Tag Archives: Guthrie Theater

My Fair Lady: Guthrie Theater

Loverly QuartetAaaaaaaand I’m back!

It has been far too long since I’ve written a review, but such is life.

Well, I am back and with BIG NEWS, my blogging partner in crime Karyn has moved back to Minneapolis! With her back, Pumps and Playbills will be unstoppable.

Onto the review.

Last night, July 4th, My Fair Lady opened at the Guthrie. I caught a preview of it on Tuesday night and I can only assume that this will be a popular summer production. This show is running through August 31, helping to finish off the 2013-2014 Guthrie season.

In summary, this production was precisely what you would expect from a classic story produced at the Guthrie. It was not particularly inventive, but it was performed with absolute precision and the set and costuming were spot on. Considering it was a preview, there were a few areas that needed to be tightened up a bit, however, it was never a major distraction from the story. My favorites moments were by the chorus. Particularly, the men who were part of the ‘Loverly quartet’. Their voices blended perfectly and their harmonies were absolutely gorgeous. While the performers were fantastically talented, I was most impressed by the costuming in this production. I was drooling over all the beautiful colors and sparkle. Although the set and costuming were rather traditional, it was a very visually appealing show.

I had the pleasant surprise of opening the program to see my favorite Minneapolis actor, Tyler Michaels, was cast as the lovable Freddy. It’s official, I will now be stalking him and pay any amount of money to see him in a show. That might be mildly creepy, but if you’ve seen him perform, you’ll get it.

AscotThere did seem to be a underlying feminist message, but I wasn’t entirely able to interpret. If you’re familiar with the plot of Pygmalion or My Fair Lady, you know how absolutely terrible Eliza is treated by Professor Higgins. In the end, however, they move past their differences and end up together. This production seemed to subtly reference Higgins’ misogynistic tendencies, but he never seems to clearly redeem himself. Then, at the end when Eliza shows back up at Higgins’ home, it’s hard to tell if she was supposed to be a figment of his imagination or if she actually goes back to him. It was confusingly subtle and a little unsatisfying.

All this to say, if you’re looking for a show to bring Grandma to or a show to introduce the kids to theater, I 100% recommend this show. It is a fun, light-hearted summer show.

I’m sure this one will sell fast, so be sure to catch it while you can!

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Othello: Guthrie Theater

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Written by: Chrissi

There were many reasons to love life this week. First off, we Minnesotans got our first taste of Spring with some gloriously warm days putting a dent in the mountains of snow. Hallelujah! Secondly, it was the Bachelor finale on Monday. (Judge awayyyyy.) And finally, I had a theater double feature this week with Othello on Tuesday and Peter and the Star Catcher on Wednesday (see next post). Life is good 🙂

If you know anything about the Guthrie you know that Shakespeare and the Guthrie are like peanut butter and chocolate- while great on their own, together they’re unstoppable. Honestly, I probably don’t even need to write this post because it goes without saying that this production of Othello is a home-run. Still, I’ll put together a thought or two in case you needed to be convinced.

This production was well-stocked with Guthrie favorites including the amazingly talented Stephen Yoakam as the evil antagonist, Iago. Yoakam is a phenomenal actor. I can with confidence say that he is one of the finest actors I will see in all of my theater-loving life. The title character was played by Peter Macon. Physically, Macon is a presence. He is a solid man with a booming, deep and captivating voice. His performance was astounding. He believably wore the hat of giddy newlywed, proud soldier, and jealous, murderous husband. Truly, there was no weak player in the cast. I caught one of the first performances of this production and I anticipate it only getting better as the run progresses.

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Aside from the cast, the costuming and set were not my particular favorite. When the acting is strong, I can appreciate a simplistic set that allows the story to take center stage. However, in this case I don’t think that was the intention of the set design or costuming and they just weren’t on the same level as the on-stage talent. There were some cool lighting features, particularly the clouds in the sky. Ultimately, while these elements did not take away from the production, they didn’t exactly add much either.

You have until April 20 to catch this production of Othello at the Guthrie and I highly suggest that you take advantage of the chance to see this ridiculously talented cast. Be sure to take a nap beforehand because if you get as invested in the show as I did, you will leave exhausted! Give the box office a call and order your tickets!

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Pride and Prejudice: Guthrie Theater

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of  a great fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen

I am not sure how much truth there is in this statement, but on the chance that there is some merit to it,  I just want to put it out there that I am single. 😉

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Written by: Chrissi

Pride and Prejudice at the Guthrie has been on my must-see list since I knew of it’s existence. When the run started back in the beginning of July I anticipated having more than ample opportunity to see it. I should have realized that with a story as popular at Pride and Prejudice and a top-notch cast featuring Mad Men star, Vincent Kartheiser, this show was going to sell out. But, alas, the reality did not sink in until I was ten days out from the final curtain and I realized that I needed to act fast and snatch up a seat to one of the final performances. I decided to fly solo this time around, so I was able to get an awesome seat.

In a sentence, Pride and Prejudice was the cherry on top of a wonderfully art-filled summer. It was light, beautifully executed, and unexpectedly hilarious. The set was beautiful and featured a turntable that allowed each scene to seamlessly flow into the next. Serious kudos go out to the crew for creating that and to the cast for gracefully functioning with the ground moving below their feet.

The show itself was fast-paced and all-in-all a romantic comedy. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite stories, and I was not expecting this lighter interpretation. Perhaps it was the pace, but I really wanted to be more invested in the conflict between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. It almost felt like they were not the main characters in the story, but that there were other stories happening around them. There is a lot of plot to squish in (the BBC film version is something like 5 hours long after all) but I still was longing for more of the conflict. Nevertheless, as a romantic comedy, this interpretation was top-notch. Mr. Collins as played by Kris Nelson, was perfect. If I recall, I audibly cringed at multiple points throughout his performance. Aeysha Kinnunen as Lydia Bennet was as obnoxious a flirt as you could hope for and provided a wonderfully shallow-depth to her character. Suzanne Warmanen as Mrs. Bennet was absolutely fantastic and I am pretty certain I had a few audible responses during her performance as well. (Sorry to the gentleman sitting next to me for all the times I said, “Oh my gosh.”)

I am so happy I was able to catch this show.  It was well done as always and a great end to the 50th Anniversary season at the Guthrie. I’ve been so fortunate to have seen so many great performances this season and I am very much looking forward to the season ahead.

Until next time!

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The Primrose Path: Guthrie Theater

image_4Written by: Chrissi

This past Friday I had an awesome opportunity to attend opening night of the world premiere of the Primrose Path at the Guthrie. The play was based on 19th century Russian author, Ivan Turgenev’s novel, Home of the Gentry, adapted by Crispin Whittell. Before I delve in too far, let me say that this is a great new work and you should give the Guthrie a call and snatch up some tickets ASAP.

Alright, here we go.

The Primrose Path reminded me of a mixture of Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Anna Karenina (mostly because it took place in Russia). In other words, prepare yourself for a period love story that takes place in Russia with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Also before you bring your teenage daughter, please strongly consider the ‘brief nudity’ warning. (It was not so brief…)

The cast was absolutely wonderful. They say you’re only as strong as your weakest player, and in this case there really were no weak players. While the actors can certainly take credit for their abilities, I do think that much of the credit can be attributed to the direction of Roger Rees.  The additional layer of music within the play served as a tasteful and purposeful garnish- all executed with skill. In regard to the acting, it was great to see the control the actors had over their characters. The story had some very contrasting elements in that it was a love story between two rather serious characters, Laveretsky and Elizaveta, and yet just about every other character was primarily comedic. One of the greatest examples of this control was by Hugh Kennedy who played the role of Panshin. (If we compare this story to Pride & Prejudice, consider him Mr. Collins.) It is in this character’s nature to be utterly ridiculous, yet Kennedy was able to control this character enough to make him believably ridiculous. Thus, while we were able to laugh, we were also able to take the love story and the conflict within it seriously.

Truthfully, my only complaint is in regard to the ending. (No spoilers here.) Perhaps the contrast of comedic moments were too strong, making it difficult for me to completely invest in the more serious aspect of the story. I would love to hear any response in the comments.

I 100% suggest that you check out this new work- the Primrose Path. You have from now until June 15 to catch it at the Guthrie. Call the box office to get your tickets while you can!image

Side note: I was fortunate to meet many of the cast members after the show thanks to my friend who is also in the cast, Zach Garcia. In my brief interaction I could understand why this cast meshed so well together. Simply put- the people behind the characters are great people.

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The Taming of the Shrew: Guthrie Theater

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Vince Leigh & Dan Wheeler in the Taming of the Shrew

Written by: Chrissi

Unfortunately, we hit the end of the run on this great show, so you only have util April 6th to catch it. This production was hosted by the Guthrie and performed by Propeller, an all-male Shakespeare company out of the UK. It was a great take on Shakespeare as it was performed with an all- male cast (as it would have been when it was written), but it was as modern as a photo of Anderson Cooper with grumpy cat.

If you don’t know the story, think 10 Things I Hate About You. However in the original, Julia Stiles & Heath Ledger don’t really make nice at the end. Had ’10 Things’ stuck to Shakespeare’s script, Heath would’ve humiliated Julia at the prom and then said something like ‘kiss me Kat.’ I digress.

As a company, Propeller made me remember just how awful of a story this is. They did not at all shy away from the fact that Petruchio is kind of a horrible human being that treats his wife like a piece of property. Even as I write this today, I feel like a raging feminist. I do find solace in the fact that Petruchio will forever be an ass in my memory of this show. (Literally, you see some major British booty.)

Ultimately, this is a wonderful production. I didn’t spend my time dwelling on the costumes, sets, or even the acting because I was so consumed with the story that was being told. The fact that  I am still thinking about what this story means for my life brings me back to why I love theater. While this was a highly entertaining show, the story didn’t end with a final bow. So, if you have a free night in these next few days, get your tickets while you can!

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