Don Darryl Rivera wrote and stars in this musical version of "Harold and the Purple Crayon." I was thrilled to be invited to attend and review this show at the Children's Theatre in Minneapolis. This is one of my favorite children's books. I read it over and over as a child. Well, I suppose my mom had to read it over and over. Then, I did. And, I shared it with my own kids. I loved that purple crayon. I wanted to take my big box of crayons and have as many grand adventures as Harold.
The mood of "Amen Corner" was established the moment we took our seats at the Wurtele Thrust Stage. We can see into the church, and the housing unit below. Someone is lying on the street. People walk by. Kids run, giggle and play. A man is pick-pocketing someone. Then, a cop appears. We feel like we're in a rough neighborhood. This is a glimpse of life in a city, in a place where everyone is doing what they can to survive. Some people turn to crime, to alcohol, and others to extreme religion.
On my writer's blog this morning, I have a guest post by an author publishing under the name Sophia Stone. In her memoir, "Mormon Diaries," Stone examines her life, her relationships, and her faith. She writes with honesty and bravery as she dares to face and question what she once thought of as truth.
To read the interview with Sophia Stone, go to my writer's blog, Play off the Page, www.maryaalgaard.blogspot.com. If you're reading this at a later date, find the tab under my picture header for Book Reviews.
"Grown-ups have lived their lives and made their wars. We kids didn't start these wars or make these messes. We deserve a chance to live our lives." This is a paraphrase from Anne's line in "The Diary of Anne Frank" at the Park Square Theatre in St. Paul. I attended this performance as a chaperone with about 200 eighth graders from Forestview Middle School. It was stunning. The cast of characters were exactly how I have pictured them through my readings, imagings, and visit to the Annex in Amsterdam.
In "Tales from Hollywood" the exiled writers who fled Nazi Germany form a community in Los Angelos. They're trying to write in a foreign country using a foreign language with foreign ideals and concepts. And, all the while they're trying to make sense of this cruel world and eek out an existence. Bertolt Brecht questions why he is writing for the screen when he is a playwright in a medium where there is no interaction with the audience. In an interesting use of light and sound, the creative team at The Guthrie Theater projects scenes from the play onto screens as the backdrop.
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" by Tennessee Williams is a steamy Southern drama. Once again, the creative team at The Guthrie produced a show that felt real and intense. We quickly forgot that we were at a play and leaned foward to listen in on the family conversations. It is the evening of Big Daddy's birthday and the family has all gathered. They want to believe that the reports of his terminal cancer are false, that he just has a spastic colon. They want to act like they're all doing just fine, that their relationships are going well, and that the future is bright.
"Julius Caesar", performed by The Acting Company, is a unique theatrical experience. You can catch a performance at CLC this Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 7:30. I attended a performance at the Guthrie with my 14-year-old son and young adult niece. We all enjoyed it. We all understood what was happening, and we agreed, it was a fascinating performance. The use of screens as a backdrop give us visual cues as to what is happening. From the moment we enter the theater, we see numerous tv screens with various news reporters. The screens change throughout the performance.
"Brighton Beach" memoirs, playing through July 28 at CLC theatre in Brainerd, is a play of historical merit and themes that connect with a modern day audience. This is my second viewing of a Neil Simon play in less than a week. Simon does know how to create a captivating script. His characters are real, humorous, and deal with issues that are relevant through the ages. Director Patrick Spradlin did an excellent job of casting this show. I thought that Caleb Christiansen, who plays the lead character Eugene, and Jen Anderson, who plays his mother Kate, were outstanding.
"Buccaneers" has all the elements of a great show for older elementary students through adults. It does have some scary images that might be disturbing for younger kids. I heard one mother say that her preschooler wanted to leave after the opening scenes on board the ship. The captain looks and sounds scary and he doles out some harsh punishments. The boys who attended the show with me, ages 11 & 13, loved the show. They thought it was exciting, said it was, "Awesome," and were really engaged with the show.
"Time Stands Still" opens with photo journalist Sarah Goodwin struggling to re-enter her home in Brooklyn, physically and emotionally. She has been injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb. Her partner, James Dodd, is trying to help her while dealing with his own emotional wounds and guilt of not being with her when she was nearly killed. Sarah is a renowned photo journalist. Her photos bring to light the atrocities that happen around the world, most of them inside war zones. She says that when she looks through the lens of her camera time stands still.