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THEATER REVIEW | Minnesota Opera's "Carmen" heats up the Ordway

Photo credit Michal Daniel

The opera Carmen needs little introduction, but much can be said about how Minnesota Opera’s current production does things well. This classic femme fatale story is presented in Spain in the 1970s, when the Sexual Revolution first began to erode the edges of a conservative Catholicism previously enforced – sometimes brutally – by the repressive fascist regime of Generalissimo Franco. (The modern stereotype of sleazy Spanish men comes from just after this period.) This decision by director Michael Cavanagh heightens many tensions within the source material, and is a splendid excuse for a retrofabulous costume excursion. The music may be the same as normal, but the updated setting makes the characters much more relatable and heightens the already elevated emotional stakes.

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"Jersey Boys" by the numbers

Some of the vintage costumes and wigs from Jersey Boys. Foreground: Marlana Dunn, Leslie Rochette, and Jaycie Dotin; Background: Keith White, Tommaso Antico, and John Rochette. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Jersey Boys has 33 songs in its score, drawing off a song catalog that sold 175 million records worldwide and several cover songs from the Four Seasons’s early years. Many of the show’s other numbers are quite impressive:

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THEATER REVIEW | "Jersey Boys" shines at the Orpheum Theatre

The Four Seasons performing their hit 'Walk Like a Man' in Jersey Boys. From left to right: Frankie Valli (Hayden Milanes), Bob Gaudio (Drew Seeley), Tommy DeVito (Matthew Dailey) and Nick Massi (Keith Hines)

November 6 of this year will mark the 10th anniversary of Jersey Boys’ opening on Broadway. For a show that starts with “Oh, what a night!” this means an awful lot of nights of rocking the charts 60s-style. So what does it mean when this show tour – still running after nine years on the road – touches down on Hennepin Ave? Is the magic still there?

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The Gospel at Colonus

Once upon a time, in 1983, there was The Gospel at Colonus (New Video NYC) a groundbreaking, Obie Award winning triumph that inarguably stands the proverbial test of time.

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THEATER REVIEW | Minneapolis Musical Theatre's "Happy Days A New Musical": Old jokes with fresh energy

Photo credit Heidi Bohnenkamp.

A musical rendition of a 1970s TV-Show centered in the 1950s, Happy Days A New Musical, is like the Inception of theatrical venues. Built on nostalgia upon nostalgia, the show and all its adaptations are a baby-boomer version of The Brady Bunch, centered around a knock-off James Dean. Whereas Grease could be posed as a satire, Happy Days is only palatable when you try to take it as a serious tribute to the golden days of musicals.

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PREVIEW | Opera’s most famous femme fatale is back in Minnesota Opera’s "Carmen"

Carmen (French-Canadian mezzo-soprano Nora Sourouzian) catches the men’s eyes with a little table dancing. Photo by Michal Daniel.

April 25 was opening night for Carmen at Minnesota Opera. This classic drama about a Spanish femme fatale has been an audience favorite for most of a century and a half, a staple of stages around the world. There are many hit operas, but this is one that audiences tend to come back to again and again, thanks to its thrilling music, magnetic and seductive leading leady, and realistic characters whose actions and emotions wreak havoc and wreck lives onstage.

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Getting ready for Showtime — MayDay, May 3, 2015

All life is twined together. A Tree of Life.

The celebrants of the MayDay Parade and Ceremony are fixing their ideas and concepts with tape, paper, and paste.

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THEATER REVIEW | "Detroit ’67" at Penumbra Theatre: A look back at the future with a great soundtrack

Photo credit Allen Weeks

The Penumbra Theater brings to life segments of history that many of us didn’t read in our textbooks. Detroit ’67 is an inside look at the race riots from the view of a basement in Detroit near the epicenter of the riots. Main characters Chelle and Lank have inherited the house from their parents. They host house parties in the basement to make money; the work is more regular and profitable than factory jobs.

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THEATER REVIEW | "Fruit Fly The Musical": Fringe show buzzes back at Illusion Theater

Sheena Janson (left) and Max Wojtanowicz (right) in Fruit Fly: The Musical.

This is the season of Minnesota Fringe Festival show planning. Lottery numbers were drawn in late February, venue assignments and showtimes went out to producers last week, and Minnesota Playlist is sprouting Fringe-related casting notices and other classifieds. For some teams, now is the time when the writers first begin to frantically craft material; for others, the scripts and scores were set in stone well before their applications went in. The clock is ticking: in less than four months’ time, the country’s largest unjuried theatre festival will have come and gone, bringing about 50,000 attendees – 10,000 more than Target Field’s maximum, and about 91% of the capacity of the old Metrodome – to Minneapolis stages.

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