Lawrance Bernabo, for the News Tribune
"The Fan," the 18th-century work by Carlo Goldoni that opened Friday night at the College of St. Scholastica, is a prime example of commedia dell'arte, with its roster of stock characters to be played for exaggerated comic affect.
The audience had big-time fun Sunday night at the NorShor Theatre, especially those dressed to the nines in period-appropriate attire for the party that is Postmodern Jukebox's "Welcome to the Twenties 2.0" tour. PMJ's creator Scott Bradlee has literally written the book on "How to Turn Any Song Into Ragtime and Stride Piano," and the concert showcased 20 contemporary songs touched by the "Ragtimify" process.
If you know nothing about "Wiley and the Hairy Man," the charming show put on by Wise Fool Theater than opened Friday night, you are certainly not alone. But as you walk into the Lincoln Park Middle School auditorium, the wall is covered with colorful artwork of the main characters as imagined by dozens of kids from nothing more than the title of Suzan Zeder's play.
There were only eight audience members before Melody Mendis took the stage as Barbra Streisand in "With Love from Barbra" at Fitger's Spirit of the North Theater on Friday night. While we waited, one patron said, "I can't judge until I hear her voice." Unfortunately, for most of the opening act, sound problems made it really difficult to hear how well Mendis was singing. Only on the high notes were we getting glimpses, and the low register stuff was getting lost, especially the dialogue between songs.
In "Don't Dress for Dinner," the French farce that returned to the NorShor stage Thursday night, Katy Helbacka makes two bold decisions as director that could have thrown the production off the rails. Fortunately, she booked a really good cook. Bernard (Jason Scorich) is looking forward to his wife, Jacqueline (Christina Stroup), going away for the weekend so he can have a special catered birthday dinner cooked for his mistress, Suzanne (Jenna Kelly).
When a swashbuckling Puss in Boots, voiced by Antonio Banderas, showed up in "Shrek 2" and stole the show with his sultry Spanish accent and really big eyes, a star was born. However, the "Puss in Boots" animated film that followed had absolutely nothing to do with the original European fairy tale. The original adaptation of "Puss in Boots," written and developed by the Duluth Playhouse's Theatre for Young Audiences ensemble that opened Saturday afternoon at the Depot Theatre is faithful to that original tale (or should that be "tail"?).
Just a few gigs past being named vocal group of the year at the Country Music Awards, Old Dominion arrived at Amsoil Arena on Saturday night for their last concert of the year. The evening showcased contemporary country music and underscored what it takes for musicians to thrive and survive today. In a world where every song can be converted from YouTube video to MP3 in seconds, concerts are where artists really make their living. Saturday's show was within shouting distance of being sold out.
Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” has returned to its proper place, performed by dancers on a stage at the DECC's Symphony Hall, courtesy of the Minnesota Ballet. If you need a little Christmas, right this very minute, this is the show for you. For all the precisely executed choreography in this classic holiday show, there is pleasure in watching the little carolers, trying their best to incline their heads, skip, turn and shuffle off stage in unison.
The Minnesota Ballet season begins this weekend with "Rite of Spring and Other Dances" at the DECC's Symphony Hall. The opener put several new company members in the spotlight in a collection of five pieces that includes three world premiers before intermission. "Curl, Uncurl and..." plays out before projections of a quartet of paintings by Karen Owsley Nease of waves washing ashore on Lake Superior.
Wise Fool Theater’s recreation of the infamous 1938 radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds,” by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater of the Air, premiered Friday night in the acoustic cathedral that is Lincoln Park Middle School’s auditorium. Writer Howard Koch gets the credit for the script that transformed the novel by H.G. Wells into a Halloween staple. But director Chani Ninneman and her cast get the credit with for actually allowing the audience to be in the studio where it happens.