MUSIC REVIEW | Eric Whitacre charms Orchestra Hall with a Minnesota Orchestra and Chorale concert

Photo couresty Eric Whitacre

An unusually age-diverse crowd filled Orchestra Hall for a Minnesota Orchestra and Chorale concert led by Eric Whitacre. The program featured works by the well-known choral composer, supplemented here and there with some of his own favorite pieces by other composers. Soprano soloist Hila Plitmann and cellist Anthony Ross rounded out the evening's musical offerings.

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THEATER REVIEW | Minnesota Opera showcases the magic in Mozart's "The Magic Flute"

Photo credit Robert Millard

To call the Minnesota Opera's current production of The Magic Flute "a reimagining" would be a gross understatement and a disservice. "Outstanding" would be a better word, "revelatory" another, and "hopeful" maybe the best yet. A friend working on the production told me that at the final dress rehearsal last Friday a huge crowd of students "screamed at the end like it had been a One Direction concert." I think Mozart would have been very proud to see this production, even if he wouldn't know who Harry Stiles is.

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THEATER REVIEW | Six Elements Theatre reworks Arthurian legends in "Tales from Camelot"

Morgan le Faye (Emily Knotek, behind) seduces Nimue (Tamara Koltes, front) into participating in Merlin's demise in Broceliande: The Death of Merlin, the first half of Six Elements Theatre's Tales from Camelot; photo by Teresa Townsend

Jenna Papke’s Six Elements Theatre and phillip andrew bennett low’s ongoing exploration of the Arthurian legends of England are such a perfect fit in retrospect I’m surprised a production like Tales From Camelot didn’t happen sooner. As it is, this new iteration of Tales From Camelot brings out the best in both. Tucked away in a gallery space in the art-saturated Northrup King Building in Northeast Minneapolis is a delightfully intimate evening with larger-than-life human beings.

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Dan Schneidkra​ut's "Old Man" screens at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Fest

The power of filmmaking can sometimes take hold and lift us into an escapist retreat from our entire life, and other times it can be a wondrous experience of dealing with an emotional turbulence, strange melancholy, or a genuine belly laugh that can make your head hurt from laughter. One of those films I experienced all of these feelings were in local filmmaker, Dan Scheniedkraut's newest film, Old Man, which screens Monday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Anthony Main Theater as part of the 2014 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF). Dan Schneidkraut's film opens with Andy Schneidkraut walking out of his record shop in Boulder, Col.—Albums on the Hill, the last standing record shop in Boulder today. The record store is the subject of the documentary, but it's also about Schneidkraut's relationship with his father.

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THEATER REVIEW | Children's Theatre Company's "Balloonacy" appeals to all ages

Photo by Dan Norman featuring Robert Dorfman

Theater for children's audiences is often a hit-and-miss proposition: fun for the kids and less so for the adults who chaperone them. The play Balloonancy breaks this mold and is a delight for young children and their parents. Its mix of puppetry, wordless situational comedy, and Chaplin-esque physical humor is a winning combination.

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Melissa Birch's "Flying Nuns" move as live art

Last May when I covered Bedlam’s Tenfest, I was most mesmerized by the piece by Melissa Birch that involved linen and white-cotton-clad movers–dancers/characters who connected and climbed over each other and implied inequality, power games, gender games. They functioned like moving pieces of a puzzle that would come together to make a statement–only to disperse again and start the next collection of pieces that would re-converge and show you a new puzzle and statement. 

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THEATER REVIEW | "Naked Darrow" at the Illusion Theater: Who is Clarence Darrow?

Photo credit Petronella J. Ytsma

"Who is Clarence Darrow?" This is a question I often hear from the students in my college law class. Because he is largely unknown today, I wondered when I approached this production of Naked Darrow at Illusion Theatre on Thursday, April 3 if it could answer this question in a way that would be meaningful for those who do not know about Darrow's accomplishments. The answer is a resounding yes–the production provides great insight to this amazing and flawed man.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Mason Jennings feels like home at the State Theatre

Photo courtesy Mason Jennings

Mason Jennings declared himself a Northerner on Saturday, April 5 at the State Theatre. Jennings, who stopped in Minneapolis as part of his cross-country tour to promote his new album Always Been, calls this frozen land that is Minnesota home (he's even got an album called Minnesota). Just as we're on the verge of moving past the coldest winter in recent memory, Mason Jennings is still able to defend his homebase to all the Southerners who ask him why he lives here while he's on tour. He seemed relaxed—maybe even relieved—onstage Saturday night, and his concert felt like home. I know how obnoxiously corny that sounds, but Mason Jennings is Minnesota to me and a good reminder of why we live here.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Turf Club becomes an 80's dance club with Small Black

Small Black at the Turf Club

I’ve never seen the Turf Club as a dance club before but that changed Saturday night when I went to see Small Black. They had a whole dance scene set up: smoke machines, bright oscillating lights and a stage full of musicians. It was like shrinking an arena show from the 1980s just for the Twin from the Cities. It reminded me of seeing the Stone Roses at an outdoor show two summers ago – easy breezy.

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