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THEATER REVIEW | Minneapolis Musical Theatre's "Calvin Berger" a modernized classic at New Century Theatre

Calvin (Gregory Adam) agonizes over seducing Rosanna (Emily Madigan) under someone else's name.

Calvin Berger is a musical update of the story of Cyrano de Bergerac. That’s a big nose to fill, but the production now playing at the New Century Theatre is smartly done. The music and script are fun, funny, and enough of their own animal so as to not invite too many comparisons with the wonderful poetry of Edmond Rostand’s classic play. As Minneapolis Musical Theatre & Hennepin Theatre Trust collaborations go, it’s also a story that fits particularly well with the space of the New Century Theatre.

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THEATER REVIEW | Minnesota Opera's "The Elixir of Love" has body, pipes

Nemorino (Leonardo Capalbo) discovers that a love potion (and becoming a millionaire) makes him irresistible to women.

Classical music audiences are not as loud as they used to be. Eighteenth-century opera patrons could eat, drink, and converse during a performance; through much of the 19th century, many operagoers treated the opera as a participatory event, shouting encouragement and boos, calling for encores, and stopping performances with applause. The present culture of silence in the concert hall and opera house is largely a product of the last century or so. It was in many ways a blast from the past on Saturday when Minnesota Opera’s performance of The Elixir of Love paused due to riotous applause.

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THEATER REVIEW | "The Color Purple" inspires at the Park Square Theatre

Photo credit Petronella J. Ytsma

Park Square’s Theatre ambitious production of the musical The Color Purple creates an exuberant production that was well deserving of the standing ovation it was given on opening night. The musical is based on the Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name. The book for the musical was written by Marsha Norman with music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. In the regional premiere of the musical, Lewis E. Whitlock directs an exceptionally talented cast in a production that brings out both the humor and pathos of the story.

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THEATER REVIEW | "I Love Lucy: Live on Stage" a classic at the State Theatre

Photo by Justin Namon.

Minneapolis’s State Theatre took the time machine back to the early 1950s for a live studio recording in Los Angeles for back-to-back episodes of the classic CBS hit sitcom I Love Lucy.

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MUSIC REVIEW | The Current showcases mostly local music: Cold War Kids, Dead Man Winter, Hippo Campus and Allan Kingdom

Photos by Ann Treacy

The Current celebrates their birthday in style but more importantly with great variety. The penultimate birthday event on Jan. 23 night at First Avenue included four bands with four different sounds: rap, pop, Americana and indie rock. And if you dig deeper at all, there were really more sounds within each performance.

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MUSIC PHOTOS | The Current's 10th Anniversary featuring Billy Idol and Steve Stevens at the Turf Club

Photos by Patrick Dunn

It was great to see people packing into the sold out Turf Club in St. Paul January 19th to support and celebrate the 10th Anniversary of 89.3 The Current. It’s establishments like this that keep the Twin Cities known for being rich in the arts. The event titled Mary Lucia’s Rock and Roll Radio show created a little extra buzz as they were able to arrange for 80s rocker Billy Idol who is out on tour to swing by and squeeze in a 6 song acoustic set. Idol was packed full of charisma and his strong vocal only needed his longtime guitar master Steve Steven’s to do the music justice. The rockabilly style “To Be A Lover” was a standout and of course “Rebel Yell” was the big closer.

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THEATER REVIEW | Swandive Theatre's "Defying Gravity": Lost in space

Elizabeth (Roneet Aliza Rahamim) reaches out to her mother in the stars in Swandive Theatre's production of Defying Gravity; photography by Joan Banick

Jane Anderson’s play Defying Gravity is NOT about the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, and it IS about the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. That, in a nutshell, is the problem. It feels like the playwright is trying to have it both ways. She doesn’t want to be bound by the literal facts of the disaster, but she wants to piggyback on all of its traumatic emotional resonance for an audience. The script and the production by Swandive Theatre (to my recollection) never mention the Challenger by name, but they also use images and audio from the 1986 mishap. To use a slightly more current and raw example, it’s as if someone created a piece of theater about a “generic terrorist attack” but confronted the audience with footage of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. While Defying Gravity doesn’t feel manipulative in a cynical way (the good intentions behind the storytelling feel genuine), it is, nonetheless, manipulative.

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MUSIC REVIEW | "Sesame Street Live: Let's Dance!" gets warm and fuzzy at the State Theatre

Photo credit TM/©Sesame Workshop

State Theatre in Minneapolis brought the childhood favorite neighborhood, 123 Sesame Street, to their venue last weekend for seven shows.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Keeping kids rocking with Bunny Clogs and Guitar Party at the Cedar

Photos by Ann Treacy

Saturday the morning the Cedar Cultural Center was hopping and toddling with Bunny Clogs and Guitar Party – two bands for kids with members who are well known to a Twin Cities audience.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Generations of Punk celebrate The Current: Suicide Commandos, Craig Finn and L’Assassins

Photos by Ann Treacy

Generations of Minnesota garage punk were on stage and in the audience Friday night for The Current’s ten-year birthday party. Craig Finn put a frame on that fact when he talked taking guitar lessons as a kid from Chris Osgood of the Suicide Commandos. “I learned how to be cool,” he explained, by watching Osgood turn up the stereo before he answered the phone instructing Finn “you want people to think you’re having a party.”

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