Lawrance Bernabo, for the News Tribune
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.
Saturday night at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center's Symphony Hall, the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra joined forces with the local Big Time Jazz Orchestra for "Big Time Swing," a combination of classical and popular music. With a first half devoted to Viennese waltzes and polkas, and a second half filled with big-band music, this was a night where the long haired music was not the pop, but the classical offerings.
"Ruddigore, or The Witch's Curse," the Gilbert and Sullivan show that opened at the Underground on Thursday night, is about honor. OK, they are all about honor, but "Ruddigore" is also about etiquette and — of all things — syllogistic form. "Ruddigore" combines that witch's curse with a triple-reverse love triangle, with an abbreviated half-twist, that helps put the comic in comic operetta.
The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra's "Hidden Treasures" concert Saturday night at the DECC's Symphony Hall offered a trio of works rarely performed by some of the great names in music. We began with the second recording in the DSSO's Beethoven Project, Symphony No. 4, which will be rebroadcast on Minnesota Public Radio and eventually released on CD. DSSO board member Andrew Ricci provided strict instructions regarding cellphones and throat lozenges to help ensure a pristine recording.
Tolstoy once wrote: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." However, he never said anything about what crazy families are like, an omission that playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart explore in the charming "You Can't Take It With You," which opened Thursday night at the Duluth Playhouse.
Ellie Schoenfeld, Duluth's current poet laureate, and two of her predecessors added another dimension of sound Saturday afternoon at the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music concert at the Depot. While the poets largely took their cue from the "Winter Notes" program title, the musical selections all had ties to the spoken word. The 2017 Duluth Art Institute Membership Show is currently on display in the Depot's Great Hall, so the audience was arranged around the display areas, with more spectators in the gallery balcony above.
When Green Day played "American Idiot" at the MTV Europe Music Awards last November, Billie Joe Armstrong changed the last line of the opening verse to "subliminal mind-Trump America." If you get the point of that change and endorse the sentiment, then you are going to love the stage musical version of "American Idiot" that opened Thursday night at the Underground. If you are insulted by that line, then you should probably avoid this punk rock diatribe.