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I steer clear of big-box retailers and malls the weekend after Thanksgiving. I’ve nothing against a little post-holiday commerce, but the onslaught of elbow-to-elbow Black Friday bargain-hunting sets my teeth on edge. If you’re also looking to avoid the worst of the madding crowd this week, particularly if you have family to entertain or small kids in tow, I’ve some suggestions for you.

Sean Dillon as Prince Charles and McKayla Marso in the title role of "Princess Diana: The Musical." Photo courtesy of Actors Theater of Minnesota.

Sean Dillon as Prince Charles and McKayla Marso in the title role of “Princess Diana: The Musical.” Photo courtesy of Actors Theater of Minnesota.

How about a theatrical confection after that heavy meal? Actor’s Theater of Minnesota’s “Princess Diana: The Musical” closes its second successful run at St. Paul’s Camp Bar Cabaret this weekend. A creation of playwright, composer and royals-enthusiast Karen Sokolof Javitch, the show sets a 30-song cycle about “the people’s princess” into a script co-written with her friend, author and fashion maven, Elaine Jabenis. McKayla Marso and Sean Dillon play the ill-fated storybook couple at the center — alongside a cast of characters including the Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Queen Mum, Fergie and the young princes William and Harry– in this extravagant musical homage to Diana’s glamorous life and untimely death.  As a nod to her renown for charitable work, 50 percent of the proceeds from ticket sales are going to the Red Cross to support relief efforts in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation.

“Princess Diana: The Musical” runs through Nov. 30. Tickets are still available for shows on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week, 7 p.m. at Cabaret Theater in Camp Bar, 490 N. Robert St. Saint Paul, Minn. Specific show times and ticket details: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/454221.

Photo courtesy of Dreamland Arts

Photo courtesy of Dreamland Arts

Got kids to entertain this weekend? If you have preschool-to-early elementary-aged little ones, grab their favorite plush critters and head over to Dreamland Arts Saturday morning for the Stuffed Animal Holiday Show.” This 45-minute interactive theater experience is intimate (capacity is limited to 15 children and up to 25 adults), and just right for younger children. The folks of Dreamland Arts (Leslye Orr and family) will animate a bevy of animal characters with silly voices and songs, inviting the children to come on stage with their own stuffed animals to join in the imaginative play. Each show ends with a tiny tea party for the kids and their critter-friends — with real or pretend refreshments, as you like. (There will be some light snacks and beverages available for sale.)

“The Stuffed Animal Holiday Show” is Saturday, Nov. 30, 11 a.m. at Dreamland Arts, 677 Hamline Ave. N., St. Paul, Minn. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, but visitors are encouraged to make reservations online given the space limitations. For details, visit the Dreamland Arts website.

"Indies First" day is the brainchild of novelist Sherman Alexie. Read his open letter to authors that sparked the national event here.  Photo Chase Jarvis

“Indies First” day was sparked by an open letter by novelist Sherman Alexie urging authors to become booksellers-for-a-day as a show of support for their local independent bookstores. Photo: Chase Jarvis

Also on Saturday, Twin Cities’ independent bookshops are going to be packed with local writers: they are turning out in droves for Indies First day to show their support for area mom-and-pop bookstores by being on hand to recommend titles and chat up customers on this hugely important holiday sales weekend. In Saint Paul’s SubText bookshop, you’ll find big-name young adult writers such as William Alexander and Kurtis Scaletta, humorist and playwright Kevin Kling, and many others. Micawber’s will host novelists Nicole Helget and Peter Geye; at Common Good Books, you might run into “Vacationland”author Sarah Stonich and children’s book writer Mary Losure. Red Balloon will be lousy with picture book authors and young adult fiction writers hand-selling their favorites all day, too.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune books editor, Laurie Hertzel, has a handy list of Twin Cities’ bookstores and local authors joining in on the “Indies First” events Saturday, Nov. 30. A map of participating shops around the country is available on the IndieBound website.

Image by Michael Hoyt, courtesy of The Third Place Gallery

Image by Michael Hoyt, courtesy of The Third Place Gallery

Bonus Minneapolis event: (Knight Arts grantee) photographer Wing Young Huie’s The Third Place Gallery is hosting a two-day show featuring artifacts and art objects created as part of the public practice of eight South Minneapolis-based artists. “Objects from Community Based Art: A Holiday Show” is presented with artist Michael Hoyt and will feature work by Wing Young Huie, Andrea Jenkins, Natasha Pestich, Janaki Ranpura, Stephanie L. Rogers, Andy Sturdevant and Xavier Tavera. The public will be able to purchase pieces in a wide range of media, styles and price points – from $5 to several hundred dollars. Most of this work has never been made commercially available. As varied as the objects are, this art is connected by its “emphasis on work that addresses the intersections of people and places outside of gallery and museum walls.”

 “Objects from Community Based Art: A Holiday Show” will be Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days at The Third Place Gallery, 3730 Chicago Ave., Studio B. Minneapolis. For detailed information on this and upcoming events, visit The Third Place Gallery online.

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