Lawrance Bernabo, for the News Tribune
Berlin. The early 1930s. Adolf Hitler's vision of making the Fatherland great again is gaining traction. But at the Kit Kat Klub they come to hear the music play and blithely ignore the coming storm. "Cabaret" remains one of the most depressing musicals ever staged. The production directed by Robert Lee that opened Thursday night at the Underground can make you feel guilty for applauding the musical numbers while the lives of the characters are destroyed.
"Billy Elliot: The Musical" will make you cheer, cry — and do both more than once. The heart and soul of this endearing Playhouse production directed by Kelly Grussendorf is Tanner Hagen in the title role. On opening night, the 12-year-old simply blew the audience away with his dancing and delivered on the singing, as well.
Selected from over 200 submissions, the seven one-act plays that comprise the first annual "What She Said" festival at the Underground offer stories that are — in order — cute, touching, intense, insane, unbelievably absurd, the opposite of boring, and an absolute comic gem.
In "Time Stands Still," the timely drama that opened Thursday at the Playhouse, photojournalist Sarah Goodwin (Cheryl Skafte) and writer James Dodd (John Pokrzywinski) have come home after Sarah is severely injured by a car bomb in Iraq. Dealing with a near-death experience requires physical and psychological rehabilitation, but Sarah bears the burden of extra baggage because James feels immense guilt over having already gone home before she was injured.
For years I've wanted somebody to put on Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." With the production that opens May 18 at the Underground, we finally get to see the wittiest play in the English language in Duluth. John Worthing (Jason Scorich) has come to town to propose to Gwendolen Fairfax (Louisa Scorich), cousin of his best friend, Algernon Moncrieff (Mike Pederson). Worthing leads a double life, as the steadfast Jack caring for his young ward, Cecily Cardew (Kitara Peterson) in the country — but as his wastrel younger brother "Ernest" when in the city.
The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra's season came to a close Saturday night at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center's Symphony Hall with a variety of musical pyrotechnics making up the "Now and Then" program celebrating the organization's 85th anniversary.
Musicals are often about falling in love, but rarely about being in love. "La Cage aux Folles," which opens April 20 at the Playhouse, is about the latter. There is something wonderful about seeing two people so deeply in love, and even with all the hysterical drag queens running around on stage, ultimately "La Cage aux Folles" is all about heart.
Gustav Mahler, composer of "Das Lied von der Erde" and other light classics, primarily earned his living as a conductor. However, his place as a composer in music history was secured when he unveiled his Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection," in 1895. Saturday night at Symphony Hall, the full membership of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and Chorus devoted the entire concert program to Mahler's monumental work and masterfully explored its vast complexity.
For the next two weekends, the Underground has been transformed into an actual Clown Bar, which makes perfect sense since the clown noir comedy "Clown Bar" opened there Thursday night. Patrons can purchase "insult beers" from the caustic bartender, Shotgun McGhee (Nathan Payne), and assorted drinks that you can apparently order "extra funny," delivered by Petunia (Cheryl Skafte), a tart-tongued, bubble-blowing waitress.
Stravinsky's "Firebird" had top billing Friday night at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center's Symphony Hall, but the trio of pieces the Minnesota Ballet offered on the undercard were equally captivating, creating a dazzling night of dance. In a rare stage speech, artistic director Robert Gardner spoke briefly but passionately about supporting the National Endowment for the Arts, quoting Ronald Reagan on reasons to honor the arts.