Monday, April 26, 2021

Jamecia Bennett in "The Evolution of Jazz & Blues" at The Belvedere at Crooners

After a long winter of no live in-person entertainment, spring has finally arrived, a hopeful spring which is bringing us vaccines and the return of outdoor entertainment! Even before living under the specter of a deadly airborne virus, outdoor entertainment was one of my favorite things about summer in Minnesota. Now, when outdoors feels like the safest place to be, outdoor venues are even more important to our arts and entertainment industry. Last summer, Crooners Supper Club in Fridley stepped up with an outdoor drive-in performance venue and it was a life-saver for me; I attended four drive-in shows, plus one on their outdoor patio. This year, they've expanded that intimate outdoor patio into a larger space with appropriately spaced table seating under a tent. Called "The Belvedere," it's a great venue for outdoor entertainment that I hope they keep going for years to come. I can think of no one better to christen this new space than the incomparable Jamecia Bennett, local music and theater legend. I was lucky enough to experience one of her two shows last weekend, and if this is any indication, it's sure to be a fantastic spring/summer/fall at Crooners!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

"The Revolutionists" streaming from Lyric Arts

This morning I watched my third streaming Lauren Gunderson play in a week. Last week I watched Steppingstone Theatre's I and You and Jungle Theater's collaboration on Lauren's newest play The Catostrophist (the latter available through May 2, click here for info on both). Today I had the pleasure of watching Lyric Arts's first show since January 2020 - The Revolutionists, recently filmed on their Anoka stage. Like many of Lauren's plays, it tells a fictionalized story of well-known (or should be well-known) women from history with modern language and sensibility, and is funny, smart, poignant, and relevant. If you miss live theater and/or Lyric Arts' popcorn-scented Main Street Stage, don't miss this show (available through May 2 only)!

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Two Lauren Gunderson Plays: "The Catastrophist" by Jungle/Round House/Marin Theatres and "I and You " by Steppingstone Theatre

After a particularly difficult week (rising COVID cases, vaccine side effects, the continued murder of Black people by the police, mass shootings, i.e., just another week in America) I took a much-needed hiatus from my phone today and instead spent some time at my church - theater. Specifically, I streamed two plays by one of my and America's current favorite playwrights, Lauren Gunderson (she's one of the most produced living playwrights in recent years; I saw two of her plays in February 2020, just before this extended intermission began). In the last year or so of virtual theater, I've found that I love watching theater in the morning - 7am or earlier, first thing when I get up while I eat breakfast, before doing my morning zoom yoga. It's a wonderful way to start the day. I began my phone-less theater-filled day with Lauren's newest play, The Catastrophist, a Jungle Theater co-production with DC's Round House Theatre and San Francisco's Marin Theatre Company. Then, after yoga and a lovely bike ride around my neighborhood, I watched I and You over lunch, produced by Steppingstone Theatre, which has recently joined forces with Park Square Theatre. The two plays are quite different, but share similar themes as well as Lauren's smart, clever, witty dialogue and realistic characters (one of whom actually is real). Both plays are under 90 minutes and really great choices for your stay-home-stay-safe-stream-some-theater week.