In Review: “Aging Magician” at the Walker

Aging Magician at Mass MoCA

In an exciting bit of news, I was asked by the Walker Arts Center to share my thoughts on Paola Prestini, Rinde Eckert, and Julian Crouch’s new opera / music-theatre work Aging Magician, which played at the Walker on March 5 & 6.

For my review / reaction to the piece, head over to the Walker’s performing arts blog.

Photo Credit: Jill Steinberg

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In Review: Pericles at The Guthrie

Wayne T. Carr in the title role in Pericles at the Guthrie Theater

Wayne T. Carr in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Pericles

PERICLES
by William Shakespeare

Featuring Wayne T. Carr, Brooke Parks, Jennie Greenberry, Jeffrey Blair Cornell, Michael J. Hume, and Armando Durán
Music by Jack Herrick
Directed by Gary Briggle
Presented by The Guthrie Theater

When his appointment was announced nearly a year ago, the Twin Cities theatre scene as a whole wondered what Joseph Haj would bring to the table as artistic director of the Guthrie Theater. When it was announced that he would be tackling Pericles in the middle of the season for his directorial debut, many were confused. After all, the production was an expansion of the version he did for PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (where he had just finished his term as artistic director) that was being co-presented by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Folger Theatre in Washington D.C. And now, after appearing in both of those other venues, how would it hold up in the massiveness of the Wurtele Thrust Stage? Well, wonder of wonders! This production of Pericles is exactly what we should be seeing from the Guthrie; a movingly lyrical, breathtakingly beautiful, emotionally satisfying production that also happens to be a hell of a fun for the audience anchored by some smart acting, a gorgeous production design, and a smart approach to one of the oddest plays in the Shakespearean oeuvre.

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In Review: The Sound of Music at the Ordway

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Billie Wildrick as Maria Rainer in the Ordway’s production of The Sound of Music

THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Music By Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse
Based on the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp

Starring Billie Wildrick,Dieter Bierbrauer, Kersten Rodau, James Detmar, and Tammy Hensrud
Directed by Gary Briggle
Presented by Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

Here’s a question for you, theatre fans: How do you solve a problem like Maria?

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In Review: A Very Non-Traditional Holiday

Miss Richfield 1981 in CHRISTMAS CONE OF SILENCE
Written and Performed by Russ King
Music by Mr. King and Todd Price
Directed by Michael Robbins
Presented by Illusion Theater

A MIDWINTER NIGHT’S REVEL
Written by John Heimbuch
Featuring Jessie Scarborough-Ghent, Jaxen Lindsey, Peter Ooley, Heidi Fellner, Daniel Ian Joeck, and Neal Beckman
Directed by Amy Rummenie
Presented by Walking Shadow Theatre Company
At Red Eye Theater

Ah, the holidays. The time where every company in town is trying to capitalize on the holiday cheer (see: the Guthrie Theater), or run away from it as fast as it can (see: the Guthrie Theater). Thankfully the Twin Cities is filled with holiday shows of every stripe to coordinate with your level of holiday celebration (many of which can be found in the latest edition of l´étoile’s “Weekend What’s What”).

For this review, I’m going to focus on two very non-traditional holiday shows. But be warned; I use “non-traditional” in the very loosest of senses, because one deals with tradition head on, while the other has become a holiday tradition in the Twin Cities.

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In Review: Nutcracker (Not So) Suite

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Deanna Gooding as Marie and Kevin McCormick as Flo in James Sewell Ballet’s production of Nutcracker (Not So) Suite

NUTCRACKER (NOT SO) SUITE
Based on the ballet by Tchaikovsky and the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann
Featuring Deanna Gooding, Kelly Vittetoe, Jordan Lefton, Stephanie Fellner, and Kevin McCormick
Conceived, Directed, and Choreographed by Myron Johnson
Presented by James Sewell Ballet
At The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts

I know the expression “Christmas Miracle” gets tossed around a lot, but a genuine miracle is taking place at The Cowles Center right now; because after years of trying to find a holiday show to call their own, they finally have hit paydirt with James Sewell Ballet’s glamorous revival of Nutcracker (Not So) Suite. Even better, this is a double miracle as it heralds the return of Myron Johnson, the iconic director and choreographer and impresario of the late, lamented Ballet of the Dolls. But this is far from sympathy praise. Thanks to some fantastic performances across the board from the company (including two iconic performers returning to the work in their signature roles), buckets of camp and glamour anchored by some dark underpinnings, and Johnson’s ruthless re-examination of his most iconic work, this is the dance equivalent of unwrapping a bottle of wine to realize that you’ve been gifted a bottle of ‘98 Dom Perignon.

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Doctor Who 09:01

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That collective gasp you heard was all of the old school fans of Doctor Who reacting in shock over Saturday’s series nine premiere. I was shocked, but I was also confused, angry, and slightly tickled. With these recaps, especially with this one, I have to dive head first into spoiler land, so you’ve been warned.

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