Year in Review 2007

By Lavender December 21, 2007

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Genderbending in Twin Cities theater had a field day in 2007. An all-male cast of Richard III by 10,000 Things and an all-female cast of Anton in Show Business at Starting Gate were exceptional. With The Deception, Theatre de la Jeune Lune gave us its most satisfyingly gender-ambiguous and erotic-ambiguous production ever. Theatre Unbound’s Frankenstein Incarnate was given a sturdy turn by Laura Wiebers as philosopher William Godwin and Katie Guentzel’s flickering portrayal of decadent poet Lord Byron. Sonja Parks and Jamila Anderson crossed gender divides seamlessly in Pillsbury House’s Home. Monte Wheeler as Frank ’N’ Furter led a kinkily genderbent cast in Ordway’s sizzling Rocky Horror Show. Fashion 47 at Children’s Theatre glistened with male fashion models in drag. Illusion’s Act A Lady scoped the dangers of crossdressing in 1920s rural Minnesota.

Iconic lesbian playwright Carolyn Gage’s The Anastasia Trials in the Court of Women from Theatre Unbound and her classic solo play The Second Coming of Joan of Arc from 20% Theatre both were staged cracklingly. 20% was named among the Best of Lesbian Regional Theatre by Curve Magazine.

Homophobia in college athletics blistered in Penumbra’s Red Shirts. Queer as Folk’s Randy Harrison intuited gay undercurrents as Tom in Guthrie’s The Glass Menagerie. Ditto Richard Iglewski’s Antonio in Guthrie’s The Merchant of Venice. Nathan Christopher and Patrick Bailey probed paranoia of hustler and John in Jungle’s Shining City. Miriam Must and Sandy’Ci Moua elicited sublime moments of lesbianic emotion in Red Eye’s Dead City. Though not homoerotic, Nicholas Harazin and Nicholas Freeman plumbed male intimacy bravely in Minnesota Jewish Theatre’s skinhead drama Cherry Docs. Katie Melby was fluid and hilarious as a woman who attracts both genders in 3 Sticks’s delightful Melancholy Play. Family conflict with gayness was dealt with movingly in Illusion’s Iron Kisses and Theatre Mu’s Bahala Na (Let it Go).

In dance, Ananya Dance Theatre’s Duurbaar gloried in tender images of female intimacy. Choreographer Matthew Janczewski’s UGLY by Arena Dance revealed intense depersonalization in anonymous sex, mostly homo. FootHolds Project’s Cri de Coeur and DOING or NOT were visions of physical isolation and transformation. Metro Ballet’s Paul Sutherland re-created joyously the original 1942 Martha Graham choreography to gay composer Aaron Copland’s Rodeo.

Best Productions(From left) Tracey Maloney, Harriet Harris, and Randy Harrison in The Glass Menagerie. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

1. 1776, Guthrie Theater

2. The Deception, Theatre de la Jeune Lune

3. Speed the Plow, Jungle Theater

4. Richard III, 10,000 Things

5. Red Shirts, Penumbra Theatre

6. Anton in Show Business, Starting Gate Productions

7. Fat Pig, Walking Shadow Company

8. War With the Newts, Sandbox Theatre

9. The Glass Menagerie, Guthrie Theater

10. (tie)

The Anastasia Trials in the Court of Women, Theatre Unbound

Hot ’N’ Throbbing, 20% Theatre

Shining City, Jungle Theater

Theater Artist of the Year

Peter Rothstein

For soulful direction of Theater Latte Da’s Susannah; pitch-perfect direction of master gay playwright Noel Coward’s Private Lives at the Guthrie; pushing the gay envelope in Children’s Theatre’s Disney’s High School Musical; sensitivity to transphobia in Ilusion’s Act A Lady; directing Sally Wingert’s provocative Woman Before a Glass solo role for Minnesota Jewish Theatre.

Theater Hero of the year

Guthrie’s Artistic Director wowed us by pulling the new Guthrie space into sharp artistic focus with numerous wonderful productions over the past year, many of them daring in subject matter. Moreover, local theater artists are employed there significantly, and local performance companies are provided opportunities to play there—all with a clear eye to cultural diversity. Dowling’s direction of The Glass Menagerie and The Home Place showed his scrupulous instinct for specific feelings beneath the written dramatic word. Topping it off, Ian McKellen and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s King Lear graced the Big G this year, plus Tony Kushner was commissioned to write The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.

Best Director

Michelle Hensley

Richard III

10,000 Things
Best Music direction

Anita Ruth

A Little Night Music

Bloomington Civic Theatre

Best Solo PerformanceKatie Kaufmann in Joan of Arc. Photo by Claire Avitabile

Katie Kaufmann

The Second Coming of Joan of Arc

20% Theatre

Best Actress (musical)

Jamecia Bennett

Get Ready

Penumbra Theatre

Best actor (musical)

Edward Williams Jr.

Kiss of the Spider Woman, Minneapolis Musical Theatre

Best Actress (nonmusical)

Beth Gilleland

Iron Kisses

Illusion Theater

Best Actor (nonmusical)

(tie)

Jim Bovino

Coriolanus

Flaneur Productions

Richard Ooms

Trying

Park Square

Best Supporting actress

Mo Perry

Anton in Show Business

Starting Gate

Best Supporting actorRichard Iglewski and Juliet Paulson in The Home Place. Photo by Michal Daniel

Richard Iglewski

The Merchant of Venice and The Home Place

Guthrie

Funniest Performance

Stacey Poirier

The Anastasia Trials in the Court of Women

Theatre Unbound

Best Choreographer

Michael Matthew Ferrell

Disney’s High School Musical and Fashion 47

Children’s Theatre

Superior achievement in dance

Germaul Barnes and Jim Lieberthal

Cri de Coeur with DOING or NOT

FootHolds Project

Superior achievement in performance Art

Hidden Yearning, Niaz-E-Nahan

VSA Arts & Intermedia Arts

Persian dance, ritualized movement, song, violin, masks, video, storytelling, and poetry integrated by director-choreographer Leili Tajadod Pritschet courageously defied patriarchal Islamic brutality, and cried for all religions to reclaim love, care, and compassion as core values.

Superior achievement in Opera

The Grapes of Wrath

Minnesota Opera

Fresh from his Broadway triumph of Grey Gardens, composer Ricky Ian Gordon hit St. Paul with The Grapes of Wrath. It traveled the uglier back roads of economic breakdown, from suicide to mob violence to the startling breast-feeding moment you won’t see in the movie.

Susannah

Theater Latte Da

Carlylse Floyd’s incendiary opera draws parallels between McCarthyism and erotophobia in Appalachia. Director Peter Rothstein’s cast was resplendently vocal. With John Donahue’s cryptic set design, the year’s best, the opera’s natural setting itself was drained of vibrant color, just as the townsfolk had replaced healthy passion with hatred of all things physical.

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