It’s amazing what a Pulitizer Prize and a nationally known writer will do for you. The New York Times has taken notice of the Minnesota Opera’s achievements and ambitions in two reviews. Critic James Oestrich, who visited the Twin Cities two weeks ago, wasn’t convinced that John Patrick Shanley’s adaptation of “Doubt” fit the grand dimensions of opera. Still, he praised the “handsome” Minnesota production, which “served the work as well as possible.” Meanwhile, Times critic Anthony Tommasini caught the Philadelphia Opera staging of “Silent Night,” the Pulitizer-winning work of composer Kevin Puts. You recall, that opera had its world premiere in Minnesota in 2011. Tommasini was favorable, if equivocal. He called Puts’ accomplishment remarkable, yet did not feel he had a “clear impression of Mr. Puts’ musical voice.” Tommasini called Kelly Kaduce (a Minnesota favorite) radiant and liked Andrew Wilkowske’s “star turn” as a military aide.
A true showstopper
“The Book of Mormon” had an unexpected show-stopper Saturday evening. Literally. The curtain suddenly came down on the action near the end of the first act at the Orpheum Theatre. An announcement was made that there would be a 10-minute delay. When the curtain went up again, 22 minutes later, Samantha Marie Ware, who plays the female lead and was to deliver a solo, was no longer onstage due to a medical emergency. Her understudy, Carole Denise Jones, had quickly taken over the role of Nabulungi. “The young lady who came on to take over the role had to immediately sing a solo the moment she stepped onto the stage and she nailed it,” said theater-goer James Fisher. She gave a “very wonderful performance for someone stepping into that situation.” Ware posted on her Facebook page Sunday that she is “alive & well, back to work tonight with my amazing, talented cast!”
3 shots and 4 stars
Country upstart Lindi Ortega didn’t mention her recent appearance on TV’s “Nashville” or this month’s auspicious New York Times review. Rather, at 7th Street Entry on Tuesday, the Toronto twanger who sings about whiskey and weed was drunk on Jameson. She requested a shot of whiskey and a bargoer sent her a slug of Ireland’s finest. Ortega asked who dispatched the treat, and it turned out to be a red-headed woman who, like Ortega, was wearing red cowgirl boots. By the end of her spirited 75-minute set, the Nashville-based Ortega — who sounds Dolly Parton as a hard-drinking, lovable loser — had three shots of whiskey and merited a four-star review.
Jack of all mayors
The mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul are once again in cahoots. They have both declared Friday as Jack McNally Day. Twenty-eight years after co-founding McNally Smith College of Music, he is releasing his debut album, “Take Time.” His CD release party will be held at, of course, at McNally Smith in downtown St. Paul. One of his special guests will be none other than St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Turns out that the mayor takes guitar lessons from McNally. And he owned up to the conflict of interest in his proclamation. Even Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak had some fun calling out Coleman, by declaring: “And Whereas, while the Mayor in the other city across the river may be an accomplished guitar player — and a special guest at the CD release party — who also has Jack McNally as a guitar teacher — no one can touch the crowd surfing awesomeness of the Mayor of Minneapolis!”
Walker’s silver garden
Since its 1988 debut, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden has become a Twin Cities landmark attracting more than 325,000 people annually. To mark its 25th birthday, Walker Art Center is bringing back such popular diversions as artist-designed mini-golf, Monday-night movies, music in Loring Park and an artist in residence. The annual Rock the Garden concert, co-sponsored with 89.3 the Current, is booked for June 15. Artist-in-residence Fritz Haeg is on a tear to replace front lawns with productive, edible gardens. The Walker will also present Haeg’s “Domestic Integrities A05” exhibition (opens May 11). A quasi-retrospective of Claes Oldenburg’s sculpture (he and his late wife, Coosje van Bruggen, designed the “Spoonbridge and Cherry”) rounds out the season (opens Sept. 21). Two seven-hole mini-golf courses are being created by local artists, architects and designers (opens May 23). They will share an eighth hole and include such mini-golf classics as a tiered Zen garden and gnomes plus such novelties as a giant ant farm, spiraling gopher holes and, of course, rocks.