The Minnesota connection here is Betty Pack, a Minneapolis socialite who married a man who worked at the British embassy. She traveled with him throughout Europe in the 1930s, meeting lots of important men and picking up secrets along the way. She eventually became a spy for the British, giving them information about their enemies. Betty's story is interspersed with those of other women who fought against the rising tide of fascism in the 1930s, including British intelligence officer Vera Atkins, Amercan codebreaker Elizebeth Friedman, and singer Josephine Baker, who worked as an agent for the French resistance.
|the women of resistance (Jennifer Baldwin|
Peden, Melanie Wehrmacher, Timotha Lanae,
and Kendall Anne Thompson,
photo by Scott Pakudaitis)
Kendall Anne Thompson leads the talented cast as Betty, embodying both her ruthless side, and her vulnerable side as she sometimes fell in love with her marks, conflicted between her feelings and her duty. The other women are fantastic as well - Jennifer Baldwin Peden as Vera, Melanie Wehrmacher as Elizebeth, and Timotha Lanae as Josephine. Seven actors portray all of the men in these women's stories, from Nazis to politicians to spies, and all ably and quickly switch from one role to the next (Gary Briggle as Churchill? Yes, please!).
|the cast of Dirty Business (photo by Scott Pakudaitis)|
The many settings in the play are represented by video projections (designed by Miko Simmons) of the interior or exterior of the grand locations. Joel Sass's two-level set with a staircase on either side provides many locations for scenes to play out. The cast is dressed in beautifully detailed period clothing that easily transitions from one character to the next (costume design by E. Amy Hill).
Dirty Business: The Spy Musical continues through May 26 at the HERstory Theatre in downtown St. Paul. It combines the thrill of a spy story, the fun of a new musical, the warning of complacency in the face of threats to democracy, and the inspiration of these heroines whose stories deserve to be told.