Friday, February 28, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: SUPERMAN BECOMES LOIS LANE at the HERstory Thetare

History Theatre has been HERstory Theatre all month with their production of Superman Becomes Lois Lane. This #truestory gem closes very shortly on March 1, so don't miss your chance to see it! See what our bloggers thought in our roundup below:

Cherry and Spoon says "A year after it began, HERstory continues at St. Paul's History Theatre. But this HER had to work a little harder to claim that correct pronoun that many of us take for granted. Superman Becomes Lois Lane is the true story of the playwright Susan Kimberly, who transitioned to her correct gender as a bit of a public figure in St. Paul in the 1980s, and went on to become the first transgender woman to serves as deputy mayor of a major American city. It's an engaging and inspirational story, told in a fantastical yet grounded way, that provides insight into one person's journey to their truest self." Read more:

The Stages of MN says "Superman is in the title of the play, but he is not the only hero associated with it. Superman Becomes Lois Lane is written by real life hero Susan Kimberly. This is her story and by sharing it, she helps facilitate understanding and compassion, and that, makes the world a better place. [...] I also know from personal experience that those who are able to share their journey bring comfort, validation, and hope to those who are just beginning." Read more:

Twin Cities Stages says "What makes the show so unique is that both Susan Kimberly as portrayed by Freya Richman and Bob Sylvester as portrayed by Sean Michael Dooley exist together on stage in multiple scenes. The two who are in moments completely separate and at others are one are constantly in conversation with each other though, this method of storytelling is powerful and unique from other stories of transition that I have seen." Read more:

Thursday, February 27, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: THE WHITE CARD at Penumbra Theatre

We're nearing the end of Black History Month, and we would be remiss if the bloggers didn't host a roundup of The White Card, now showing at Penumbra Theatre Company through March 8. This cutting, modern play impressed our crew and is even a #mustsee for one of our #tctheater bloggers. Read the roundup below to see who.

Cherry and Spoon says "Talvin Wilks directs this fantastic cast, with a few moments of humor and many moments of discomfort, which is a good thing for an audience to experience. In less than 90 minutes the playwright, director, and cast really get to the crux of the matter without blaming anyone, just shedding light on our unconscious biases." Read more:

The Stages of MN says "The White card is a play that educates us by making us question and process our understanding of race and art. [...] I was familiar with the idea of white privilege, but this play made we think deeper about it and gave me a better understanding of the complexities that exist within that concept." Read more:

Play off the Page says "At times, I wished I could rewind a scene and hear it again, especially during Charlotte’s monologue about anger. This is a play you could watch several times and hear and see more details and layers each time. Talvin Wilks directs the play in such a way that the actors seem like they’re circling each other. With so much talking, the play could feel like were just listening to people rant, but the movement, and their reactions to each other make it seem real, the way people keep shifting positions and fidgeting around when conversations get uncomfortable." Read more:

Compendium - Minneapolis says "The endless amount of irony of sitting as a white reviewer in an almost all white audience that was audibly gasping throughout The White Card only to drive back to our cozy safe homes and punch out a bunch of preachy messages about race on social media was not lost on me for a second. [...] And that discomfort I experienced, the mental dissonance, is the reason why The White Card is a must see for white audiences for me. In the hundreds of plays I have seen over the years, almost always with audiences who are overwhelmingly white, it is exceedingly rare that I have seen a play so effectively turn the gaze back upon us. How did we get here? What layers of privilege have allowed us access to the arts?" Read more:

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: Closing Soon!

It's the last week of February, which means the clock is ticking on your chance to see lots of creative #tctheater before it's gone forever! Here's a round up of some out of the box ideas you may not have seen covered in bigger media outlets:

Medea at Theatre Elision, closing February 29

The Global Dig says "Ingenious but simple techniques were incorporated by the production team so the characters could gesture and mime the objects they needed to describe. [...] In this Medea, it is the strength of the cast, the production, and most notably the direction that helps us understand something noble in this Greek tragedy." Read more:

Cabal at Walking Shadow Theatre Company, closing March 1:

The Stages of MN says "Cabal is billed as a play with puzzles and I didn’t know what that meant. [...] This was more like escape rooms, as we went through multiple rooms, and we weren’t escaping them we were solving puzzles to move forward in the story. [...] This is like a real life video game, where you have to explore the environment and collect things to unlock the next level." Read more:

The Skeleton Crew at Yellow Tree Theatre with New Dawn Theatre Company, closing March 1

Cherry and Spoon says "What better time than Black History Month for Yellow Tree Theatre to partner with New Dawn Theatre to present their first play (to my knowledge) with a black cast, director, and playwright? Looking around the suburban Osseo theater, I didn't see many people of color, but prolific and talented playwright Dominique Morisseau's Skeleton Crew, while being a specific story of the African American experience, is also a universal story of people struggling to survive and thrive in America." Read more:

Ada and the Engine at DalekoArts, closing March 1

Cherry and Spoon says "DalekoArts is producing the regional premiere of Ada and the Engine, a play about 19th century mathematician and arguably the world's first computer programmer Ada Lovelace. This smart, funny, poignant (spoiler alert: Ada died young), insightful play is beautifully realized by DalekoArts and 100% worth the drive to charming New Prague." Read more:

Sunday, February 23, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: THREE LITTLE BIRDS at Children's Theatre Company

Children's Theatre Company is celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth  with a presentation of the reggae-based musical Bob Marley's Three Little Birds. This sunny show brought our bloggers straight from Minnesota's snowy banks to the balmy shores of Jamaica. Read their thoughts below:
"In just over an hour, this sweet and fantastical story plays out, about a scared and isolated boy who learns to be brave with the help of his friends, both human and bird. I must confess, I know very little about Bob Marley or his native Jamaica, and I'm not familiar with more than a few of his songs. This show is a great introduction to his music and his message, and it makes me want to board the next flight to Jamaica!"
"That embrace of complexity is at the heart of Three Little Birds and a good reason to go. It's short but packed with content; visually bright with a deceptively deep plot; filled with entertaining music and educational history that we could all stand to know a little more about. Popular culture tends to associate Bob Marley (and by extension all reggae) with marijuana and little else, which is such a shame because he stood for so much more. And in an age where black children are (incomprehensibly) still being told how to wear (and most often to cut) their hair, there is immense power and grace in seeing a positive depiction of protective styles told through a proudly black lens."
"Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds is the fun new reggae musical at the Children’s Theater Company, just when you need it the most. Set in sunny Jamaica, the adaptation of Cedella Marley’s book of the same name, has you feeling the tropical rhythms so deep, you’ll forget that it’s 10 below outside!"

Friday, February 21, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: Minneapolis Musical Theatre's DADDY LONG LEGS at the James J. Hill House

The James J. Hill House is one of the hottest spots for site-based #tctheater performances. The latest production to grace this historical home is Daddy Long Legs by Minneapolis Musical Theatre, which runs through February 29. Check out what our bloggers had to say!

Play off the Page:
"Get your tickets, soon, for this sweet musical. It’s a lovely way to spend a cold night in February. The venue is warm (don’t sit too near the lights), and charming. I wish I could go again!"

The Stages of MN:
"Daddy Long Legs performed in the James J. Hill House in St. Paul is as intimate a production of a musical as I’ve ever attended. A chamber musical with only two actors standing at times only a foot away from and actually making eye contact with you."

Cherry and Spoon:
"Daddy Long Legs is another example of Minneapolis Musical Theatre fulfilling their tagline "rare musicals, well done." Often their shows are big or comic or scary or campy, so it's nice to see that they can do a sweet, small, intimate show like this just as well."

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: Closing Soon!

This weekend is the last chance to experience two shows from some of #tctheater's most original companies! Check out what you're currently missing from our bloggers below.

Transatlantic Love Affair, After the Fires at Illusion Theater through February 22.

Cherry and Spoon:
"It really is difficult to describe what they do to someone who's never seen TLA before, other than to say the ensemble creates everything in the story - they mime actions with invisible props so well you can almost see them, and create an almost visible landscape. [...] that's the beauty of art in general, and this type of art in particular. It's up to us to fill in the blanks within the gorgeous lines the ensemble paints."

Twin Cities Stages:
"In the short 75 minute running time of After The Fires I fell in love with the characters. I rooted for their successful, feeling as though I longed for the return of the healers just as much as they did. I do not want to give away the plot, but After the Fires is not only a great example of world building, but also takes you on an emotional journey."

SteppingStone Theatre, The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy De Las Rosas through February 23

The Stages of MN:
"I attended a matinee performance of The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy De Las Rosa with a theatre full of elementary school kids. Hell! you say? Not at all, this is the audience you want to see it with, it’s the audience it exists for. I had a blast and it brought me back to those days of getting out of morning class, taking a bus to a theater and seeing a play with hundreds of other kids for schools all over town."

Monday, February 17, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: Cool Projects!

Happy Monday everyone! Since it's the beginning of the week, we thought this might be a good time to update you on some cool projects that our bloggers recently checked out. Make sure to follow these local companies on Facebook so you learn about their upcoming events!

Sparkle Theatricals, National Choreography Month Challenge (NACHMO), closed Feb 9th at the Art Box

The Global Dig highlighted several local submissions, all of which showed an impressive range in styles. More:

20% Theatre Company Twin Cities, Controlled Burn, closed February 15 at Phoenix Theater

The Stages of MN says "You hopefully will be wowed – I think that’s our hope every time we head out to the theater. But you should be going to this show to hear these unique voices expressing themselves through their art. You should be going to show support for people who are using art to share their experience with others."

Friday, February 14, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: 'TIL DEATH by Bucket Brigade

What are your plans for Valentine's Day weekend? If you're still not sure, needing somewhere to escape for a couple hours - might we suggest selecting some #tctheater shows? We're in the thick of February performances and there's no better time to step out. For a romantic and comedic choice there is Bucket Brigade's 'Til Death: A Marriage Musical showing through February 22 at Art House North. Here's what our bloggers had to say:

Millennial in the Mezzanine:
"‘Til Death is a heartwarming, quirky, and insightful play about what it takes to make a relationship last. The cast, all married couples themselves, are delightful to watch. Whether you've seen it in the past or are coming in brand new like I was, this show would make a fun, creative, and affordable Valentine’s Day activity for any couple."

The Global Dig:
"This production of ‘Til Death’ is a testament to the creative abilities of a small theatre company. The Bucket Brigade's creativity begins on stage, and is dispersed throughout the evening by music director Michael Pearce Donley, who encourages everyone to write down their favorite love song to have it played during intermission. I chose (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes-because it speaks to me."

Single White Fringe Geek:
"’Til Death is a solid piece of work, deftly executed, and that’s two places where a lot of new plays can fall short, particularly new musical theater. Bucket Brigade delivers the smart, engaging entertainment once again. We should encourage that, because it’s rare, even in a town full of theater like ours."

Cherry and Spoon:
(From her 2019 review): "It's very funny (a little more over the top than I remember), and relatable even if you're not among the good and crazy married people. And even though it would play nicely as an intermissionless 90-minute musical, the delicious cupcakes and coffee served at intermission (included in the price of admission) in the cute church basement lobby, accompanied by live music, makes for a festive evening."

Thursday, February 13, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: THE UGLY ONE by Walking Shadow Theatre Company

The Ugly One by Walking Shadow Theatre Company is now showing at Open Eye Figure Theatre. If you haven't heard of this quick 70 minute show, consider attending to get some welcome laughter in your life. It only runs through February 16, so catch it before it's gone! Read more of our bloggers' thoughts below.

The Stages of MN:
"The Ugly One one is a lot of fun, the cast are all game, with Sean Dillon truly nailing his two sided conversation with himself. It’s a faced paced commentary of beauty, that’s more absurd than preachy. It’s a fun time out to a theatre you may not have heard of before, but once you see them, you’ll be watching to see what they do next."

Cherry and Spoon:
"The Ugly One (aka Der Häßliche auf Deutsch) is a funny and absurd little play that skewers our obsession with looks, in particular the concepts of "beautiful" and "ugly." Unfortunately the protagonist is an able bodied white male of average height and weight, which is the least likely person to be discriminated against because of looks. In the workplace, women are expected to wear make-up, people of color sometimes can't have natural hairstyles, older people are expected to color their hair to look younger, and people with different body shapes, sizes, or abilities face looks-based discrimination most often. Which makes the story of a man who's so ugly he's overlooked at work seem a little unlikely, but maybe that's the point."

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: Broadway tour of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND at the Ordway Center

Our bloggers were thrilled to see Once On This Island grace the Ordway Center for the Performing
Arts stage last week, the first time this show has ever been performed in the Twin Cities! Check out their thoughts in our roundup below:

Twin Cities Stages:
"Once On This Island, currently on tour at the Ordway, is a feast for the eyes, ears and soul. [...] Once on This Island will warm you up. It is a must see show for anyone who is looking for an escape or who loves dance."

Cherry and Spoon:
"Once on this Island tells a familiar story in a new way, employing ages old methods of storytelling for an immersive and inclusive experience (or as close as you can get in a large proscenium theater). It's a wholly entertaining show that also weaves in issues of colonialism, slavery, classism, and colorism. It's a story of hope, of love, of faith that things will be better, of the importance of telling our own stories."

Compendium - Minneapolis:
"Once On This Island is a true célébration de la vie, a fête for the ages. It bears the timeless qualities of all good lore and fables and will fill you with joy despite the story's innately unhappy ending. I'd love to see more national tours of such diverse casts and crews, and for that reason alone I think this is an important one to fill seats for."

Saturday, February 8, 2020

TCTB Review Roundup: PEERLESS by Theater Mu

Our bloggers were excited to check out the directorial debut of Theater Mu's new artistic director Lily Tung Crystal in peerless, which made quite an impression. Read more about their thoughts below and check the show out at Gremlin Theatre before it closes on February 16.
The Stages of MN
"I’m also thrilled to say that the hype I’d heard from friends about Theater Mu were true. Peerless is a thrilling piece of theater, enormously entertaining on the surface with a strong vein of thought provoking commentary just underneath. A solid script that is brought to life by a talented cast."
Cherry and Spoon
"For this regional premiere, Theater Mu has lured back to town a couple of alums, sisters Francesca and Isabella Dawis, to play the twins. Their independent and codependent performances anchor the strong cast that, along with clever design, brings out all of the dark corners of this sharply and smartly written play."
Compendium - Minneapolis
"If the horror genre is your jam then you will probably find many elements of peerless to like and it seemed much of the audience found this funnier than I did - so why not check it out? peerless was a bold choice for Tung Crystal to open her leadership with, and I'm excited to see what she has next in store."
Twin Cities Stages
"It may seem odd, to have a comedic take on Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most well known tragedies, but Park's play does it brilliantly. Keeping the driving theme of ambition, and the relationship between those who stand to gain from the ambitious actions and those who drive them [...] It is a perfect show for anyone who is a fan of Shakespeare's Macbeth, high school comedies, comedic dance breaks or the Gilmore Girls."

Thursday, February 6, 2020

TCTB Review: Closing Soon!

We're into the busy February season of #tctheater, which means there are plenty of things to see if you need a hibernation break. Here's a roundup of a few shows closing soon that our bloggers enjoyed:
The Madwoman of Minneapolis by The BAND Group at Calvary Baptist Church, closing February 8:
Cherry and Spoon
"This 75-year old play feels more relevant than ever now with the climate crisis coming to a head. I couldn't help but think of the current dire fight to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the pollution of a proposed mine very close to its borders. This play asks what we would rather have in our backyard, a sulfide-ore copper mine, or one of the country's oldest and most visited wilderness areas? #savethebwca"
Around the World in 80 Days at Lakeshore Players Theatre, closing February 16:
The Stages of MN
"The secret of the show is the manner in which it presents itself. From the very beginning it winks to the audience and lets us know throughout that it is very much aware that it is a theatrical performance. [...] The whole production comes together beautifully through the direction of Rose Schwietz."
Flight by Minnesota Opera at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, closed February 2:
The Stages of MN
"If you are intimidated by Opera but also curious, Flight is the perfect place to start. Accessible and funny, it is filled with performers who make you laugh while also moving you with their singing. I was hoping for an evening of fine music and talented vocals, expecting it to be impressive, I was not expecting it to be this much fun."