THEATER REVIEW | "2 Pianos, 4 Hands" two Hours of laughs and music at Park Square Theatre

Friends and sometime rival pianists Richard (Peter Vitale, left) and Ted (Michael Pearce Donley, right) relax between notes. Photo courtesy of Park Square Theatre

The story of 2 Pianos, 4 Hands, if you wanted to analyze it, is about chasing dreams, obstinance, frustration, and the quest for identity. Alternately, you could say that it is a string of theatrical vignettes that are alternately funny and poignant. A little myopia might focus on moments recalling Victor Borgia’s musical humor or perhaps what it might look like if Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck had to play a piano duet together (Daffy Duck vs. Donald Duck at the piano isn’t quite the same thing, although Bugs has a solo turn or two at the piano himself). The larger point is not that this play with music is one of these things, but that these are just some of the types of things interwoven into this piano-filled show. 2 Pianos, 4 Hands is much more than the sum of its parts, as excellent as they are individually.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Understated timeless cool of Jeremy Messersmith at the Turf Club

(Photos by Ann Treacy)

Man, woman, child, I don’t care who you are – everyone has a little crush on Jeremy Messersmith. He could fit into almost any era with pompadour, dark glasses and cardigan. He could play with Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly or the Bing Crosby, banter with Mr. Rogers, give him a pipe he could hang with Beaver Cleaver’s dad. The themes of his song – mostly love lost – are just as universal. And that adds to the crushability!

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THEATER REVIEW | St. Croix Off Broadway Dinner Theatre goes local with "Don't Hug Me, We're Married"

Aristotle described three primary forms of theatre in his Poetics: comedy, tragedy, and the satyr play. Although the mediums, varieties, and forms of theatre have expanded in the intervening millennia, the conceptions Aristotle recorded remain surprisingly valid in describing today’s theatrical entertainments. (See, for example, this video exploring the Aristotelian conception of the tragic hero in Star Wars.) Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married, now playing at the St. Croix Off Broadway Dinner Theatre in Hudson, WI, is a satyr play.

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Ending racism in policing begins with the Red Tent

I was talking to Jose at work the other day about the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the lack of indictments on the police officers who killed them. We both are appalled how it went down. While I’ve experience abuse of power at the hands of the police just a few times, Jose has had many negative, unprovoked, experiences in which the prejudice of the officer was the cause for the encounter and the tone of the exchange. As we talked I tried to make the point that while the officers are responsible for their actions the blame also is also on our culture and the police system that trained them. In part, they only did what they were raised to believe and trained to do.

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Dazzling holiday lights and sights in Twin Cities (and beyond)

(Photos by Paige Elliott)

Now is the time to shine, light-seekers! Holiday sparkle is back, illuminating cold, dark winter streets with bursts of vivid color and community spirit. Below, we’ve made a list – and checked it twice – of a few choice spots to see holiday lights around the Twin Cities and beyond. Scroll down to see how you can share your photos and add light displays in your community to our list!

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MUSIC REVIEW | Punk rock party at the Turf Club: Dillinger Four, Pink Mink, Whatever Forever, and NO SKIN

Photos by Ann Treacy

This week I went to two nights of local music at the Turf Club—both sold out! A great sign for the Turf Club and Twin Cities audience appreciation of homegrown music. Wednesday night was all country (Cactus Blossoms and Erik Koskinen); Friday night was punk all night. It was also a 10 year anniversary party for Ben and Sheela. I don’t know them but I want to thank them for a great night. What a fun and generous way to celebrate.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Experimental jazz with Embezzler at Khyber Pass Café

Photos by Ann Treacy

I have good news and bad news, my favorite quiet nights of music—Thursdays  at the Khyber Pass Café in St Paul—are filling up. I’m glad for the musicians. I’m glad for the Khyber Pass. But I’ve got to start being on time. Embezzler played this week, which is Paul Metzger on the guitar and other instruments, Adam Linz on the upright bass and JT Base on the drums and other percussion accoutrements.  

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Performing arts gift wish list

Still looking for holiday gift ideas? Try this entirely arbitrary list of ideas.

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MUSIC PHOTOS | Doomtree Blowout at Varsity Theater

Photos by Meredith Westin

Doomtree played at the Varsity Theatre on Wednesday, December 11 as part of their final Doomtree Blowout ever.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Mannheim Steamroller self-sabotages, charges on at Orpheum Theatre

A picture from Mannheim Steamroller's 2013 tour. Photo courtesy of Mannheim Steamroller

Mannheim Steamroller, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary year, is now almost as much a cultural phenomenon as a performing ensemble. Even people who don’t recognize the name have probably heard its holiday music on the radio or as the soundtrack for innumerable videos on YouTube showcasing holiday lighting excess (not that that’s a bad thing). The ensemble’s holiday concert tours are sufficiently successful that there are actually two simultaneous touring groups crossing the United States each year. This is the root of the problems with the Dec. 7 concert at the Orpheum Theatre.

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