A Chaste Maid in Cheapside: Definitely sex please, we're British

Categories: Theater
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Photo courtesy Classical Actor Ensemble
On what was likely the shittiest April evening in many decades in the Twin Cities, a hearty crowd gathered at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage Thursday evening for a funny and bawdy A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, courtesy of the resurgent Classical Actor Ensemble.

Thomas Middleton's proto sex farce centers on a familiar plot, as we have star-crossed lovers attempting to get together against the wishes of society. Unlike Romeo and Juliet (which is being presented in rep with Chaste Maid), this play never turns tragic.

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Vanessa Voskuil premieres large-scale dance The Student at O'Shaughnessy

Categories: Dance, Theater
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Photo by Grant Halverson 
After a two-year exploration, director and dance maker Vanessa Voskuil presents the culmination of her large-scale dance- and music-theater piece, The Student, this weekend at O'Shaughnessy Auditorium as part St. Catherine University's Women of Substance series. Premiering on Thursday, the work features about 70 local dancers, actors, and community members, plus 100 student vocalists from St. Catherine University, Hamline University, and Perpich Center for the Arts Education.
 
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Characters find solace under the Dublin sky in Once

Categories: Theater
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Photo by Joan Marucs
The company of Once.
The rock musical has a troubled history, mainly because the two forms don't play well together. Recent years have witnessed stronger pieces, as songwriters and theater artists have found common ground.

Once, playing this week on tour at the Orpheum Theatre, is an odd creation even in the realm of the rock musical. It's based on a film about a pair of musicians who don't exactly fall in love, but do fall into creating art together. 

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Gary Anderson gets under famous attorney's skin in Naked Darrow

Categories: Theater
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Photo by Petronella Ytsma
Gary Anderson as Clarence Darrow.
Three years after presenting Naked Darrow, his one-man examination of Clarence Darrow's life and legacy, Gary Anderson is back in the Twin Cities with a revamped and revised edition of the play.

This time around, Anderson has moved from Park Square Theatre to Illusion, where he will present a limited run of the show over the next week and a half. While the basic heart of the piece remains, plenty of work has been done to it over that time.

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Penumbra presents intriguing, uneven The Mountaintop

Categories: Theater
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Photo by Tim Fuller
James T. Alfred.
Katori Hall's The Mountaintop is a strange creature that tries to do much, but never merges together into a satisfying whole.

The concept is intriguing, as we sit in with Martin Luther King Jr. on his final night on Earth. A thunderstorm rages outside of a dingy hotel room in Memphis, while an unsettled King tries to craft a speech he will never give.

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Abe Lincoln and Uncle Tom in the White House explores the unreal

Categories: Theater
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Photo by Barbara Rose-Brown
James A. Williams and Steve Hendrickson, Abe Lincoln and Uncle Tom in the White House.
Nearly a week after seeing Carlyle Brown's exploration of race, power, and "doing the right thing," I'm still not sure what I think of the show.

Brown offers up a though-provoking piece that gives a pair of very talented actors the chance to play iconic characters (one real, one imagined) and bounce plenty of ideas off each other. 

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Beauty and heartbreak live side by side in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess

Categories: Theater
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Photo by Michael J. Lutch
Alicia Hall Moran as Bess and Nathaniel Stampley as Porgy in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. 
Put aside the complex history, the questions of racial stereotypes, and the altered nature of the piece for a moment, and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess is a gorgeous night of music.

Audiences familiar with the repeated pop earworms of modern musicals get an immersive auditory experience composed by a 20th-century American master. The jazz-influenced score offers tremendous rewards that constantly work in concert with the tough story presented on stage.

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Cyrano: The nose knows

Categories: Theater
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Photo by Petronella Ytsma
Emily Gunyou Halaas and J.C. Cutler.
Edmond Rostand's comic and tragic tale of inner versus outer beauty has endured for centuries on the back of its intriguing, funny, and flawed main character. J.C. Cutler inhabits all of those qualities in Park Square Theatre's engaging production.

Teamed up with a terrific cast, gorgeous costumes from Matthew J. LeFebvre, and typically energetic direction from Joe Chvala, Cutler lets us see what makes Cyrano truly tick.

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Charlie Bethel brings one-man The Odyssey home

Categories: Theater
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Photo by Dan Norman
Charlie Bethel.
The Odyssey is a story as old as the hills. Actually, some hills may be younger than Homer's epic adventure about a man's 10-year-long quest to get home.

It has endured because it is an exciting and funny adventure. Charlie Bethel's one-man version of the piece brings all of that home in a two-hour package that will also move you in the end.

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Letters to Sala reveals concentration camp correspondence

Categories: Theater
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Sala Garncarz Kirschner (then Sala Garncarz) as a teenager
This weekend, Sabes JCC Theater in St. Louis Park presents a regional premiere of the play Letters to Sala, a piece inspired by the letters sent to Sala Garncarz Kirschner, a Jewish survivor of World War II Nazi prison camps. 


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