Ordway Takes Damn Yankees into Extra Innings

From the doorman welcoming patrons to “Griffen Stadium,” to the hotdogs and beer for sale, Ordway Center blends baseball and Broadway in its revival of the 1955 smash musical show Damn Yankees. Though a bit dated, the Richard Adler and Jerry Ross musical, under the direction and choreography of James A. Rocco and Sharon Halley, shows one does not need to be a baseball fan to have an enjoyable summer evening at the ballpark. The musical is a re-telling of the Faustian story with Joe Boyd, a middle-age real estate agent, who is a die-hard fan of the Washington Senators (the team that later became the Minnesota Twins) in the 1950’s. The Senators can’t seem to beat the New York Yankees. Upset with the Senators’ latest loss, Joe cries out that if the team had a “long ball hitter” they could beat the “damn Yankees.”   He then seals his fate uttering: “I’d sell my soul for a long ball hitter.” On the spot pops in “Mr. Applegate” who takes Joe up on his offer. Continue Reading

“Don’t Buy Miss Saigon” unity rally, in pictures

Artists, organizers, and community members convened in a unity gathering in downtown St. Paul’s Rice Park last Tuesday, to bring attention to what they see as racially offensive imagery and messaging in the play “Miss Saigon,” which was touring at the Ordway Theater earlier this month. A coalition of Asian American organizers and allies have brought together artists, activists and community members over the past several weeks to bring local, and even national, attention to the problematic play. The Facebook page for the event reads, “‘Don’t Buy Miss Saigon’ Coalition has been organizing against the stereotypes and misconceptions perpetuated by the production of Miss Saigon and the fact that it has come back to the Ordway for the third time. The Coalition has created the October 8 event as an opportunity for local Asian Americans and our allies to come together in solidarity and to share our own truth about what it means to be Asian American.”Above are some pictures taken by community organizer, Xay Yang, and the event’s photographer, Anna Min. Yang said the event was very well attended. “It was intergenerational and people were mobilized and energized. The organizers were strategic in their planning and had put in so much passion into this. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Ordway Center’s Miss Saigon: The show must go on

On September 22, 2013, the Ordway Center hosted a Cultural Conversation about their up and coming musical Miss Saigon, which is about a young vietnamese prostitute falling love with an America G.I. during the Vietnam War. This conversation was moderated by Hamline professor Colleen Bell, and education and programming staff of the Ordway Center. The purpose of this community conversation was to “provide a framework for understanding conflict in the arts.” Throughout the conversation, the facilitator directed the conversation to different topics such as the value of Miss Saigon, education, and responsibility as viewers. It was a great conversation that the Ordway Center organized for the community. The only problem was that the community was nowhere to be found.With the Asian American community hurt and angry about the Ordway Center’s decision to continue showing Miss Saigon,  you’d think that the Ordway Center would do its best to reach out and invite Asian immigrantsor Asian American leaders or organizations to their ‘community conversation.’ But as I walked into the room, I quickly realized that out of the 50 or more people that were there, I was one out of five Asian Americans/ immigrants present. Continue Reading

“Immigration is not a black and white issue”: What I learned at the Mascaras y Milagros Cultural Conversations

On June 15, 2012 the Department of Homeland Security announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA). Now, individuals who immigrated to the United States as children and who meet certain eligibility requirements can defer deportation for two years. The deferment is subject to renewal, and eligible applicants can also apply for work authorization. Continue Reading

At Ordway-sponsored Cultural Conversations, Mexican-Minnesotans decry discrimination and call for better-informed discourse about immigration

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts’ two-week festival Mascaras y Milagros: Mexican Arts in Minnesota concluded on October 26 with a performance by jazz musician Poncho Sanchez. During the festival, the Ordway sponsored a series of art and cultural events that celebrated Mexican art and culture in Minnesota. A sequence of talks titled “Cultural Conversations” provided an opportunity for community leaders, activists, and artists to comment on relevant issues for Mexicans and Latinos. The two final conversations focused on immigration and spoken word.Editor’s note: Anna Hoeschen attended the Mascaras y Milagros Cultural Conversations and submitted two posts: an objective news report and an essay including her personal perspective. She asked which I’d prefer to publish, and I suggested that in the interest of opening a discussion about personal perspective in citizen journalism, we publish both. This is the news article; click here to read the writer’s personal perspective. Please share your own perspective in the comment section, below, or by submitting a response post to jay@tcdailyplanet.net. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | It’s a Felabration! “Fela!” shines at the Ordway

From the moment the lights go down and Fela Kuti strolls down an aisle towards the stage with both hands balled in fists, held high in the air, until the “encore” after the cast take their bows, Fela! is a triumph. The Broadway musical, which features the music and story of Nigerian musician and political figure Fela Anikulapo Kuti, has it all. The already energetic music played by an onstage band is given even more power by the blazing-fast moves of backup dancers and singers. The set and costume design are great. There are plenty of laughs and plenty of tragic moments, and they are all part of a compelling (and true) story.

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