Tag Archives: Twin Cities Theatre

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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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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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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Coming up next:

The next few weeks of Twin Cities theatre are just lovely. In the depressing limbo between winter and spring, here are the shows that I’m planning to help carry me through!

Guthrie.OtherDesertCities_bannerNow- March 24

To be honest, I can’t believe I haven’t seen this yet. Karyn & I are planning to make it though. I’m looking forward to a good laugh and another gem in the Guthrie’s 50th Anniversary season. Other Desert Cities is playing now at the Guthrie. Get your tickets here.

Have you already seen it? Comment below or tweet to let us know how you liked it.

Follow us! @chrissijean & @karyneliza

 

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March 14- April 7

If you have heard the music from this show then it will be obvious as to why I am excited about this. The story is set in 1950’s Italy (sigh) and is a wonderful love story between the handsome, young Fabrizzio and an American tourist, Clara. This production is hosted at the Ordway and performed through Theatre Latte Da. Get your tickets, but watch out, you’ll be in the mood for love after this!

twelfth night & taming of the shrew

Now – April 6

Ah, Shakespeare at the Guthrie. I’ve never been disappointed and I don’t anticipate either of these being any different. The Taming of the Shrew & Twelfth Night are playing at the Guthrie, performed by Propeller.

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April 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

While I am VERY excited for this, I am also a little bummed that this will mark the end of MN Opera’s 50th Anniversary season. Having said that, I trust that this will be MARVELOUS. If you have not made it to the opera this season, or ever for that matter, trust that you will not want to miss this. Turandot will be performed by the Minnesota Opera at the Ordway starting April 13. Check out more information about Turandot or buy tickets here.

Art in Bloom April 25-28 MIA

This is not a performance, but it is an event I that lives on my calendar every year. For me, nothing says spring in the Twin Cities like Art in Bloom at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. If you’ve never been, let me give you some insight. Art in Bloom is a yearly event in which florists recreate or are inspired by pieces of art at the MIA. The best and most unbelievable part- it is free! Mark your calendars and plan a trip to the MIA in April. Want more info? Check out the Art in Bloom page on ArtsMIA.org.

Art in Bloom

My favorite sculpture and the arrangement it inspired.

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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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