.) The olios were, as usual, a highlight, with the “Cover Girls” a personal favorite.
If you happen to be in the Twin Cities area and looking for something to do one evening, I highly recommend a show at the Showboat, no matter what that show might be.