Sunday, March 31, 2019

School Girls at Jungle Theater

When: March 26-April 14
At: Jungle Theater
Running Time: 80 minutes

"The reigning queen bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school has her sights set on the Miss Ghana Pageant. But a new student captures the attention of the pageant recruiterand the previously hive-minded students. Award-winning playwright Jocelyn Bioh’s buoyant and biting comedy explores the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls across the globe."

What We Thought:
As the subtitle suggests, School Girls, or The African Mean Girls Play shows some of the worst ways in which women (young or otherwise) can compete amongst themselves. However, the prize for these Ghanian students has real valuea chance for a more promising future. Playwright Jocelyn Bioh was inspired by the true story of the 2011 Miss Ghana Pageant, won by an American-born contestant whose Ghanian parentage was never confirmed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Beldenville Troll at Open Eye Figure Theatre

Add a little spooky, gothic, monstery magic to your spring with The Beldenville Troll A New England Gothic at Open Eye Figure Theatre.

When: March 22 - April 14, 2019
At: Open Eye Figure Theatre
Running Time: 75 minutes, no intermish

Welcome to Beldenville, Maine, where townsfolk scoff at the legend of a troll who lives in the old train tunnel—until one dark night a child vanishes and is never seen again. This new Open Eye premiere is an imaginative, visually rich theatre piece that uses live actors, puppetry, and a wild array of animated objects to conjure the uncanny events occurring in a small town, and how the inhabitants cope with a troublesome stranger in their midst. Mythic, mysterious, and full of frights and laughs, THE BELDENVILLE TROLL is a modern fable about childhood’s end, and adulthood’s beginning.

What We Thought:
There are certain shows that are so stunningly creative and wondrous that it's nearly impossible to describe them properly. So I'll let director, creator and genius Joel Sass tell you more:

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Candide by Theater Latte Da and VocalEssence

When: March 20-24
At: Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts
Running Time: two and a half hours with intermish

"A tale exploding with star-crossed lovers, melodramatic villains, broad comedy, and a beautiful score, Candide combines the power of opera with the delights of musical theatre. Wrapped in irony, this musical follows the optimistic young Candide in search of “the best of all possible worlds" on an extraordinary journey to reunite with his soulmate. An all-star cast will be joined by a full orchestra and a chorus of sixty--the perfect way to savor the epic beauty of Bernstein's remarkable score."

What We Thought:
Phinehas Bynum, Bradley Greenwald, Philip Brunelle,
and Liv Redpath. Photo by Allen Weeks
Candide includes some of Leonard Bernstein's most memorable music, including the familiar overture, which serves as the theme for PBS's "Live from Lincoln Center."

The book has been revised numerous times since the original 1956 version written by Lillian Hellman. Theater Latte Da and VocalEssence use the Royal National Theatre Version of the play, performed in what the program calls a "theatrical concert version."

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Cosi fan tutte at Skylark Opera

Skylark Opera Theatre is a dang Minnesota treasure. Go see their delightful production of Cosi fan tutte, tell your friends, and support their innovative, beautiful work.

When: March 22 - 31
At: The Historic Mounds Theater
Running Time: About two hours with intermish  

"Skylark Opera Theatre throws a modern new light on the story of two guys who think they can dupe their girlfriends by switching places. But the women have their own power and they aren’t afraid to use it! Mozart’s gorgeous score is sung in English in this immersive production, set in the present day."

What We Thought:
Let's be honest: Opera can feel abstruse to the newcomer. It can be long, dull, melodramatic, and distancing. You have to dress up and applaud at the right times. It's an Important Night Out. Skylark's adorable and hilarious Cosi fan tutte is the polar opposite of that. Set in the present-day in New Rochelle, New York and sung in English, this translation of Lorenzo Da Ponte's 1790 libretto features modern-day references while keeping within the original feel of Mozart's work.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Roe at Mixed Blood Theatre

Laura Zabel and Tracey Maloney
Photo by Rich Ryan
If you see one play this year, go see Roe at Mixed Blood Theatre. DO IT. GO. BYE.

Still here? Okay, here are the details:

When: March 15 - 31, 2019
At: Mixed Blood Theatre
Running Time: Two hours with intermish

"Roe, a theatrical survey of the complicated and fiery underpinnings of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established a womxn’s right to an abortion. Roe precisely illustrates the fractured and fracturing history of one of the most polarizing social issues of the modern era. Sarah Weddington was a 26-year-old lawyer when she argued Roe v. Wade, and accidental heroine Norma McCorvey was a 22-year-old poor, hard-living lesbian bartender seeking to end her third pregnancy when she first agreed to be the plaintiff under the pseudonym 'Jane Roe,' decades before she renounced her involvement in the case and became an anti-abortion advocate."

Photo by Rich Ryan
What We Thought:
Holy cats. Where do we start?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Hobbit at Children's Theatre Company

The Hobbit at Children's Theatre Company

When: March 12 - April 14, 2019
At: Children's Theatre Company
Running Time: Two hours with intermish
Dean Holt in The Hobbit. Photo by Dan Norman.
"Our unlikely hero, Bilbo Baggins, would much rather be sitting in his cozy Hobbit Hole with a cup of tea and a plate of bacon and eggs. However, he somehow finds himself on a magically mystical adventure. Staged with speed and surprises, you’ll be delighted as things change before your very eyes. Discover what happens as Bilbo travels on an epic journey over freezing mountains and a frightening forest, meeting all sorts of fierce creatures—some who want to eat him, others who turn into dear friends."

What We Thought: The Hobbit is an epic adventure, so why is Children's Theatre presenting this show with only five actors and two musicians? Because imagination is their business and they do it well. This new script, adapted by Greg Banks, who also directs this production, keeps the cast hopping. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Mother Courage and Her Children at Pangea World Theater

Photo provided by Pangea World Theater
Mother Courage and Her Children at Pangea World Theater

When: March 15 - 31, 2019
At: The Lab Theater
Running Time: 3 hours, fifteen minutes

"Pangea World Theater’s take on Brecht’s classic, Mother Courage, is a scathing critique of profiteering through war and misfortune. As relevant today as when it was written, Mother Courage follows a woman determined to make her living from war at any cost. Over the course of the play, she loses all three of her children to the very war from which she tried to profit."

What We Thought:
Considered one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, Mother Courage and Her Children was written by Bertolt Brecht in 1939 in response to the rise of fascism in Europe, but set in 1624 to 1636 during the Thirty Years' War. Mother Courage is hailed as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century. Although productions are fairly rare in American theater, some of the most well-regarded contemporary playwrights have adapted the play, including Ntozake Shange, Hanif Kureishi, David Hare, Lee Hall, and Tony Kushner. Pangea's production uses the 1972 adaptation by acclaimed translator Ralph Manheim.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

She Persists: The Great Divide III at Pillsbury House + Theatre

You should go and see She Persists: The Great Divide III at Pillsbury House + Theatre.

When: March 13-24
At: Pillsbury House + Theatre
Running Time: 70 minutes, no intermish

From "I Voted" by Aamera Siddiqui
© 2019 George Byron Griffiths
"She Persists is a fresh take on the conversation that began with the popular 2017 production, The Great Divide: Plays for a Broken Nation and continued with 2018’s The Great Divide: Plays on the Politics of Truth. Featuring an all-woman cast, production team and playwright cohort, She Persists: The Great Divide III is a powerful, intersectional look at the place where womanhood and politics collide."

What We Thought:
These plays are short, but they each pack a punch. "I Voted" by Aamera Siddiqui shows us a far-too-easy to imagine near-future in which voting rights are more like privileges, particularly for people of color. Casey Llewellyn's "The Team" introduces campaign staffers for a presidential campaign who question the commitment of their candidate to making real change.