Wow, I completely skipped a winter arts roundup, and it’s probably about time I hop back on that bandwagon…this has been a crazy winter and spring of hitting up my favorite places and trying out a few new ones for the best of the Twin Cities arts scene!
- My little Open Call crew saw “The Lion In Winter” in early December – a witty and sarcastic Goldman play famously turned into a 1968 film starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. Covering the end of the reign of Henry II, it centers around his desire to pass his kingdom down intact to one of his three sons, and his estranged wife Eleanor of Aquitaine’s machinations to ensure her favorite wins the day. We loved it...I particularly enjoyed Laila Robbins as Eleanor.
- We were supposed to see “King Lear” in mid-February, but due to our group’s crazy schedules we ended up pushing to March 7. I studied Lear in college and have always had a soft spot for this, arguably the darkest of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Our crew was not impressed in general, not being as Shakespeare-obsessed as I am, but I loved it and thought the production was incredible…especially Stephen Yoakam as Lear (I wish I would have seen it again just to see the double-cast Nathaniel Fuller!).
- A scant three days later we were back at the Guthrie for “The Royal Family,” a Kaufman and Ferber play loosely based on the Barrymore acting dynasty. Several of us brought new friends with us for the evening, so our usual group of five swelled to eight or nine! I found “The Royal Family” to be such a fun, refreshing romp after the darkness of “Lear,” and my group really enjoyed it as well.
- My family has an annual tradition of seeing a show the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and this year it was “Ratatouille in Concert!” I had never seen this particular Disney-Pixar show, and really enjoyed it…enhanced, of course, with the divine Sarah Hicks conducting and with the Orchestra’s usual flair.
- We also saw “Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone” in concert at the Convention Center! This is apparently going to be an eight-year undertaking for orchestras across the country – a new film will be made available in the accompaniment-ready format each year. I had SUCH an amazing time…I think “Harry Potter” has one of the best scores in modern cinema for sheer catchiness and I have zero shame in admitting that.
- Michael and I spent New Year’s Eve (at least the first part!) at Orchestra Hall for their annual gala. While I loved the discovery of Puts’s “Millennium Canons” and really enjoyed Rachmaninoff’s Symphony no.2, I could have done without Dawn Upshaw’s Great American Songbook. Oops.
- Jodester and I immediately purchased tickets to the vaunted Sir Neville Marriner performance last summer, and I was dismayed by his passing last fall at the age of 93. The Orchestra turned his planned appearance into a beautiful and touching tribute concert, highlighting his experience with the MN Orchestra musicians and performing a few of his favorite pieces. A fitting tribute to a giant of the classical music world!
- Hal and I took up Open Call on a free-tickets offer to Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony in February, and I had the worst seats I’ve ever had at Orchestra Hall…eep! That said, Hugh Wolff conducting the symphony with no break and no SCORE blew my mind – such a great roommate date.
- Jodes and I found ourselves at Orchestra Hall last weekend for an Elgar and Schubert program conducted by Osmo Vanska, who is one of my all-time favorite people in the state of Minnesota. The program was unbelievable – the Elgar utterly blew me away – and watching how athletically he conducted it made me inordinately happy.
- Michael and I saw “Diana’s Garden,” a delightful Mozart-era work that’s been essentially unperformed for years, in January. Focused on Greek mythology and featuring the most charming costuming and an absolutely sick soprano aria in the first act, it was the perfect light, fun thing to get through a dreary sub-zero Minnesota winter.
- In March, the Minnesota Opera world-premiered a new work, “Dinner at Eight,” based on another Kaufman and Ferber gem. I saw it with my new friend and fellow Notre Dame grad Nicholas, who is a talented collaborative pianist and opera lover. We both really enjoyed it – though it wasn’t my favorite work I’ve seen at the Opera, there was some truly beautiful and interesting music in there, and the juxtaposition of humor and poignancy was very well done.
- Last Saturday, Michael and I headed to the Metropolitan Ballroom for Cabaret 2017, an event put on by the members of the Opera’s Resident Artist Program annually. The 40s-themed evening featured a variety show-style revue featuring the dozen young artists, and we had a ball watching the performance and then dancing (and drinking!) our faces off afterward with the cast!
- Kels and I saw “The Bodyguard,” the Whitney Houston musical based on the movie of the same name, in January – while it won’t win any awards for plot, the music was KILLER. My particular favorite: joining the whole audience in rocking out to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” at the end of the curtain call, of course!
- Hannah and I scored amazing tickets to The Lumineers at the Target Center thanks to my amazing sister Em. I’ve loved the Lumineers as long as they’ve been played on the radio, and their live show was right up there with everything I’ve seen and loved of them so far. I especially enjoyed the fact that they opened with “Submarines” straight off taking the stage to Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” Win.
- Dick, Jodes and I took in Theater Latte Da’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” in mid-February, mostly because Tyler Michaels was playing Peter/Boy and I will see anything and everything that he appears in. I really liked it, but I think other things Latte Da has done have been better – notably “Sweeney Todd” and “C.”
WHEE what a marathon it’s been lately! No signs of slowing down either – I’ve still got a half-dozen events in the next month to look forward to. Can’t wait for more amazing performances in the near future!