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Laura Osnes at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway. Photo/Renee Jones Schneider
Laura Osnes has shown that her ascendancy to Broadway was not a flukey result of some reality TV show. The Eagan musical theater actor was among the winners when the Drama Desk awards were announced on Sunday.
Osnes landed on Broadway in the 2007 production of "Grease" after competing on the NBC show "You're the One That I Want." Her arrival, however, was greeted by some New York skepticism because she was chosen by TV rather than an audition. Osnes, who had starred in Chanhassen's "Grease," began quickly to win over the nay sayers with better-than-average notices as Sandy -- the good girl who goes bad to win her dude.
Shrewdly making smart choices, Osnes has now accumulated lead roles in "South Pacific," "Anything Goes," "Bonnie and Blyde" and "Cinderella." She was nominated for a Tony for her "Bonnie" and was picked again for "Cinderella." The Tony ceremonies are June 9.
Nic Lincoln in "Dressage," by choreographer Judith Howard. Photo provided by Nic Lincoln.
POST BY CAROLINE PALMER | SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
Nic Lincoln is known to many in the dance community as a longtime member of James Sewell Ballet but lately he's taken on another role -- muse. And he's not just providing inspiration for one choreographer but several. This weekend he will perform "YES," an evening of five solos created for him by local dance makers.
"I don't think of them as solos but as duets," said Lincoln, during a recent interview at Gigi's Cafe near Uptown Minneapolis. "I don't feel like I'm alone. It's like we're 'Thelma & Louise' -- I couldn't do it without them." Penelope Freeh, Wynn Fricke, Judith Howard, Megan Meyer and Kristin Van Loon have teamed up with Lincoln, and while some find it noteworthy that they are all women, he is quick to explain that this was not a specific choice. Instead, these are all artists he has admired and wanted to work with over the years.
And the feeling is mutual. "He has a combination of vulnerability and star power," said Howard, while Fricke "was curious about the many flavors in his body." Meyer admitted to a bit of intimidation. "At first I felt all this pressure to use all his skills as a ballet dancer and eventually I calmed down." Freeh, who performed often with Lincoln during her career at Sewell, observed that he "has really evolved as a dancer. He has a great sense of humor. There's an inner smile and knowing." And Van Loon said, "He's so smart as a dancer, he absorbs so much detail."
"YES" celebrates healing on a physical and emotional level. Lincoln has endured six ankle and foot surgeries in recent years and recovery has taken an "Olympic effort." Many months in bed provoked the Michigan native to consider his future as a dancer. "You only have so much time. With each surgery you wonder, 'Is this the last party?' Human bodies are not like clocks." But now that his strength has returned, Lincoln has other goals in mind. The evening celebrates who he is as a gay man, dancer, performance artist, visual artist, social/political activist, drag diva and so much more.
Venus DeMars, lead singer for All the Pretty Horses, will open the evening, a dramatic twist for a dance concert. Videos will fill in the spaces while Lincoln changes costumes between pieces. A portion of the proceeds will go to support OutFront MN, a cause near to Lincoln's heart for its efforts to fight homophobia, support the transgender community and, in particular, give voice to LGBT youth. "I had a tumultuous childhood," said Lincoln. He was bullied for being gay. "My universal hurt and pain come from that, it's what I want to confront the most." He is particularly thankful for being "sistered and mothered in the process of healing."
The works on the program lead Lincoln in many different directions. Freeh's "Paper Nautilus" takes inspiration from ballets like Jerome Robbins' "Fancy Free" and the 1940's film "On the Town." Lincoln, dressed in a sailor's suit, "nails the sweet sincerity of the work," she said, but there is a darker aspect to the piece, something a bit more ominous that suggests a distant war. Meyer's "You Might Be Expecting Me" draws upon Lincoln's work experience in retail to supplement his dance career.
Fricke's "Into the White" explores the process of death. Music by Ben Frost evokes the clinical atmosphere of a hospital, said Fricke, and evokes the "gritty, strange psychic space of somebody dying, the struggling of body and mind. I'm imagining a tempestuous journey." Van Loon's "More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid -- 1987" meshes several influences including 1980s pop music and the work of legendary New York Times style photographer Bill Cunningham. "Nic and I have a shared interest in fashion," she said. "I've clipped every single Cunningham column for the past two years" in service of the work, spreading them across the floor in search of ideas to fuel a piece with a unique perspective on glamor.
Finally Howard's "Dressage" plunges Lincoln into a world of sensual fantasy that combines aspects of drag with equine imagery, a fabulous headdress and extra high heels. It "was the kind of piece where he came out to the dance world," said Howard. "This concert extends that, he's making a declaration."
Performing a full evening of solo works is a challenge but Lincoln is up for the task. "It's given me permission to differentiate between pieces, to honor the intention of the work and the trust involved with the choreographers." He added that he is also "conquering fear, my fear of the characters bleeding together and self-doubt" not to mention all the long hours that go into self-producing a show
"It's a lot to take on physically, you're holding everything up," said Fricke. "I appreciate his courage."
"It's the right thing to do," said Howard. "He's versatile, he's a beautiful performer, he took on different choreographers, and when I saw it all together, I thought this is correct, this is him."
8 p.m. Thu.-Sat. 2 p.m. Sun. JSB TEK BOX, 528 Hennepin Av., Mpls. $20. (612) 206-3600. www.thecowlescenter.org. For more information go to www.niclincoln.com/yes.
Here's a review of a recent performance by Sewell Ballet that featured Lincoln in a solo piece by choreographer Larry Keigwin.
Over there is Marlon Brando in "Apocalypse Now" (1979) and John Belushi in "The Blues Brothers," (1980). And Johnny Depp in "Sleepy Hallow," 1999 and Nicole Kidman in "Australia," 2008.
The name dropping is inevitable in Mark's first solo show at Weinstein in more than a decade. The gallery persuaded the photographer to sift through 40 years of her behind-the-scenes shots taken on film sets over the decades. The photos are, for the most part, candid and casual snaps made during rehearsals or while the cameras are rolling --but taken from a different vantage and without a story line to drive a narrative. So we'll see Sean Penn in his New York dressing room and Woody Allen adrift on his Manhattan balcony, and even the "Lone Ranger" (Clayton Moore) at home in Los Angeles.
Mark herself will be on hand for the opening party, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6, free. Weinstein Gallery, 908 W. 46th St., Minneapolis. "Seen Behind the Scene/ Forty Years of Photographing on Set," runs through July 27, free. 612-822-1722 or .www.weinstein-gallery.com/
Zenon dancers in a scene from "Mariana," by Faye Driscoll. Photo by Steve Niedorf.
POST BY CAROLINE PALMER
SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
“You’re gonna see a lot of love onstage tonight,” Zenon Dance Company artistic director Linda Andrews promised at the top of the show Sunday night at the Cowles Center. And she was right. Much of the affection was directed toward Greg Waletski, who was marking his last performance with the troupe after a 22-year career.
The Zenon dancers, Waletski among them, are a versatile bunch, and the 30th Spring Season program, which included Wynn Fricke’s dream-like “Wine Dark Sea” and Mariusz Olszewski’s sensually charged “Hotel Tango (para Sharon)” showed off their many moods and skills.
The world premiere of “Mariana” by Bessie award-winning New York choreographer Faye Driscoll proved a particularly worthy vehicle for Zenon. The work explores the awkwardness, petty violence, false confidence, damaging group think and occasional tenderness of social interactions. The dancers roiled, pushed, pulled and tumbled through the potent piece, not only showing how the bullying tactics of childhood continue into adulthood but also focusing on the freedom that comes from the triumph of the assertive individual spirit.
But the emotional highlight of the evening arrived when Waletski soared through a solo moment in the finale, Danial Charon’s heroic “Storm.” There were loud cheers and shouts of “Bravo!” from the audience. Fellow performers Mary Ann Bradley, Tamara Ober, Leslie O’Neill, Stephen Schroeder and Laura Selle Virtucio exchanged warm smiles with their departing colleague throughout the leave-it-all-on-the-stage work.
As the lights came up Andrews emerged, tears filling her eyes, while dancers Tristan Koepke and Scott Metille presented Waletski with a pink sash and a tiara. The man of the hour – now appropriately outfitted for the honor – held onto a bouquet of flowers and stepped forward, arms raised in triumph, to soak up the standing ovation, one meant not just for him but for all the Zenon dancers. They poured their hearts into the performance.
The word on Waletski’s sash? “Fabulous.” And what a fabulous way, indeed, to celebrate a bittersweet ending and a fresh beginning. Coming up, look for Waletski in the works of local choreographers such as Megan Mayer. He’ll also return to Zenon for guest performances and is launching a new career as an American Sign Language interpreter.
Go here for a review of the first-weekend program by Zenon.
Nicholas David, a man of many hats, at an earlier Twin Cities gig/ Star Tribune photo by Kyndell Harkness
After making a national splash on NBC’s “The Voice,” Nicholas David came home to First Avenue this weekend to say: “I gotta be me.”
Any TV fan expecting an endless evening of a human jukebox – and there were clearly clubgoers who were at First Ave for the first time -- might have been disappointed by Saturday’s second of two sold-out nights. To be sure, David – who used to be billed as Nick the Feelin’ in the Twin Cities – reprised several of the numbers that led him to finishing No. 3 on “The Voice” last fall. Plus, he trotted out four other “Voice” contestants to join him.
But much of David’s nearly two hours onstage was devoted to original material, sort of 1970s-tinged soul music, some of which had a reggae undercurrent. Those selections, while not necessarily memorable, did establish that David, 32, is an incredibly soulful singer. But anyone who watched “The Voice” already knew that.
Nick Mrozinski, of Eagan, has certainly fashioned a distinctive image, with his LL Cool J cap, Bono sunglasses, Steven Tyler scarf, ZZ Top starter beard and college-professor suit. (Loved the top hat, with long, long feathers, he wore for Saturday's second set.) He’s got a mantra, frequently declaring “Hey now,” a catchphrase he may have copped from HBO’s “Larry Sanders Show” or from the lyrics of the New Orleans classic “Iko Iko.”
David certainly demonstrated a taste for Crescent City sounds, including his terrific reimagining of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which he took to a New Orleans church, emphasizing key phrases such as “I believe” that gave it a new-found gospel feel.
Some of the singer’s own tunes, including “Say Goodbye,” showed his flair for country soul. David is certainly versatile and prolific (he’s released five albums). He even had Twin Cities rapper Desdamona contribute to one tune on Saturday. He was backed by his Feelin’ Band, which included three backup vocalists, a saxophonist, two guitarists, bassist, keyboardist and drummer – as well as David on keyboards and acoustic guitar.
Of the four “Voice” alums who joined David, two of them detracted and two of them elevated the proceedings. Todd Kessler provided the high voice on a duet with David on Hall & Oates’ “She’s Gone.” Thankfully, David dominated, not Kessler with his garden-variety voice.
Melanie Martinez, who may be 17 or 18 but came across like 14, essayed two originals whose titles – “Dear Porcupine” and “Rough Love” – were the best thing about them. She joined David for Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” a smart arrangement that was, once again, all about David, not the other vocalist.
By contrast, Trevin Hunte nailed Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” though the soundman should have turned down the lead vocals a tad (and the bass guitar was too loud all night). Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” wasn’t a good choice for the talented Hunte because it lacks vocal range. Terry McDermott nicely complemented David on a duet of “Rhythm of Love.”
David’s mashup of a “Voice” revue and Feelin’ originals may not have been the show that clubgoers anticipated. But, whatever you expected, you might have come away with the impression that Nicholas David is perhaps the best male soul singer to emerge from the Twin Cities since Alexander O’Neal.