Posted at 10:23 AM on December 1, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: News and reviews
Here's a look at what stories are making headlines...
Varied subplots all lead to assassination
- Tom Zelman, Star Tribune
Author Keith Elliot Greenberg uses a number of devices to keep us interested in the day John Lennon died. Unfortunately, he only partially succeeds.
Despite cuts in giving, SPCO balances budget
- Graydon Royce, Star Tribune
Strict cost controls kept expenses in line while fundraising and attendance dropped slightly.
SPCO draws from endowment to keep budget balanced
- Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press
That rainy day is here, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra was prepared for it.
Who is the real Jeremy Messersmith?
- Matt Beachey, Examiner.com
Jeremy Messersmith used to just be that guy with the loop pedal who tapped out a beat on the body of his acoustic guitar, played some chords over it, then layered voice upon voice upon voice to create an eerie choir backed by gentle rapping and strumming.
M.anifest, Jon Davis, Pete Hennig selected as MECA winners
- Andrea Swensson, City Pages
It's always reassuring when an organization recognizes the time and resources required for a musician to devote any significant portion of time to their art.
2011 album trainspotting: Why not start now?
- Ray Cummings, City Pages
Here's a little free, unsolicited, pre-Christmas advice from Gimme Noise: Do let the iTunes gift cards Santa leaves behind burn a metaphorical hole in your stocking.
Lupe Fiasco's Modest Mouse-cribbed single 'The Show Goes On'
- Andrew Flanagan, City Pages
Fiasco's long-anticipated, label-delayed third record, Laser, has been attached a release date, with a Modest Mouse-cribbing single in tow.
High notes out of reach, Judds still touched hearts
- Jon Bream, Star Tribune
Wynonna sounded all stuffed up, but she and Naomi managed to put on a memorable show at Mystic Lake.
El DeBarge, '80s popstar, releases first album in 16 years
- Jen Boyles, City Pages
If you're under 30, you can feel free to just move right along.
2010 British Television Advertising Awards to make a somber impression at the Walker Art Center
- Jay Gabler, TC Daily Planet
If the advertising firms of the United Kingdom have done their jobs well this year, after the Walker Art Center's sold-out run of screenings of winners of the 2010 British Television Advertising Awards, there will be several thousand Minnesotans slightly less likely to do cocaine, drive after doing cocaine, smoke cigarettes, get into an unmarked cab, tolerate being the victims of domestic violence, drive over the speed limit, take an airline flight, carry a knife, or drink and drive--though slightly more likely to drink in general, though slightly less likely to drink to drunkenness.
Win-win: David Sedaris's "Santaland Diaries" presented by Frank Theatre at Hennepin Stages and by Theatre Limina at the Bryant-Lake Bowl
- Betsy Gabler, TC Daily Planet
Sedaris fans won't go wrong with either show.
'Fezziwig's Feast:' Twin Cities theater veteran Jon Cranney creates a story within a story -- for a show within a feast
- Kathy Berdan, Pioneer Press
Marley was dead: to begin with. So intoned a 78-rpm record of Lionel Barrymore reading the part of Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol." Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Jon Cranney was hooked.
Joe Leary stars in "The Santaland Diaries" at Hennepin Stages
First, a clarification: what follows is a compilation of reviews for the show "The Santaland Diaries" produced by Frank Theatre, on stage at Hennepin Stages, starring Joe Leary. Do not confuse these for reviews of "The Santaland Diaries" produced by Theatre Limina, on stage at Bryant Lake Bowl. Both are based on the series of monologues writer David Sedaris recorded for National Public Radio, but one is produced as a one-man-show while the other is a series of skits performed by a cast and a live stage band.
This lively production, under the direction of Wendy Knox, has a wonderfully cartoon-like look, complete with Steve Rohde's recreation of Santaland and Kathy Kohl's gaudy elf costume, including curly-toed shoes. Christmas muzak blares in the background, punctuated by announcements over a loudspeaker.
A 75-minute monologue tailored to Sedaris' uniquely dry, deadpan delivery, "The Santaland Diaries" presents a challenging task for an actor. Joe Leary does a stellar job with the variety of characters that inhabit this play, embodying some particularly amusing Santas, over-wrought parents and freakish coworkers. At one point he recounts working with a wildly enthusiastic Santa who demands that he sing "Away in a Manger" for a child. Leary breaks into a deliciously campy Billie Holiday-style carol that ensures Santa won't ask for an encore.... If nothing else, this show is guaranteed to make you take a closer look at that elf who's directing your child to a department store Santa.
As time goes on, Crumpet is an increasingly less-than-happy camper, crumbling under the strain of projecting constant sunshine and with garden-variety human failings turned noxiously abrasive. But matters never turn really dark; Leary keeps his frustration focused on self-deprecation rather than lashing out, and at no time are we asked to deal with cynical ruminations on the holiday itself.
If anything, Santaland is a microcosm of humanity from the cave to the jetway: absurd, incoherent and occasionally worthy of affection.
As with Sedaris' writing, we're not asked to delve deep into his thoughts about himself, the world or its traditions. Instead, he simply portrays things as they are and makes the case for them being very funny.
In this show, coming in at less than an hour and a half, we have a satire that bites without drawing blood. It's a fine piece of storytelling, delivered with assurance, and manages to send up everything in sight without bringing us down. Crumpet's time was clearly not wasted.
Leary does an amazing job up there all by his elfin-self (I'd say f'in-self in the spirit of the performance, but that might be a bit much). That can't be easy. His delivery is sharp, his coy interaction with the audience (a highlight being when a front row gal shrieked as he began to change from street clothes into elf clothes) was perfect with an eyebrow-raised glance, and his performance of Billie Holiday's imagined "Away in a Manger" solo rocks. The costume is a detailed extravaganza, somewhere between the Lollipop Kids vests and a King of Hearts tux, complete with to-die-for curled-toe velvet booty shoes. And the sound quality is excellent: you can understand every word, which is good, as you do want to hear every word that Sedaris wrote. Each one is as cynical, poignant, and/or sarcastic as the next. You do not, however, want to bring the children, as some adults who sat next to me did. I'm hoping those misguided guardians get the coal they deserve this year. Geesh.
Are you going to see "The Santaland Diaries?" If you've already seen it, what did you think?
Posted at 2:00 PM on December 1, 2010
by Euan Kerr
Filed under: Music
The Minnesota Orchestra joined the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in announcing a balanced budget today.
MnOrch has a $8,000 surplus on a $30.8 million budget. Last year the Orchestra's budget was $32.5 million. The cuts were achieved through reduced expenses, including a wage freeze arranged with the musicians union. This is the fourth balanced budget in a row.
The SPCO balanced its $11 million dollar budget through similar belt tightening, including the cancellation of a planned European tour. This is the seventh consecutive season in the black for the SPCO, and remarkably it has no accumulated deficit and no external debt, which SPCO officials point out sets it apart from many other orchestras across the country.
Annual reports tend to accentuate the positive. The Minnesota Orchestra is celebrating the successful fundraising campaign to pay for the expansion and renovation of Orchestra Hall, and the triumphant mini-tour through the UK and Holland which included two nights at the Proms.
The SPCO highlights for 2009-2010 include Stravinski and Schumann celebrations, four new commissions, and a remarkable stream of big name performers who have played with the chamber ensemble.
However it's clear that both organizations are being very careful to watch budgets in adifficult economy, and it's likely tight fiscal times will remain.
Celebrate the season with Penumbra Theatre's "Black Nativity"
Happy December! For many, the month is a bit of a rush, filled with shopping, parties, present-wrapping, and high standards for family togetherness.
If you're considering taking in a performance as part of your festivities, look no further. What follows is a compendium of plays, music concerts and dance productions that could fill up every evening of an Advent calendar. And if you see something missing, of course feel free to pipe up in the comments section.
If you do find a show that interests you, click on the link provided to find out more about dates and tickets - some of these shows are for one or two nights only, early in the month.
Great Russian Nutcracker
This weekend only, the Moscow Ballet presents this classic holiday chestnut at the State Theater.
At Bloomington Center for the Arts, presented by Continental Ballet
This weekend and next Continental Ballet company director Riet Velthuisen presents her own reworking of the dance.
At Ritz Theater, produced by Ballet of the Dolls
Yes you read that right - CinderFella. From the makers of "Nutcracker: Not So Sweet" comes a family-friendly holiday twist on the classic fairytale about a young man, and his evil stepmother and stepsons. Can they all live happily ever after?
At the O'Shaughnessy Auditorium, presented by Ballet Minnesota
Ballet Minnesota presents a classic staging of the ballet that's become synonymous with the holiday season.
The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose
At the Southern Theater, presented by Zenon Dance Company
Looking for a Nutcracker that will keep your children entranced? Zenon Dance Company presents its annual holiday show "The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose," blending nursery rhymes with Tchaikovsky.
The Enchanted Toy Shop
At Concordia University in St. Paul, by Saint Paul City Ballet
This full-length ballet is based on La Boutique Fantasque first produced by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. The Rossini score has been complimented by Tchaikovsky's Waltz Of The Snow Flakes and Waldteufel's Skater's Waltz.Saint Paul City Ballet Company dances the principal roles leading a cast of over 80 including the SPCB School Studio Company and students of SPCB School selected by audition.
The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus returns to the Dakota for its annual Holiday gig celebrating its midwestern roots. But don't expect a line-up of Christmas tunes. For more yuletide fare check out these other Dakota performances: "Christmas with Alexander O'Neal," "Holiday in the Heartland w/Esera Tuaolo," and "Ronnie Spector's Best Christmas Ever."
At Ted mann Concert Hall, presented by Twin Cities Gay Mens Chorus
Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus rings in the 30th season with its annual holiday concert in collaboration with Bells of the Lake hand bell choir. Our holiday concert will feature favorites like Deck the Halls, Silver Bells and Silent Night.
Chanukah: A Musical Celebration
At Sabes Jewish Community Center, performed by Twin Cities Jewish Chorale
The Twin Cities Jewish Chorale presents as its first concert of the 2010-2011 season a joyous, multigenerational treat: Chanukah: A Musical Celebration. The Chorale is a 35+ voice communitywide concert choir devoted to performance of the full range of Jewish music. They sing in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino and English, and their eclectic repertoire includes ancient and modern, sacred and secular, rare gems and new compositions.
Christmas with Cantus
Yes you can see them in "All is Calm" (listed under theater), but if you're interested in more contemporary sounds and less talking, check out "Christmas with Cantus" at various churches and chapels in the Twin Cities
Taste of the Holidays
Fitzgerald Theater, presented by MPR
MPR's own Steve Staruch hosts an evening filled with performances by some of the finest musical groups in the region, including the Copper Street Brass Quintet, Magnum Chorum, The Singers, Hiram Titus, Vecchione/Erdahl Duo and Dolce Winds.
The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller
This weekend only, Chip Davis and his cohorts in Mannheim Steamroller present tunes from the album that has sold over 9 million copies.
A Christmas Carol
Presented by the Guthrie Theater
This season the Guthrie presents a fresh, darker take on Dickens' ghost story, featuring a new adaptation by British playwright Crispin Whittell, a new set and costumes, aerial effects, and a cast of Guthrie favorites.
Penumbra Theatre and TU Dance join forces to bring you this year's "Black Nativity" in which Grandma Walker and her children ring in the holiday season. Featuring contemporary gospel music performed by some of the best talent in town.
A Christmas Story
Presented by Children's Theatre Company
Loved the film? Just like the movie, the all-for fun family show includes playground bullies, soapy mouth-washings and a coveted BB gun.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
In this SteppingStone favorite, The Herdmans - "the worst kids in the whole history of the world" - invade the Christmas pageant and everyone braces for complete disaster. When chaos erupts and the firemen arrive, even Reverend Hopkins is ready to cancel Christmas.
The Holiday Pageant
Open Eye Figure Theater
Open Eye rings in the season with its annual family-friendly holiday production, featuring puppetry, music by Victor Zupanc, all sorts of angels and devils, and even cookies and hot cider.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
At Hillcrest Center Theater, presented by Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company
Hershel of Ostropol has been walking long and hard with growing anticipation for the Hanukkah holiday. But when Hershel arrives in Helmsbergville, the village is silent. Goblins have been preventing Hanukkah in Helmsbergville for years. Can this visitor help bring Hanukkah back?
The Christmas Schooner
A heart-warming musical about a German-American shipping captain and his crew who braved the icy waters of Lake Michigan to bring Tannenbäume (Christmas trees) to the immigrant families of Chicago.
At Wigington Hall on Harriet Island, produced by Actors Theater of Minnesota
Old Mister Fezziwig, the embodiment of the joy and happiness that is Christmas, invites you to his annual party in the Fezziwig Warehouse. This dinner theater production features a traditional Victorian feast, music, and a story written by Fezziwig's friend Charles Dickens.
At Hennepin Stages, produced by Frank Theatre
Based on David Sedaris' acerbic observations of his experience working in Macy's SantaLand, Frank presents this alternative holiday classic in which "Crumpet the Elf" recounts his uproarious encounters during the height of holiday merriment.
Produced by Theatre Limina at Bryant Lake Bowl
Three "elves" suffer through Christmas at Macy's Santaland: it's the anti-Christmas Carol by a master of cynical wit. See it again or go for the first time--but either way, be sure to get your tickets early! Featuring live original music by The Misfit Toys' Kyle DeLaHunt and Colin Kerns. Mature audiences only.
A Klingon Christmas Carol
At Landmark Center in St. Paul, presented by Commedia Beauregard
Scrooge has no honor, nor any courage. Can three ghosts help him to become the true warrior he ought to be in time to save Tiny Tim from a horrible fate? Performed in the Original Klingon with English Supertitles, and narrative analysis from The Vulcan Institute of Cultural Anthropology. It's the Dickens classic tale of ghosts and redemption adapted to reflect the Warrior Code of Honor and then translated into tlhIngan Hol (That's the Klingon Language).
All is Calm: Christmas Truce of 1914
Produced by Theater Latte Da and Cantus, at Pantages Theatre
The Western Front, Christmas, 1914. Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. A German soldier steps into No Man's Land singing Stille Nacht. Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music, peace.
Mary Loves Joseph: A Wonderful Love Story
At Mixed Blood Theatre, presented by PickaLine Productions
Mary and Joseph are your typical newlyweds until an Angel (on a mission to get his wings, of course) breaks the news to Mary that she is pregnant with the Son of God. Watch as Mary and Joseph's love for one another is tested as they prepare to not only be parents, but parents of the Messiah. As told by the narrator and host for the evening, God.
Miracle on 34th Street
Lyric Arts in Anoka
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, treat your family to a classic sure to inspire the spirit of the season. Revolving around Kris Kringle's experiences at Macy's, this is one department store stop you don't want to miss. Mr. Kringle believes he is the real Santa Claus. Because of a disenchanting encounter with cruel cynics Mr. Kringle is spurred on to prove himself.
Super-Powered Revenge Christmas #1
At Minneapolis Theater Garage, produced by Joking Envelope
In a dive bar on Christmas Eve, a disgruntled comic book writer fights with his collaborator (and ex-girlfriend) about his grand vision: a giant comic book reboot of Christmas, with its beloved icons reborn as superheroes. Written by Bill Corbett.
The Hardy Boys Save Christmas
At Bryant Lake Bowl, presented by Comedy Suitcase
From the creators of the top selling show of the 2009 MN Fringe Festival, The Harty Boys in The Case of the Limping Platypus, comes an all-new Harty Boys adventure. Join sibling detectives Fred and Jack Harty as they battle a Christmas hating criminal bent on destroying the Twin Cities' most precious holiday traditions.
A Christmas Carol - The Golden Girls Remix
At Bryant Lake Bowl, presented by Theatre Arlo
Dickens' timeless classic "A Christmas Carol," as you've always wanted it: Infused with the wondrous magic of the 1980s masterpiece "The Golden Girls." Join us on a Christian allegory-meets-flashback episode when Sophia--Sicily's original Scrooge--eats a bad bit of pastrami and, trapped in that tortured space between life and death, is visited upon by the spirits of Christmas past, present and future. As Blanche, Rose and Dorothy worry and eat and worry some more, the true meanings of Christmas and cheesecake are revealed.
Brett Favre's Christmas Spectacular II: The Second Coming
Brave New Workshop Theatre
Break from the family fumbles of the holiday season, and cheer as the all-star holiday line-up takes the field for Brett Favre's Christmas Spectacular II: The Second Coming.
Bingo Bonanza for the Holidays
Enjoy Miss R's usual holiday frolicks with a bingo twist.
A Don't Hug Me Christmas Carol
At Hennepin Stages
It's Christmas Eve in Bunyan Bay, Minnesota and cantankerous bar owner Gunner Johnson gets in an argument with his wife, Clara, tells her he's skipping Christmas, he storms out of the bar, goes snowmobiling across the lake, falls through the ice, and goes into a coma. What ensue is sorta like Scrooge's adventures in A Christmas Carol... only very different.
Bryant Lake Bowl
Spend the night with an arsenal of characters performed by Janelle Ranek, from
Char, singing the blues about a night gone wrong, to Drucilla and her Mother (goth/emo meets Mary Kay), and Mary "the cat lady" telling tales of cats and Jesus.
What are you doing to celebrate the holidays?(4 Comments)