Saturday, June 1, 2019

May Round-Up: We Saw a Bunch of Plays

Sherwin Resurreccion and Regina Marie Williams in
The Brothers Paranormal (Photo by Jeff Wheeler)
So, we saw a bunch of plays but got really busy and completely forgot to tell you about them. Sorry!

We were forced to tell people individually
about the plays we loved, which is inefficient at best and ever so tedious.

So here's a retroactive recap:

The Brothers Paranormal - Penumbra Theatre Company and Theater Mu coproduction
Written by Prince Gomolvilas and directed by Lou Bellamy, this gorgeous play is a both a spooky ghost story and a haunting meditation on grief. Brothers Max (Sherwin Resurreccion) and Visarut (Kurt Kwan) are ghost hunters engaged by Delia (Regina Marie Williams) and Felix (James Craven) to explore mysterious happenings at their house.

The Brothers Paranormal is a marvelously crafted play with rich, full characters. The performances are outstanding by the entire cast, including Leslie Ishii as the boys' mother and Michelle de Joya as Jai. In particular, the chemistry and affectionate teasing between Williams and Craven is #relationshipgoals. And a big shout out to the wonderful Sherwin Resurreccion who is one of the most fascinating actors to watch--any time we get to see him act is an utter delight.

Ordway Cabaret: Rise Up - Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Before he left his position at the Ordway as producing Artistic Director, James Rocco created a series of musical theater revue shows called the Broadway Songbook. Sharing his own love for musical theater, a talented cast performed a variety of musical theater numbers organized around a particular theme. In his absence, the Ordway has continued these revues, now in their Ordway Concert Hall, and their recent Ordway Cabaret: Rise Up is a treat. Directed by Kelli Foster Warder, this thoughtful performance provided "an evening of songs from ground-making Broadway musicals that shine a light on revolutionary moments in time" (from the director's note). And if you think that doesn't include Hamilton? You'd be wrong.

In this iteration of the Ordway Cabaret, the cast shared their own personal stories and sang songs that represented their heartfelt stories. The cast was comprised of Aimee K. Bryant, David Carey, Deidre Cochran, Brianna Graham, John Jamison, Hope Nordquist and Max Wojtanowicz and everyone was outstanding. I would be eternally happy to just listen to Aimee K. Bryant and John Jamison sing--alone or together. Don't miss the Ordway Cabarets--it's a rare treat.

La Traviata - Minnesota Opera
Although the popularity of the great classics allows Minnesota Opera to put on exciting and engaging new work, sometimes I sigh when they come up in the rotation. But sometimes, a production reminds me why these became the great classics. A lovely spare production, this La Traviata featured an amazing cast. Nicole Cabell as Violetta and Jesus Leon as Alfredo sang beautifully, acted the hell out of their parts, and had real chemistry. Add in Joo Won Kang as Alfredo's father Giorgio--whose voice was STAGGERINGLY rich and vibrant--and we had a powerhouse trio leading this opera. Also, and not incidentally, it was a treat to see such racial diversity represented on stage. YAY, MN Opera and keep it up!

Five-Fifths of Mary Poppins - Minnesota Fringe Festival at Park Square Theatre
Minnesota Fringe Festival's annual fundraising benefit performance is a yearly treat. This is only the second we've seen, but we're on board for all future performances. Read more about this and past performances at our friend Cherry and Spoon's blog. Long story short, The Fringe takes a movie, cuts it into five parts and asks five artists to interpret it using their own unique approach and style. This year's offering, Mary Poppins, was interpreted by Shrieking Harpies (music improv), Sheep Theater (theater), Oncoming Productions (theater), Javier Morillo (storytelling), and ALL DAY (dance). So fun, and such a great kickoff to the annual Fringe Fest.