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THEATER REVIEW | "Buddy—The Buddy Holly Story" at highlights the singer's musical inspiration at History Theatre

Photo courtesy History Theatre

I missed the first two times that Buddy—The Buddy Holly Story played at History Theatre, but I had heard it was a lot of fun.  On its third go-round, I made a point to finally catch it and I can confirm that this show is great fun. History Theatre is co-producing this Alan Jane’s play with the McNally Smith College of Music. Director Ron Peluso and musical director Gary Rue provide an entertaining production that seeks more to recreate the early excitement of rock and roll rather than to simply tell a rock biopic.  


THEATER REVIEW | "Irving Berlin's White Christmas" woos at the Orpheum Theatre

Photo credit Kevin White

For my family, White Christmas is the official start of the holiday season; my sister makes sure we watch it every year the day after Thanksgiving—it’s become a tradition for us. With that said, I went into the opening night of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical on November 25 at the Orpheum Theatre with a little bit of a bias. It’s near impossible to live up to the bass-baritone Bing Crosby and tap-dancing Danny Kaye, but it’s hardly fair to compare the 1954 classic with the musical. Ultimately, the movie and the travelling production does what it should do and inspires the warm and fuzzies just in time for the holidays.


THEATER REVIEW | "Witness for the Prosecution" twists and turns at Theatre in the Round

(Photo courtesy Theatre in the Round)

Murder mystery fans are in for a treat at Theatre in the Round’s current production of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution. Set in post-war London of the 1950s, the play is a “who done it” with numerous plot twists and turns that keeps the audience guessing until the very last scene. Lynn Musgrave directs the play in vintage-style, letting the audience follow the unraveling of the mystery. 


THEATER REVIEW | Fire Drill's "Absolute Bliss": Where West Coast and Midwest choreography meet

(Photo courtesy of Aniccha Arts) One of the performers in Fire Drill's showcase of Minneapolis, Portland and Oakland dancers, Absolute Bliss

It’s nice to know I can always count on Fire Drill (Billy Mullaney and Emily Gastineau) to put the sort of performance in front of me that I probably wouldn’t run across myself if left to my own devices. Since they’re artists I trust because I enjoy their work, and they see all manner of other performers when they’re out and about touring around the country, I figure if there’s a group of artists they’ve gathered together for a showcase, it’s going to be worth checking out. The first such showcase of theirs I saw, Bring In The Indigo, confirmed this. So when I got word they were doing it again, this time at Bedlam Theatre with performers from the West Coast (Oakland and Portland), calling it Absolute Bliss, I knew it’d be worth checking out.


Democratic Visions: The Theater of Public Policy exposed

(Still from video below)

The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2) will command just two more Monday evenings at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater as it wraps its October/November run. The improv comedy company has fashioned shows that blend elements of the Charlie Rose, Match Game and Whose Line Is It? television shows into an informative, literally live, laugh fest.


THEATER REVIEW | Sandbox Theatre's "Killer Inside": Musical theater, more like jukebox prison

Theo Langason (foreground) leads the ensemble in song in Sandbox Theatre's prison musical, Killer Inside; photography by Matthew Glover

Not surprisingly, when Sandbox Theatre decides to do a musical, it isn’t like any standard musical you’ve seen or heard. This musical takes place in prison, and not the kind of musical prison Elvis Presley might recognize. More like the kind of prison you see on the reality TV series Lockup. In fact, Killer Inside is more like a prison jukebox. There isn’t typical musical theater plot or lead characters you can follow from the beginning through to the end. Everyone in the ensemble plays multiple roles. The audience gets to hear the murderous inmates of the prison recount their stories one by one, and these stories are so full of feeling that eventually they just have to burst into song and dance to fully express themselves. 


THEATER REVIEW | Nimbus Theatre translates August Strindberg's "Ghost Sonata"

nimbus theatre, located in NE Minneapolis, is currently featuring a fantastically surreal Ghost Sonata by August Strindberg. Rarely translated to English, well, probably any language these days, it's a rare chance to see an undersold classic.


THEATER REVIEW | Open Eye Figure Theatre's "The Juniper Tree": A message of hope in a Brothers Grimm tale

Photo by Mark Vancleave. Julian McFaul as the Father, Robert Rosen as the Stepmother. 

In The Juniper Tree, Open Eye Figure Theatre delves into the dark and twisted minds of the Brothers Grimm, recreating a charming children’s story full of murder and cannibalism. Even with the gruesome bits, you’re probably okay to take the kids—hopefully they won’t be scarred for life after watching the black pudding scene.


THEATER REVIEW | Theatre Coup d’Etat pokes fun with "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)"

(foreground) Romeo (James Napoleon Stone) is unconvinced by Benvolio (Peter Beard) as the narrator (Adam Scarpello) looks on in the first of 37 rapid-fire deconstructions in The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged); photo courtesy of Theatre Coup d'Etat

It was bound to happen. Theatre Coup d’Etat has spent so much time taking Shakespeare seriously that they were destined to stick a pin in Shakespeare at some point and have a little fun with him. The perfect play with which to do this, of course, is Jess Borgeson, Adam Long, and Daniel Singer’s accelerated comedy tour of Shakespeare’s plays The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). The wacky play shows its Fringe Festival origins, being extremely simple to produce, requiring only three actors to get the job done.


THEATER REVIEW | Casting Spells Productions' "Disenchanted!: A New Musical Comedy That Gives Fairy Tales the Bird" does just that at Illusion Theater

The cast of Disenchanted! sing their wishes in "Once Upon A Time". Photo courtesy of Casting Spells Productions, LLC.

Disenchanted!: A New Musical Comedy That Gives Fairy Tales the Bird is a very timely show. In the past year, numerous memes have swept across the Internet critiquing the tropes of Disney fairy tale princesses, roasting the company’s brand management for altering beloved characters’ body proportions, and presenting alternative takes on everything from costume designs to post-credit-aftermath to the fundamental morals derived from the stories that the company has adapted. At the same time, the Disney/Pixar steamroller continues to cut across (and, according to some, pillage) cultures, with millions of official Frozen Elsa costumes reportedly sold in the lead-up to Halloween. That these trends do not sit well together gives ripe potential for comedy, and this show cleverly revels in those tensions.

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