Thursday, July 29, 2010

Theater Latte Da at Lake Harriet

Last night I attended Theater Latte Da's concert Latte Da in the Park at the Lake Harriet Pavilion in Minneapolis. It was a gorgeous evening for outdoor music, and would have been a perfect night if I had won the raffle for a trip to NYC and gotten my ice cream (note if you go to a Lake Harriet concert - the concession line is the slowest moving line I've ever seen, I got in line 20 minutes before the show started, there were maybe 8 people in front of me, and when the concert started there were still 3 people in front of me, so I gave up). But other than that, it was wonderful evening of showtunes.

Theater Latte Da is my favorite local theater (not counting the Guthrie). According to their mission, "Theater Latté Da seeks to create new connections between story, music, artist, and audience by exploring and expanding the art of musical theater." That's something they do beautifully; their productions are always very well-done and their choices are unique and interesting and really serve to move musical theater forward. Yesterday they announced their 2010-2011 season: Evita, All is Calm, Song of Extinction, and Steerage Song. All really interesting choices that I'm looking forward to.

There were five singers, accompanied by Latte Da's music director Denise Prosek on the keyboard (artistic director Peter Rothstein was also there to announce the new season). I've seen Sasha Andreev in several shows, most recently Tom Stoppard's Rock and Roll at Park Square Theater and Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Guthrie (both are plays, but he played a singing role). Erin Capello and Kahlil Queen are in the upcoming production of Evita, and Whitney Rhodes was in last year's hilarious and moving The Full Monty. I've never seen Jennifer Grimm before but I loved her voice; at times she reminded me of Judy Garland, at other times, Rosemary Clooney. She has that classic 40s/50s deep rich voice (check out her website).

On to the songlist, from what I can remember. I wish they had passed out the songlist because there were a few songs I could identify. But here's what I could:

Sasha first sang a song from West Side Story (I think it was "Something's Coming" but for some reason I'm having trouble remembering). Other songs were "Mr. Cellophane" from Chicago and something about flying a kite. But my favorite song that he did was "Run Away with Me" from the musical The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown by Kerrigan and Lowdermilk. I've previously heard this song in this youtube video of Aaron Tveit (who wowed me in Next to Normal on Broadway last year). I dare you to watch it and not swoon. :)

Erin has a great musical theater voice and sang several great musical theater songs, including "Meadowlark" from The Baker's Wife (which I saw Patti LuPone sing earlier this year), "Diva's Lament" from Spamalot, and another Kerrigan and Lowdermilk song, "My Party Dress," in which she's a little girl dreaming of her future and trying not to spill on her party dress.

Jennifer sang a few original songs that she had written. One about how she missed Minneapolis and St. Paul when she was in New York (which mentioned the cherry and spoon!) and an update of "Anything Goes."

Whitney sang "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl, one of the best musical theater songs ever. She also sang a hilarious song about how she was always relegated to the chorus and never got to sing the melody. Whitney and Jennifer also did a beautiful sort of duet. Jennifer sang "Dulcinea" from Man of La Mancha, followed by Whitney's beautiful rendition of "Someone to Watch Over Me," which then morphed into a duet as they both sang their songs together (I guess that's what Glee calls a "mash-up" ;).

Kahlil started the show with a song from one of my favorites of this year, "Let it Sing" from Violet (the final show of Latte Da's 2009-2010 season). He also sang a song from one of my all time faves, the haunting "Left Behind" from Spring Awakening. Kahlil and Sasha did a beautiful duet of "I'll Cover Me" from another all time fave, RENT, which just made me smile. So I guess Kahlil wins the gold star for singing the most songs from my favorite shows!

The group also sang "Blues In the Night" together and ended the show with selections from Evita: "Night of a Thousand Stars" (Sasha), "High Flying Adored" (Kahlil), "Star Quality" (Jennifer), and of course, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" (Erin).

Another feature of the evening was the little kids who were dancing in the area in front of the stage. At one point there were about ten little girls holding hands and running around in a circle and laughing. Some people might have found this distracting, but the musicians, professionals that they are, weren't distracted at all. I thought it just added to the charm of the evening. A beautiful night by Lake Harriet, great showtunes sung by talented performers, and the laughter of children. What could be better? Besides ice cream. :)