Theater Latte Da's Violet offers sweet hope

Categories: Theater
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Image courtesy of the Guthrie
A woman disfigured by a vicious scar across her face. A man whose black skin draws disdain in the American South of 1964. A soldier whose pretty face buys him love affairs, cheap. A romantic triangle.

These are the elements of Violet, a musical with book and lyrics by Brian Crawley and music by Jeanine Tesori, that opened at the Guthrie Saturday night. In the span of two hours, the actors of Theater Latte Da delve into emotional pain and the strength that springs despite--or perhaps because--of it. The title character bears the mark of a wayward hatchet across her cheek and nose, and the internal scars to match. On a voyage to Tennessee to visit a televangelist who she believes can make her pretty, Violet meets two soldiers who help her learn about herself.

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Noel Coward's Brief Encounter well worth the trip

Categories: Theater
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Image courtesy of the Guthrie
Brief Encounter, Noel Coward's heartbreaking tale of an affair between two married people, is playing at the Guthrie -- and if you haven't seen it yet, we highly recommend it.

The play, which tells the sad tale of housewife Laura and doctor Alec in forbidden, impossible love, has gotten rave reviews throughout the city. Informed by Coward's experience of being gay when society shunned homosexuality, the play is full of the longing and sadness of unsatisfied desire.

The Guthrie has brought in a touring English company, Kneehigh Theatre, so the accents are real. Hannah Yelland and Milo Twomey are wonderful as the principal actors; Yelland's portrayal is particularly full of delicate nuance. But the supporting characters are also excellent -- they bring a welcome sense of joy to a stage that is at times heavy with despair.

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Romeo & Juliet opens at the Guthrie

Categories: Theater
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Image courtesy of the Guthrie
The classic tale of star-crossed lovers opened last night at the Guthrie Theater. Shakespeare is ever himself the same, but the staging and acting offers some new--if sometimes incongruent--twists.

The play begins with the full cast on stage before the gorgeous facade of a golden-bricked Italian home, holding umbrellas above their heads as they shout those familiar opening lines: "Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona where we lay our scene..." Instead of Shakespearean garb, the characters wear the costumes of Victorian gents and ladies. Romeo and friends are dapper dandies.

The staging is creative, but personally, I found it distracting--it's hard to take Verona's young men seriously when they're sparring with canes for swords. 


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Maria Isa, Harley Wood cast in upcoming production of Rent

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A local cast will put a new spin on the popular play RENT for a short run from February 3 through February 21, including a pair of familiar faces from the music scene: Puerto Rican hip-hop and R&B artist Maria Isa will star as Mimi, and Far From Falling vocalist Harley Wood will play Roger. The play will be set in the expansive, 6000 square foot warehouse space of the Lab in the North Loop of Minneapolis.

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Ivey Awards provide passion, backs remain unstabbed

Categories: Theater
The State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis was nearly full Monday for for the Ivey Awards, the annual celebration of Twin Cities theater that manages to impart a spirit of benevolent community recognition rather than Oscar-style nail biting. More »

Fringe festival conquers city, proclaims benevolence

Categories: Theater
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Thursday marks the opening of this year's Fringe festival, a theatrical orgy of more than 800 performances of 160 productions, wrapping up (sweaty and exhausted, one presumes) on August 9. As usual, it would be sheer madness to try to encapsulate everything on offer, but a number of shows have elbowed their way to the part of the field labeled "of interest." 
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Caroline, or Change still dazzles at the Guthrie

Categories: Theater

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Caroline, or Change is still playing at the Guthrie, and if you haven't seen it yet -- GO! It's absolutely beautiful.

Set to the backdrop of the civil rights movement, Kennedy's assassination, and the Vietnam War, the musical takes place in Louisiana in 1963. Caroline Thibodeaux, a divorced African American maid who works for a Jewish family, toils away washing laundry in the infernal heat of the underground basement. Noah Gellman, an eight-year-old boy whose mother has recently died, keeps leaving change in his pockets, and to teach him a lesson, the boy's stepmother Rose tells Caroline she can keep the money.


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American Idiot to hit the stage this September

Categories: Theater
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Green Day: "Say what?!"

You cannot kill it-- you can only hope to contain it.

As a close friend of Gimme Noise once quipped, "God damn those talented assholes." It's a sentiment that pretty much sums up what we here at the Gimme Noise offices feel about Green Day's newest and most indelible incarnation. We'd hate the hell out of their political waxing and grandiose posturing on American Idiot if their songs weren't so frustratingly good.

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Stephen Merritt to score off-Broadway production of Coraline

Categories: Theater
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Coraline, the stop-motion character on which the stage production is based, watches rehearsals from backstage.

It's not quite U2 scoring the Broadway production of Spiderman, but there's a couple laughs in here somewhere.

Yes, the 3D stop motion masterpiece is headed to the stage, and yes, the most depressive man in all of pop music will be handling the tunes and lyrics.

Certainly, one must scratch the head-- the film's story was basically a vehicle for the outstanding stop motion. Will we we really care for the fate of poor Coraline when it's, you know, just some person standing there singing retooled Magnetic Fields songs?

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U2 to score upcoming Spiderman musical

Categories: Theater
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U2 and Spiderman team up. You write the punchline.

There was a time when the silver screen lifted much of its content from the stage and gave it some fancy schmancy window dressing. But with the theater's throne well usurped by its cinematic assassins, it looks like the worm has turned.

Shrek: The Musical. Hairpsray. Grease (which was a flummoxing triple trade that saw the screen and the stage picking each other's pockets).

And now, the strangest plum-- Spiderman: The Musical has acquired U2's Bono and the Edge to write the songs.

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