Capri featured by MN Theater Alliance


“We have a beautiful, 250-seat auditorium meant to serve North Minneapolis and it’s our goal to be a hub, a destination that draws art from around the region and brings it to the Northside.”- Karl Reichert, Director of the Capri Theater

The Capri Theater was the “June Member Feature” for the Minnesota Theater Alliance’s website and newsletter. For the past seven-and-a-half years I have been working in North Minneapolis with amazing artists (including our artistic associates Dennis W. Spears, Kevin D. West and Greta Oglesby) and the Plymouth Christian Youth Center board, staff and volunteers to build develop an old movie house built in 1927 into a vibrant performing arts venue on West Broadway.

Click here to read the full feature by Ashley Hanson of the Minnesota Theater Alliance. 

Minnesota Theater Alliance

June Member Feature
The Capri Theater
Minneapolis, MN

By Ashley Hanson

The Capri Theater, built in 1927 as one of 13 movie houses in North Minneapolis, was originally called Logan Theater. In 1933 the building was renovated and the name was changed to The Paradise Theater, which it held until 1967 when it underwent a third renovation, receiving the name The Capri Theater.

The Plymouth Christian Youth Center (PCYC), originally based in the Plymouth Hotel on Plymouth Avenue, needed a new home when I-94 came through North Minneapolis. They purchased a commercial building on Oliver Avenue, just behind the Capri Theater on West Broadway in the late 1960s.

After running its contract alternative high school with Minneapolis Public Schools out of this house, the acquisition of the Capri Theater in the mid 1980s, the high school was moved to the Capri Theater in 1992, and the auditorium was rented to  American Variety Theater., a 4-H Extension  program for urban youth. After PCYC added new academic buildings to its campus from 2001 to 2004, a new vision for the Capri Theater started to take shape.

In 2007, PCYC launched its “Capri Theater Renaissance” – a strategic plan to “bring the lights up on West Broadway by renovating the Capri and expanding its artistic offerings.” This was an initiative championed by City of Minneapolis leaders, particularly Mayor R.T. Rybak, to utilize the arts as an important resource in the redevelopment of West Broadway.

It was at this time that PCYC hired a dream team to execute their strategic plan – Karl Reichert, and artistic associates Dennis W. Spears, and Kevin D. West. Karl, the Director of the Capri Theater, shared that they were charged with two major goals: 1) to re-develop the venue and determine how to make it more viable as a performing arts venue locally, regionally and nationally; and 2) to build upon existing PCYC values and programs to bring more art to the Capri and the Northside. (Click here to read more.)

“A Brown Tale” at Capri Theater


What follows is a post I wrote for our Capri Theater Blog:

Artists are by nature entrepreneurial in spirit, but how many times have you asked an artist (or have been asked as an artist):  “Can you make a living doing that?”

Minnesota’s thriving arts scene provides full- and part-time employment for thousands. However, an ever-changing creative economy means that independent artists are always searching for new ways to fund and produce their work.

The Capri Theater is staking its claim to be a resource to artist entrepreneurs. Today we’re pleased to announce a special partnership we have established with actor and playwright James T. Alfred for his presentation of “A Brown Tale,” which opens on Capri Saturday, Sept. 6. (Click here to order tickets.)

Directed by Lou Bellamy and performed by James, “A Brown Tale” premiered to rave reviews this past September at Penumbra Theatre’s Claude Edison Purdy Festival for Individual Artists.

Since then, James has been searching for a venue that would work for him to produce his one-person show. He explored possibilities with us just one month after our “Capri Conversation” focus groups and online survey in March revealed a desire for more theatrical productions at the Capri. You also told us that you value the Capri’s support to artists as an affordable performing arts venue. The timing for James and for us couldn’t have been better.

As a collaborative partner, the Capri Theater is providing an affordable space for James to produce his show, and our team is offering its marketing and production expertise. Our Capri Youth Apprentices will operate their concession business during this theatrical run, and they will assist with front-of-house duties. TicketWorks is managing ticket sales. James, as a most creative impresario, is producing his show.

“A Brown Tale” marks the first multi-week theatrical run in recent history at the Capri Theater. It’s a major milestone for us, as well as for the show’s producer and star, James T. Alfred. To learn more about “A Brown Tale,” click here.

Art-A-Whirl 2014

Presented by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), Art-A-Whirl is the largest open studio tour in the country. It’s a great opportunity to tour private artist studios and galleries, connect with the artists, and purchase original artwork. ~ NEMAA on Art-A-Whirl


My partner Reynaldo Diaz has some amazing new works on exhibit for Art-A-Whirl 2014. You can check out his pieces in the California Building’s Studio 211. (The California Building is located at 2205 California Street, Minneapolis, MN 55418.)

I helped Reynaldo create an artist statement for his work:

My art is inspired by music, by emotions, by history and by my ancestral roots of Central America. In recent years I’ve explored geometric forms, color and spiritual connections inspired by Mayan, Aztec, African and Spanish influences. My ethnic background is a melting pot of all these, and my art reflects this inspiration.

While I am self-taught, I have studied the work of many masters, particularly Kandinsky. My art has a strong connection to my love for music and nature.

I’ve never been one to just “paint a pretty picture.” My work comes with many layers, which reveal themselves to the viewer, especially those who take time to absorb these intricacies.

It’s hard for me to put words to what I actually create. In a sense, my paintings are my language. You will find hints of faces, eyes, movement, nature and other forms coming through my newest works.

As I move forward in my creative life, I want to find ways to more effectively meld my visual creations with music. I believe paintings include rhythm, timbre and tones.

The artists on the second floor of the California Building have also come together to create a new exhibition space on our floor thanks to generous support from California Building owners John Kremer and Jennifer Young called the on2gallery.

2014 Dates and Hours:
Friday, May 16 –  5 to 10 p.m.
Saturday,  May 17 –  12 Noon to 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 18 –   12 Noon to 5 p.m.

We hope to see you at Art-A-Whirl 2014. There is so much to see … and you will find that the California Building has a friendly and diverse community of artists!


The world’s greatest Mom

14.MothersDay.72On this Mother’s Day … I count my blessings. I have “the world’s greatest Mom” who raised five kids (all born in the span of one decade) with lots of love, fun and laughs on a dairy farm in Northern Minnesota.

62.Mom.graduation.blogI look back fondly at all the amazing experiences I have shared with my Mom, including the two times we encountered black bears. Or all the time we spent gardening together. We taught a Sunday School class at Good Shepard Lutheran Church in Clearbrook two years in a row when I was in high school. The list goes on and on.

Among the most vivid memories of my childhood, I remember sitting in the school lunchroom with my third-grade class when my Mom stopped by deliver the lunch bag I forgot at home. After she departed, my classmates couldn’t stop talking about how “young and beautiful” my Mother was. Yes … she was young and beautiful, I beamed, and added that she makes great cookies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too!

I have always adored my Mom’s wit and sense of humor. I’ve always wished that I had her gift for the perfect comeback to almost any comment. When I was in fifth grade, I was tormented at school for my lack of athletic skills … especially related to my inability to throw a softball. I remember coming home after a particularly grueling day of taunting, and my Mom advised:

“The next time they call you a sissy, just hit them with your purse!”

She reminded me that even though I couldn’t get the hang of throwing a softball correctly, I was among the toughest boys she knew. She was also willing to bet that the boys in my class would have a different view if they only knew how I took on rigorous farm chores day in and day out.

My Mom is an inspiration to me, particularly for her resilience in facing challenges that life throws her way. When she was diagnosed with colon cancer more than three years ago, she faced major surgery and a half year’s worth of chemotherapy with a brave and positive attitude that proved to be so healing. Today she is in good health, and I am blessed to have my courageous Mom as my very best friend.

I love you, Mom!

Teaching artists inspire our youth to shine


14.010.Tempest.EnsembleWhen professional artists give their time and talent to teach and mentor our youth, our collective future becomes so much brighter. During last night’s performance of The Tempest by our Capri After School Theater (CAST) students, I was in awe of how these students have grown in confidence and theatrical ability during the course of this school year.

We owe this success to our dedicated teaching artists – amazing professionals in our vibrant theater community – for believing in the potential of our youth, and helping them shine on our Capri stage.

This spring teaching artists Kevin D. West and Greta Oglesby have worked tirelessly to motivate our CAST students to step outside their comfort zones and to bring their characters to life on stage. The camaraderie they foster among our students, Capri/PCYC team and collaborators is what creates a strong foundation for this success.

Kevin and Greta often talk about their experiences as teens, recalling the mentors who cultivated their talents and who motivated them to launch the distinguished careers they enjoy today. For many artists, teaching is a calling. We are blessed to so many gifted professional artists committed to serving our youth through our Capri programs.

“This year the theme of nature and how we exist within it kept recurring,” Kevin says. “As I thought about plays that deal with nature, Shakespeare’s The Tempest came to mind. I considered doing the original, but then I came across a scholastic version that was well suited for our company of actors.”

Kevin adds this about his co-director for The Tempest: “I want to thank my sister, friend and colleague Greta for bringing her insight, expertise and passion to this project. This production would not be as clear without her nurturing, artistic touch.”

We are also grateful to our colleagues at Children’s Theatre Company (CTC), for their support of CAST. CTC has been an important collaborator for CAST these past few years. CAST is made possible thanks to support from the Carlson Family Foundation, as well as support this past year from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Tonight our CAST students present Craig Mason’s modern English version of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest at 7 p.m. on last time. The show is free and open to the public.

I’ve included a few photos by Greg Helgeson from last night’s performance. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and these photos speak volumes about how Kevin and Greta have inspired our young artists to become rising stars!

(I also posted this on our Capri Theater blog.)