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HOT DOG DAZE with Interact Theater at the LAB

“Composer Aaron Gabriel creates or reworks several catchy songs in the production including “I Belong in a Dress,” and “Stage Fright.” The songs literally dance with Kymani Kahill’s clever choreography, a pleasure on the huge Lab stage in a feat to accommodate every actor. In another, after an informercial speaks to successful dating tips, the cast performs the enchanting ballad “When the Stars Come Out,” a lyrical ode to love.”

-Peggy Sue Dunnigan, Broadway World

SISTERS OF PEACE at the History Theater

“The creative team has done a splendid job of establishing the settings and linking them to the times, with Aaron Gabriel’s musical scoring and Kathy Maxwell’s video work underscoring the context, and Mike Wangen’s lighting design heightening the drama.”

-Arthur Dorman, Talkin’ Broadway

HOT FUNKY BUTT JAZZ with Interact Theater at the Guthrie

Best New Musical Score and Lyrics, Lavender Magazine
-Aaron Gabriel, Hot Funky Butt Jazz, Interact Theater

“Hot Funky Butt Jazz is masterfully interconnected with beautiful music and lyrics by Aaron Gabriel, who uncannily captures the mentality and the lore of the era, the early jazz style, and the musical comedy genre which is considered to be a truly American theatrical art form—just as jazz itself is considered to be a genuinely American music form. In summation, Hot Funky Butt Jazz is a contribution to the American theater tradition.”

-John Townsend, Lavender Magazine

“Aaron Gabriel’s music and lyrics infuse the show with energy, while musicians Jeremy Phipps, Eugene Harding, Kymani Kahlil and Matthew Trice bring joyous virtuosity to the Funky Butt house band.”

“The most powerful moment is the “Mista Jim Crow” number, which skewers blackface minstrelsy with bleak and compelling irony.”

-Lisa Brock, Star and Tribune

“I went to Hot Funky Butt Jazz expecting to hear some delicious jazz music, learn a few things I didn’t know, and have a pretty standard night at the theater. Like jazz music itself, what I got was a far messier but more beautiful reality.”

Compendium Minneapolis

“Over a decade, script supervisor/composer Aaron Gabriel made several trips to New Orleans. The show has the grit of historic authenticity. It also speaks to our present time.”

“Hot Funky Butt Jazz” is powered by music, including a raunchy song (“Sin in Sin-copation”), a hilarious song (“Small-Time Vaudeville”), a wistful song (“Jasmine in the Wind”) and a song with teeth (“Mista Jim Crow”). It’s about many things: history, jazz, human struggles, racism, survival and improvisation in the face of oppression.”

-Pamela Espaland, MinnPost

“Beautiful, entertaining art while opening our eyes to the challenging beginning of jazz simultaneously reminding us that people with disabilities still face the same struggles today.”

“In numerous show stopping numbers, composed and written with music and lyrics by Aaron Gabriel, the cast excels. These include “Afternoon Tea,” “Small Time Vaudeville,” “Sin in Sin-copation,” and a haunting “Mista Jim Crow.” The last song sparks the stereotypes African Americans were subjected too, which will then be counteracted by the vibrant dance rhythms in a reprise of “Let The Music Do Ya,”-a tribute to the syncopated jazz rhythms and their joyful vitality. The musical beautifully touches on these social issues while instilling a love for jazz.”

-Peggy Sue Dunigan, Broadway World

“Interact’s resident composer and music director Aaron Gabriel composed the sprightly score, with songs that lean heavy on ragtime and stride-piano jazz, but also includes blues, marches, hymns and vaudeville turns.”

“Hot Funky Butt Jazz is a delight, with bright music, a host of winning performances, a company that is committed to having the audience enjoy themselves, and a look into a moment of sharp transitions in our American culture, when radical new music emerged to accompany, or perhaps to egg on, a continuing quest to define an American life that is inclusive and just.”

-Arthur Dorman, Talkin’ Broadway

FEAST OF FOOLS with Interact Theater 

“Kevin Kling narrates the show, which features, among other things, a giant Cheeto.”

-Erika Dani, MPR’s Art Hounds


“What Fools These Mortals Be is a critical case of Fellini-meets-the-Bard performed with Interact’s take-no-prisoners style of humor and heart – shedding light on another layer of Shakespeare’s creative genius.”

-BWW News Desk, Broadway World

“Interact’s life-affirming spirit suffuses the show, making it an evening of feel-good entertainment — something you can’t always say about Shakespeare.”

-Jay Gabler, City Pages

“Playwrights Kevin Kling, Aaron Gabriel, and Jeffrey Haas have managed to shove a lot of Shakespearean characters and plots into 80 minutes.”

Cherry and Spoon


“The music is Tchaikovsky’s but it has been retuned in jarring harmonies and jaunty rhythms (by composer Aaron Gabriel) to make it more suited to Poe’s writings.”

“…the pacing was right; the music fine-tuned.”

-Mari Wittenbreer, How Was The Show?

“Aaron Gabriel as composer and musical director does a masterful job of weaving the orchestration into the production.”

-Bev Wolfe, Rift Magazine

Article from City Pages: Edgar Allan Poe Meets the Nutcracker for Interact’s Latest

Article from Star/Tribune: How Do You Like Your Nutcracker?

PLOTHOLES: A FOOL’S FOIBLES with Interact Theater

“I often found myself thinking, “What just happened?” And laughing out loud about it. Yes, there’s a great deal of silliness in the play’s plot developments, but the over-arching story is very much grounded in a simple – and serious – reality: not every ending is a happy one, and not every dream comes true.”

-Janet Preus, How Was The Show?

Article from MN Playlist: Plotholes: A Fool’s Foibles

THE VET’S PLAY PROJECT with Wonderlust Productions (formerly Footprints Collective)

“…there are a few stand-out scenes, including a fairytale-like plunge into PTSD and a look into the sexual power dynamics that many women have to negotiate as new recruits.”

-Stephanie Kerman, Aisle Say Twin Cities

“Composer and music director Aaron Gabriel is unsuccessful in his attempt to integrate military anthems with his own dissonant creations.”

-Dominic Papatola, Twin

“The Project’s musicality (composed & directed by Aaron Gabriel) lifts the material to yet another level, as does watching the performers suddenly morph into musicians and singers.”

-Dominic Orlando, How Was the Show?

Article from Asian American Press: Naomi Ko in The Vet’s Play Project


Article from City Pages: Interact Opens Naughty and Nice

THE END OF SEPTEMBER with Theater Latte Da’s NEXT Series

“The End of September (by Aaron Gabriel) features new music ranging from beautiful harmonic hymns to Ojibwe chants to songs influenced by mid-Century composers. I find that interesting because you can’t predict what note or phrase is coming next (similar to Sondheim’s complex scores).”

-Jill Schafer, Cherry and Spoon

PRINCESS ACADEMY with Stages Theatre Company

Feature Article in Southwest JournalCreators Craft other world…

HOT JAZZ AT DA FUNKY BUTT with Interact Theater

“Music and lyrics were written by a very competent Aaron Gabriel. Transitions between scenes are often painted with extremely active street scenes that might fool even a native New Orleaner.”

“As I got up from my seat I realized that not only had I witnessed a piece of musical and cultural history, Interact Theater made history with another demonstration of their radical inclusion.”

-Twin Cities Daily Planet

“Composer Aaron Gabriel’s music expresses a caustic edge in songs about Jim Crow laws and the hypocrisy of churches that segregated worshippers.”

-Graydon Royce, Star/Tribune

“Funky Butt brings plenty of hot, infectious jazz!”

“The musical performances are terrific from beginning to end, led by Zena Moses, who works the stage and the characters like a puppeteer as Laveau. Hanley makes for a strong presence as well, especially when he says a final goodbye to Zelda, knowing that their relationship could not exist in 1906 America and needing to follow his own muse. Also impressive is Jeremy Phipps, who between his trombone playing, dancing, and singing, brings his infectious enthusiasm to every moment of the piece.”

-Ed Huyck, City Pages

Video: Highlights from Hot Jazz at Da Funky Butt

Spotlight from Lavender Magazine (feat. interview with John Townsend)

“Art Hounds” Feature on NPR (by Sonja Thompson)

Mention from Buddy Boldon: Explained

Mention on


“There are some delightful moments, including Scotty Reynolds’s portrayal of the slick Dr. Painless Parker, a dentist who “performs” his operations alongside Polka dancers and “dental damsels.” Also fun was Aaron Gabriel (who also created the show’s music) playing Hans, a German inventor who rolls out several “mechanical fortune tellers.” These contraptions, which each housing an Interact artist, dispense fortunes that are not particularly helpful.”

-Sheila Regan, Twin Cities Daily Planet

Video: Highlights from Madame Majesta’s Miracle Medicine Show

Article in Lavender Magazine: On the Townsend

Article in City Pages: Ivey Awards 2010

Article in Ivey Awards sail smoothly…

Article on NPR State of the Arts: And the winner is…

Article on Access Press Blog: People and Places

Notable Original Musical Collaborations, Lavendar 2010


Augsburg College NOW Magazine: The sweet smell of success…

Big Night at The Edge, with Kevin Kling and Aaron Gabriel

An Evening with Kevin Kling and Friends

Nautilus Music Theater Performance in Bigfork 

Featured Artist with Theater Latte Da

Congo Project: Where We Started

Congo Project: A Play in Nyanga

Everwood Farms Showcase with Sally Wingert, Peter Rothstein and Patricia Kirkpatrick

TCG New Generations Grant Recipients

The Jerome Foundation: Grantees 2011

MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant Recipients 2011

MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant Recipients 2014

Performing Review: Applause with Minneapolis Musical Theater (Purple Curcuit)

Performing Review: Applause with Minneapolis Music Theater (Talkin’ Broadway)

Performing Review: Edwin Drood with Minneapolis Music Theater (Purple Curcuit)

Performing Review: Candy Ass Club (writer credit as well)

Performing Review: Bat Boy with Minneapolis Music Theater (Purple Curcuit)

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