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THEATER REVIEW | The American Dream goes up in smoke in "Detroit" at Jungle Theater

The cast of Detroit: Mary (Angela Timberman), Ben (John Middleton), Sharon (Anna Sundberg) and Kenny (Tyson Forbes). Photo credit: Michal Daniel.

The characters in Lisa D'Amour's Detroit at Jungle Theater are a mess. Take a suburban couple, add two just-out-of-rehab neighbors, and mix them on the lawn with alcohol and a grill. Stir vigorously, spice with lies and cascading revelations, and wait for problems to (a)rise. This delicious dish takes 110 minutes to prepare and is most definitely cooked on high.

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MayDay 2014 starting the Joy early

The MayDay Parade has a new start time this year. The partying puppets and associates will begin their entertaining of the parade viewers starting at Noon on May 4th, 2014, an hour earlier then previous years. The Ceremony will commence at its customary (approximate) 3:30 p.m. time, allowing the Sun to get into position. Powderhorn Park will be vibrant with the MayDay Festival for all the daylight hours. Simply start your joy on MayDay an hour earlier.
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Sibyl Kempson's "Potatoes of August" at the Red Eye Theater makes you think

  Kirby Bennett  as Bethy and Ben Kreilkamp as Buck - Photo by  Liz Josheff

Some theater experiences require that you leave your expectations at the door. Walk in, sit down and when the lights go down, (or not) you need to just settle in and as director of Potatoes of August Steve Busa says, just let it “flow over you.”

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THEATER REVIEW | We Theater's "The Shadow War:" Descendants of Hmong soldiers and CIA operative illuminate history

Gregory Yang and Song Kim. Photo credit Scott Pakudaitis.

The Shadow War focuses on the years leading up to, during, and after the Vietnam War, when the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Army Special Forces developed a secret army made up of Hmong and Lao fighters to combat the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Playwright Amy Russell, who created the play based on her experiences growing up in Laos as the daughter of CIA operative, explained that this became a workshop project as she developed it with the Hmong community and the actors themselves, including producer and actor Sandy ‘Ci Moua.

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THEATER REVIEW | "Steel Magnolias" packs an emotional punch at Old Log Theater

A private moment in Steel Magnolias. Photo courtesy of the Old Log Theater

Steel Magnolias is an extraordinary play about ordinary and sometimes terrible events that people live through. Seeing the Old Log Theater's excellent new production will not make you want to go out and change the world, but it will make you laugh a great deal and might make you hug a loved one tightly when you get home. This is a play that resonates with audiences because of its veracity and encapsulation of real life and its rhythms – a drama that resonates with its down-to-earth authenticity and lands very close to home.

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THEATER REVIEW | Minnesota Opera showcases the magic in Mozart's "The Magic Flute"

Photo credit Robert Millard

To call the Minnesota Opera's current production of The Magic Flute "a reimagining" would be a gross understatement and a disservice. "Outstanding" would be a better word, "revelatory" another, and "hopeful" maybe the best yet. A friend working on the production told me that at the final dress rehearsal last Friday a huge crowd of students "screamed at the end like it had been a One Direction concert." I think Mozart would have been very proud to see this production, even if he wouldn't know who Harry Stiles is.

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THEATER REVIEW | Six Elements Theatre reworks Arthurian legends in "Tales from Camelot"

Morgan le Faye (Emily Knotek, behind) seduces Nimue (Tamara Koltes, front) into participating in Merlin's demise in Broceliande: The Death of Merlin, the first half of Six Elements Theatre's Tales from Camelot; photo by Teresa Townsend

Jenna Papke’s Six Elements Theatre and phillip andrew bennett low’s ongoing exploration of the Arthurian legends of England are such a perfect fit in retrospect I’m surprised a production like Tales From Camelot didn’t happen sooner. As it is, this new iteration of Tales From Camelot brings out the best in both. Tucked away in a gallery space in the art-saturated Northrup King Building in Northeast Minneapolis is a delightfully intimate evening with larger-than-life human beings.

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THEATER REVIEW | Children's Theatre Company's "Balloonacy" appeals to all ages

Photo by Dan Norman featuring Robert Dorfman

Theater for children's audiences is often a hit-and-miss proposition: fun for the kids and less so for the adults who chaperone them. The play Balloonancy breaks this mold and is a delight for young children and their parents. Its mix of puppetry, wordless situational comedy, and Chaplin-esque physical humor is a winning combination.

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Melissa Birch's "Flying Nuns" move as live art

Last May when I covered Bedlam’s Tenfest, I was most mesmerized by the piece by Melissa Birch that involved linen and white-cotton-clad movers–dancers/characters who connected and climbed over each other and implied inequality, power games, gender games. They functioned like moving pieces of a puzzle that would come together to make a statement–only to disperse again and start the next collection of pieces that would re-converge and show you a new puzzle and statement. 

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Three reasons you should see zAmya Theater's Home Street Home Minneapolis

It’s a show of the people for the people. And it’s free. So there’s no excuse not to go and every reason to make the effort to see it; I know because I was able to catch part of a rehearsal last week.

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