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Minneapolis/St. Paul Spotlight: March 2011

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A scene from Hair
(© Joan Marcus)
Minneapolis stands ready to let the sunshine in with the Public Theater touring production of Hair (Orpheum Theatre, March 1-6). This Tony-winning revival, with book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot, is directed by Diane Paulus and choreographed by Karole Armitage. Hair follows a group of young people in their quest for peace, sexual freedom, and the mind's true liberation during the turbulence of the Vietnam War.

War and its discontents are also featured in two plays at the Guthrie. George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man (March 19-May 8), directed by Ethan McSweeny, skewers the follies of romantic heroism and confronts the brutal realities of combat amidst farcical turns, mistaken identities, and chocolate creams. Later in the month is Flying Foot Forum's Heaven (March 25 - April 10), directed by Joe Chvala, a mind-bending dance theater epic that follows an American war photographer on an odyssey through war-torn Bosnia in the early 1990s, set to a hard-driving score of pop, rap, rock, percussion, and opera mixed with traditional and contemporary Balkan styles.

Directed by Dipankar Mukherjee, Luis Alfaro's Oedipus el Rey (March 10-27) marks another provocative collaboration between Teatro del Pueblo and Pangea World Theater, moving Sophocles' classic tragedy to the California penitentiary system and a Los Angeles barrio. At the Great American History Theatre this month is Kevin Kling's A Tale of Twin Cities (March 12-April 3), in which the beloved Minnesota storyteller teams up with local singer-songwriter Simone Perrin to explore the sometimes loving, sometimes tumultuous, often hysterical shared histories of our sibling cities. At the same venue is Aamera Siddiqui's American as Curry Pie (March 17-April 10), a solo performance that moves between curried peas and hot dogs, Catholic school uniforms and colorful saris, Urdu and English, shaping a story about immigration, assimilation, and discovering what it means to be an American.

Illusion Theater has extended its run of Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Stephen Bergman and Janet Surrey's play about the two men who pioneered Alcoholics Anonymous, which runs through March 13. Playing at Lowry Lab Theatre through March 13 is Nest, by Rachel Brogan Flanery, a play about a difficult mother-daughter relationship.

Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein's Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women (Hennepin Stages, through April 3) is a two-woman comedy that examines all things girly and celebrates the truth and humor of being female. Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill A Mockingbird, adapted for the theater by Christopher Sergel and directed by David Mann, runs March 25 through April 17 at Park Square Theatre. Theatre in the Round gives us a new production of Hamlet, March 18 - April 17.

A host of musicals old and new come to the Twin Cities in March. Mu Performing Arts brings Little Shop of Horrors to the Ritz Theater March 19- April 3. With book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken, this beloved musical comedy about a man-eating plant takes on new life with its Asian American cast. Frank Theatre presents Kander and Ebb's Cabaret (March 4- 27), directed by Wendy Knox with musical direction by Michael Croswell. The production features Bradley Greenwald as the Emcee, Sara Richardson as Sally Bowles, Max Wojtanowicz as Cliff, and Melissa Hart (who performed Sally Bowles in Hal Prince's original 1966 Broadway staging) as Frau Schneider. The Children's Theater presents Barrio Grrrl!: A New Musical (March 2-27), directed by Peter Flynn with book and lyrics by Quiara Alegria-Hudes, music by Bill Sherman, and choreography by Devanand Janki, a delicious coming-of-age pop musical bursting with color and energy, written by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award nominee Quiara Alegria Hudes of In the Heights fame.

Steppingstone Theatre presents Get Up Your Irish (March 11-20), created by Norah Rendell and Natalie O'Shea. This story of a young boy's journey from Ireland to a new home in Saint Paul is packed with toe-tapping dance numbers accompanied by fiddle, flute and guitar. Mixed Blood presents its production of Avenue Q (March 25-May 1), directed by Jack Reuler. With music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and book by Jeff Whitty, this satiric musical should take on a whole new perspective in the intimate space of Mixed Blood's theater. An ensemble of familiar characters -- therapist Christmas Eve, comedian/caterer Brian, roommates Nicky and Rod, Kate Monster, and Lucy T. Slut -- deliver the Avenue Q classics "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist," "If You Were Gay," and, of course, "The Internet Is For Porn." The cast features Bonni Allen, Brittany Bradford, Rose Le Tran, Eric Mayson, Tom Reed, Brian Skellenger, and Seth Tucker.

Puppets can also be found at The Walker Arts Center, which begins a two-week long festival of puppetry and miniature object theater in Toy Theatre After Dark, curated by Susan Haas in association with Michael Sommers and Philip Bither (March 10-20). Among the highlights is Willian Kenridge and the Handspring Puppet Company's Woyzeck on the Highveld (March 24-26).

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