As the sun sets on a summer day, Minnesota comes alive on a Saturday night

Star Tribune 7/27/15

There are two kinds of Saturday nights in Minnesota. In winter, it might be another evening at home, fireplace burning, Netflix streaming. Going out requires puffy coats and damp boots that don’t do so well on the dance floor.

But in summer, Saturday nights are beguiling. Easy. An evening stroll. A glass of wine on the porch. A sweaty night on the town, when the coldest it gets is under an air conditioning duct at a club.

Then there are the lakes — 10,000 chances to watch afternoon fade to sunset, lapping waves never tiring, dragonflies diving toward liquid surfaces.

Such perfect nights are few in this northern land, lending a certain urgency to embrace them with as much passion as reserved Midwesterners can muster. We might leave other nights to chance, but this night we make plans.

What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? The workweek is fading from memory and Monday is still far in the distance. Tonight, we choose our own adventure.

In late June, we set out to witness a typical Minnesota Saturday night in all its wild, free glory. Join us.

In downtown St. Paul, Larissa Gritti leans toward a mirror bordered in Hollywood lighting at the Ordway. Soon, she will take the stage in “Damn Yankees,” but there are still 30 precious minutes to showtime.

“I’m digging this new lip liner,” she says, smearing on a deep crimson shade. She rubs kohl under her eyes, then bounds down a hall redolent with pizza for “wig call.”

Mary Morrison waits upstairs with a fistful of bobby pins and a warm smile.

“Hell-o!” Gritti says, plopping down in the chair.

“The time is 7:15 p.m.” the loudspeaker warns. “Fifteen minutes before the show.”

Morrison’s fingers fly, sliding four pins into Gritti’s auburn bobbed wig, securing a small straw hat. Morrison steps back to survey her work.

“Have a good show,” she says, patting Gritti’s head.

Read the entire Star Tribune article, including behind-the-scenes videos, here.

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