Thursday, July 26, 2018

"The Legend of Georgia McBride" at the Guthrie Theater

Reminiscent of La Cage aux Folles and Kinky Boots, but with a spirit and humor all its own, The Legend of Georgia McBride is a drag show with a beautiful message of finding one's identity and embracing those you love as they discover their identity. What it doesn't resemble so much is playwright Matthew Lopez's other work seen recently on #TCTheater stages, the intense Civil War drama The Whipping Man, a beautiful and heart-breaking play done by Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company last year. Which just goes to show the range of the playwright, although I think it's safe to say that Georgia McBride is the more personal work. Similar to the protagonist Casey, he found himself in a drag club in Florida, although the details of the story are different. Georgia McBride is a really fun show, and you also may learn a bit about drag performance, and rethink some stereotypes about the real people behind all the glitz and glamour of the show.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

"Mamma Mia" at the Ordway Center

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware that there's a new Mamma Mia! movie, a sequel to the 2008 smash hit movie adaptation of the smash hit jukebox musical (which ran for 14 years on Broadway and 19 years and counting in the West End) featuring the music of '70s pop sensation ABBA (phew, that's a lot of derivatives). But are you also aware that there is a brand new local production of the stage musical playing at St. Paul's Ordway Center for the Performing Arts for just three weeks? If you're thinking to yourself, "why should I spend more money to go see it live at the theater when I can just go to the movie, or watch it in my living room in a few months?" keep reading, because I will tell you why. What it boils down to is that firstly, live entertainment is always better than anything recorded could be, and secondly, this production is fantastically fun and surprisingly moving, performed by a mostly local and all fabulous cast. If you enjoyed either of the Mamma Mia! movies, you do not want to miss this one-of-a-kind LIVE Mamma Mia! experience! But hurry, unlike movies that last forever, you only have until August 5 to see this.

Monday, July 23, 2018

2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival Must-See List

Well #TCTheater friends, it's late July, and we all know what that means! My theater schedule has been quieting down lately for the summer lull that precedes the wonderful craziness that is Minnesota Fringe Festival. Soon I'll be attending multiple shows per day, writing between shows, skipping meals and snacking whenever I can, and experiencing all the weird and wonderful theater that Fringe has to offer. There are a few new things to experience this year (including Family Fringe, and an option to purchase either individual show tickets or day passes), but significantly fewer shows than in past years. This will be my 8th Fringe Festival, and as long as I've been attending, shows have numbered around 170. But with the elimination of Uptown venues this year (which, to be honest, I'm relieved about because getting to and parking in Uptown is only getting more difficult), there are a total of 138 shows, including the 6 Family Fringe shows. But that's still plenty to choose from, and way more than one person can see (somewhere around 56, I'm a little confused with the new features this year). My goal this year is a reasonable 30-40, because it's nice to take an hour off to, you know, eat a meal, or even a full day off to regroup mid-festival. We'll see how it shakes out once I complete my sudoku puzzle of a schedule, but first - the following shows are must-sees in my book (presented in alphabetical order):

Saturday, July 21, 2018

"Hand to God" at Jungle Theater

Hand to God is a little like Avenue Q, but with less singing, more frequent cursing, and more graphic simulated puppet sex. The 2015 Tony nominee for best play is having its regional premiere in a fantastic production at Jungle Theater, and if you don't mind being a little uncomfortable at the theater (you shouldn't, it's good for you), it's well worth braving the construction, traffic, and parking headaches that come with a trip to Uptown to see this funny, irreverent, and sad little play.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona

Last weekend I took a road trip to Winona with my fellow Twin Cities Theater Bloggers, Laura from Twin Cities Stages and Julie and Carol from Minnesota Theater Love. It was my first visit to the Great River Shakespeare Festival, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary season this year. I had a great experience, and it will definitely not be my last trip to Winona. Not only is the theater entertaining, engaging, relevant, and well done, but the festival is well organized and provides many other opportunities for entertainment and engagement throughout the charming river town of Winona. A theater festival is a pretty unique experience in the state of Minnesota, one I didn't even realize I was missing. GRSF runs through August 5 so there's still time for a road trip theater vacation this summer. What's better than that?!

Friday, July 13, 2018

"Guys and Dolls" at Lyric Arts

Lyric Arts Main Street Stage in Anoka is closing their 2017-2018 season with a fun and classic musical - Guys and Dolls. Is the story dated and full of gender stereotypes? Yes. But it's also chock full of great music, including many popular songs ("A Bushel and a Peck," "Luck Be A Lady," and my favorite, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat"). Lyric Arts has assembled a fantastic cast, and the show is well-staged in their small performance space. If you're looking for a fun '50s era show, Anoka is the place to go.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

"Carmen" by Mill City Summer Opera at Mill City Museum Ruins Courtyard

A review in brief of the final dress rehearsal of Mill City Summer Opera's Carmen, before a brief rain delay (which I hereby declare shall forevermore be referred to as a raintermission) turned into a cancellation of the performance, midway through Act II of IV:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

"Boy Crazy" by Madde Gibba at Bryant Lake Bowl

If you watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (and if you're not, you should be), head to Bryant-Lake Bowl on the next two Monday nights to see Madde Gibba's original musical comedy improv show Boy Crazy. Not unlike Rachel Bloom, Madde can turn a comic and slightly crazy (although the situation is a little more nuance than that) love story into a clever, melodic, funny, and sometimes even sweet song. The 80-minute show is like a song cycle about love and relationships in the modern world, and it's great fun.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

"Jeeves in Bloom" at Theatre in the Round

To end their 66th season, the longest running theater in Minneapolis, aka Theatre in the Round, is bringing back a popular character from a few seasons ago - the quintessential English valet Jeeves. Even if you've never read the stories of British author P.G. Wodehouse, who created the character (and also wrote some of the Princess Musicals featured in Theatre Elision's latest show), you know the name Jeeves from any number of references. The original Jeeves was an all-knowing, unfailingly competent valet to a charming mess of a young Englishman named Bertie. Playwright Margaret Raether adapted Wodehouse's stories into three plays; Jeeves in Bloom is the second produced by TRP (the third is part of their upcoming 67th season). This was my first experience with Jeeves, and I found it funny and charming and very well done by the cast and team at Theatre in the Round. It's the perfect light comedic summer entertainment.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

"Ideation" at the Gremlin Theatre

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. The characters in the play Ideation are definitely paranoid, entertainingly so, but whether or not someone is out to get them is still a question mark at the end of the play. The regional premiere of Ideation by Gremlin Theatre is a taut, thrilling, engrossing, and funny 90 minutes of work colleagues going down a paranoid rabbit hole, and it'll make your head spin, in the best way. Rarely has my logical math left brain side been so engaged and excited at the theater as I tried to follow these characters through their hypotheses and arguments and conclusions. Theories and algebraic equations are written on the white board, only to be erased and written over by a new theory. By the end you don't know what to believe, and neither do the characters in the play, but it sure is fun to watch their wheels spin.