Want to see a show? There's plenty of small-theater choices for the weekend

Categories: Theater
New Native.jpeg
Photo by Farrington Starnes
Inez Decouteau, Donavan Mountain, and Andrea Fairbanks in 2012: The Musical.
There's a lot of theater in the Twin Cities that comes and goes in an eye blink, playing for one or two weekends before closing. Here are four shows closing this weekend that would be easy to miss. Three are in the second week of two-weekend runs, while the fourth is a short extension of a successful run.

2012 The Musical

It's hard to think of a recent show that I was pulling for more than 2012: The Musical. It's presented by a new company (New Native Theatre), with an all Native American cast, and blends the end of the world with a glam-influenced rock score.

In a nutshell, over the course of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, strange events begin to unfold, first at an end-of-the-year powwow and then along Franklin Avenue. A group of Native American friends -- including a committed grant writer, an aspiring singer-songwriter (who really can't sing), and an "ARM" patrol member -- try to get to the bottom of the growing madness.

There are things to like about the show, which runs through this weekend at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre. The script -- by company founder Rhiana Yazzie with Inez DeCoteau and Andrea Fairbanks -- has plenty of self-deprecating humor, and makes its points without having all of the action come screaming to a halt for a lecture. Marisa Carr's songs are catchy, and the staging (directed by Yazzie and Maren Ward of Bedlam Theatre, the show's co-producer) includes plenty of clever touches.

The inexperience of the actors, however, shows throughout the production. The first act dragged along as the actors struggled to build any kind of sustained pace or energy. It didn't help that malfunctioning microphones made it hard to hear great stretches of the first act the evening I was there. The second act, with the glitches solved, moved along at a much sharper pace. It's a fun and funny effort, but not without considerable flaws. 

Romeo and Juliet

So much theater plays in the Twin Cities that it is easy for smaller companies to get lost in the cracks. Hopefully, that doesn't happen to Theatre Coup d'Etat, who produced an invigorating take of the first half of Angels in America earlier this summer. The company's twist on Romeo and Juliet -- featuring two women in the starcrossed lovers roles -- only plays through this weekend, but reports say it well worth the trip to the Southern Theater.

The Skyless City

Iranian director Kiomars Moradi makes his stateside debut with a remount of The Skyless City at Dreamland Arts in St. Paul, which has run in his native country and in Europe previously. The spare piece packs a considerable emotional impact, as we watch a quartet of women on a desperate journey to escape their lives in the Middle East. The characters are portrayed by two actors onstage and two more on video (we learn why this is as the play unfolds). It's a quiet work that uncovers the brutal reality of human trafficking.

The Learning Fairy

Finally, Open Eye Figure Theatre has extended the run of The Learning Fairy with three additional performances this weekend. This the second year for the show, the brainchild of Zoe Sommers Haas and Noah Sommers Haas. The second edition brings back the same characters, but in all new adventures. It has clearly connected with audiences, and you now have a trio of extra chances to see why.

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The Southern Theater

1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: General

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