Monthly Archives: November 2014

Next to Normal: Bloomington Civic Theater

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Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realize that I am fortunate to live in such a theatre-rich place littered with┬ábeautifully talented people. I have to remind myself how spoiled I am to consume high-quality art, and consume it often. I sometimes have to tell myself to stop criticizing, and appreciate what’s happening in front of me because I am fortunate enough to experience it.

These thoughts were inspired by a jaunt to Bloomington Civic Theater to see the Pulitzer Prize winning musical, Next to Normal.

Next to Normal is the story of a mother dealing with mental illness and the impact it has on her family. Can the Pulitzer Prize crew give out multiples, because, dang, this story deserves another. There were moments where I caught a glimpse inside theimg_9414mind of a person dealing with a mental illness and the overwhelming reality of that. It would be so insanely frustrating to be stuck in a different reality than the people around you. The greatest stories are the ones that get you thinking and provide you with a perspective you may have not considered before. This is Next to Normal in a nutshell. Bravo to you Brian Yorkey!

As for the performance itself, it was pretty good. I feel the need to mention that I went on a Thursday evening toward the end of the run of this production and was part of a crowd that maybe half-filled the theater. The energy levels seemed a little down. Not only is the story so emotionally charged, but the music is difficult, the staging was pretty physical, and the singers need to have major chops. I could tell that everyone involved was pretty insanely talented. Unfortunately, I felt like things weren’t always clicking. I should also mention that the supporting musicians were behind the set on stage. I imagine this makes things tricky for the actors. Things were at times pitchy and not always on beat. I hate to be critical, but I was just bummed┬ábecause I can tell that it could have been better perhaps on a different night.

So, here is my review in a few brief bullets:

– Extremely talented cast.

– Moments of brilliance.

– I KNOW it could have been better. I’ve learned my lesson to avoid weeknights.

Without a doubt, I recommend checking this show out. You have one week to get tickets. Check out Goldstar, I was able to get half-price tickets! Such a steal!

Hansel & Gretel: Minnesota Opera

all the kidsMinnesota Opera’s production of Hansel & Gretel is perfectly timed between Halloween and the Christmas season. This colorful opera is shorter than the typical opera (around 2 hours) making it a great introduction to opera for the kids in your life.witch clown

This particular production of Engelbert Humberdinck’s Hansel and Gretel is set in the early 20th century with inspiration from classic Hollywood glamour and fun carnival colors. Once again, Minnesota opera delivers on all counts. Beautiful costuming, whimsical lighting, and creative sets served as the perfect support to top-notch performers. One of the greatest attributes in this opera was the addition of dancers from the Zenon Dance Company. From a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers inspired dream scene to sequin-clad acrobats, the addition of dance offered seamless transitions and helped portray the tempo of the production. Additionally, one of my favorite aspects were the fantastic project opera singers! The kids sang beautifully and acted well!

This was a satisfyingly lovely production. I highly recommend indulging in this great production. I suppose I could discuss this further, but for this one, I’d rather keep things short and sweet. ­čśë

creepy carnival dancers