I knew next to nothing about the play going into it, even though I did see the 2003 production at the Guthrie (being pre-blog, the only thing I remember about it is that shortly after I saw it, the box office called and asked if I wanted to become a subscriber, 5 shows for $100, and I said sure; now I'm about to renew my subscription for the 15th year). And I think that's a good way to go into it, so I won't spoil too much of the plot here. The basic premise is that a wealthy couple (played by Sally Wingert and Mark Benninghofen, because who else would you possibly cast that could be this good in these roles?!) on NYC's Upper East Side is conned by a young black man (JucCoby Johnson, one of my favorite new actors on the Twin Cities theater scene) who pretends to know their children and be the son of Sidney Poitier. What then unfolds is a treatise on race, class, and celebrity in America. What struck me most about this young man is that he isn't doing this for the money, he's doing it because he longs to be part of that seemingly perfect posh world he only observes from the outside.
|Sally Wingert (with JuCoby Johnson, photo by Dan Norman)|
A word or two must be said about the truly incredible set, designed by Kate Sutton-Johnson, who also associate directs. Latte Da's sets at the Ritz lately have been charmingly rustic or shabbily chic, matching the gorgeous bones of this old theater. Not so here. The Ritz has been transformed into a chic, clean, modern, art-filled NYC apartment. The circular shapes of the huge Kandinksy hanging in the center are repeated in the furniture, props, and structure of the room. Most of the art displayed is by Twin Cities artists, which is a cool way to combine the visual and theatrical arts.
Theater Latte Da's Six Degrees of Separation is a gorgeous, thoughtful, innovative, musical interpretation of a smart, funny, thought-provoking play. It's playing through April 2 at the Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis, don't miss it.