On the Townsend

By John Townsend October 9, 2009

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

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Bert and Ernie, Goodnight! / Through Oct. 25 / Children’s Theatre Co., 2400 3rd Ave. S., Mpls. / (612) 874-0400 / www.childrenstheatre.org

Males being affectionate with each other. What a concept! It’s not exactly homoromantic, still is not as common as it ought to be. Bradley Greenwald and Reed Sigmund generate vibrant comic energy as Sesame Street’s beloved buddy duo. Kids will relish Barry Kornhauser’s wacky script, but adults will be struck by how much it has to say about smoothing rocky rapids in male friendships. We see that patience is a virtue—even when you want to smack the other guy on the head!

Mary’s Wedding / Through Oct 25 / Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls. / (612) 822-7063 / www.jungletheater.com

Choreographer Carl Flink has infused Stephen Massicotte’s soulfully imaginative World War I romance with some of the most lyrical stage movement you ever will see. No exaggeration! Alayne Hopkins and Sam Bardwell explode with passion. Hopkins also shines in a brusque crossgender turn as Sergeant Flowerdew. Bardwell is a flickering vision sprung from a fantasy echoing the choreography of Jerome Robbins and Agnes DeMille. It is directed exquisitely by Joel Sass, who also designed the amazing set. Sean Healey’s soundscape and Barry Browning’s lighting elicit a luminously spiritual quality.

Pas de Quatre / Through Oct. 25 / Ritz Theatre, 345 13th Ave. NE, Mpls. / (612) 623-7660 / www.ritzdolls.com

It has been a century since the illustrious Sergei Diaghilev founded Ballets Russe. You knew Ballet of the Dolls would have something to say about that! Choreographer Myron Johnson shares, “Diaghilev is ranked number 46 in one of my favorite books, The Gay 100, by Paul Russell, a ranking of the most influential gay men and lesbians. Oddly enough, he is tied at 46 with Vaslav Nijinksy. Diaghilev’s influence on dance is overwhelming actually. He and his group of artistes are why I get up in the morning.” Four Ballets Russe classics will be deconstructed Dolls-style. Ingeniously comic, hot dancer Stephanie Fellner plays Cleopatra, so watch out!

Radio Golf / Through Oct. 25 / Penumbra Theatre, 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul / (651) 224-3180 / www.penumbratheatre.org

The final play in August Wilson’s landmark African-American history cycle addresses 1990s urban politics and gender. Director Lou Bellamy notes that it involves the character Old Joe “preparing a house for his daughter, the first female heir in a full generation. The symbol, of course, is that with the return of a woman to the spiritual center of the community, the people will heal. By locating the power to keep the community united and culturally connected in women, Wilson pays homage to the power of mitochondrial DNA to link us all together in a powerful chain of women that ultimately leads us home.”

Ode to Walt Whitman / Oct 16-18 / In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, 1500 E. Lake St., Mpls. / (612) 721-2535 / www.hobt.org

Queer history and love of America match up in the reprise of Bart Buch’s lovely, fantastical puppet dialogue between legendary gay poets Walt Whitman and Federico Garcia Lorca. Since its last local run in 2006, Buch’s little gem has played to full houses in the Big Apple. It won praise from the widow and daughter of that most iconic of puppet masters, the late great Jim Henson. Whitman is renowned for his homoromantic and erotic Leaves of Grass, along with his bold assertion of male love in the 19th Century. Lorca paid homage to Whitman with his own great work, Ode to Walt Whitman. It’s speculated widely that Lorca’s 1936 murder during the Spanish Civil War was ordered by top brass in Franco’s fascist regime.

The Walworth Farce / Oct. 21-25 / In Conversation: Joe Dowling & Edna Walsh / Oct. 25 / Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. / (612) 375-7600 / www.walkerart.org

Imagine replaying the same story every day at your father’s command. That’s the rub in Edna Walsh’s hit comedy from Ireland’s Druid Theatre, jointly offered by Guthrie Theater and Walker Art Center. Ray Scannell plays the son, Blake, who portrays all the female characters. Scannell points out that Blake “has had no contact with the outside world since he was 5, so he is not socialized. He finds a safety in playing all the characters. His understanding of gender is limited to this story only and his immediate surroundings. To him, love and relationships are purely primal, and heightened from being caught up in this microcosm.”

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