Sunday, January 19, 2020

"Bernarda Alba" by Theater Latte Da at the Ritz Theater

Theater Latte Da's area premiere of Bernarda Alba is unlike anything I've seen. The musical adaptation of the play The House of Bernarda Alba by Spanish playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca premiered in 2006, but the play was written in 1936 and first performed in 1945. It tells the story of a widow and her five adult daughters, who are suffering under their mother's strict control of their lives and bodies. The score is complex, haunting, and gorgeous, and the depiction of the lack of freedom and limited roles of women in society is sobering and not unfamiliar. Bernarda Alba feels different than a typical musical; when I attended opening night there was no applause during the show, partly because it doesn't follow the usual structure of clearly differentiated songs and dialogue with scripted applause breaks, and partly because it felt like we were under a spell we didn't want to break. It's a complicated piece,* and cast and creative team pull it off beautifully.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Ruth Easton New Play Series at the Playwrights' Center

Have you been to The Playwrights' Center lately? Their Ruth Easton New Play Series is in full swing, in which they present two readings of a new work of theater the first (or second) week of the month, December through April. Unfortunately I missed December, but I'm so grateful I was able to make it this month because this Jeffrey Hatcher/Sandra Struthers creation is sheer delight, and also unlike anything I've ever seen before. You never know what you're going to get at PWC, so why not take a chance and be part of the new play development process? Read on for more details on this and other readings in the series, then head out to the Playwrights' Center tonight to catch the second reading of AUTHOR AUTHOR! Did I mention it's FREE?!

Monday, January 13, 2020

"Black Comedy" at Theatre in the Round

When looking at the #TCTheater schedule for the second weekend of 2020, I saw Black Comedy at Theatre in the Round and thought - what's that? I went to their website to check it out and saw the below photo of Josh Carson and Don Maloney, and my immediate thought was - yes, please! You might know Josh from his Fringe shows or his sold out annual parody A Very Die Hard Christmas, and Don from various shows at Lyric Arts (and other stages around town) including a very funny Odd Couple. Not only was I correct in my choice to see these two in a comedy, but the entire cast is fantastic in what is a classic British '60s farce of a play, with detailed and clever design to make this comedy in the dark really shine.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

"Bloomsday" at Lyric Arts

A character in Steven Dietz's play Bloomsday says something like, "a sunny day is nice, but on a rainy day the ache for the sun is nicer." This distinctly Irish sentiment is a good description of this bittersweet story of a pair of star-crossed lovers meeting across space and time. It may not be a happy ending, but the ache for these two characters to find happiness is grand. Lyric Arts' new production features a strong four-person cast and lovely design that bring us right into this charming and unconventional love story.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The 77th "Musical Mondays" at LUSH, January 2020

What better way to celebrate the beginning of the 2020s than to look back at some great musical theater songs from the 1920s? For their 77th show, Musical Mondays did just that. Hosted by talented #TCTheater artists and BFFs Sheena Janson Kelley and Max Wojtanowicz, this popular monthly cabaret series at LUSH Bar in Northeast Minneapolis showcases different local talent every month. Also different every month is the theme, which gives musical theater fans like myself the chance to take a deep dive into a specific genre and learn a little bit more about musical theater history, while enjoying a fun and entertaining night, at the cost of a suggested $5 donation (which goes directly to the artists). This series should definitely be on the radar of every local music-theater fan. Their next show is on February 3; follow their Facebook page for the announcement of theme and performers.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Lorna Landvik's "Party in the Rec Room" at Bryant-Lake Bowl

It's the new year, and that means it's time for another Party in the Rec Room at Bryant-Lake Bowl! Local "author/entertainer/antic dealer" Lorna Landvik returns with her annual improv performance/party. I've not read her books or seen her show before but I've heard good things. Plus I love dinner and a 7pm 90-minute show at Bryant-Lake Bowl (doors open at 6, with dinner and drink service before and during the show). It was obvious last Saturday night that much of the audience were fans and returnees, and came ready to have fun! Lorna entertained with improvised scenes and songs using her particular brand of Minnesota humor, and her comfort on stage and genuine rapport with the audience made for a fun evening.

"Becky Shaw" at Gremlin Theatre

Just who is Becky Shaw and why does she have a play named after her? That's a good question, and even after seeing Gremlin Theatre's production I'm not sure I know. But I think maybe she's a little bit like the gentleman caller. It's not really about her, but about what she represents. She's a catalyst for change in one family's life. A family full of horrible people saying horrible things and treating each other horribly. Yes, Becky Shaw is one of those plays, one of those unlikable people plays that make you laugh but also feel guilty about laughing. If you're looking to start this new decade with positivity and light, this is not it. But if you're looking for a super dark comedy about despicable people, meet Becky Shaw!

Friday, January 3, 2020

2019 #TCTheater Favorites

Happy New Year #TCTheater friends! This is the 10th year-end wrap up I have written on this blog; this summer I will mark 10 years of writing about theater in Minneapolis and St. Paul. That's a lot of theater, and a lot to love. This year I saw about 200 shows (not counting 29 Fringe shows), and I would like to share with you some of my favorite experiences of the year.