Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Black Nativity (2018) at Penumbra Theatre

Always a great way to start the holiday season off on the right note, Black Nativity is back at Penumbra Theatre, running through December 23.

This perennial favorite tells the story of the birth of Christ through music and dance, with many familiar faces and voices.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Alt-Holiday Show Guide for 2018

'Tis the season for holiday theatergoing!

Before you buy your tickets to the various Christmas Carols and Nutcrackers around town, check out one of our smaller theaters for something a little different, a little more intimate and a lot more lowercase letters. And sometimes? These shows aren't even about the holidays. WHAT. I know.

Monday, November 26, 2018

We Saw Some Shows - November 2018 Sum-Up

Here are a few short takes on shows we've seen lately.

In October, we saw The Haunting of Hill House by Theatre X at the James J. Hill House, which we were SO on board with immediately.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A Weekend in Witch City: Salem Horror Fest 2018

This year, one horror festival was not nearly enough for us, so we headed to Salem for the 2nd annual Salem Horror Fest. It was crazy fun.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

TCHF VII: Reverend Matt's Monster Science - Demons of the Deep Blue Sea

Show: Demons of the Deep Blue Sea
By: Monster Science Productions

Krakens are the best. Look at him hug that ship!
Genre: Theater, Comedy, historical, non-fiction, storytelling

What's It All About:
"Rev. Matt’s infotational talks return! Get the historical background, comedy jokes, and PowerPoint that you need about the monsters we create and the fears they embody. This year, the first two dates will feature a talk about Old Nick, the First Among the Fallen, the history of the Christian Satan himself. And the last three will be a piece about sirens, krakens, Great Cthulhu, and other horrors of the deep blue sea!"

What We Thought:
Reverend Matt of Rev. Matt's Monster Science is presenting two shows at this year's Twin Cities Horror Festival: Sympathy for the Devil and Demons of the Deep Blue Sea. We've already gone on at considerable length about Rev. Matt and his Monster Science, who we first encountered at last year's TCHF. We've used the word delightful more times than we can count. We see his shows even when they are VERY LATE. What else is there to say?

We will say this: When Rev. Matt talks about cephalopods, his face lights up.

Many people can (and DO) talk about their passions endlessly, but Rev. Matt makes his passion (for monsters!) personal, relatable, informative and completely hilarious. His enthusiasm is endearing and infectious--especially for the topic of creatures of the sea, which is rich with mythological, historical, and literary wonder, plus a few Ray Harryhausen references.

In a Star Tribune article, Jason Ballweber of the TCHF says: "'You could talk to Reverend Matt all night if you just asked him, ‘Hey, what do you think about vampires?’" After seeing a Rev. Matt's Monster Science show, that's exactly what you want to do. Demons of the Deep Blue Sea is one of his most delightful shows. Don't miss it.

TCHF VII: Greenway

Show: Greenway
By: Tom Reed

Genre: Theater, Survival, Suspense

What's It All About:
"Late on a crisp fall night, a bike commuter’s worst nightmare comes true. Eva is riding alone on the Greenway bike path - a dark trench lit only by her bike light - and something unfriendly starts following her. And it's catching up. And she can’t pedal any faster. And her light just died."

What We Thought:
So far, Greenway is the spookiest show at the Twin Cities Horror Festival this year. Yay, spooky! Written and directed by Tom Reed, the play starts with a group of friends heading off after an evening at a show. Eva gets on her bike to head home and her coworker (boss?) Dave offers to accompany her home. He persuades her to take the Greenway instead of her preferred city streets. The conversation that ensues between Eva and Dave is freaking SPOT-ON and way too familiar, and soon Eva is on her own on the Greenway.

To say much more would be spoilery, but suffice it to say that she should have taken the city streets. Think Duel on bikes. The staging and use of lighting is ingenious and realistic. Greenway has a delightful slow burn and beautifully settles into a suspenseful, tense atmosphere which ends with a genuinely uncertain resolution. And I'm really glad I didn't have to ride my bike home.

TCHF VII: Book of Shadows II

Show: Book of Shadows II
By: Erin Sheppard Presents

Genre: Dance, Storytelling, Psychological

What's It All About:
"Book of Shadows II revisits the underlying theme of witchcraft from the first Book of Shadows, exploring more facets of magic through dance and storytelling. Dances delve into dark magic and the horrors that await when tampering with the unknown. Taj Ruler casts more delightful spells written as a young tween witch, which are interspersed between dances. Sometimes magic is the only way to get what you truly want.'

What We Thought:
Discovering the work of Erin Sheppard Presents has been one of the best things about the Twin Cities Horror Festival. Not being particular dance fans, we might not have checked out her work if not for TCHF. We caught Erin Sheppard's work back at TCHF V with Book of Shadows and loved last year's After the Party and have been avid fans ever since.

Book of Shadows II was listed as a sequel to the first, which, in addition to dance, featured stories by Taj Ruler. This time around, Heather Meyer (creator of the legendary Women's History Month: The Historical Comedybration) tells a story called The Five Tools of Sophia Turnbolt, about a girl who longs to become a witch. The dance numbers are a bit less related to the narrative than in past shows we've seen by Erin Sheppard Presents, but are still fantastic. We love Erin Sheppard's musical choices, which are delightful, and her dances are modern and fresh. The dancers (sporting AMAZING E.S.P. jackets) are strong and versatile, and portray emotions from humor to love to menace with equal skill.