Should you choose to see Theatre in the Round’s production of Treasure Island, your evening may go something like this: an usher takes you to your seat, walking you across the treasure map painted on the stage, and the first thing you notice is the smell of wood and smoke. When you take your seat, you realize you never left the set at all, because rigging and seagulls and pirate paraphernalia adorn the walls around you. Then the lights come down, the waves roll, and the story begins. You join Billy Bones in singing “Dead Man’s Chest” in spite of yourself. Soon Jim and the pirates are dashing through the aisles beside you and perching in the balconies above you, and you wonder for a split second if you remembered to feed the cat before going in search of buried treasure.The audience doesn’t get caught up in the play because of its realism, but because of its imagination. Continue Reading
As the lights dim and the Children’s Theatre Company’s production of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is about to begin, a voice recites a poem, complete with Seuss-ian fantastical words and playful rhymes, asking audience members to turn off their electronic devices. Unfortunately, this is the most creative piece of writing in the show.
Upon entering The Sports Show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the viewer is greeted by a large screen playing a slapstick Buster Keaton silent film. As with many of the installations in this exhibit, you should stay and watch for a while—it charms when given enough time for appreciation.
There seems to be no limit to the number of times we need to be encouraged not to take life for granted. If anyone is in a position to remind us, it is Anne Frank, the girl who spent two years hiding from Nazis with seven other people in a loft they could never leave. In a line from Park Square Theatre’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne says to Peter, her fellow hider and almost boyfriend, “You know, someday, when we get out of here, let’s go for a walk.” Because a walk outside is something they can only dream of.
Perusing the program before the opening of Today Heaven Sings—Magnum Chorum’s Christmas concert—I noticed that nearly half of the selections were written or arranged by one of two former St. Olaf Choir directors, Kenneth Jennings and F. Melius Christiansen. I didn’t expect a great diversity of sounds. But throughout the concert, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the 50-voice chamber choir celebrate the season with an eclectic and varied selection of music. Some pieces weren’t quite to my taste, but I found the adventuresome spirit refreshing.
My friend Liz has a theory: When December approaches and there is no snow on the ground, recently retired St. Olaf College Pastor Bruce Benson picks up his red phone, the one that sits on his desk next to the regular old black phone and is only used for special calls, and tells God we need a white Christmas Festival.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Christmas Bells”—penned during the final year of the American Civil War—has morphed with time into “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” a familiar carol celebrating peace on earth. But we don’t often hear the darker verses of his poem. Mourning the crippling injury his son Charles suffered in the war, Longfellow wrote, “And in despair I bowed my head, ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said.”