Sunday, December 8, 2019

"Family Dinner" and "The Mess" at HUGE Improv Theater

Family Dinner is my favorite show at HUGE Improv Theater in Uptown. It comes around this time every year, with shows on Fridays and Saturdays all through November and December, most of which sell out. Now in their eighth year at HUGE, it's basically the Guthrie's A Christmas Carol (as creator Molly Ritchie said). I attended with my Twin Cities Theater Blogger friends old (Minnesota Theater Love, Twin Cities Stages, Bite-Sized Beet) and new (The Stages of MN, The Global Dig, and Millennial in the Mezzanine), and a good time was had by all. HUGE is a great option for a fun outing this time of year, or any time of year. Buy tickets for one show only, or save on a two- or three-show pass. And you will want to get your Family Dinner tickets in advance - they will sell out.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

"The Norwegians" by Dark and Stormy Productions at Grain Belt Warehouse

Seven years after their debut, during which time they've brought us a couple of dark and stormy little plays every year, Dark and Stormy Productions is doing their first remount. If you're going to remount a show, the hilarious and very Minnesotan dark comedy The Norwegians, first presented in 2016, is a great choice. This story of two Southern women so beaten down by Minnesota winters and bad relationships that they hire Norwegian gangsters to kill their exes is worth seeing again. In 2016 I called the play "a cross between a Prairie Home Companion sketch and an episode of Fargo, with more edge than the former but without the latter's ominous cloud of despair." They've reunited most of the original cast and creative team, with a few new faces, for what is once again is a very funny, entertaining, and intimate anti-holiday* #TCTheater choice.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

"SIX" at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

The history of the British monarchy has inspired countless works of entertainment, from Shakespeare plays to Netflix series. And now it has inspired a fabulously feminist pop musical. In just over two years, SIX (written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss while students at Cambridge) has gone from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to London's West End to Broadway, where it will premiere next spring after wrapping up the month-long run at the Ordway. Structured as a pop concert, SIX allows the six wives of Henry VIII to tell their own stories. This musical couldn't have come at a better time, when we're hungry for women's stories, for women to tell their own stories instead of being defined by men, as history has defined these six women by their marriage to a king. SIX's reputation precedes it; young musical theater fans in the know have been obsessively listening to the London cast recording for months, and the US production is surrounded by huge buzz. The opening night audience was ready for this show, responding enthusiastically to their favorite moments that they knew were coming. I knew nothing about the show going into it, and was hugely impressed by this smart, funny, clever, modern, fresh, and wildly entertaining musical. It's a rare thing that we get to see the next Broadway sensation in Minnesota before they see it in New York, and #TCTheater music-theater fans would be wise not to miss this chance.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

"A Very Die Hard Christmas" at Bryant Lake Bowl

I've never seen the popular 1988 action movie Die Hard, so for years I resisted seeing what has become an insanely popular holiday* tradition - A Very Die Hard Christmas at Bryant Lake Bowl (the 10pm showtime also kept me away). But this year, I finally had to see what everyone was raving about, especially since they added a few 8pm shows for us morning people. I'm still not sure I understand why it's so popular (this year they sold out the entire run before they even opened), but it is a super fun show chock full of pop culture references (of the '80s and Christmas varieties), with very funny performances by the cast. I've never seen such a packed and enthusiastic BLB audience. People love the show, and the team loves doing it, and I guess that's what makes it such a popular and long-standing tradition.

Monday, December 2, 2019

"The Viking and the Gazelle" by The Waterfront Productions at Mixed Blood Theatre

The independently produced Minnesota Fringe play The Viking and the Gazelle is being remounted at Mixed Blood Theatre this December with a mostly new cast. Producers (under the name The Waterfront Productions) and co-writers William and Suzanne Bengston based the play on their experiences as an interracial couple. It's an interesting premise and the play includes some good discussions, bringing up some important issues like institutional racism and white spaces that hopefully encourage discussion amongst those who see it. But there's no nuance or subtlety; every character is one extreme or the other, so much so that they feel less like real people and more like caricatures of certain "types" of people. Still, these are important conversations to be had.