2017 Press Release


Amy Danielson: 612.245.2020 | danielson.amy@gmail.com
Scotty Reynolds: 612.619.2112 | sreynolds@mixedprecipitation.org

Mixed Precipitation announces
Philemon and Baucis – Planet in Peril: A Picnic Operetta

Celebrating its 9th season, the company brings opera, food, and outdoor fun to parks, farms and gardens throughout MN in August and September

(Minneapolis) April 18, 2017 — Mixed Precipitation Theater announces Philemon and Baucis – Planet in Peril: A Picnic Operetta, a new adaptation of Haydn’s rarely performed 1773 marionette opera, created by Elizabeth Windnagel, artistic director Scotty Reynolds, music director Gary Ruschman, and the Mixed Precipitation team.

An edible opera adventure for the whole family, A Picnic Operetta marks its nine-year tradition of celebrating the harvest with a unique blend of music, horticulture, food, and storytelling. A Picnic Operetta will tour Minnesota for the third year in a row, moving beyond the Twin Cities metro to farms, vineyards, orchards, and community gardens, including Babbitt, Hastings, and Winona.

Returning from space exploration in a far off galaxy, space cadets Jupiter and Mercury return to earth to find humanity decimated by plague. Surviving citizens are cold, suspicious, and hooked on banality. Our gods-in-disguise prowl about town looking for someplace to unveil their gender-bending extravaganza. No one will give these gods a chance but the down-trodden tavern of Philemon and Baucis.  

This production explores fear, displacement, and hospitality to strangers from another world. We celebrate the natural human yearning to heal the planet — while gazing into the great beyond. This space-age, romantic adventure features the beloved melodies of Haydn’s The Creation and the defiant rock n’ roll of Queen! That means German opera and oratorio with the music of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon.

This one-of-a-kind show is written and directed by Windnagel and Reynolds with music director Gary Ruschman.

Producing Artistic Director Scotty Reynolds has helmed the Picnic Operetta since inception. His active career in performing arts includes directing, performing and facilitating an ensemble of artists with disabilities at the Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts. His 2008 production with Interact, Broken Brain Summit, won an Ivey Award for its innovative concept. He’s toured as a performer and stage manager with Tiger Lion Arts and their outdoor production, Nature: A Walking Play, performing in arboretums in Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio. In 2017, we was awarded an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to develop a new music theatre piece about the history of taconite mining on the North Shore and Iron Range.

Nick Schneider (Co­-Founder and Collaborating Chef) specializes in integrating culinary arts, local foods, and urban agriculture education. Following seven years with Cafe Brenda and other chef-owned restaurants, Schneider began an independent business serving as a personal chef, caterer, and educator. He is actively involved in leadership in two Minneapolis community gardens, teaches with Gardening Matters at sites across the metro, and acts as the collaborating chef for the Women’s Environmental Institute. Schneider will design the picnic operetta menu and lead volunteers in the food preparation process.

Music Director Gary Ruschman has been hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “funny and fresh-voiced”. A native of Kentucky, Gary Ruschman is a veteran performer, educator, visual artist, and prize-winning composer/arranger. Along with thirty stage roles and hundreds of concert appearances, the tenor has toured the globe as a member of Cantus. He has appeared with major orchestras and opera companies, played in rock bands, and presented new works and music for dance in Cincinnati, New York, California, and the Twin Cities. He maintains an active singing and conducting schedule, spending much of his offstage time composing and arranging for voices. His children’s opera, Nice Mice and Friendly Frogs was produced by Minnesota Opera in 2015.

Artistic Associate Lizz Windnagel has performed with the Picnic Operetta since 2013. She performs with acclaimed early-music specialists the Rose Ensemble and vocal chamber group Artemis, touring their programming throughout the United States. She has lead music in theatrical collaborations, including Theatre Forever’s The Human Show at the Guthrie Theatre and in her own production company, Disobedient Femmes. She performed and created puppetry with Open Eye Figure Theatre, Park Square, Heart of the Beast and her own self-produced shadow puppet operas. Her production of Sing Me Naked was awarded “Best Achievement in Performance Art” by Lavender Magazine in 2016.


Tenors Obed Floan and Alejandro Magallon share the role of Philemon.  Magalla sang for 10 seasons and 50 productions with the Houston Grand Opera. Floan, a Wagner specialist, sings opera and oratorio all over the country including Carnegie Hall and thee East State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Mezzo-soprano Anna Hashizume sings the role of Baucis after playing the title role in The Rape of Lucretia at the University of Minnesota and appearing in the Ensemble of 7th House’s Rhinonsours. Also featured in the cast are many alumni of previous season, including tenor Roland Hawkins II who appeared in the first Picnic Operetta in 2009.  He’s since appeared at the Minnesota Opera and at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre in Sister Act. Joni Griffith, Isaac Bont, Taylor Her, Alia Jeraj,  Jason Kornelis, Jacob Miller, Collin Woolson and Sander Huynh-Weiss round out the Ensemble. Ginna Watson of the Rose Ensemble and will lead the band of instrumentalists. Designs will be created by costumer Morgan Lee Potter and set and prop designer Paul Herwig.  

Mixed Precipitation blends sweet and savory bites into the storytelling to celebrate the harvest. Chef Nick Schneider crafts a tasting menu adapted to the story, inviting the audience to taste the edible beauty of the Minnesota harvest.

Tour Dates

Saturday, August 12, 2 pm (preview)                                                                                                                                 Northern Delicious, 3298 Lenont Road, Babbitt MN, 55706
Presented by the Northern Lakes Arts Association

Sunday, August 13, 2pm (preview)
Women’s Environmental Institute, 15715 River Rd, North Branch, MN 55056

Thursday, August 17, 7pm
Dodge Nature Center, 1701 Charlton Avenue, West St. Paul, MN 55118
(Farm and Education entrance)

Saturday, August 19, 2pm
Northern Delicious, 3298 Lenont Road, Babbitt MN, 55706
Presented by the Northern Lakes Arts Association

Sunday, August 20, 4pm
Skidmore Park Community Garden, 1085 4th Street E. Saint Paul, MN 55106

Friday, August 25, 7pm
Loring Park Garden of the Seasons, 1382 Willow Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Saturday, August 26, 2pm
Summit Hill Community Garden, 860 St. Clair Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105

Sunday, August 27, 6:30pm
Caponi Art Park, 1220 Diffley Road, Eagan, MN 55123

Saturday, September 2, 2pm
Alexis Bailly Vineyard, 18200 Kirby Ave. Hastings, MN 55033

Sunday, September 3, 2pm
Alexis Bailly Vineyard, 18200 Kirby Ave. Hastings, MN 55033

Saturday, September 9, 2pm
Bronx Park Community Garden, 2500 Georgia Ave. S., St. Louis Park, MN 55426
(at the Nelson Park Entrance at West 26th Street and Georgia Avenue)

Sunday, September 10, 2pm
JD Rivers’ Children’s Garden, 2900 Glenwood Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55405

Saturday, September 16, 3pm
Dream Acres Farm, 17289 County Road 8, Wykoff, MN 55990

Sunday, September 17, 3pm
Unity Park, 860 Parks Avenue, Winona MN 55987
Presented by the Page Series at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

Saturday, September 23, 2pm
Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Sunday, September 24, 2pm
Swede Hollow Park, 657 East Beaumont St, St Paul, MN


Please call 1-800-838-3006 or visit mixedprecipitation.org for reservations. Reservations will be available on June 1 on brownpapertickets.com. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly encouraged. The suggested donation is $10 – 20 per person. Donations are a critical source of funding for The Picnic Operetta and can be made with your reservation or collected at the end of the performance. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own blankets and lawn chairs. Some blankets are provided.


We are prepared to provide reasonable accommodation to patrons with physical disabilities and those using access services. Our performance is designed for an outdoor garden venue. A sighted guide is suggested for visually impaired patrons. Find additional info about access services, ASL, and audio description at mixedprecipitation.org.

About Mixed Precipitation and A Picnic Operetta

Mixed Precipitation’s mission is to create unexpected theatrical experiences through unique partnerships and festive events that inspire social engagement. More info at mixedprecipitation.org.

Each summer we present our signature event, A Picnic Operetta, a lively theater experience touring community gardens, urban farms, parks, orchards and vineyards throughout the Twin Cities Metro and Greater Minnesota. A five-course tasting menu of locally grown, performance-inspired delicacies is served during the show. We bring together classical music, horticulture, food, and storytelling into a celebration of harvest and our local food system.

This activity is made possible in part by a grant provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.