Monday, November 21, 2011

"A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie Theater

The Christmas season has officially begun - we had our first snowfall here in the Twin Cities over the weekend, and I saw the Guthrie's annual production of A Christmas Carol last night.*  And even though the snow might melt shortly, A Christmas Carol continues through the end of the year.  So if you're looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit, this show will do it.  The themes of Charles Dickens' classic tale go beyond any religion or holiday; being kind to everyone, spending time with the people you love, appreciating what you have in life, and sharing with those less fortunate are ideas we can all stand to remember at all times of the year.

This year's show is fairly similar to last year's version, again using the new adaptation by Crispin Whittell and direction by Joe Dowling, with just enough tweaks to make it interesting for return customers.  The fabulous set (by Walt Spangler) is the same as last year, depicting a street scene with shop windows and a revolving centerpiece to reveal the inside of the office of Scrooge and Marley.  For the Fezziwig scenes a huge set of shelves with all kinds of goods rolls out for a backdrop.  There's some pretty amazing engineering going on.  Much of last year's cast returns, with some reshuffling and new blood added.

Highlights include: 
  • J.C. Cutler is a very convincing Scrooge, especially in his transformation to the joyful, generous man dancing through the streets sharing his wealth and his love (read this StarTribune article to find out more about our Scrooge).
  • Zach Fineblum was equally convincing in the reverse transformation.  From the young open-hearted Scrooge to the miserly old Scrooge, he almost physically transforms before the audience's eyes.
  • The fabulous Angela Timberman, aka Miss Hannigan,  reprises her role as Scrooge's boozy maid.
  • Kris L. Nelson also reprises his role as the loveable and hard-working family man Cratchit.  It's a family affair again; his brother Lee Mark Nelson plays several characters including Mr. Fezziwig, and his wife Tracey Maloney plays the Ghost of Christmas Past, floating in on feathers and light to remind Scrooge of what he lost.
  • Sam Bardwell was a bit of a scene stealer as the dim-witted party guest Topper and young Scrooge's friend (roles he also played last year).
  • Other faves include Robert O. Berdahl as the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present, Suzanne Warmanen as the charming Mrs. Fezziwig, and Viriginia S. Burke as Cratchit's hard-working wife.
  • Some of the dialogue about the rich vs. the poor sounds oddly current, including the rich man who insists on being called a "job creator."
  • This production again features a flock of talented kids, some of whom I recognized and some of whom are new.  What fun to be able to play make-believe in such a realistic way!
  • As usual, the dancing at the party is wonderful (movement by Joe Chvala of the Flying Foot Forum).  It's quite a feat just to manage the large cast of people moving in and out, and make it look smooth and natural.
The Guthrie's all around top-notch production of A Christmas Carol is a Christmas card come to life.  A Dickensian Victorian scene complete with dingy children begging on the streets, snow softly falling, a turkey and figgy pudding feast, carolers in bonnets and full skirts, merry dancing, mistletoe, and of course the famous phrase delivered by an adorable sweet-voiced child, "God bless us, everyone!"

*I received two complimentary tickets to this play as part of "Blogger Night at the Guthrie."  Very nice seats in the front row of the balcony, center stage, which provided a very nice overhead view of all the action on stage.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"After Miss Julie" by the Gremlin Theatre at the James J. Hill House

I love history.  Not the politics and wars, kings and presidents kind of history, but history about how people actually lived in years past.  I'm fascinated by the houses on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, and have visited the James J. Hill House several times.  So when I heard about a play being produced in the house I was intrigued.  And when I found out that it stars two 2011 Ivey Award winners, there was no question I was going to go see it. 

After Miss Julie is produced by the Gremlin Theatre, normally located on University Avenue in St. Paul.  But there really is no better place to see this show than in a big, beautiful Victorian mansion.  When the setting so perfectly matches the content, it lends an air of authenticity to the piece.  As I watched the drama unfold, I couldn't help but think that such a scene might really have occurred in that very room a hundred years ago.  That's kind of thrilling.  I felt like I was eavesdropping on these three people's fascinating and complicated lives.

The play is set in a large manor house outside of London in 1945; the action takes place solely in the kitchen, which in the James J. Hill house is in the basement (food was sent upstairs via a dumbwaiter so that the mess and noise of the kitchen was out of sight).  The three characters in the play are Miss Julie (Anna Sundberg), the daughter of "his lordship," John (Peter Christian Hansen), the chauffeur, and Christine (Amanda Whisner), the cook and John's unofficial fiancee.  Christine is in the kitchen doing her work (even as the audience enters the room), and John joins her after driving the master of the house to London.  Julie follows him down to the kitchen in the hopes he'll dance with her at the party upstairs.  He feels obliged, and Christine accepts the way things are even though she's not happy about it.  Julie's fiancee has recently broken off their engagement and she's desperate and out of control.  When an exhausted Christine falls asleep, Julie flirts shamelessly with John, testing the limits of his patience and his duty.  John grew up on the estate and admits that he has always secretly loved her.  Christine retires to bed, and John takes Julie to his room, at her request (command?).  Their relationship is a constantly changing power struggle; at times they are unbelievably cruel to each other, at times sweet and loving.  They toy with the idea of running away to New York together, but I don't think either of them really believes that could happen.  Julie's father, John's employer, calls, and John jumps to bring him his coffee and well-polished shoes.  Julie and John are trapped in the roles they were born into, and don't know how to get out.  There's no happy ending for this couple.

This three-person cast is excellent (directed by Leah Cooper, who also did a great job with a much larger cast in August: Osage County at Park Square a few months ago).  In the small intimate setting you get a close-up view of the look in their eyes and the expression on their faces.  Peter has this intensity that's just about to boil over, and sometimes does; you can see why Julie falls for John (Peter played another violent, angry man in True West a few months ago).  I've seen Anna three times in the last several months, and she only gets better.  Julie comes off as the spoiled and haughty daughter of a wealthy family, but we see glimpses of a lost little girl underneath.  Amanda makes Christine sympathetic; she's the only likeable character - a hard-working woman trying to find a little happiness within the limitations of her life.  The actors go in and out of the several doors to the room (what fun to crawl around in the bowels of this magnificent house).  On a few occasions they all exit the room; the audience is alone for several long moments in a deliciously awkward silence, during which we are left to imagine what is going on behind closed doors.

After the show the audience can stay for an abbreviated tour of the house.  It was a wonderfully entertaining evening - intimate, involving, brutally real theater followed by a tour of this grand house.  Unfortunately After Miss Julie closes this weekend, but check it out if you can.  And if not, go visit the James J. Hill House anyway, and see how the rich people (and perhaps more interesting, their servants) lived a hundred years ago.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"I Am My Own Wife" at the Jungle Theater

The final play in the Jungle Theater's 2011 season is the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play I Am My Own Wife, directed by Joel Sass, who also designed the set.  It's a wonderful end to what has been a very enjoyable year of theater.  The play tells the fascinating true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, German transvestite, antiques collector, museum curator, and gay icon.  Charlotte lived through the Nazi and Communist occupations of Berlin.  She provided a haven for the gay community in East Berlin during a time of persecution, but also worked as an informant for the Stasi (the Communist secret police).  She was truly a singular individual, and the play explores not just her life, but also the playwright Doug Wright's investigation into her life, and his conflicting feelings about her complicated life.

The play is presented as a series of interviews that Doug conducted with Charlotte in her home in Berlin, the Gr├╝nderzeit Museum, in the early 1990s.  Charlotte tells the story of her life, and Doug tells the story of writing this play.  Charlotte was born a boy in 1928 but always felt more comfortable as a girl.  She collected furniture and things from abandoned homes, and eventually started the Museum to house them and share them with people.  She moved the Mulack-Ritze Cabaret into her basement when the Communists shut it down.  The Museum was her life, and she received a commendation from the government because of her work.  She moved to Sweden in the 1990s when the news came out about her work with the Stasi (which she somehow justified to Doug), and died in 2002.  The museum is still operating, and I will definitely visit it next time I go to Berlin, which I hope to someday.

The roles of Charlotte, and Doug, and a dozen other characters are played by one man - Bradley Greenwald.  I have been a fan of his for several years and was particularly moved by his portrayal of the Emcee in Cabaret (that other great theater piece about Berlin) earlier this year.  Dressed in a simple black skirt, shirt, kerchief, and a string of pearls (Charlotte was not the stereotypical transvestite with flashy clothes and make-up, she dressed like a grandmother), Bradley transforms himself into all of these diverse characters with just the carriage of his body and his magnificent voice (if you've never heard him sing, which he unfortunately doesn't really do in this play, you're missing out).  When he's Charlotte, he speaks German* effortlessly, mixed with heavily accented English, and often slips back and forth between the two languages almost unconsciously (a mix that my friends and I used to call "Germlish" when I studied abroad in Salzburg many years ago).  When he's Doug or his friend John Marks, he speaks German with an awful American accent, or plain old English.  He's a Nazi, a Stasi, a politician, a TV show host, a reporter; it's truly a beautiful performance.  One that helps you see inside this very human individual who lived an authentic life in the face of much adversity.  (The Iveys agree - Bradley won an Ivey Award for this performance in 2006.  Listen to a great interview with him here.)

I Am My Own Wife is playing now through December 18.  With this wonderful play the Jungle Theater's 21st season comes to a close, and the 22nd season looks to be just as intriguing.

*I should warn you that I love the German language.  I think it's beautiful, maybe because it's the only language other than English that I ever learned and that I can still somewhat decipher.  So it's fun for me when I hear it coming from the stage and feel like I have a little bit more insight into the characters because I can understand it.  Some things are lost in translation.  But don't worry, if you don't speak German you'll still get most of it.  :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Sweet Charity" at the Bloomington Civic Theatre

I had never seen Sweet Charity and didn't know much about it, other than it was written and set in the 1960s, and the Christina Applegate 2005 Broadway revival got its start in Minneapolis (which sadly I didn't see).  So I decided to make the trip down to Bloomington (which really isn't as long as I think it is) to see the show.  I was not disappointed.  I discovered I love the show, from the music and choreography to the great 60s look of the set and costumes, and BCT presents a great production of it.

If you're unfamiliar with the show, here's a brief plot summary.  The titular character is a dance hall girl in NYC in the late 1960s.  She believes in love, even though she doesn't have much reason to.  In the beginning of the show her boyfriend steals her purse and pushes her into the lake.  But Charity gets right up again, and makes friends with an international movie star who's in love with someone else.  Determined to improve her life, she meets the sweet awkward Oscar when she decides to take a class at the local community center.  It seems as if she's found what she's been dreaming of - someone to love her.  But it turns out he's not worthy of our sweet Charity, so she keeps looking.

Highlights of the show include:
  • A star performance by Emily Herringshaw as Charity.  Her voice is beautiful and effortless, as is her dancing.  She really shines in "If My Friends Could See Me Now," a tentative expression of joy and disbelief at the situation she finds herself in (hanging out with an international movie star!) that grows into a full dance number with top hat and cane.  Emily makes Charity extremely likeable and showcases her endless hopefulness in the face of continual setbacks, that should make her seem like an idiot but somehow doesn't.  Charity doesn't get her happy ending, but she keeps hoping and looking for it.
  • A great supporting cast.  Angela Fox as Nickie and Larissa Gritti as Helene are Charity's two best friends, spunky and funny but with a vulnerability as shown in the beautiful and sad song "Baby Dream Your Dream."  Paul R. Coate (whom I saw in another classic NYC musical On the Town this summer) is suave and funny as the movie star Vittorio Vidal, and later as the leader of the hippie Rhythm of Life Church.  Jeff Turner's bio in the program is short, but his performance as Charity's possible one true love is not.  Oscar is charming, nervous, slightly awkward, and totally loveable.
  • Fabulous dance numbers, as expected in a show conceived by Bob Fosse.  Choreographer Tracy Doheny Erickson keeps much of Fosse's style intact in the many and diverse numbers.  In the signature song "Hey Big Spender," the bored dance hall girls in short colorful dresses and big hair make small, precise, meaningful movements.  My favorite number is "Rich Man's Frug," which seems to goes on and on and on (in a good way).  The dancers strike a fabulous pose, the music stops, the audience applauds, and then it begins again!  The dancers look fabulous in their mod 60s black dresses and tuxes (designed by Ed Gleeman), like they stepped right out of some TV show from the 1960s.  Sweet Charity suddenly turns into Hair for one number when Charity and Oscar attend a hippie church.  And towards the end of the show the ensemble becomes a marching band in "I'm A Brass Band."
Sweet Charity is a great show with big fabulous dance numbers as well as more intimate heartfelt moments.  It's only playing for another week, but it's a fun evening of theater if you can make it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Civil Wars at the State Theater

I don't often write about music on this theater-centric blog, but I'm so in love with this duo that I want to tell everyone about them.  The Civil Wars are absolutely magical.  Their music is so hauntingly beautiful that it literally brought tears to my eyes when I saw them at the State Theater in Minneapolis last night.  It'll break your heart, in the best possible way.

I first heard The Civil Wars on Mountain Stage, broadcast on MPR's Radio Heartland (the only radio station I listen to).  The duo is comprised of Joy Williams and John Paul White.  John Paul plays guitar, and Joy plays piano on a few of the songs (her voice itself is an instrument).  No other band members or musicians accompany them, which allows their voices to shine.  They met just three years ago at a songwriting session, and unexpected magic happened when they sang together (you can read more about them and their origins on their website and in this article in Nashville Scene).  She's a California girl, raised on the Beach Boys and the Carpenters and Top 40, and he's a southern boy who grew up listing to country/bluegrass/Americana and metal.  Somehow they meet in the middle and create a style all their own.  She's delightful and adorable and effervescent, a girly girl ("I put on my longest eyelashes for you all tonight!").  He's a little rough around the edges, a little calmer and more grounded (I love a long-haired guitar player).  They have a palpable chemistry together; they're playful and spontaneous and totally in the moment.  They seem to surprise and delight each other as much as they do the audience.

I was only able to record part of one song when an usher stopped me, strictly enforcing the "no video or audio recording rule" (boo).  It's a new song that's not on their fantastic album Baron Hollow, so I'm not sure the name of it (update: it's called "O Henry").  But it'll give you an idea of their playfulness and Joy's expressiveness.

For more of their haunting melodies, here's their most popular song, "Poison and Wine."  (You can watch more official videos on their youtube channel; warning: if you're like me you might get lost there for a while).

One of their encores was a cover of Billie Jean (check out this youtube video from someone who was more discrete with their recording than I - there are some disadvantages to sitting in the front row).  It was the best and most inventive cover of that song I've ever heard (sorry David Cook).  The audience really loved them, and they were obviously touched and a little flabbergasted that so many people showed up to see them.

The Civil Wars were nominated for a CMA (Country Music Award) for best duo this year, and the award ceremony was that same night in Nashville.  Not only did they choose to be in Minneapolis rather than Nashville, but they didn't even mention it at the concert.  I kind of love that.  They don't play Nashville's games.  They don't make music to sell records and get played on country radio and win awards, they make music for the love and beauty of it.  And that appeals to me.  The fact that a duo as talented, original, and authentic as the Civil Wars did not win the award they were nominated for is why I have no interest in country radio, even though I like the genre that is country.  I'll stick to Radio Heartland and my own eclectic collection of music, in which The Civil Wars hold a permanent and prominent place.

P.S. The opening act was a band called Milo Greene, who truly were a band.  Five members, a drummer and four multi-instrumentalists who also shared the lead vocal duties.  Don't ask me to describe their style, but they're pretty cool and original too.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Our Class" by the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company at the Hillcrest Center Theater

The Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company's Our Class is not an easy play to see.  It's not the kind of show you go to for a light escape from reality for a few hours.  You walk out of the theater with lots to think about, and none of it very happy.  But it's important to remember our past and attempt to make sense of it, although I'm not sure one can make sense of the atrocities committed against friends, neighbors, classmates as in this play.  But at least we can bear witness to it.

Our Class was written by Polish playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek based on true events in a small Polish town during WWII.  The 2001 controversial book Neighbors argues that the majority of the Jews in the town of Jedwabne were murdered by the Polish residents of the town, their friends and neighbors, not the Nazis.  The play explores this idea and examines how children who once played, laughed, and learned together can grow up to betray and murder each other.

The play begins with ten young classmates, played by actors of various ages (corresponding approximately to the age of their character at the time of death).  They're normal school-children, laughing, playing, teasing, fighting.  As they grow older a division begins to be apparent between the five Jewish children and the five Catholic children.  The division grows as the war progresses and Poland is invaded first by the Soviets and then by the Nazis (to simplify the incredibly complicated history).  Classmates turn on each other, betray each other, beat each other, but some choose to shelter and save each other.  Act I culminates in the burning of a barn containing hundreds of Jews.  Some of our class are the perpetrators, some are the victims.  In Act II, those that are still alive try to move on and make a life for themselves.  Some feel remorse for what they've done, others feel justified in their actions or are in denial of them.  Either way, the events of that day remain with them forever.  As each character dies (the play follows each character to the end of his or her life, whether young or old, in Poland or elsewhere), one signature article of clothing is replaced with a version in red - a belt, hat, ribbon, vest.  And they remain on stage; ghosts haunting the lives of those left behind.

An interesting feature of this play is that characters describe their actions as they're doing them (which reminded me of the style of In the Red and Brown Water).  This gives the audience deeper insight into each character's thoughts and feelings.  Some of the characters are based on real people, and all of them are fully defined.  We get to know specific details of each character's life, some that don't even really relate to the plot, but all of which help to create a sense that these are real people.  The cast is so talented in bringing these characters to life that I hesitate to call any of them out because there are so many powerful performances.  But I will.  :)  Elena Giannetti is the young wife and mother Dora; strong and heart-breaking, she's the center of the two most painful scenes of the play.  Caleb Carlson (graduate of the U of M/Guthrie training program) is the militant Rysiek who commits some pretty atrocious acts, but Caleb manages to convey Rysiek's inner torment that makes him almost sympathetic.  As opposed to the completely unlikable Zygmunt (Michael Jurenek), who betrays both "friends" and "enemies" alike depending on what best serves his own self-interest.  Candace Barrett Birk is the Jewish girl Rachelka who becomes the Catholic woman Marianna in order to survive, and lives out her life resigned to her fate.  Maggie Bearmon Pistner (who was so funny and over-the-top in Next Fall at the Jungle earlier this year) is Zocha, one of the "heroic" Poles who harbored and saved a Jew, which comes with its own complications.  One of the wonderful things about this play is that each character reacts differently to the situation they find themselves in, showcasing a wide variety of what people did to survive, some admirable, some not so.

I wanted to see this play for several reasons.  I am of mostly German descent, except for my one Polish great-grandmother, and was raised Catholic, so I feel like it's part of my cultural history that I need to be aware of and deal with, as difficult as that is.  I have traveled in Germany and Poland and visited the concentration camp at Auschwitz.  To say it's a sobering experience is an understatement.  Seeing this play is a little like visiting Auschwitz (without the very visceral sense of being in that place), difficult but somehow necessary.  At intermission I overheard several conversations about people's personal stories about the holocaust or what their parents told them about it.  This play gets people talking and thinking about difficult issues, which is what theater at its best is all about.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Joan of Arc" at Nautilus Music-Theater

This week has been a week of one-woman shows for me.  First The Edge of Our Bodies at the Guthrie, a beautiful coming-of-age story, and then Joan of Arc by Nautilus Music-Theater.  I'm not sure if it could technically be called a one-woman show, there are beautiful voices and music coming from backstage, but the only person the audience sees in front of them is Jennifer Baldwin Peden of the famous Baldwin sisters (I saw her sister, Christina, most recently as Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore this summer).  Jennifer narrates the story of Joan of Arc and also embodies her.  It's a fascinating and inspirational story that I was only vaguely familiar with, and this 70-minute music-theater piece beautifully conveys her courage, spirit, doubts, and determination.

I saw my first Nautilus production at Fringe this summer and loved it, but this is the first regular season show I've seen.  This is their first show produced in their tiny studio space in St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood, and it was in fact designed for the space.  It is without a doubt the smallest room in which I have ever seen theater; it's about the size of a living room.  Two rows of chairs are lined up on either side of the room (seating about 40 people), with a catwalk stage running between them and two small stages on either end.  It's incredibly intimate; no microphones needed (except when the disembodied voices portray accusers and are projected into opposite corners of the room).  At times Jennifer was literally three feet in front of me singing.  As I've said before, I find that there's something magical about the unamplified human voice, and when the voice is Jennifer's and you're three feet away from it, it's a pretty amazing experience.  That's another benefit of such a small, intimate space; you're not just an observer watching the show, you're part of the experience.

Joan of Arc follows the historical and mythical figure as she enters battle for her native France and is captured by the English.  She's put on trial for heresy (claiming that God and his saints and angels speak to her), wearing men's clothes, and generally being a strong woman who doesn't obey the conventions of the day (aka "a witch").  She's burned at the stake at the age of 19, as many such women were in 15th century Europe.  I'm not sure about the idea of hearing voices, but this is a young woman of strong faith and conviction who helped her people at a time they needed it.  The men in power feared her strength and conviction, and so ended her.  Through the beautiful expressive music, Jennifer creates a picture of this young woman, clinging to her faith and overcoming her doubts, refusing to back down from what she believes.

At first it was a little disconcerting to hear the music (sung by Joel Liestman, JP Fitzgibbons, and Laurie Flanigan-Hegge, with Music Director Sonja Thompson on piano and Randall Davidson on cello) and not see the musicians.  I kept turning my head, expecting to see the singers come out from behind the wall.  But they never did; they're Joan's voices, even she couldn't see them.  It was like being in her head and hearing the voices of the angels along with her.  At times they went silent (when she renounced them as her accusers demanded), and you could feel the silence and Joan's loneliness, and her happiness and fulfillment when they returned to her.

This is what musical theater is to me.  Not some big, loud, over-produced adaptation of a children's movie, but original, challenging, creative, moving.  Or in the words of Nautilus Artistic Director and director of this piece, Ben Krywosz, "telling simple stories through songs that are musically expansive, favoring emotional realism over theatrical naturalism, and creating a dramaturgical context that requires an audience's involvement, even investment."  The short run of the show closes this weekend.  They're virtually sold out for the few remaining performances, but they said to call and they might be able to squeeze a few more chairs into the space.  It's worth it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"The Edge of Our Bodies" at the Guthrie Theater

When I walked into the Guthrie's Dowling Studio theater last night to see* The Edge of Our Bodies, the star of the show, Ali Rose Dachis, was quietly sitting on stage, barely moving, just observing.  It was a bit disconcerting at first (Am I late? Can we talk?), but eventually the audience got used to it and the usual pre-show chatter ensued.  At showtime the house lights slowly went down, the audience became silent, and Ali began talking.  And she didn't stop for 90 minutes.

We soon found out that Bernadette is a 16-year-old student at a boarding school in Vermont.  She begins by reading from her journal, barely looking up as she recounts her journey by train into New York City to visit her boyfriend.  She eventually puts down her journal and paces around the stage, acting out some of the story.  The purpose of her trip is to tell her boyfriend that she's pregnant, but of course things don't go quite as she planned.  Bernie has a series of encounters on her journey - an old man on the train, her boyfriend's sick father, a man she meets in a bar.  Each encounter is beautifully told in a way that makes it seem like you're watching the interaction as it happens, instead of listening to Bernie tell about it sometime later.  She's somewhat of a pathological liar; she makes up a different back-story for herself with everyone she meets.  She returns home after an unsatisfying visit to continue on with her life as best she can.

What an amazing feat of acting, not just to memorize what is basically a 90-minute monologue (except for one brief interruption, which is a bit jarring but helps establish the setting of the play), but also to create this character and tell the entire story by yourself with no help from other cast-members.  No breaks or pauses, just continuous story-telling.  Ali does an amazing job of bringing Bernie (and the other characters as seen through her eyes) to life through her storytelling.  She was hand-picked by the director, Benjamin McGovern, after directing her last year in Circle Mirror Transformation (one of my favorite shows of 2010).  In that show she played a sullen teenager, but this role has much more depth, which she's definitely up for.  Of course it probably helps that the material is so rich.  The Edge of Our Bodies is a beautifully written play that sounds like it could be a short story (there's lots of "he says," "I reply"); Bernie wants to write short stories when she grows up, making one think this could be her first short story.  I came away from the show wanting to read some of playwright Adam Rapp's novels or see more of his plays; I really connected to his writing style and the flow of his words.  Even though his name sounded familiar, it wasn't until I googled him that I found out he's Anthony Rapp's brother (he originated my favorite character Mark in my favorite musical RENT, and I had the pleasure of seeing him perform the role on tour a few years ago).  Talented family.

It took a little while to figure out what the set was supposed to be, where is Bernie telling this story from?  The floor of the stage is a series of marble circles, and the furniture is ornate and old-fashioned looking, in contrast to the young and modern story Bernie is telling (Michael Hoover designed the set, and also designed the realistic lived-in house of Park Square Theatre's August: Osage County).  We learn that her school is doing the play The Maids by Jean Genet (about two maids who play at killing their employer), and it becomes apparent (especially after the janitor interrupts her and starts dismantling the set) that she's on the abandoned stage after the run of the show.  She interjects overly dramatic scenes from the play into her storytelling.

The Edge of Our Bodies is a beautifully written play, beautifully acted; a great 90 minutes of story-telling.  The other two shows playing at the Guthrie right now are big and loud (Burial at Thebes and Much Ado About Nothing); this play is a nice contrast to that.  One person telling a story from the heart can be just as effective, even moreso, than a large cast.  That's what I like about theater; it can be wild and crazy, or silly and funny, or quiet and poignant, or anything in between.

*I received two free tickets to this play as part of "Blogger Night at the Guthrie."

Celebrity Sighting
I seem to run into Peter Rothstein (Artistic Director of Theater Latte Da) everywhere I go lately, but I swear I'm not stalking him!  ;)  I spotted him in the 4th floor lobby at the Guthrie.  I didn't see him up at the Studio so I'm not sure what show he was there to see.  I like to think he saw Burial at Thebes because they do some pretty innovative story-telling through music, which is what Latte Da is all about.