On the Townsend

By John Townsend December 3, 2009

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

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John Trones: Christmas in the City / Dec. 7 / Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. / (800) 982-2787 / www.ticketmaster.com>

Asians & Homos & Jews…Ho Ho! / Through Dec. 13 / Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. / (612) 339-4944 / www.illusiontheater.org

Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol / Through Dec. 20 / Park Square Theatre, 20 W. 7th Pl., St. Paul. / (651) 291-7005 / www.parksquaretheatre.org

Call them our “new traditions.” The classy John Trones creates melodic heaven on earth with dreamy guests like Jim Brickman, Jen Burleigh-Bentz, , Orla Fallon, and Joanna Jahn. Every year, when she’s done working the mobs at Provincetown, the fabulous Miss Richfield 1981 brings her irreverent campiness home for Hanukkah and Christmas mischief. Actor Jim Lichtscheidl and sound designer Michael P. Kittel transport you to Dickens’s London in a reimagining of the story that’s starting to compete with the Nativity.

Dance Film Project / Dec. 11-12 / Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls. / (612) 871-4444 / www.intermediaarts.org

Gay performance artist Jaime Carrera and gay filmmaker Tyler Jensen have created Station, one of the 11 new shorts in Dance Film Project.

Carrera says, “Even though all the performers in it are straight, and the filmmakers are queer, there is a shift in masculine and feminine roles that reflects preconceived notions of our rigid gender-specific programming. The film itself is about longing and stagnation, which can easily be applied to questions of sexuality.”

The Seafarer / Through Dec. 20 / Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls. / (612) 822-7063 / www.jungletheater.com

Alcoholism, gambling, and mystical experience ingeniously intertwine in playwright Conor McPherson’s unlikely Christmas offering. A mysterious stranger (Phil Kilbourne) visits a dump of a house in North Dublin to expose unatoned misdeeds of recovering drunk Sharky (Stephen Yoakam). Designer-director Joel Sass makes the house’s condition reflect the psychic state of the men who live and loiter there. His powerhouse cast not only captures the characters’ raw seediness, but also conjures eerie ambience that comes out of the situation—a situation with much rough graphic humor. Patrick Bailey and Allen Hamilton are especially marvelous.


Nutcracker (not so) Suite / Through Dec. 31 (Lavender Night, Dec. 11) / Ritz Theatre, 345 13th Ave. NE, Mpls. / (612) 436-1129 / www.ritzdolls.com

That naughtiest of Christmas shows returns.

Ballet of the Dolls choreographer Myron Johnson, who also plays The Uncle, remarks, “My character is just full-blown QUEEN! And Momma is obsessed with show tunes, not to mention it’s very hard to tell if she’s a man or a woman. If you like high kicks, handsome sexy men, beautiful diva women—and lots of sequins, lashes, and wigs—then our Nutcracker is for you. This year, I’ve planned more laughs, more color—and great music from Whitney, Eartha, Noel Coward, Streisand, Judy and Liza, Bette, Nina Hagen, Donna Summer. A gay boy’s dream!”

Cinderella / Through Jan. 2 / Children’s Theatre Company, 2400 3rd Ave. S., Mpls. / (612) 874-0400 / www.childrenstheatre.org

This is perhaps Children’s Theatre Company’s best show in a long time, but without reservation, it sports the most uproarious slapstick drag performances on a local stage in a long time. Dean Holtz and Reed Sigmund as Pearl and Dorcas, the wicked stepsisters, are gems of physical comedy and gender incongruity. Autumn Ness is so gloriously crass as the Wicked Stepmother that you’ll wonder if she has been watching antics of a certain Congresswoman.


Disney’s Beauty and the Beast / Through Jan. 3 / Ordway Center, 345 Washington St., St. Paul / (651) 224-4222 / www.ordway.org

Iconic gay film director Jean Cocteau inspires director Robert Johanson’s new Ordway staging.

Johanson shares, “I’ve always been enamored of the Cocteau film—the sense of magic and mystery it gives off. I think when the initial Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast was done, they wanted to make it as much like a cartoon as they could. It was the very first Disney production on Broadway. So, subsequently, with The Lion King, they went far more theatrically, and made it an event, rather than ape cartoons. And I think that’s essentially what our approach is.”

Drawing from his opera experience, Johanson adds that Beauty and the Beast “needs that grandeur and epic thing, that spectacle. It will feel even more poetic, and still fun and entertaining.”

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