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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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'Motown: The Musical' actress-singer delights in her multiple legendary roles

(Photo by Joan Marcus) Patrice Covington as Martha Reeves (center) with other members of the touring cast in Motown: The Musical.

Motown: The Musical, the hit Broadway musical now touring the country, arrives next week for a 13-day run at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis.

Grammy-nominated artist Ashley Támar Davis plays several roles, including Gladys Knight and Motown founder Berry Gordy’s sister Esther. She talked about her parts in a MSR phone interview.

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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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Interview: Jenna Zark on 'The Chanukah Guest'

TC Jewfolk sat down with playwright and TC Jewfolk writer Jenna Zark to talk about her new play The Chanukah Guest, now being performed at the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company.

TC Jewfolk: What drew you to adapting The Chanukah Guest, a children’s book into a play for the MJTC?

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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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THEATER REVIEW | Ridiculous humor abounds in Ordway’s "A Christmas Story: The Musical"

Ralphie (Jake Goodman, center) with the object of his holiday desire. Photo by Christian Brown.

Perhaps the best summary of A Christmas Story: The Musical comes from a couple’s exchange during intermission at a recent performance. “It’s so ridiculous!” said one. “I know, said the other. “And that’s why it’s so wonderful. I need to make all of my friends come see it.” If the volume of laughter is any measure, that performance’s audience wholeheartedly agreed.

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ARTS REVIEW | Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker inspires awe at Orpheum Theatre

Photo courtesy Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker

When a speechless performance can get the crowd at Orpheum Theatre to applaud and give “woos,” there’s something magical about what’s being presented on stage and the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker was no exception.

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Workhouse's Greenhouse Project features Deborah Yarchun in Public Reading Series

Minneapolis-based playwright Deborah Yarchun is a two-time Jerome Fellowship winner at the Playwrights’ Center. She is also the subject of a hat trick of play readings at the Workhouse Project, including tonight’s free reading of her play Portmanteaux at the Warren Artists Habitat in the Victory neighborhood of Camden. The Daily Planet sat down with Workhouse Vice President Bethany Hummel to discuss this unusual programming concentration.

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THEATER REVIEW | Killing Joke Production's "The Booby Trap": Not a Norman Rockwell family Christmas portrait

James (Greg Hernandez), Kieran (Matthew Kelly), Marcy (Sarah Broude), Franklin (Douglas Stewart), and Zina (Victoria LaChelle) gather for an unfortunate holiday family dinner in Hey Rube and Killing Joke's Booby Trap; photography by Richard Molby

If you like your holiday family entertainment named after strip clubs, have Hey Rube and Killing Joke Productions got a play for you. It’s called The Booby Trap. Now, when I say holiday family entertainment, I mean that it’s entertainment that’s set around a holiday (in this case, Christmas time) in which a family is present. This is not a play you bring grandma or the kids to see. Not that there’s anything highly outrageous going on—oh, there’s a fair amount of swearing, alcoholism, depending on your tolerance level—blasphemy, and a costume for one of the actresses that doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination. But no violence, and while the comedy is certainly on the dark side, it’s by no means pitch black. The Booby Trap is, however, a play that prompts discomfort. For every audience member who was laughing throughout the new one act play by Marcus Anthony, there were also folks like me sitting there thinking, “Man, this is one sad comedy. I feel really bad for these people.”

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"Irving Berlin's White Christmas" at the Orpheum Theatre: Checking cheer off your list

White Christmas. The seemingly redundant title that promises simplicity and holiday cheer. The average American is all too familiar with the 1954 movie musical classic, starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. This is a show that is best enjoyed with family and while sipping hot cocoa. The production at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, follows Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, veterans of the Second World War turned powerhouse performing duo (played by James Clow and Jeremy Benton). The story revolves around the wise-cracking pair as they chase after singing sisters Judy and Betty (Kaitlyn Davidson and Trista Moldovan) to Vermont during the Christmas season, expecting snow and instead getting romance, friendship and musical theater! It’s not a very heavy show in case you couldn’t tell by the title. Accompanied by beautiful tunes by Irvin Berlin, this is a story that is inside many Americans’ Christmas memories.

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