Best bets: Duluth Diana, DSSO holiday, gingerbread online and more

This week's top picks in local arts and entertainment

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When Diana channeled her inner Duluth mom

Duluth got a pop culture name drop in a recent episode of “You’re Wrong About” when the show's co-host Sarah Marshall compared Diana the Princess of Wales to a mom from Duluth, Minnesota.

Unfortunately, it’s not the version of Diana that lovingly tended to small children or even the one from Season 4 of “The Crown,” with her head hanging propped on the car window, fresh from a night of dancing with her flatmates.

"You're Wrong About"

It is especially not the one roller skating through a castle and listening to peak 1980s pop.


In this case, the history podcast’s hosts are talking about the time proceeding her divorce from Prince Charles. Diana was living in a space decorated with cheeky throw pillows with embroidered sayings: “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere,” “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.”

“You know what I love about this,” Marshall said, “Princess Diana can finally be her authentic self and bear her soul, and her authentic self is just like a mom from Duluth, Minnesota. Just set this lady loose in a Target.”

Duluth reference is just beyond the 23 minute mark of Princess Diana, Part 4: The Divorce of “You’re Wrong About.”

Strikepoint Handbell Choir (photo from

DSSO, handbells and the ghost of Bentleyville past

Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra channels its brighter-than-bright buddies on the bay with the concert “Bentleyville Holiday Spectacular” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.

For this one, arranged to consider social distancing, the players will perform holiday favorites — from classical to pops — with visuals from the Bentleyville tour archives. Also featured: the Strikepoint Handbell Ensemble under the direction of Bill Alexander.

The DSSO offers from-your-couch viewing with DSSO Live. For more info, go to . A limited number of season subscribers are allowed to attend in person.


Gaelynn Lea performs during a live-stream Nov. 8 that is now posted on her YouTube channel. (YouTube)

Gaelynn Lea brings Tweedys to YouTube

Gaelynn Lea has been offering a weekly variety show on YouTube, a chance to check in with the 2016 Tiny Desk Contest who, when there isn’t a pandemic, spends so much time on the road. Lea interviews virtual guests, who eventually do what they do — whether it’s reading a piece of writing or making chalk art. Lea, who has been working her way through the contacts on her phone, will feature Chicago musicians Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and his son Spencer Tweedy on this week’s episode.

Gaelynn Lea’s show is at 2 p.m. Dec. 6 on YouTube. It will also be available in her archives.

Vanessa Williams
Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams, but for the Duluth Playhouse

The Duluth Playhouse and the Hennepin Theatre Trust are offering a livestream concert featuring Vanessa Williams, who will perform a mix of Broadway tunes and pop tunes in addition to stories from her life and career during this “Live from the West Side: Women of Broadway” concert series.

Williams’ career has included film, TV and Broadway. She won a Grammy Award for “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s Pocahontas. And if you ever were ever in love in the early 1990s, you probably did some wistful singing of “Save the Best for Last” in your private moments.


The home viewers are invited to submit questions ahead of the show. The Duluth Playhouse will receive part of the purchase price for the tickets.

Vanessa Williams “Live from the West Side” is at 7 p.m. Dec. 5. Tickets: $30 per home available at .

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"The Elder" is among the movies available from the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival & World Tour.

Play me some mountain movies

About this time every year, Duluth Cross-Country Ski Club offers two nights of movies from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Now, like most things, the screenings are available online — but you can still support the local club as long as you go through their links to get to the goods.

There are three different screening packages available, the 2-hour long Onyx Program or the Amber Program or both.

Among the outdoor-themed adventure movies are about an almost mythical mountain biker, a blind climber, highliners, snowboarders and more.

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is available at


Gingerbread artistry is on display at the Nordic Center for viewing online. (

Inside the candy land

For the most charming 5 minutes of your life, check out the Nordic Center’s virtual tour of its Pepperkakebyen display. This video includes images gingerbread houses and other seasonal visuals set to a Scandinavian soundtrack.

The camera pans slowly over a candy-covered roof and the rosy cheeked figures dressed placed near doorways. The houses range from mansions with candy cane accents to bungalows with sugared gummy decor.

Duluth’s annual event, hosted by the Nordic Center, is based on a yearly event in Bergen, Norway. This year’s Duluth display is closed to physical browsers within the space. Video is available for viewing through Jan. 2.

Nordic Center’s Pepperkakebyen virtual tour is at .

Christa Lawler is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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