Lawrance Bernabo, for the News Tribune
The Playhouse last staged Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" in 2010. Thursday night, a new production of the classic American play opened at the NorShor Theatre, and I think American society must have advanced at least a quarter-century in those eight years. "Our Town" requires a mostly bare stage and a minimum of props. Curtis Philip's scenic design is elegantly simple: wood flooring and paneling. Mrs. Gibbs (Pat Isbell) and Mrs. Webb (Emily Parr) mime making two different breakfasts, all as mere background action.
"Sweet Charity" is about a dance hall hostess with a heart of gold who just wants to be loved. The production that opened Thursday night at the Underground has a leading lady who wins your heart plus a whole bunch of crowd pleasing dance numbers. As Charity Hope Valentine, Hayley Rosenthal doubles down on the cuteness, starting with her soliloquy and hitting her stride in "If My Friends Could See Me Now." Exceeding the adorability quotient for her character, Rosenthal's Charity becomes the first I have seen to truly deserve being called "sweet."
Something is up at Lone Star Spirits. Walter, the owner, is wearing a tie. Jessica, the jaded single mother who just wants to party might not pick up on what is in the wind, but Drew, who was the football hero back when the town actually had a high school, sure as heck notices. Then Walter's estranged daughter, Marley, walks through the door for the first time in five years, with her fiancé, Ben, in tow. Walter thinks she has come in response to a letter he wrote, but Marley has finally come calling for a different reason.
A couple years back I asked, in a town that annually sees the likes of "Rocky Horror" and "Hedwig" on stage, if "Kinky Boots" could be far behind. But the Tony Award-winning musical is still running on Broadway, so it was the touring company that rolled into town on Monday night to burn down the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
Tito Merelli, the world famous tenor, has come to make his American debut at the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. However, a series of unfortunate events, capped off by a drink that is both shaken and stirred, means a last second replacement tenor is desperately required to avoid complete disaster on opening night.
The Minnesota Ballet's dazzling production of "Swan Lake" this weekend at the DECC's Symphony Hall is a dream come true, not just for choreographer Robert Gardner as the exclamation mark on his quarter-century with the company, but for Northland balletomane as well. The story is your basic maiden meets evil sorcerer, becomes a swan by day, and then meets a prince one night. Love and tragedy await.
The set design for "Death of a Salesman" presents the Loman house stripped down to the studs, a rather haunting metaphor for the life of the central character in Arthur Miller's classic American play, which opened Thursday night at the Underground.
The common musical denominator for Saturday night's "Revelations: Beethoven Project" concert by the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall was that of "program music," intended to create an impression of the natural world. Opening the evening at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center were Bela Bartok's six Romanian Folk Dances, which helped to establish folk music as serious music.
Echo Westbook is a National Spelling Bee champion. "Eleemosynary" is her favorite word and the title of the play that opened Friday night at the College of St. Scholastica Theater. Echo will define the word, and by the play's end, we will understand its significance for the story of three generations of exceptional Westbook women.
From the moment the opening night audience for "Mamma Mia!" walked into the restored NorShor Theatre, we were overwhelmed by the inescapable conclusion that the Duluth Playhouse is not just another "community theater."