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Minneapolis/St. Paul Spotlight: April 2011

A Touch of Arsenic logo
Kristine Nielsen and Sally Wingert
star in Arsenic and Old Lace
(© Bruce Glikas/Guthrie Theater)
The Guthrie opens its production of Joseph Kesselring's classic comedy Arsenic and Old Lace (April 9 - June 5), directed by Joe Dowling. This tale of the spinster sisters Abby and Martha Brewster and their home-brew of elderberry wine spiked with arsenic, strychnine and just a pinch of cyanide stars local favorite Sally Wingert and Broadway veteran Kristine Nielsen.

The Tony Award-winning Jersey Boys plays the Orpheum Theatre (April 21- May 8), directed by Des McAnuff, with choreography by Sergio Trujillo. Featuring a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music by Bob Gaudio, and lyrics by Bob Crewe, the musical tell the story of four blue-collar kids, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi who became the pop sensation the Four Seasons. The show features their hit songs such as "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You."

The Orpheum is also the place for kids to move it move it to Madagascar Live! (April 1-13), a new musical adventure based on the blockbuster DreamWorks film. Families can join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip Hippo and of course, the scheming penguins as they escape from their home at New York's Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien's Madagascar.

Several musical classics also get a fresh new staging this month. Ten Thousand Things brings a distinctively barebones Man of La Mancha to life, April 15 - May 8 at the Minnesota Opera Center and April 29-30 at Open Book. Directed by Michell Hensley, and with music by Peter Vitale, this production features Steven Epp, Luverne Seifert, Regina Williams, Tracey Maloney, Matt Guidry, and T. Mychael Rambo. At the Children's Theater April 12 - June 12 is the beloved musical Annie. With book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and directed by Peter Rothstein of Minneapolis' own Theatre Latte Da, the show's titular plucky orphan and Sandy, her doggy sidekick, will sing and arf their way into hearts of Twin Cities audiences. Mu Performing Arts teams up with SteppingStone Theatre to produce their perennial favorite, The Magic Bus to Asian Folktales (April 29 - May 22) by R.A. Shiomi, Cha Yang, and Jaz Canlas, with music by Gary Rue. Three children are magically transported to Imperial China, to Laos, and to the Philippines where they discover wondrous tales that teach them about their culture, their ancestry, and themselves.

Lives wrapped up in law and music inspire the world premieres of new plays at Park Square and Penumbra. Park Square Theatre tells the story of America's most celebrated lawyer in Gary Anderson's Naked Darrow (April 11-17), as Clarence Darrow expert Gary Anderson takes a personal look at Darrow's confrontations with racism, social injustice and the death penalty. I Wish You Love by Dominic Taylor, directed by Lou Bellamy at Penumbra Theatre (April 21 - May 22), paints an intimate portrait of Nat "King" Cole, whose carefully manicured image and sweet songs distracted an entire generation of white fans from the reality of racial violence raging in the streets.

At the Jungle Theater is Geoffrey Nauffts' humorous and provocative Next Fall (April 8-May 22). This Broadway hit about two men in love, two parents in denial, and two friends on speed-dial, is directed by Joel Sass. Theatre in the Round presents the area premiere of Jim Leonard's Anatomy of Gray (April 29 - May 22), a comedy, a drama, and a fable about faith and science, death and redemption set in the Bible Belt in the 1800s. Pillsbury House Theatre continues its run of Nathan Jackson's Broke-ology, directed by James A. Williams until April 10. With uncommon affection, honesty, and humor, the play tells the story of a loving family struggling to make ends meet. Thanks to an innovative initiative funded with help from the Legacy Amendment, every performance of Broke-ology will be accessible to every audience member on any budget.

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