Daily Planet Originals

Beautiful, aurally sumptuous Concert Hall opens at the Ordway

Patrons streaming into the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts' new Concert Hall space, pre-concert

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts formally inaugurated its new concert hall on Saturday with an elaborate gala celebration. The evening began with a cocktail hour and a formal dinner in the Music Theater, followed by a sumptuous concert in the new space and an afterparty that continued into the wee hours.

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Great Northern Radio Show heads to the City: See radio being made live!

As a kid, my family used to go to see Garrison Keillor and a Prairie Home Companion at the old World Theater (now called the Fitzgerald). I loved it. I loved the idea of being there and seeing the action behind the curtain while some people just listened on the radio. It was like being in on a secret. It’s part of what I love about going to see Real Phonic Radio every month. Now I’m delighted to see one of my favorite non-metro radio programs is bringing their show to town and I get another peek into what radio looks like.

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MUSIC PHOTOS | Pert Near Sandstone warms up the Cedar Cultural Center

Photos by Tom Baker

Performing for two nights at The Cedar Cultural Center, Pert Near Sandstone brought their talent and energy to whip fans into a foot stomping, butt shaking, arm throwing, and even waltzing, frenzy Friday night. With two cloggers to keep the rhythm going and the fans dancing (Andy Lambert and Matt Cartier), Pert Near (Nate Sipe, mandolin, fiddle, vocals; Kevin Kniebel, banjo, vocals; J. Lenz, acoustic guitar, vocals; and Adam Kiesling, upright bass, vocals) is such an energizing performance to experience that they could probably turn any white-collar worker into an overall and straw-hat wearing hillbilly. Smiles and dreadlocks touting fans abound, these boys are some fine musicians and it’s no surprise they’ve been successfully twanging, fiddling, banjoing, and harmonizing their way across the country for over ten years. They’ll play again tonight at The Cedar, then head out West to tour through the Rockies and to the coast before returning to the Midwest in June to play the Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire, WI, June 11. Well worth seeing, get your clogging shoes on and go support these good ol’ Minnesota boys. 

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MUSIC REVIEW | Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor plays a mixed bag at the Ordway

Photo courtesy Benjamin Grosvenor

There comes a moment in the career of every child prodigy in music when their early promise is held up against a light of adult scrutiny. Technical virtuosity from an early age is a laudable thing, but with increased years comes a demand for artistic refinement – demands that for non-prodigies may otherwise not be expected until a much older age. There is often a rush for judgment as listeners wonder whether a young musician will remain a flash in the pan or mature into a long and continuously fruitful career. Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor’s concert on Tuesday at the Ordway offered no clear answers to this question, but tossed more fuel on the fire.

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Mobsters, pirates, plagues, and Mongol hordes in Ordway’s 2015-16 season

SEOP Dance Company, a South Korean ensemble playing at the Ordway on March 6, 2016.

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts announced its 2015-2016 season on Monday evening with a festive event at the Ordway’s Target Atrium. Highlights of the upcoming season include three self-produced musicals; dance performances such as Hip Hop Nutcracker, DanceBrazil, and Lulu Washington Dance Theatre; world music sensations Dengue Fever and Hanggai; and a return engagement by Pilobulus Dance Theatre.

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THEATER REVIEW | Open Window Theatre's "The Potting Shed" questions religion and faith

The troubled, extended Callifer family - Dr. Baston (Charles Numrich), Mary (Meri Golden), John (David Denninger), Sara (Sarah Preissner Stanbary), James (Jeremy Stanbary), and Anne (Ali Daniels) in Open Window Theatre's production of The Potting Shed; photography by Matt Berdahl

I’m starting to wonder if Open Window Theatre is critic-proof. Because it almost doesn’t matter what I say here. If you’re a fan of Open Window Theatre, then you’re already going and you’re not going to be dissuaded. Now in the middle of their fourth season, they’re expanding their space and operating on a budget of nearly $250,000. They’ve got a strong base of audience support. Nearly all their money comes from individuals rather than big corporations or foundations. Every show I’ve seen there, the audience has risen for a standing ovation at the end. Some of their shows have charmed me, some have baffled me, but their audience doesn’t care. There is a fan base for this theater that doesn’t feel served by other theaters in town. When Open Window puts up a production, this audience feels like they’re seeing their own story onstage in a way that they don’t get anywhere else. It’s theater with an overtly Christian religious bent to it. As someone who regularly pines for a more nuanced discussion on stage of religion and faith and their place in modern life, Open Window should be right up my alley. I really do appreciate what they’re trying to do here. I just wish the theater was better. Their current production of Graham Greene’s The Potting Shed is a great example of this conundrum.

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Q&A | Beth Hart Better Than Home World Tour

Beth Hart at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, MN

On February 19, 2015, Beth Hart made a stop in Minneapolis, MN to perform the 3rd night of her Better Than Home World Tour at the Cedar Cultural Center. She was generous enough to sit down with me before the show and chat a bit about her life as a touring musician and the upcoming release of her new album. I talked to several people at the show who said Beth's music was significant in getting them through some tough life experiences. She has a gift of being able to communicate through her song writing what she has learned along her own life path and told me that she is an open book, so I hope you get a sense of that from this interview.

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MUSIC PHOTOS | Hairball at Myth

Photos by Emmerlee Sherman

On Saturday, Feb. 21 Hairball played at Myth in St. Paul.

MUSIC REVIEW | Slow, luscious music with Natalie Lovejoy at the Icehouse

Photos by Ann Treacy

Natalie Lovejoy welcomed a sold out crowd to “slow, luscious music” at the Icehouse on Sunday night. She was there to introduce us to her third album, Hiding in the Light. The stage was as crowded as the house with as many as nine people on stage. I have to say, a string section on stage is worth the squishing!

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THEATER REVIEW | "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court" at the Guthrie Theater: Light and smart

Andy Nogasky (Hank) faces down the rest of The Acting Company in Jeffrey Hatcher's new adaptation of A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court.

Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is an adaptation in the same sense that the movie Jurassic Park is an adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name. The basic concept is the same, some common beats are hit, and much of the rest is entirely its own animal. (No velociraptors were harmed in the making of Hatcher’s A Connecticut Yankee.) The looseness of Hatcher’s adaptation is a strength, producing a satire that is much funnier than a straight adaptation would have been. The Acting Company’s premiere of this play, now at the Guthrie, makes for a light but smartly done evening.

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