University of Minnesota
Triumph of Love is a royal comedy featuring Showboat-era musical numbers and a look into the primal power of love. It runs on the Minnesota Centennial Showboat through August 28.
Triumph on the water
U continues summer theater tradition on Minnesota Centennial Showboat
By Rick Moore
It’s less than 10 miles as the crow flies from the West Bank theaters to Showboat Landing on Harriet Island in St. Paul. But taking in a performance on the U’s Centennial Showboat—the hallmark floating theater in the Twin Cities—is like stepping into another world.
This summer the Showboat presents “Triumph of Love,” which runs through August 28. The 18th-century play by Pierre Marivaux follows a princess on her quest to return her crown to its rightful owner—the young scholar Agis (pronounced “Ah-zhee”). But Agis has been taught to loathe and distrust women since birth, so the princess disguises herself as a man in the hopes of winning his trust and restoring his crown.
Along the way, love blossoms … to say the least. What starts out for the princess as a simple quest to gain time with Agis turns into a somewhat tricky love triangle that speaks to the inherent power of love.
Director Peter Rothstein chose musical numbers from the Showboat era—including songs by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Noel Coward—that serve to illuminate the characters in Marivaux’s play, written many years earlier. The tunes also help showcase the talent of the Showboat cast members, who rate a rave review from Rothstein.
“It’s an incredibly talented group of young students who work really hard and who will do this play dozens of times throughout the summer,” says Rothstein. “They get extraordinary training, and this play challenges them. … It’s a character-driven play; it’s a text-driven play; and these students are incredible—really stepping up to the plate.”
A unique experience
Rothstein chose this production in part to work with young actors, but also because of the Minnesota Centennial Showboat itself—a tradition at the U since 1958.
“It’s so charming, this old space with the footlights and the roll drop scenery. … The last show I did was at the Guthrie, so it’s kind of apples and oranges, technically. But [the Showboat has] its own set of aesthetics.”
While the Showboat isn’t the Guthrie, it’s a decidedly unique arts experience in the Twin Cities. Where else can you step outside at intermission and gaze upstream at the sun descending into the downtown St. Paul skyline while Ol’ Man River lazes by? Therein lies the tug of “Triumph” for Rothstein.
It’s amazing, he says, “to be able to go to the theater and then step outside and realize you’ve just experienced this whole magical world of the play, but you’ve been living on water the last couple of hours. I think that is truly unique.”
For more information on dates and times, visit Triumph of Love.