Saturday, February 13, 2021

Valentine's Day Cabarets Streaming from Yellow Tree Theatre, Collide Theatrical Dance Company, and Duluth Playhouse

While it may be true that "Valentine's Day is a sham created by card companies to reinforce and exploit gender stereotypes*," there's plenty to love this Valentine's Day weekend in the world of streaming #TCTheater. And with sub-zero temps here in Minnesota, what better is there to do than cuddle up under a pile of blankets with your loved ones, pets, or friends, with a hot cuppa something in your hands, and watch some shows? First of all, if you haven't caught one of Bucket Brigade's LIVE performances of their original musical 'Til Death, streamed from Art House North direct to your house, you can still do so tonight or tomorrow (click here for more on that). Or choose one of these on-demand options (click on show title for more info and to purchase tickets).

The Season of Love, Yellow Tree Theatre
This charming compilation of songs, poems, stories, and quotes about love was put together by Craig Johnson, who has directed several shows for Yellow Tree. Each performance was recorded in the performer's home, or outside in nature, some with simple backgrounds, some with more elaborate set-ups. It's a well-chosen collection of classic stories from literature or legend, tales from the social media age, and familiar tunes from the American songbook. Craig adds a bit of narration and introduction to the sweet, funny, sad, silly, or tragic pieces, all beautifully performed by familiar faces from Yellow Tree and other local stages (featuring Reese Britts, Michelle de Joya, Anna Leverett, Damian Leverett, Hope Nordquist, James Rodriguez, Sophina Saggau, C. Ryan Shipley, and Leslie Vincent). 
Run time: one hour, cost: $10 per household, available through February 28.

Stand By Me, Collide Theatrical Dance Company
The company worked with residents of the senior community Episcopal Homes in St. Paul, using their stories of love as inspiration for this '50s themed dance piece. Set to a fantastic soundtrack of '50s favorites (Elvis, Sinatra, et al) and filmed on location in the super cute retro Ze's Diner in Eagan, this company of talented dancers (Rush Benson, Heather Brockman, Brett Pederson, Jarod Boltjes, Betsy Nelson, Regina Peluso, and Chelsea Rose) tells their love stories without a word. As usual with Collide's original dance musicals, you may not get the exact plot points of the story, but you definitely feel the emotions. Due to Covid restrictions, there's not a lot of close dancing, but you won't miss it as the dancers shimmy and jive in groups, pairs, or solo. The choreography (by dancers Rush, Heather, Betsy, Chelsea, and Regina) is really fun, playful, and expressive. The filming of the performance is not static, in fact the camera feels like another character as it follows the characters through their stories, coming in close and then moving back. The camera movement and editing make it feel like a great music-dance video (videography and editing by Lucas Wells).
Run time: one hour, cost: $20 per household, available through February 14.

From Broadway, With Love, Duluth Playhouse
This cabaret show is filled with our favorite showtunes about love, performed by local talent from Duluth and the Twin Cities. Even if you've never been to Duluth Playhouse (spoiler alert: I have not, which I hope to remedy soon, although I have been to the beautifully restored NorShore Theatre), you may recognize performers such as Jen Burleigh-Bentz, Brandon A. Jackson, and Shad Olsen from #TCTheater stages (the company also includes Amber Burns, Ole Dack, Vicki Fingalson, Monique & Cole Forcier, Diona Johnson, Rylie Kuberra, Andy Kust, Sarah Lawrence, Jeff Madison, Cal Metts, Jessie Olson, Andy Roemhildt, Christina Stroup, Sara Marie Sorenson, Tiff Willie, and Q Wright). It's a great collection of songs, both familiar and a little less so, that celebrate love in all its forms (directed by Phillip Fazio, with music direction from Andy Kust).
Run time: one hour, cost: free (donations welcome), available through February 14.

*Liz Lemon, 30 Rock