Tag Archives: Minneapolis Theatre

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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War Horse: Orpheum Theatre

Written by: Chrissi

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It is a long running joke amongst those who knowme that I do not cry. If I were in a boy band, my persona would not be ‘the emotional one.’ So, when I tell you that when I saw War Horse at the Orpheum and I not only teared up, but cried, it’s pretty significant.

Somehow I have not read the book this play is based off of, nor have I seen the hit film version. I’m not much of a ‘war story’ person, so although I was exposed to the play on the Tony’s as well as when I was in NYC last summer, I didn’t have a strong desire to see it. Thankfully my Pumps & Playbills counterpart Karyn was interested in checking it out.

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First off, the story is beautiful. The story followsJoey (a horse) and his owner, Albert. There was a brilliant balance of reality and imagination. As an audience member, you have to accept that the three people on stage handling the horse puppet are a single character. Not just that, but this character will not speak to get their message across. If you are willing to invest in that, the return is a masterpiece.

Really, it is theatre at its finest. A musical element beautifully accompanied the story and seamlessly took you from scene to scene. The staging was marvelous. Simple and powerful. The set was simple and purposeful, continuing to walk the line between reality and imagination. It was engaging, beautifully produced, and wonderfully performed. I could not get out of my seat soon enough for a standing ovation.

War Horse is playing at the Orpheum through June 23.

Get your tickets ASAP!

*Note there is a student/educator rush- see website for details.

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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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Hamlet: Minnesota Opera

MN Opera Hamlet

Karyn

Here we go – our first blog post! We chose an opera to begin “Pumps and Playbills” (go big or go home). A good opera has subtitles, a girl-gone-crazy from love and dramatic deaths. Minnesota Opera’s product of Thomas’ Hamlet had me picking my jaw off the floor and wishing for more.

The opera is sung in French with English captions. I don’t speak French (honestly, I don’t really like singing in French), but this cast makes you feel the music and understand the story without the captions. And any cast that makes your forget you are in a theater for almost three hours is good in my book. Brian Mulligan’s powerful baritone voice commands the stage as he sings the leading role of Hamlet. You feel the love, anger and revenge that Hamlet experiences through his voice.

Now, my favorite part of the show – love-struck girl gone crazy! Marie-Eve Munger sang the part of Ophelia effortlessly stealing the show from Hamlet. She hits every high note known to man as she slowly sinks into madness onstage.  SPOILER ALERT: After Ophelia dies, she appears back onstage suspended in a cloud!!! She sings in the air like it is a natural process. I had to pick my jaw off the floor! Bravo to Munger!

After Ophelia dies, I lost track of the number of deaths in the show. The deaths were disappointing because every person that walked on the stage had a beautiful voice. Rarely do you find a cast of this caliber. Wayne Tigges and Katharine Goelner give stunning performances as Claudis (the new King of Denmark) and Queen Gertrude. Although everyone dies in the end, it was a treat to spend 2 hours and 45 minutes with them and this fantastic show. To go or not to go that is the question….not really, go see this show!

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