Saturday, December 2, 2023

All About Jane: The Eras of Austen at The Hive Collaborative

Austenite Alert! You have just one weekend (plus Monday) to experience the delightful concept-album-in-concert All About Jane: The Eras of Austen produced by Buzz Music Theater at their new home, The Hive Collaborative (formerly the home of Dreamland Arts). 

This theatrical concert showcases twelve songs by singer-songwriter Monica Livorsi, all based on heroines from Jane Austen's six published novels. Each song has its own style and feeling which captures the essence of the character given voice. The audience was enchanted by the performance, and the Austen fans we attended with loved it. 

Livorsi sings and plays keyboard for all of the songs with simple costume pieces (by Sarah Christenson) and brief introductions to each novel and character. Her excellent band at the performance we saw included Jenessa Iverson on bass and vocals, Matt McIntyre on guitar, and Matt Nielsen on drums. 

Director and co-production designer Eric Morris and co-production designer and builder Abbee Warmboe transformed the Hive's space into a cozy sitting room with hangings and furnishings evoking the Regency era. 

While listening to the show, I knew I'd want to hear these songs again (and again), so it's wonderful to know that an actual album release is planned for spring 2024. Check out Monica Livorsi's website for more information.  

To learn more about the plans for The Hive Collaborative, check out Twin Cities Theater Bloggers'  conversation with founders Eric Morris and Laura Rudolph Morris on the Twin Cities Theater Chat podcast

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Company National Tour at the Orpheum Theatre

Company is a Tony-award winning 1970 musical by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth. It's a concept musical that features a series of vignettes about Bobby, a single man, and his married friends.

Britney Coleman as Bobbie in the National Tour of Company.
Photo by Matthew Murphy for Murphy.Made.
The production now playing at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis is the first national tour of the 2021 revival that changes the main character to Bobbie, a single woman celebrating her 35th birthday and examining the relationships around her.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Twin Cities Theater Chat Addendum - Holidays 2023 Edition!

Haul out the holly, cause we need a little holiday fun. Luckily, our Twin Cities Theater community is ready to share some wonderful shows with you and your loved ones. Tip! Buy tickets for a show for gifts! 

Find out about all the holiday theater fun on the latest holiday-centric episode of Twin Cities Theater Chat!

BTW, our podcast host site has limited space for show notes, so here's the full list of holiday recommendations from the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Ghost Quartet at Theatre Elision

Our good friend Cherry and Spoon calls Theatre Elision's Ghost Quartet "Musically gorgeous and truly haunting." Okay! We're in!

This spooky season has been absolutely jam-packed with theater goodness, but we couldn't let another year go by without seeing Ghost Quartet (this is Theatre Elision's fifth production of this show.) which runs through October 28.

Shadows Under Wabasha: Twin Cities Horror Fest XII

Shadows Under Wabasha

Hot Chocolate Media

In Short:
It’s 1920s St. Paul, it was an easy heist, a simple score for this crew. One mistake and they are trapped in a cave that was supposed to be their hideout. Four gang members must work together before their place of refuge becomes their tomb. 

Selected Cast/Creative:
Rachael Dosen, Bridget Foy, Ileri Okikiolu, Addie Ripperger play the gangsters. Directed by Denzel Belin and written by Kyle B. Dekker, Denzel Belin, and Jacob Gulliver.

Our Thoughts:
Last year, Denzel Belin wrote and directed one of our favorite shows in the Twin Cities Horror Festival: Bad Egg, a thoughtful and witty retelling of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This is the second show we've seen in the Crane studio space (the other is Lock-In), and the space has felt like a challenge in both. Last year, another TCHF favorite, Stabby Stab Stab, made great use of the space, but it's not easy. 

Shadows Under Wabasha has a compelling premise. Or premises. The Wabasha caves are endlessly fascinating and, for the claustrophobic among us, particularly creepy. The gangsters and the agreement that they made with the city of St. Paul is another bit of great local history. Add in conflict between disparate characters trapped together with limited light and air and you have the makings of a great TCHF show. Strong performances by Bridget Foy and Ileri Okikiolu anchor the play, but there seems to be a little too much to successfully cover in one small TCHF play. 

You Should See This If You Like:
Workplace conflict, caves, gangsters, meteorites, great menswear.

Ghost in the Machine: Twin Cities Horror Fest XII

Ghost in the Machine

Snikt! Bamf! Thwip!

In Short:
Artificial intelligence - true artificial intelligence - is impossible. You can't create a computer that thinks like a human brain. But what if the computer had a human brain? And what if the human wanted their brain back?

Selected Cast/Creative:
It's an intimate cast, consisting of Elora Riley, Philip D. Henry, Emma Inga, and Dawn Krosnowski.

Our Thoughts:
Well, first of all, I blame this show for the fact that snippets of songs by The Police have been running through my mind for DAYS. Our heroine, Arwyn, is obsessed with The Police and even a Police cover band. Hence the very appropriate title of this show. This is a really tight, compelling, and intimate show that follows a programming genius as she gets a mysterious invitation from a secretive company. 

Compelled by a generous salary, Arwyn agrees to a job working with an advanced AI system called Phoebe. Naturally, she also investigates the company that employs her, but is not prepared for what she learns.

With the advances and potential dangers of artificial intelligence very much in the news, this is a timely story that's a little too close to reality. Tim Wick's strong script cleverly acknowledges its pop culture references. Elora Riley as Arwyn leads the excellent ensemble with an engaging, memorable performance as the cool coder girl. Although the set and special effects are minimal, this show provides some great shocks. 

Don't make me send "a message in a bottle" that "every little thing [this show] does is magic" and will have you "wrapped around [its] finger." (Sorry, I couldn't resist!!)

You Should See This If You Like:
Being freaked out by AI, the idea of getting $50,000 for a job interview. Yes, please!

Overtoun: Twin Cities Horror Fest XII


Spiral Theater

In Short:
Overtoun tells the story of Scotland’s infamous “dog suicide bridge”, from whose heights dogs have inexplicably leapt to their deaths. This horror-comedy explores our need to search for meaning in the unexplainable and our terrible realizations when we do not find it.

Selected Cast/Creative:
Directed by Kevin Duong. Written and assistant directed by Kyle Munshower. Featuring Anya Naylor, Anjeline Mae Ramirez, Mar Burris, Carlyn Grande, and Alec Logeman. 

Our Thoughts:
They did NOT have us at the plot description. A show about dog suicide? Yikes. HOWEVER, our dedication to seeing every show of the Twin Cities Horror Festival has absolutely paid off, cause this show is a delight.

How can a show about dog suicides be anything but grim? Here's a hint from a description of Spiral Theater from Springboard for the Arts:

"Spiral Theater aims to produce seriously silly shows that celebrate our most absurd selves, the wild possibilities of language, and the creative spirit of audiences and artists."

Mission accomplished. With one of the most polished scripts in the Festival, this show uses the strange occurrences at Overtoun Bridge to play with the tropes of murder dramas and have so much fun with language. The characterizations of the town's characters are sharp and distinct and beautifully performed. We will absolutely be keeping an eye out for future work by Spiral Theater. 

Several hours after the show, I realized that the form of the play reminded me of Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound, another script that plays with tropes. But Overtoun is also absolutely original and unique and a must-see. 

You Should See This If You Like:
Midsomer Murders and Police Squad!