Tag Archives: Twin Cities Arts

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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Art-a-Whirl 2013: NE Minneapolis

Written by: Chrissi

This past weekend (May 17-19th) NEMAA hosted the 18th annual Art -a-Whirl in Northeast Minneapolis. While I can’t claim this much longer, I consider myself relatively new to the Twin Cities and thus this was my first time checking out Art-a-Whirl. It’s safe to say that this will not be my last. If you’ve ever been to NE Minneapolis you know that it is lovingly known as the Art District, full of old warehouses, great bars & breweries, and plenty of artists. Art-a-Whirl takes place throughout every nook & cranny of Northeast. Whether you’re the trendiest night spot or the creepiest underside of a bridge- you’ll find people united by one cause: Art-a-Whirl and a unified appreciation for art.

So, here is what to expect if you plan to make it next year:

Decide if you want to sacrifice comfort for fashion and dress accordingly. You will be outside walking from location to location, so although you don’t want to wear a jacket out in the middle of may, if it’s cold outside, you’ll get cold. (Not that I’m speaking from experience here.) Be willing to take your time and take a step or two outside of your comfort zone. Turns out that ‘Minnesota nice’ extends to Minnesotan artists! Each artist was uniquely talented and those that I spoke with were humble, gracious, and fun to chat with. Also, after all that walking you might get a little hungry or thirsty- never fear! Plenty of food truck favorites were parked throughout the area for your tasting pleasure. Not to mention, there are plenty of awesome NE food spots and watering holes.

If I haven’t sold you at this point, you probably don’t like art and should probably get back to finding your inspiration from the most recent Nicholas Sparks novel. (Don’t get me wrong, the Notebook makes me cry like anyone with a pulse, but I literally called out that one of the characters from his most recent book to movie adaptation was a ghost. A GHOST!?!?! Come on.)

I digress.

Well friends, until the next adventure!

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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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Turandot: Minnesota Opera

Written by: Chrissi

You need to see Minnesota Opera’s production of Turandot. Go order your tickets right now and then come back to read this post.

It’s no secret that I hold a special place in my heart for the Minnesota Opera. The first opera I ever saw was their production of Carmen from the 2004-2005 season when I was visiting the area as a freshman in high school. Now that I am fortunate enough to live in the Twin Cities, I love being able to soak up all the great things this organization has to offer.

Turandot is everything great about opera. I was blown away by the beautiful costuming, scenery, lighting, and overall theatricality of this production. After the opening scene, a man sitting near us said something along the lines of, “Now THAT is the way to start an opera.” While I am not an advocate of fellow audience members speaking loud enough for me to hear, I couldn’t blame him for needing to say something at that point.

With beautiful singing, quality acting, and top-notch, everything, I have only positive things to say about Minnesota Opera’s Turandot. This was the perfect end of the 50th Anniversary Season. It is easy to see why this company has been such a success for these past 50 years and I look forward to many high-quality, innovative years to come.

Need something to hold you over? Check out Nessun Dorma performed by Adam Laurence Herskowitz.

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Performance Dates:
Tuesday, April 16, 7:30pm
Wednesday, April 17, 7:30pm
Thursday, April 18, 7:30pm
Friday, April 19, 7:30pm
Saturday, April 20, 7:30pm
Sunday, April 21, 2pm

Where: Ordway, 345 Washington Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102

Tickets: $20 – $200. Call the Minnesota Opera Ticket Office at 612.333.6669, Monday–Friday, 9am–6pm, or purchase online at mnopera.org.

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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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