The Guthrie Theater in Downtown Minneapolis is a stunning modern building. It has three stages for plays staring nationally and internationally renowned actors. The theater shows at least one performance almost every day.
The actors are almost the co-stars of the theater building itself. The building has many dramatic open spaces, and restaurants, bars and cafes that are open all day to the public.
Guthrie Theater Architecture and Public Spaces
The Guthrie Theater welcomes all visitors, whether they are seeing a play or not. There is no charge to visit the building. The building has many spectacular architectural features to admire.
The building was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and opened in 2006. It has won several major architecture awards. The geometric exterior is a twilight blue and reflects the surrounding historic mills of the riverfront -- literally, and inspirationally.
All the major public spaces are on or above the fourth floor and overlook the Mississippi. The "Endless Bridge" is a cantilevered lobby that juts out 178 feet towards the river. The exterior terraced space at the end is probably the best place in Minneapolis to watch the sun set.
On the ninth floor is the "Amber Box", the foyer of the Dowling Studio. The large amber glass windows make the scenery look cheerful even on the gloomiest days. The floor of the box is a large glass window with a nine story drop underneath. It's a favorite of small children.
Guthrie Theater Stages
The Guthrie Theater has three stages, each with a different atmosphere. The largest is the opulent Wurtele Thrust stage, where the audience almost completely surrounds the actors. The McGuire Proscenium Stage is a much more intimate space. The Dowling Studio is a minimalist space used for modern performances.
What Plays are Shown at the Guthrie Theater?
The Guthrie Theater shows everything from Shakespeare's classics, 19th and 20th century plays, modern drama, musicals, and plays that the Guthrie Theater commissions from leading playwrights.
The Guthrie Theater's website lists what's playing and what's coming up. Tickets can be purchased online.
Guthrie Theater Events
Anyone can visit the public spaces at the Guthrie, but to see more, backstage tours are held several times a week.
Most plays have pre- and post-show discussions with the opportunity to talk to the artistic staff before and actors after the performance.
Dining and Shopping at the Guthrie Theater
The Guthrie Theater has several bars, which all have the convenient option of pre-ordering your interval drinks to save a wait.
The critically acclaimed Cue restaurant is on the first floor, and on the fifth floor is the Level Five Cafe for dining, and the Fifth Floor Express coffee bar.
The best part of having a meal, a drink or a coffee here, is watching the theater staff, volunteers and actors come and go and hearing them chat about their work. The person sitting next to you might be the star of tonight's show! Even if you don't hear anything scandalous, it's a fascinating insight into the world of theater.
Getting to the Guthrie Theater
The Guthrie Theater is on the banks of the Mississippi River on the east side of downtown Minneapolis. There are several parking lots near the theater, including one on the south side of Second Street, connected to the theater by a walkway.
The theater is two blocks from the Metrodome and when a play coincides with a sporting event, parking can be very difficult or very expensive. If you are visiting, it's a good idea to check if the Twins or the Vikings are playing. If that's the case, then it may be more convenient to take the light rail.
The nearest light rail station is East Downtown/Metrodome, two blocks south of the theater.