THEATER REVIEW | Park Square Theatre’s “Good People” asks important questions about class, race, and inequality

Shades of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman underlie the opening scene of Good People. Like Willie Loman, the central character, Margie, is being fired by a manager: a young man that she has known since he was a baby. Margie is a 50-year-old mother of a severely disabled adult daughter and her daughter’s care needs result in her chronic lateness. Despite her pleas, Margie loses her $9.15 an hour job as a cashier at a dollar store. The job wasn’t much, but it was all that she had to pay for rent and food. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | “Sweet Revenge” is good fun at the Minnesota Centennial Showboat

A delightfully campy, if somewhat convoluted, melodrama can be seen this summer at the Minnesota Centennial Showboat. Annually, the University of Minnesota recreates melodramas from the previous two centuries where the audience is expected to cheer the heroes and boo the villains. Peter Moore directs an energetic cast of University students in this year’s production of Sweet Revenge, which was written by Lillian Motimer and originally premiered in 1905.

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THEATER REVIEW | “Urinetown” at the Jungle Theater: An exuberant musical about micturition

If I had to describe the production of Urinetown at the Jungle Theater in a single word, it would be “exuberance.”  John Command directs an energetic and talented group of singers and dancers to tell the tale of a world where water is scarce and the ability to relieve oneself is limited by the size of one’s pocketbook. Micturition seems like an unlikely topic for a rousing musical, but this show radiates exuberance and provides for a very entertaining evening.Mark Hollmann wrote the music and lyrics, with Greg Kotis providing the book and lyrics. Kotis developed the idea for the show when he encountered pay-per-use toilets in Europe. The show originally opened as part of the New York Fringe Festival. It opened on Broadway in 2001 and ran for three years, winning three Tony Awards. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | Yellow Tree Theatre’s “Stay Tuned” is stuck between stations

Yellow Tree Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Stay Tuned, a new musical concerning an eclectic radio show reminiscent of A Prairie Home Companion.  The musical was created by Yellow Tree artists Blake Thomas, Mary Fox, and Andy Frye, who also play three of the major roles. The music performances alone make the show worth attending. However, the story and motivations of the characters clearly need some work to make this musical a great show.The plays action revolves around a 50-year-old live radio show called The Emerald Coffee Radio Hour. The owner and host of the show has died and his son Gordon, played by Ryan Nelson, has inherited the show that presented varied musical performers over the years, including Patsy Cline, and Dean Martin. Scotty, Rusty, and Emma provide the original music, commercial jingles, and comedy skits for the show.The three remaining cast members continue to believe in the show’s rich legacy. Gordon, on the other hand, has no appreciation or love for his father’s previous work and is seeking to make changes. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | “Miss Richfield 1981 2012: We’ll All Be Dead By Christmas” is as offensive as promised

No need to worry about Christmas shopping, because the ancient Mayan Calendar predicts the end of the world on December 21, 2012. What’s more, according to Miss Richfield 1981, the Mexicans have something to do with it. Such is the premise of Illusion Theater’s holiday show titled Miss Richfield 1981 2012: We’ll All Be Dead By Christmas. Russ King has returned to the Twin Cities to play his legendary Miss Richfield 1981. He puts on an entertaining, interactive show that promises to offend some, if not all, in the audience.

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THEATER REVIEW | Brave New Workshop’s “Fifty Shades of White: A Minnesota XXXmas” shows another side of Santa

The Brave New Workshop has opened with their annual seasonal show, this year titled Fifty Shades of White: A Minnesota XXXmas. Unlike their seasonal shows for the past few years, this is all new material. Many of the skits, with an emphasis on the naughty side of Christmas, are high-energy and hilarious—but I did miss the usual rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas” which was always the highlight of past seasonal shows.

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THEATER REVIEW | With “Next to Normal,” Mixed Blood Theatre Company does better than Broadway

Mixed Blood Theatre Company recently opened its season with an ambitious production of the musical Next to NormalNormal won the 2009 Tony Awards for Best Original Score, Best Orchestration, and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley). The Broadway touring company staring Alice Ripley played last year at the Ordway and comparisons with this production are inevitable. But having seen both, I prefer the current production at Mixed Blood.

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THEATER REVIEW | Children’s Theatre Company’s “Buccaneers”: A little song, a little dance, a threat of death at point of lance

The world premiere of Buccaneers, a new pirate musical, opened this last weekend at the Children’s Theatre Company. Playwright Liz Duffy Adams partnered with composer Ellen Maddow to create a play that is very entertaining and surprisingly educational but at the same time somewhat alarming with its numerous bloodthirsty references.

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