THEATER REVIEW: Stepping out of the River at Dawn

Mixed Blood Theatre arguably brandishes the strongest track record in Twin Cities’theatre scene for living up to its espoused mission to honor cultural diversity.  Be it issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, politics, the shop’s founding artistic director Jack Reuler has, since 1976, sustained a hallmark of social comment cum theatrical expression. Last week, this season closed, conventionally anyway, with Pussy Valley, humanizing sex-industry working women.  Convention being never having been Reuler’s long suit, he’s tagged on, for this coming weekend, the conclusion of Mixed Blood’s 55454 Series, limited-run productions to do with Africans and Muslims in America.  It began in January with Yussef El Guindi’s Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World. Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | Rush rocks hard at the Xcel Center

It wouldn’t take a detective of Holmesian skill to immediately notice upon entrance to Xcel that Rush draws a die-hard crowd. Even ignoring overhearing a gentleman letting a total stranger know that he has been to “every Rush show since I was 14, and I’m 52 now,” it was clear by the sheer amount of Rush merch that the majority of those in attendance were rocking that this was really not anyone’s first rodeo. These folks knew exactly what they were into. Any by God, were they ready. Aside from the upper level, who can be forgiven for not standing because that can be quite a vertigo-inducing situation, there was not a fan in attendance who wasn’t on their feet from the time that curtain rose to the time that show finished. Continue Reading

MUSIC PHOTOS | All Time Low at Myth

A mostly younger crowd packed the Myth Live Event Center in Maplewood, Minnesota Monday, May 11 and let it be known they are huge fans of pop, punk, rock band All Time Low. Bandmates Alex Gaskarth, Jack Barakat, Rian Dawson and Zack Merrick recognized their fans enthusiasm immediately and rewarded their supporters with a first-rate performance. This group has the ability to elevate the quality of their songs for the live experience and always bring a lot of fun to the stage. The Future Hearts Tour in support of their sixth studio album with the same name also included a solid cast of supporting acts including Issues, Tonight Alive and State Champs. ©2015 Patrick Dunn Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | Mary Chapin Carpenter sings her stories at State Theatre

Mary Chapin Carpenter, the five-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter with a 13-album catalog, returned to Minneapolis to play sans mosquitoes (her last Minnesota performance was at the MN Zoo Amphitheatre) at the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s State Theatre on May 2. It was an acoustic performance featuring her long-time friends and extraordinary musicians, John Carroll on keyboards and John Doyle on guitars and bouzouki. Chastity Brown, a relative newcomer to singer-songwriter fame, opened with a 30-minute set featuring, among others, “Solely,” “Colorado,” and “When We Get There.” Ms. Brown sings with an old soul’s expertise and resonance. She has guts and she’s not afraid to show that. Her performance was acoustic—impassioned and spirited—interspersed with charming personal points of reference to how she made her way to Minnesota from Tennessee. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | “The Illumination” at the Southern Theater: A visual and aural feast

One of the reasons I was looking forward to the first year of ARTshare programming at the Southern Theater was the inclusion of dance companies in the mix of resident artists. After all, the Southern is a great venue in which to see dance, and I don’t see enough dance outside of the Minnesota Fringe Festival each year. I figured having access to regular programming by dance companies already slotted into my schedule would get me out of my habit of only managing to see dance for one week in August. I knew of Black Label Movement, but I hadn’t actually seen one of their shows. Their latest presentation, The Illumination, made me take a closer look at their name. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW I 20% Theatre Company’s “Q-Stage: Set B”: Greek tragedy in drag and more

You know you’re a theater geek when you don’t really read the program before watching the show and then suddenly realize, “Oh, wait a minute, this is a drag version of Euripides’ Greek tragedy The Trojan Women” – and this revelation makes you fall in love with the play almost immediately. That was part of the fun of watching And She Would Stand Like This, a play in drag as part of Set B in 20% Theatre Company’s latest iteration of their Q-Stage new works program playing at Intermedia Arts. Even if you read the program more carefully than I did and were clued into the source material ahead of time, it’s also fun to see how they take that source and update it. Oh, the names remain the same, that’s the giveaway, but the context for the different relationships have shifted. Rather than the aftermath of the Trojan War, we’re in a modern day time of plague – though the plague is unnamed, you can fill in the blank for yourself fairly quickly. Continue Reading

The Gospel at Colonus

Once upon a time, in 1983, there was The Gospel at Colonus (New Video NYC) a groundbreaking, Obie Award winning triumph that inarguably stands the proverbial test of time. It is an ingenious hallmark, at once culturally specific and completely universal, showcasing the pure power of soul in a classic, mainstream accessible aesthetic. Nothing quite like it had been done before, not since, say, Porgy and Bess. Colonus also happens to strongly represent Twin Cities talent. Adapted and directed by Lee Bruer with music by Bob Telson, it starred Morgan Freeman and Clarence Fountain and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. Continue Reading

Art in Bloom: Timeless art and fresh flowers at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Last weekend, April 30 – May 3, spring sprouted inside and out at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) 32nd annual Art in Bloom where florists create arrangements that match, balance, mirror or somehow bounce off 150 works of art around the museum. We visited twice and I still feel like we weren’t able to take it all in but we enjoyed trying! The first treat were the flower arrangements by Steven Ward of Arts and Flowers Design Studio around the Chinese Guardian Lions that are as sentries for the 24th Street entrance. It was also part of the MIA 52 birthday surprises. The 24th Street entrance usually feels like the gorgeous forgotten sister but for one weekend it got all dressed up in bold red and orange colors making it both welcoming and majestic. Continue Reading

“Jersey Boys” by the numbers

Jersey Boys has 33 songs in its score, drawing off a song catalog that sold 175 million records worldwide and several cover songs from the Four Seasons’s early years. Many of the show’s other numbers are quite impressive. Number of People in the Company: 52

Actors: 19
Musicians: 10
Crew: 14

Largest Number of Roles Played by an Actor: 18 (Leslie Rochette)
Number of Distinct Costumes and Looks: 196

Pairs of Shoes Worn per Performance: 87
Most costume changes for a lead character: 15 (for Frankie Valli)

Valli’s quick changes: 12
Valli’s shortest quick change: 15 seconds

Fastest costume change overall: 9 seconds (“My Eyes Adored You”

Lighting

609 lighting cues
401 fixed lights + 96 PAR lamps for concert lighting
77 moving lights

©2015 Basil Considine Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | “Jersey Boys” shines at the Orpheum Theatre

November 6 of this year will mark the 10th anniversary of Jersey Boys’ opening on Broadway. For a show that starts with “Oh, what a night!” this means an awful lot of nights of rocking the charts 60s-style. So what does it mean when this show tour – still running after nine years on the road – touches down on Hennepin Ave? Is the magic still there? The answer to the second question is, “Yes.” The answer to the first is, “If you haven’t seen it already, buy your tickets for a ride on an amazing musical rollercoaster.” The show production is a tightly paced, comedic yet affectingly serious journey through a profoundly varied song catalog of hits. Continue Reading