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With two holiday shows running at once, Minneapolis actor is making spirits doubly bright

December 17, 2018

Actor Bradley Greenwald has a Christmas tree, but is it decorated? No, it is not. And he has a good reason — or, rather, two reasons.

Greenwald is in a pair of holiday shows: his ode to the winter solstice, “The Longest Night,” at Open Eye Figure Theatre through Dec. 23, and James Sewell Ballet’s “Nutcracker (Not So) Suite,” in which he dons drag to play Mama Flo through Dec. 22.

The shows mostly are on different nights but he is performing 12 days in a row, and on Dec. 22 he’ll do both. So unless his husband, Jungle Theater production stage manager John Novak, can manage it, that tree may not be trimmed anytime soon.

“These kinds of things happen every once in a while and you’re always happy to make it work,” says Greenwald, who was committed to “Nutcracker” when Open Eye suggested that he bring back “Longest Night” for the fourth time.

“Open Eye, being the wonderfully unconventional entity it is, said: ‘Why don’t we just do it on all the nights you’re not doing ‘Nutcracker?’ ”

That’s why “Longest Night” is running on Mondays — a night when theaters are typically dark — and why the Dec. 22 matinee is at 2 p.m.

“I take the train to the Cowles [where ‘Nutcracker’ appears] and it takes me a full hour to get into drag. I wouldn’t be able to do that if ‘Longest Night’ came down at 5:30, but this gives me time to get there and eat and paint my nails. Because I also realized that I should really remove the nail polish for ‘Longest Night’ or I’d have to explain it,” says Greenwald.

Sue Haas, executive artistic director of Open Eye, is bummed that “Longest Night,” a show about the solstice, couldn’t swing a show on the solstice itself (there’s a “Nutcracker” on Dec. 21), but says the show is selling like crazy.

“Highlighting all of Bradley’s talents is a wonderful thing,” says Haas, adding that it’s a bonus to hear Greenwald play the baritone horn in “Longest Night.”

Greenwald plays it in “Nutcracker,” too, a duet with Steven Epp on trumpet. Worried about dragging the bulky instrument around, the actor decided to use two baritones and leave one at each theater. Oddly, he doesn’t own either.

“The baritone I’m playing at ‘Nutcracker’ is Kevin Kling’s and the baritone at Open Eye is Bob Rosen’s,” says Greenwald, who rehearsed both shows at the same time. “I’ve borrowed one or the other of them for years.”

Haas heard from a superfan who was in the midst of not two, but three, straight nights of Greenwald, courtesy of his guest appearance at T. Mychael Rambo’s “Hooked on Hamilton” show Dec. 11 at the Dakota Jazz Club.

“After we did tech [rehearsal] on Tuesday, I ran down to the Dakota. We had done it in October and it was such a hit that they brought it back, and they’re bringing it back again in January,” says Greenwald, who will balance three shows again when that Jan. 7 gig comes up.

“I’ll be rehearsing ‘A Little Night Music’ with Theater Latté Da and remounting ‘Carmina Burana’ with Minnesota Dance Theatre,” he said.

Between the Dec. 23 closing of “Longest Night” and the start of “Night Music” rehearsals, Greenwald has a few days off, during which he expects to be found crashing on his couch. In front of a tree that may or may not have ornaments on it.

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