In the play "Hay Fever" by Noel Coward, playing now through April 22 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the quirky Bliss family has a lovely cottage in the English countryside and each of the four members has invited a special guest for the weekend, but didn't tell anyone else until just before they all arrive. The family members are all eccentric, artistic types who are extremely self-absorbed, especially the mother Judith, played by the amazing comedic star Harriet Harris (Bebe Glazer from "Frazier", his conniving agent).
Thank you, supporters of the arts in the Brainerd lakes area! Performances for "To Kill a Mockingbird" sold out. The Lamplighters in Staples had a full house for most of their shows. My original play, "Coffee Shop Confessions," sold out in the first week. We're opening tonight, March 2, at the Coco Moon at 6:30. See recent posts on my writer's blog www.maryaalgaard.blogspot.com. We'll be performing again on April 9, at the Senior Center for their fundraiser dinner. Call DeAnn, 829-9345, to reserve a spot. We'll add a few more performances at a location to be determined.
"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.
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.
"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.
Entertainment options are exploding as the New Year begins. After a few quiet weeks where we had time to celebrate the holidays, meet and greet family and friends, and ring in a New Year, we now have an abundance of choices to entice us out of our warm houses and mingle with the local folks. It's opening week for many new shows in the Twin Cities. I've been invited to two at the Guthrie and one at The Children's Theatre in Minneapolis. Check back next week for some reviews.
If you want to stop the madness of the shopping season and fight back against commercialism, I recommend attending a holiday concert, supporting the arts, and when you do shop, make it a locally owned store. You can keep the sense of community alive as you spread your holiday cheer and buy meaningful gifts for friends and family. You can share in the reason for the season by attending concerts together, supporting your friends and neighbors as they share their gifts and talents. I've bought CDs by resident musicians. I picked up some handmade items at shops around town.
My favorite part about watching "Charley's Aunt" at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis was hearing the giggles from the kids in the audience. This show is full of physical comedy, quirky characters, and funny lines. The costumes and set are colorful and bring you to another time and place.
"A Christmas Carol" has been produced at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis for more than 35 years. This is their big show with all the bells and whistles, dancing, drama, and theatrics, of course. The story, written by Charles Dickens in 1843, describes London on the eve of Christmas. Carolers walk the streets. Women come to the door with requests to help the poor. The rich, like Scrooge, hoard their wealth. The poor are sent out into the streets with no one to help them and nowhere to go. Dickens brought to light the darkness of society.
The 1940's Radio Hour is community theater at its finest up in Pequot Lakes, presented by the GLAPA group. I attended the Sunday afternoon show, which can be more subdued than an evening performance, but it wasn't. It was full of life and energy, beautiful costumes, and interesting scenery. I love it when the band is on stage, as in this show, so that they are part of the effect. They are cast members. Three cheers and a hand massage for the pianist, Renee Anderson. I know how hard you had to work! The music and musicians were phenomenal.