Thursday, November 13, 2014

Looking Back at October

Though October is gone, it's not forgotten. I wanted to share a few of my personal highlights from the month.

Eating Raoul: The Musical at Minneapolis Musical Theatre was an unexpected delight! Based on the film and set in the swinging 60s, this musical walks a narrow line between period kitsch and sincerity. The tunes were catchy, with clever lyrics, beautifully delivered by a small but talented cast. The direction of Ryan McGuire Grimes hit the perfect tone, which must have been difficult in a musical featuring a faltering marriage, serial murder, and a dominatrix. This is what MMT does best: presenting shows that don't otherwise get seen in the Cities and showing that there is more to musical theater than the old warhorses.

Sally Wingert is a a marvel. This is not news, but the performance she gave in Master Class at Theater Latte Da was still astounding. Though I'm not convinced that Terrence McNally's script is all that great, Wingert totally embodies the faded diva as she holds a master class at Juilliard. The play was performed in a perfect setting: Antonello Hall at MacPhail Center for Music, just like the recital hall such a class would take place in. The entire cast was quite strong, with wonderful piano accompaniment from Andrew Bourgoin, who also directed the excellent vocal performances of Kira Lace Hawkins, Benjamin Dutcher, and Kelsey Stark D'Emilio. Peter Rothstein directed the opener to an exciting Latte Da season.

Last, but definitely not least, the new play Colossal by Andrew Hinderaker, directed by Will Davis, was part of a rolling world premiere from the National New Play Network at Mixed Blood Theatre. The fantastic script concerns a football player injured on the field and his love for one of his teammates. The main character, Mike, was played by two actors: Torsten Johnson as the football player in his prime and Toby Forrest as the the post-injury player, now in a wheelchair. The playing space was a football field with a scoreboard counting off four 15-minute quarters, and as the audience entered, the team was already running drills. This was an amazingly physical production, with Mike starting out as a dancer, like his father. The football scenes were beautifully choreographed, complete with instant replay, and the action rarely let up. There was even a halftime dance show. But the play was much more than a gimmick, showcasing beautiful performances and a touching story.

Now it's time to look forward to all the great shows coming up in November and December!