Arts Orbit Radar: 11/19/09

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What’s Happening This Week


Thursday, November 19


On the radar: Before the holiday Nutcracker daze sets in, treat yourself to a long cool drink of inventive contemporary dance at the Ritz, where Zenon Dance Company’s 27th fall season opens tonight.


Under the radar: Quietly, two of the Twin Cities’ best and most inventive playmakers are rolling out new productions today. At Bedlam, Jeune Lune co-founder Barbara Berlovitz is premiering Stories as Told in a Bed, a show about the experiences of her Lithuanian immigrant grandfather. (Among the ensemble of performers is our writer Sheila Regan.) Meanwhile, at the Children’s Theatre, Jon Ferguson and a cast of young actors are performing Gregory Gregorson and the Magic Pinto Bean, a show that “contains extreme flatulence, troll dating, intimidating Boy Scouts, temporary paralysis, L.P. records, naked album covers, a mom of the wig-wearing kind, and talk of decorative ducks.”


Friday, November 20


On the radar: “Hearing 1,000-plus people shouting ‘sexy ass me’ when Brother Ali performs crowd favorite ‘Forest Whitiker’ is still one of my favorite hip-hop moments,” writes Justin Schell. If you can squeeze your sexy ass into Ali’s sold-out homecoming show tonight at First Ave, you won’t regret it.


Under the radar: Tonight at the Nash Gallery, spoken-word artist IBé will perform to celebrate the opening of Talking Suitcases, an exhibit of suitcases filled with handmade objects that tell the personal stories of a diverse group of Minnesotans.


Saturday, November 21


On the radar: Tradition gets a rebooting today at two of Minnesota’s biggest cultural institutions, as the Walker opens a new display of work from its permanent collection and the Guthrie debuts a streamlined 35th anniversary production of A Christmas Carol.


Under the radar: Today from 10:00 a.m. until about 10:01 a.m. is your opportunity to get tickets for U2’s June 27 show at TCF Bank Stadium.






Sunday, November 22


On the radar: First Ave’s weekend of local love ends with another sold-out show: Mason Jennings, whose (relatively) dark new album Blood of Man has been winning praise from all quarters.


Under the radar: At Plymouth Congregational Church, a concert this evening will honor the life, music, and memory of towering cellist—and, not incidentally, peacemaker—Pablo Casals.


Monday, November 23


On the radar: The Splendid Things Show claims that tickets to tonight’s improv comedy show at the BLB are worth at least $80, but a Hamilton is all it’ll cost you tonight to see “two of the region’s, nay, the nation’s, finest improvisational talents,” Jill Bernard and Lauren Anderson.


Under the radar: Some of the Twin Cities’ coolest people have worked the counter at the Electric Fetus, and one Fetus alumna just had a very uncool thing happen to her. Beth Engleman was injured in a hit-and-run accident, and tonight at the West Bank Social Center, her friends are throwing a benefit bash. If you’re roaming the West Bank, stop by and have a drink for Beth’s clavicles.


Tuesday, November 24


On the radar: If you want to see a vast number of holiday lights, you could print out one of those maps and go driving all over Coon Rapids—or you could make it easy on yourself and just cruise by Lake Phalen tonight, when the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ annual display opens for gawking. (And if you think the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers messes around when it comes to holiday lights, then brother, you don’t know the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.)


Under the radar: When I was 15, my cool older cousin Sara took me to the Entry to see an all-ages show by Run Westy Run. Then we crossed over to the Mainroom, where they were holding a dance night that involved Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Fear (of the Unknown)” being played over silent video of the Tom Cruise fantasy epic Legend. I found twenty bucks on the stairs, and I felt I had somehow become a man. You can replicate my youthful epiphany tonight at Clubhouse Jäger (probably minus the twenty bucks, but plus beer, which I was afraid of until I got to college); Legend is screening at l’etoile magazine’s weekly Jägercon.


Wednesday, November 25


On the radar: New Year’s is overrated—the best party night of the year is Thanksgiving Eve, and the best party in town is at First Ave, where Ike Reilly annually holds court.


Under the radar: Today sees the release of the new Wes Anderson movie—which also happens to be an adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel The Fantastic Mr. Fox, rendered in stop-motion animation. (Have no fear, it still features Bill Murray.)


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Daily Planet Arts Roundup


Books


All of a sudden, authors of weighty tomes are the new hotness. (And yes, I’m aware that the phrase “the new hotness” is not the new hotness.) Last week John Irving packed ComedySportz, and this week political philosopher Michael Sandel sold out the Varsity. Two of our writers had much quieter, more contemplative, and (possibly) more boring experiences with books this week: Becki Iverson writes about Sue Leaf’s The Bullhead Queen and Sheila Regan took on Paul Gruchow’s Journal of a Prairie Year. Marinda Bland enjoyed Joanna Rawson’s stimulating poetry, and I caught up on my children’s book reading: Chris Monroe’s Monkey With a Tool Belt; George Ella Lyon’s My Friend, the Starfinder; and Kathy-jo Wargin’s Moose on the Loose.


Movies


I belatedly resumed my Coenathon, reviewing the disappointing The Man Who Wasn’t There and the perfectly tolerable Intolerable Cruelty.


Music


Tara Bannow reports on an amendment before the Minneapolis City Council that would allow more small venues to host live music. Speaking of live music, this week I caught the Fiery Furnaces at the Turf Club and the Minnesota Opera’s disappointing Casanova’s Homecoming at the Ordway. Coming up this week, jazz vocalist Nancy Harms will be at the Dakota and Brother Ali will be triumphantly concluding his national tour on home turf at First Ave. Local legend Willie Murphy is still recovering from a broken arm, but Ed Felien adds his voice to the chorus praising Murphy’s new “instant classic” album A Shot of Love in a Time of Need.


Theater


I caught Martha Graham’s Clytemnestra, one of the last big shows before the holiday blitz…did someone say holiday blitz?! Yes, and it’s here. Our first three holiday-show reviews: Sheila Regan on CTC’s goofy-for-kids Cinderella, Rebecca Collins on BNW’s goofy-for-grownups Brett Favre’s Christmas Spectacular, and me on the Jungle’s not-the-least-bit-goofy Seafarer. In other theater news, Nora Leinen caught up with zAmya Theater Project as they rehearsed their new show and Mary Thoemke got the scoop on a movement to save St. Paul’s Victoria Theatre.


Visual Arts


Crystal Erickson wishes a happy birthday to the American Swedish Institute, whose riches are cataloged in a new exhibit called 80 Years Young.


Dining


Our writers were all over the map this week, and they made some delicious discoveries. Jeremy Iggers enjoyed the Ecuadorian mixed grill at La Cocina Latina; Amy Rea went to Hell (or at least its kitchen) and lived to tell the tale; Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper Pop!!ed in to the new place downtown St. Paul; and Tom Laventure visited Saigon Restaurant in its new location.


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