On the Townsend

By John Townsend March 24, 2011

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

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Frankenstein
Apr. 3
Guthrie Theater
818 S. 2nd St., Mpls.
(612) 377-2224
www.guthrietheater.org

Film director Danny Boyle gave us the Oscar-laden Slumdog Millionaire and Best Picture Oscar-nominated 127 Hours. After a 15-year absence from the stage, he has rocked London with his National Theater mounting of Nick Dear’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s horror classic, Frankenstein. It stars Benedick Cumberbatch, from Boyle’s 1996 film cult classic, Trainspotting. See Frankenstein in high definition at the Guthrie.

Barrio Grrrl!
Through Mar. 27
Children’s Theatre Company
2400 3rd Ave. S., Mpls.
(612) 874-0400
www.childrenstheatre.org

Playwright-lyricist Quiara Alegria Hudes has accomplished a theatrical miracle with help from composer Bill Sherman. This sweet little rock musical from The Kennedy Center for Young Audiences on Tour is relentlessly cheery, yet it never evades dark realities.

A spirit, played zestfully by Michelle Liu Coughlin, gives psychic support to Ana (a vibrant Desiree Rodriguez), whose overworked, overwhelmed grandfather looks after her, while her mother fights in Iraq.

Hudes demonstrates how, in the face of poverty, thwarted hopes, and categorical adult thinking, a childlike imagination can spur us to new heights and possibilities. We ultimately are reassured that life is beautiful, while knowing the negative is always there to be reckoned with.

Cabaret
Through Mar. 27
Minnesota Centennial Showboat
Harriet Island, St. Paul
(651) 227-1100
www.riverrides.com

Frank Theatre presents this musical’s 1998 book version, in which, dramaturg Steve Matuszak says, “all sexuality is out of the closet. And that’s only appropriate. Berlin was the only major city in Europe, and perhaps the world, where homosexuality, while technically illegal, was openly embraced. Cliff [Max Wojtanowicz] remains polyamorously bisexual. There are gays, lesbians, threesomes, and hints of S&M scattered throughout the book and our production. The Weimar Republic [in Germany] is a place that’s relatively tolerant and adventuresome.”

Cabaret goes on to show how the seams of human relationships were ripped, as the country morphed into Nazism. The early-1930s setting reveals the dark passage when Hitler shut down trade unions and all political parties except his own. Then, he went ballistic against Jews, gypsies, and queers.

This production is the most boldly erotic show Wendy Knox ever has directed.


Lucinda Childs’s Dance

Apr. 7
Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 375-7600
www.walkerart.org

The 1980s always seem to take a back seat to the 1960s and 1970s as a time for radical artistic innovation. But beneath the Reagan Era’s materialistic surface, artistic conventions were challenged radically.

For example, 30 years ago, choreographer Lucinda Childs’s Dance was derided and adored by its audience. She now reconjures the minimalist style for which this piece is renowned. It also integrates minimalist concepts from Sol LeWitt’s visual art and Philip Glass’s music.


Feminine Venom

Mar. 31-Apr. 9
Nick & Eddie’s
1612 Harmon Pl., Mpls.
(612) 486-5800
www.lamblayswithlion.org

Edgy director/playwright Jeremey Catterton shares, “I was fascinated with the Female Convict Scorpion films from Japan. Whereas this film genre is often associated with sadomasochism and pornography, I was greatly inspired by how the Scorpion films handled ‘women behind bars’ in a neoexpressionistic way, while also employing character and aesthetics from Kabuki and Noh Theatre.”

bare
Through Apr. 10
Illusion Theater
528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 339-4944
www.aboutmmt.org

Minneapolis Musical Theatre lays bare the souls of five Catholic boarding school students who seek answers to life’s questions in the confessional, at raves, and in dorms.

Director Steven Meerdink, who feels the Damon Intrabartolo/John Hartmere musical resonates because of the recent teen-suicide crisis, muses, “We’ve all wondered if we would be better off keeping a part of ourselves a secret in an effort to fit in. And what accountability does each one of us have for words and actions that might lead others to destructive ends, even if those words and actions seem well-intentioned at the time? bare presents these issues in a very powerful way.”


Heaven

Through Apr. 10
Guthrie Theater
818 S. 2nd St., Mpls.
(612) 377-2224
www.guthrietheater.org

Battle and genocide are the subject of the latest from choreographer Joe Chvala, who observes, “After years of economic trouble up to the early ’90s, and the coinciding wave of political change in Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia began to disintegrate, as Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence. The wars that followed in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo were the result of a complex combination of history, propaganda, careless political maneuvering, and economics that forced a redrawing of the borders of the former Yugoslavia. The result was years of ethnic cleansing and atrocities not seen in Europe since World War II.”

Chan Poling, whose gorgeous score graced the beloved local gay film The Toilers & The Wayfarers, has composed music for Heaven.

Oedipus El Rey
Through Apr. 27
Lab Theater
700 N. 1st St., Mpls.
(612) 333-7977
www.tetrodelpueblo.org

The US incarceration rate surpasses that of any developed country in the world. This elicits a grim atmosphere for minorities who are targets of a prison system that often is privatized for profit. Such is the world of openly-gay playwright Luis Alfaro’s contemporary retelling of Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex in an LA barrio. This haunting coproduction by Pangea and Teatro del Pueblo beguiles with a ritualistic spirit.

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