The hounds have uncovered a "soul sonic superstar" diva, an anthemic electro-rock band, and a reconstituted wetland just above the entrance to the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.
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Jomama Jones' aura is too strong for Twin Cities theater director, producer and educator Bonnie Schock to resist. Bonnie says Minneapolis native and performer Daniel Alexander Jones is bringing his alter ego, the soulfully smooth chanteuse Jomama Jones to Pillsbury House Theatre as part of her comeback tour, "Radiate Live." Jomama fronts a five piece band with back-up singers and performs all original music. "Radiate Live" is on stage through June 24.
Greg Swan likes to crank up Minneapolis electro-rockers The New Monarchs when he's stuck in traffic, or looking for music to make the blood move in his veins. Greg, founder of the local music blog "Perfect Porridge," says The New Monarchs are releasing its appropriately titled new album "Stay Awake," at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis on Saturday, June 17.
"Giddy" is the word Minneapolis sculptor Aaron Dysart uses to describe how he feels about artist Christine Baeumler's installation "Reconstituting the Landscape: A Tamarack Rooftop Restoration." It's an actual bog, an artist's recreation of a wetland with tamarack trees and other plant life, and it sits one floor above the entrance to the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Aaron appreciates its beauty, metaphoric power, and how the piece brings a somewhat invisible but fragile ecosystem into view.
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FELA! is a musical directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones about the tumultuous life of Afro-beat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Using his pioneering music (a blend of jazz, funk, and African rhythm and harmonies), FELA! explores Kuti's controversial life as an artist, political activist and revolutionary musician. A three-time Tony Award winner in 2010, this production arrives at the Ordway direct from Broadway.
Critics say you' should be prepared for the high energy and emotional turmoil of this star-powered musical.
Sahr Ngaujah stars in FELA!
Photo courtesy Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Anyone who sits through "FELA!" may be forgiven for feeling wrung out after two-and-a-half hours of ecstatic Afrobeat music, pulsing dance, emotional turmoil and epic resolution.
As the title character, Sahr Ngaujah not only has the moves like Fela, he has the stature, the voice and the star power. It's a stunning performance in a demanding role that requires Ngaujah to spend nearly every moment of the 165-minute show front and center.
I don't usually give points just for energy. (Broadway musicals generally try to top each other as calorie-burning affairs for their actor/dancers.) But this one has a different kind of energy that feels organic to the piece - essential, really, and a natural part of the music, the story and the emotions that drive it all. He proclaims as a young man, "I'm going to change the world." In the final number, when he sings "They wan bury and forget, but we won't let them," it's possible to think that maybe he still can.
FELA! runs through June 17 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Have you seen it? If so, what's your review?
While drama students study the classics all year at the University of Minnesota, the biggest dose of theatrical reality for many of them comes in the shape of melodrama on an old boat.
Chelzie Newhard practices an entrance from the ceiling as Emily Grodnik bows. "The Vampire!" begins its run on Friday, June 15 and ends Aug. 25 at the Minnesota Showboat on St. Paul's Harriet Island.
MPR Photo/Euan Kerr
MPR's Euan Kerr paid a visit to the cast and crew of "The Vampire" where he found out they're learning some serious theatrical lessons.
Scene designer Meg Kissel met one challenge head on as she cut a trapdoor in the stage. Working on a boat she knew there wasn't much room for error.
"It didn't sink!" she said. "We did puncture something and a little geyser happened and we were worried it was going to sink for a second."
There are challenges for the actors too. In addition to learning lines, and perfecting scene changes, they deal with things that could only happen on a boat: noise from passing barges and logs floating under the hull.
"You just hear thud! Bump, bump, bump," said actor Ryan Colbert. "It really is a shock at first, but then ... it's fine."
Colbert plays Lord Ruthven the vampire. This is his second production on the Showboat. He is a BFA acting student at the university, as is Joseph Pyfferoen who takes the role of the vampire's foe Lord Ronald. Pyfferoen admits this play leans more on spectacle than fact.
"Set in Scotland where there is absolutely no history of vampires whatsoever," he said. "It's quite interesting seeing a Scottish vampire in a kilt."
Find out more about "The Vampire" - and what the students are learning about melodrama - here.