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Minneapolis/St. Paul Spotlight: February 2010

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Randy Reyes and Matt Rein
in Yellow Face
(© Stephen Geffre)
In February, the Guthrie and Mu Performing Arts collaborate to present the regional premiere of David Henry Hwang's Yellow Face (February 4 - 21). The play is Hwang's semi-autobiographical take on the role of race in the theater, inspired by the casting of Jonathan Pryce, a white British actor, in an Asian role for the Broadway run of Miss Saigon, a controversy in which the real-life Hwang was involved. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in drama, Yellow Face is a thoughtful and biting satire about the complicated issue of race in America.

Making its final stop of an exclusive three-city U.S. tour at the Guthrie, Britain's Kneehigh Theatre presents its stage adaptation, Brief Encounter, based on the Noel Coward screenplay of the same name (February 11 - April 3). This innovative fusion of film, stage, and song has played sold-out engagements in London, San Francisco, and New York. The Guthrie closes out this month by playing host to yet another excellent local theater company, Theater Latte Da and their new production of Jeanine Tesori's Violet (February 26 - March 21), a musical about a North Carolina woman who is horribly disfigured in a wood-chopping accident.

Rising drag superstar Dixie Longate brings her hilarious one-woman show Dixie's Tupperware Party to Hennepin Stages (February 9 - 21). Hailing from Mobile, Alabama, Dixie claims to be the #1 Tupperware-seller in the U.S. and Canada. Meanwhile, the national tour of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein stops into the Orpheum for a week (February 9 - 14). Musicals in the Twin Cities this month also include Chanhassen Dinner Theatre's production of Footloose (January 29 - May 29), based on the hit movie and featuring songs like "Let's Hear It for the Boy" and "Holding Out for a Hero," as well as Plymouth Playhouse's revival of the popular homegrown musical How to Talk Minnesotan the Musical (January 29 - May 27).

Illusion Theater presents the world premiere stage adaptation of Willa Cather's My Antonia (February 19 - March 20). Adapted by Allison Moore, this memory play is about a man who returns to a small prairie town to find Antonia, the Czech immigrant girl who helped shape his understanding of life. Penumbra Theater offers the regional premiere of Black Pearl Sings! (February 18 - March 14), a musical play about a white WPA researcher who travels down south in the 1930s looking for original songs from the slave era. Also, Sonja Parks performs in Nilaja Sun's one-woman take on the American educational system, No Child... (Pillsbury House Theatre, February 20 - March 22).

The classics come alive in the Twin Cities this month, with Theatre in the Round's The Burial at Thebes leading the pack (February 12 - March 7). This is Nobel-laureate Seamus Heaney's adaptation of the Greek tragedy, Antigone. At the Southern Theater, rising local director Genevieve Bennett offers her take on Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (February 11 - 14), while Minnetonka Theatre presents Shakespeare's classic comedy, Much Ado About Nothing (February 19 - 27).

SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Development presents an exciting world premiere musical play for the whole family with Henry's Freedom Box (February 5 - 27). Based on true events, this is the story of Henry "Box" Brown, a slave who literally shipped himself to freedom in Philadelphia by stowing-away in a dry goods container. The Children's Theatre Company presents traditional Native American lore with their one-person show According to Coyote (February 9 - March 21). Finally, Youth Performance Co. commemorates the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Tiananmen Square, and other civil rights milestones with their original musical drama But My Soul Is Rested (Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, February 4 - 21).

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