"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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
"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.
"Pippi Longstocking" is a high-energy, rollicking good show. Katie Adducci, who plays Pippi, is so athletic. I chatted with a woman at intermission who has seen several productions of "Pippi". She thought Kate was one of the oldest girls to play Pippi. (She seemed youthful to me.) I said she looked like she's a good gymnast. The woman replied, "That's probably why they chose her." She's everywhere on stage. Big movements. Animated dancing. My heart rate went up from watching it!
"The older I get the more offensive I hope to be," Mark, from the play "Art," by Yasmina Reza, currently playing at the Central Lakes College Dryden Theatre. Serge bought a piece of art for a hefty sum. He's criticized and ridiculed by his friend Mark. Yvan, the third friend in the triangle, tries to be a peacemaker, but ends up causing more strife. At times you feel the two against one scenario that happens in groups of three. Conversations are held in pairs, and the third one is left out, talked about, and later on the defensive.
"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.
A friendship blooms amidst the weedpatch of life in a coastal community in Maine in 1912. Turner Buckminster is new to town and doesn't quite fit in. He doesn't play baseball the right way. He wears too nice of clothes, and besides that, he's the preacher's son. Lizzie Bright Griffin is kept on the fringes because she's a colored girl from Malaga Island. The two meet while they're both trying to find some thinking space along the shores. Lizzie has rowed over from the island to dig for clams, and Turner has escaped the heat, from the sun and society.