Roman Holiday, playing through August 19 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, is a delightful stage production inspired by the 1953 movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The creative greats at the Guthrie really know how to produce good, old-fashioned, visually stunning musical theatre with the help of author Paul Blake and the musical genius of Cole Porter. The set was gorgeous. The dancers were amazing. The stars were delightful, and the secondary characters brought pizzazz to the stage.
"Anytown" is a dance performance by the Shapiro & Smith Dance Company using the music of Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band members Patti Scialfa and Soozie Tyrell, playing now at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. It tells stories of American life, the working class, the hardships, the relationships, the emotions of a lifetime.
In "The Sunshine Boys" by Neil Simon, the comedic team of Lewis and Clark were once the hit of Vaudeville, the times before radio and television, when people had to leave their houses to find entertainment. Comedy was quick, witty, and full of sight gags. The costumes alone caused a chuckle. So, what happened to the legendary Lewis & Clark? They split up after an appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show", and haven't seen or spoken to each other in 11 years.
"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.
The best thing about watching plays at The Guthrie Theater Studio is that they offer something new. Not that all the plays are brand new. I saw "Julius Caesar" there last year, but done in a contemporary way. Other shows have been quite new from lesser known, still alive, playwrights, that have more diversity. "The Brothers Size" by Tarell Alvin McCraney is a modern play about brothers who live in a community in Louisianna where life is a struggle. People don't have much, and what they have, they've had to fight to keep. This includes relationships.
"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.
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.
Li-Young Lee is a nationally acclaimed poet and scholar. He visited CLC on Monday, Sept. 24, and read from his collection. He grew up with the feeling that he was the enemy in the various foreign countries where he lived, which seeped into his psyche and his writing. He told us about the four selves: We have our public self, the one we show to anyone, even strangers. We have our private self, who we are with friends and family, where we feel a little safer. We have our inner self, the one we know and keep only to ourselves.
I would like to thank Michelle Woster for inviting me to view and review "Measure for Measure", by Ten Thousand Things Theater. They are a theater company that takes the show on the road, performing at prisons, shelters, housing projects, remote rural locations, and accessible venues. (They have hopes of coming to the Brainerd area next year.) They keep the set and props simple and representative, making it easy to set up their "stage" wherever they go. We walked into the performance space at The Open Book, downtown Minneapolis, where the chairs were set for theater in the round.
The Cat in the Hat provides fun that is funny on that cold, cold, wet day when Sally and her brother let him into their house. The suspicious, old fish scolds and complains as he, and many other household items, hang in the balance, on the end of the Cat's umbrella, or the top of his hat. When the Cat lets Thing One and Thing Two out of the box, the chaos is out of control, and the fish worries that "They should not be here when your mother is out!"