THEATER REVIEW | History Theatre’s “Capital Crimes” don’t quite get off scot-free

Being a big history buff of the gangster era in St. Paul, I always thought that the stories of the Barker-Karpis gang warranted their own play. But the History Theatre did better: it made not only a play based on them, it produced a play about the whole gang. The current production of Capital Crimes: The St. Paul Gangster Musical is a revival of the theatre’s 2000 production of The Gangster Musical, which was written by David Hawley with music and lyrics by Drew Jansen. In this latest version of the musical, the show has been tweaked and songs have been added. Noah Bremer directs this new version with interesting, but sometimes mixed results.

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THEATER | “T Bone N Weasel” by Theatre Pro Rata: It’s like “Of Mice and Men,” without all that pesky tragedy to bring you down

You wouldn’t think that a story of two inept petty thieves cycling in and out of the prison system with no hope for a better future would be a ripe breeding ground for comedy, but that’s Jon Klein’s T Bone N Weasel for you. It finds comedy in racism, illiteracy, recidivism, homelessness, religion, bankruptcy, political opportunism, guns, mental illness, and prostitution, just to name a few. It’s such an amusing, genial little travelogue, it’s sort of like Of Mice and Men, without all that pesky tragedy to bring you down.

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THEATER | “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding” by Minnesota Jewish Theatre: Unapologetically political, completely adorable

When you pick up a ticket for a play entitled My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding (currently in production at the Minnesota Jewish Theatre), you sort of know what you’re signing up for as an audience member. However, when I first got the assignment to review the show, I didn’t notice that it was also a musical. Or that the play started its life as a big hit in the Toronto Fringe Festival. My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding is unapologetically political, and completely adorable.

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FREE SPEECH ZONE | Most Memorable Theater Productions and Venues for 2011

The Twin Cities has some of the best theater, in both large and small venues! My top events, in no particular order, include the following:Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases.Red Resurrected by Isabel Nelson at the Fringe. Phenomenal telling of an Appalachian story with bare bones technical support and all sound affects created by the cast!Anna Bella Emma by Lisa D’Amour by Theatre Unbound. Also a small venue, great theater company dedicated to works by, for, and about women. The cast also provide an eerie array of sound and music cues. Continue Reading

THEATER | Frank Theatre’s “Ajax in Iraq”: War is hell, we get it

It makes a lot of sense to do an updated version of Sophocles’s Ajax in light of the Iraq War finally coming to an end and the U.S. seeing to the task of supporting veterans as they return home. The play is about the mythological character of Ajax, a war hero who, angry that Odysseus rather than Ajax was given Achilles’s armor, seeks revenge. But due to Athena messing with his mind, Ajax murders and tortures a bunch of animals, thinking they are his enemies, and then when he realizes the truth of his actions, kills himself on his own sword.

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Twin Cities TOSCA honors Twin Cities Daily Planet and others for contributions to the arts

On Thursday night, Twin Cities Media Alliance executive director Jeremy Iggers and I were on hand at the Nina Bliese Gallery to accept a TOSCAR award from Exploring TOSCA publisher Gail Weber. TOSCA is an acronym for Theater, Opera, Shakespeare, Culture, and Art, and about every year, Weber chooses one individual or organization in each of those five categories for recognition with a TOSCAR. Continue Reading