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"Dirty Dancing" at the Orpheum Theatre: Maybe some movies should just remain movies

Once, The Lion King, Sister Act, Bring it On, Shrek…what do these movies have in common? All of them were turned into musicals. Some are fantastic adaptations that appeal to both the general musical theatre crowd and fans of the movie, but some only appeal to one of the two. Speaking as a dedicated musical theatre fan, I have to say that turning Dirty Dancing into a musical was a great idea, but the adaptation didn’t translate very well onto the stage.

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Class of '85: Pass me the Cheez Balls

Collide Theatrical’s “Class of ‘85” is midway through its two week spot at the Southern Theater. We scooped up tickets because, as self-appointed Gen X media monitors, we have a duty to support all plays, movies, and TV shows about the 1980s. There was another draw for our visit to the historic theater on Minneapolis’s West Bank as a high school buddy of mine is the lead female vocalist. There is a surreal sort of comfort watching your high school friend from the 80s perform in a play about high school in the 80s thirty years after the original spectacle.

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THEATER REVIEW | "Dirty Dancing" doesn't miss a beat at the Orpheum Theatre

Photo credit Matthew Murphy

If you're going to adapt a classic to the theater, you've got to deliver and they did. Eleanor Bergstein's Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage, doesn't miss a beat at Orpheum Theatre as the cast delivers the performance of their life.

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THEATER REVIEW | Freshwater Theatre's "The Man In Her Dreams": Like equal justice, a work in progress

Jabari Woods (Richard "Doc" Woods) and his wife Nikki (Rebecca Gebhart) in Freshwater Theatre's production of The Man In Her Dreams; Photo by Scott Pakudaitis

Even though I’ve been writing about theater created by people I know for a number of years now, with the Freshwater Theatre production of Katherine Glover’s new play The Man In Her Dreams I may have finally run across something with which I’m so familiar that it’s almost impossible to evaluate it objectively. In fact, I’ve already written an entirely different review that, upon re-reading, I’m scrapping in order to start over. That’s how turned around this play’s gotten me. I’m familiar with the theater company, the director, several of the actors, the playwright, the source material, and even seen parts of earlier drafts of the play worked through in a writing group of which I’m a part. Layer on top of that the fact that The Man In Her Dreams is dealing with sensitive issues of race and gender, guilt, innocence and justice, and it gets harder and harder to approach objectively as if I were an audience member who had never seen any of the material before, on the page or in performance.

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THEATER REVIEW | "Blood Brothers" thrills at The Chameleon Theatre Circle

Blood Brothers, a musical now playing at The Chameleon Theatre Circle in Burnsville, is one of the most popular shows that you’ve probably never heard of. This separated-at-birth drama played in London’s West End for more than 10,000 performances between 1988 and 2012, and crossed the Atlantic for a successful two-year run on Broadway. Why, you might ask, is this not a show that gets produced very often?

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Ritz Theater on road to recovery

(Photo by Gail Olson) Two guys were hauling stuff into the Ritz Theater last week.

Although this summer the Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE, hit a “bump in the road,”—as one board member put it—it is now struggling to its feet with a new business model, new tenants, and a temporary reprieve from the bank.

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THEATER REVIEW | Walking Shadow Theatre Company's "Gabriel": WWII tale with a twist

(Image by Dan Norman Photography) Estelle (Lily Wangerin), Gabriel (Ross Destiche), Lily (Miriam Schwartz), and Jeanne (Katherine Kupiecki) in Walking Shadow's production of Gabriel

I never know quite what to expect from Walking Shadow (which is a good thing). Their 10th Anniversary season kicks of with an old-fashioned story by a very modern storyteller, Gabriel, from award-winning English playwright Moira Buffini. It makes for a very entertaining evening of theater.

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THEATER REVIEW | BOOM! Theater's "Next Fall": When faith and sexuality collide

(Photo by Kim Pettengill) Adam (Josef Buchel) and Luke (Daniel R. Flohr) in BOOM! Theater's production of Next Fall

What if Adam (Josef Buchel) a gay man with no religious upbringing struck up a relationship with a younger gay man Luke (Daniel R. Flohr) who came from an evangelical Christian background? What if they moved in together? What if the young man kept putting off telling his parents Arlene and Butch (Julie Ann Nevill, H. William Kirsch) that he was gay, and that he was in a committed relationship for over three years? What if the young man was hit by a car, and his lover and those parents met for the first time at the hospital and were suddenly forced to deal with one another in an incredibly tense situation of crisis? Sounds like it could be a really compelling, moving play that explores the tension between religious faith and human sexuality, plus the evolving definition of family, right? Well, we got Next Fall, so it’s a start.

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BEHIND THE STORY | Towards a Minnesota aesthetic

In the over 50 years of the Guthrie’s Theater’s existence, it’s never had an Artistic Director that was from Minnesota. All of the Artistic Directors have come from either overseas or New York, with the exception being Garland Wright, who originally was from Dallas but was based in New York City when he was hired. Now there are many good reasons for this, mainly having to do with keeping the Guthrie as an institution with a national reputation, but I don’t see why, after all this time, we couldn’t have an Artistic Director whose career was nurtured right here in Minnesota.

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THEATER REVIEW | Minnesota Opera puts on Puccini with "La fanciulla del West"

(Photo by Michal Daniel) Sheriff Jack Rance (Greer Grimsley) calms himself before proposing to Minnie in La fanciulla del west.

The Twin Cities opera scene kicked into high gear on Saturday with Minnesota Opera’s annual gala and opening night of La fanciulla del west. The opera’s live performance at the Ordway was simulcast into neighboring Rice Park, courtesy of grants from the Knight Foundation and the St. Paul Cultural Star. The outdoor event drew an audience that began assembling more than two hours in advance and stuck out through a pre-show rainsquall.

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