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Minneapolis/St. Paul Spotlight: May 2011

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Alice Ripley in Next to Normal
(© Craig Schwartz)
The Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical Next to Normal plays at the Ordway Theater May 10-22. With book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, the musical grapples with the unsettling issues of mental illness and suburban family life. Alice Ripley, who won a Tony for her leading role as Diana in the show, headlines the national tour.

Also coming to Minneapolis this month is the new Broadway revival of Bernstein and Sondheim's timeless West Side Story (Orpheum Theatre, July 12-17). Directed by its two-time Tony Award-winning librettist Arthur Laurents, the musical remains as powerful, poignant and timely as ever.

A theatrical adaption of C.S. Lewis's novel, The Screwtape Letters comes to life at the Pantages Theatre May 14 - 15. This funny, provocative, and wickedly witty work reveals spiritual warfare from a demon's point of view; The production stars Max McLean as Screwtape, and was a hit in New York and a sold out sensation in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington DC.

Punch and Judy get slapped into the 21st century by the UK's masters of contemporary puppet theater when Walker Arts Center, Bedlam Theatre and the National Performance Network (NPN) co-present Improbable: The Devil and Mister Punch (A Work-in-Progress) in the Walker's series Theater/Adventures in New Puppetry, May 19 -21. A Walker favorite for their often uproarious mix of puppetry and improvisation, Improbable's timely new work is both tragic and comical, with tales of love, loss and song.

The Guthrie opens its production of Yasmina Reza's 2009 Tony Award-winning play God of Carnage (May 28 - August 07). Translated by Christopher Hampton and directed by John Miller-Stephany, the play is a self-proclaimed "comedy of manners ... without manners." When two high-powered couples, Alan and Annette and Michael and Veronica, meet for a civil discussion about a playground fight between their sons, their conversation quickly morphs into a laugh-out-loud, train wreck of an evening among savages. Reza's much awarded play also received the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, as well as the Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards for Best Play.

The Guthrie is also presenting a Pillsbury House Theatre and The Mount Curve Company co-production of In the Red and Brown Water (May 12 - June 5), directed by Tony nominee and Obie award winner Marion McClinton. This is the area premiere of the first play in Tarell Alvin McCraney's epic trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays. Forced to choose between caring for her ailing mother and the athletic scholarship that would transform her life, Oya makes a life-defining decision. Lusciously theatrical and boldly original, the play lyrically weaves together elements of urban contemporary realism with West African mysticism for an experience that is at once joyous and challenging, raucous and raw, and brazenly beautiful.

Park Square presents the area premiere of Opus by Michael Hollinger (May 13 -29). It depicts the power and pettiness of egos, genius, and collaboration when a celebrated string quartet, their backs against a wall on the eve of their White House debut, have to replace their violist with a gifted but inexperienced young woman who has never played Beethoven's difficult "Opus 131." This drama shows the tensions behind the craft and the complex relationships that underscore the turbulent emotions of the music they play.

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