THEATER | “Dial M for Murder” at the Jungle Theater: Spoiler alert

As any American who takes in an evening of opera can vouch, there’s something a bit out of place about the art form. I’m not talking about the need for English supertitles (although a little reading never hurt anyone). And obese strangers rambling about what they love or hate has become startlingly commonplace (thanks, YouTube). No, I’m talking about a long-standing practice that can make any Yankee wrinkle his or her nose before the orchestra even plays a note: the damn program.

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“Welcome to Our Neighborhood” at the Cedar Cultural Center: On the street where they live

“It’s not a scary neighborhood; it’s very friendly. I usually get lunch at the market right over there.” Hamdi Mohamed points across Cedar Avenue. “I’ve probably gained a few pounds,” she jokes. Mohamed, 18, doesn’t live in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood but, thanks to a joint production between Bedlam Theatre and Mixed Blood Theatre, she now has a gaggle of new Cedar-Riverside friends.Their message? Cedar-Riverside is not the neighborhood many Minnesotans think it is. Continue Reading

THEATER | “Our Town” by Yellow Tree Theatre: Excellent “community” theater

Look sharp, friends: this unassuming little show in, of all places, Osseo is poised to be among the finest Twin Cities theater offerings in 2011. Bold words for mid-February, but Yellow Tree Theatre’s latest is a winning effort that throws the gauntlet down to its metropolitan cousins.I happened to meet company cofounder Jessica Peterson before the show, and we talked about some of the difficulties of producing work outside the Minneapolis/St. Paul city limits. “We’re a theater in the community,” she explained, “not a ‘community theater.'” Her distinction is valid; too often, theater-goers (both veterans and newbies) can fall into the trap of thinking the downtown brick-and-mortar titans are “theater as it should be,” while suburb-based community theaters are automatically assumed to be drawing on amateur talent. It’s only fair, then, that the sterling product of a “theater in the community” should be all about (surprise!) community.our town, presented at yellow tree theatre through march 6. Continue Reading