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Last summer, a group of young actors/singers/musicians cobbled together their enthusiasm and put on a great production of "Hair" that captured the spirit of togetherness, community, comity so much intended by that show.
"The Last Five Years" is about as far from "Hair" as you can get, but the youngsters at Flip Theatre fill me with the same sense of hope and admiration. The poignant musical by Jason Robert Brown concludes this weekend at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage and it is worth seeing. Britta Ollmann and Bobby Gardner play Cathy and Jamie, who relate the ups and downs of their relationship from different angles. Jamie starts his story on the first day she shows up at Cathy's house with a bouquet of flowers. She starts by sitting on moving boxes as they are splitting up. Their paths only cross once, on the day of their wedding.
Flip's production rides on the shoulders of Jason Hansen's five-piece band and the big expressive voices of Ollmann and Gardner. John Lynn directs with a very clear eye toward the state of the relationship, the position of each character and how they intersect (or don't). Gardner and Ollman really express the youth and joy of these young lovers -- an innocence that we hope never sours. Of course, it does and that is aching point of Brown's lovely little two-hander. I have seen this musical before, but it really landed here with young singers and a larger band.
I wish I would have seen this production earlier. It closes Sunday, but you can still get tickets. Go to http://www.fliptheatre.org
Internationally known Minnesota wildlife artists Joe, Bob and Jim Hautman have proved so popular that the Minnetonka Center for the Arts is extending its show of their work through Tuesday, October 29. This adds three days to the exhibit which was originally scheduled to close October 26.
The brothers will also sign reproductions of their artwork at a public reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, October 24. Prints of their images will be available for purchase that evening.
Organized by architect Jim Dayton, the exhibit is the first in which the guys have shown their work together. It features about 100 paintings of birds, game animals (deer, bear, lions) and even pets plus sketches and photos of work in progress. Fans of their meticulously observed nature studies have an unprecedented opportunity to see original paintings that have been reproduced on thousands of popular duck stamps over more than 20 years. Read a Star Tribune review of the show here.
Together the three brothers have won an unprecedented 10 Federal Duck Stamp competitions. Sales of duck stamps, which are essentially federal hunting licenses for migratory waterfowl, raise about $25 million annually for the preservation of marshes and watersheds for migratory birds and human enjoyment.
AP photo: Alex Brandon
Colin Hanks has signed on to costar in the FX cable network's reboot of "Fargo," executive produced by Joel and Ethan Coen. It's a move that might stir a bit of envy from his dad.
While in Chicago Wednesday publicizing "Captain Phillips," the piracy drama opening Oct. 11, Tom Hanks reminisced about playing a mad southern criminal with the glib tongue of a poet in the Coens' 2004 comedy "The Ladykillers." It was exhausting fun to play a character who unspools reams of florid dialog, he said, though he found himself envying his costars, who merely had to go through the motions of doing something silently in the background while he fillibustered his way through take after take.
Hanks praised the Coen's Minneapolis-lensed "A Serious Man," declaring he'd love to work with them again. But after their only film together -- not a success -- it hasn't come up, he said.
"Joel came to see the play I did in New York," the late Nora Ephron's "Lucky Guy," which earned Hanks his first Tony nomination.
"When he came backstage, I said, "What did I do? C'mon! Let me back. I want to come back in! I was in the ensemble company -- for one movie. Let me back!' Have you seen their new movie ['Inside Llewyn Davis'] about the folk singer? I could do that. I could fake my way through the same five guitar chords everyone else can."
Cat Brindisi and David Darrow, seen here in "Spring Awakening," are the prime movers behind 7th House Theater Collective. Photo/Michal Daniel.
Will the 7th House Theater Collective ever do another production? This group of really talented young actors, singers and dancers just staged a "Hair" that perfectly captured the musical's spirit and heart. To sound hopelessly old, "It was a happening," which is exactly what Gerry Ragni intended when he created "Hair" with Galt MacDermot back in 1968.
I caught the show Monday, closing night, and the 514 Studios was packed to standing room. Lead singers Cat Brindisi, David Darrow, Brianna Graham, Matt Riehle and Caroline Innerbichler sounded great -- the sound bounced around the space with a lot of juice. The intimacy, the interaction, the joy and honesty (most of the time) drew out the small human tragedy that makes the story timeless, even while it is relentlessly of its time.
Because it was industry night, there were a number of actors and directors in the house -- several Chanhassen vets, and Latte Da's Peter Rothstein and Denise Prosek, for example. I was curious to know the reaction of a couple of youngsters who are currently working over at the Guthrie (not enough to ask, though). These good, young actors are making real salaries on the biggest stage in town -- the gold standard! -- but were they at all tempted by the thrill that must come when you scratch out your own artistic freedom and then win over full (140ish people) houses? Even if you're only making gas money and maybe this month's rent? Just a stray thought.
But it brings me back to the future of the 7th House Collective. Was "Hair" the result of serendipity -- of a talented "tribe" that found the right piece for the right time and the right place? Did they pull off a small, one-time miracle? They raised money through Kickstarter, worked social media like demons, filled the house, benefitted from generous donors, overcame unexpected costs and made the summer of 2013 a little more memorable, theatrically.
Brindisi said at the end of the night that the group was so heartened by the response that they hope to strike again sometime and Darrow was holding a tub at the exit, collecting donations. It's easy to do that in the heady afterglow, but as anyone who has tried to maintain a theater company knows, it's the institutional stuff that can kill you -- exactly the stuff against which the kids in "Hair" were rebelling.
Anyway. Here's hoping they can pull something off. It doesn't have to last forever. Gotta love these kids.
Here’s what’s oozing down the movie pipeline for next weekend.
Opening Thursday is the much-delayed sequel so eagerly awaited by Hasbro action figure fans, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” Starring Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum and, reprising his signature role as Old Bald Guy in T-shirt with a Machine Gun, Bruce Willis.
Friday It’s Ryan Gosling (easy there ladies) and Bradley Cooper (settle down, now) as a motorbike-riding bank robber and relentless cop. But since “The Place Beyond the Pines” is a film by art house darling Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”), it’s guaranteed to veer off into uncharted territory.
Those suffering “Twilight” withdrawal will be relieved can look forward to another blast of paranormal romance from Stephenie Meyer. In “The Host” Saoirse Ronan plays an earth girl sharing her body with an alien consciousness. We’ve all known one or two, amiright men?
Elle Fanning and Alice Englert give smashing performances as girls growing up too fast in 1962 London in “Ginger & Rosa.”
Animation fans revere the Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki for such weird and wonderful Studio Ghibli films as “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Spirited Away.” His son, Goro Miyazaki, brings us the adventures of a group of Yokohama high schoolers aiming to save their school's clubhouse from the bulldozers clearing land for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in “From Up on Poppy Hill.”
It’s been weeks since the last Tyler Perry movie, but don’t worry, he’s okay. “Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross and the inexplicable Kim Kardashian. It’s about, y’know, infidelity and stuff.
The German police procedural “The Silence” delves into the decades-long repercussions of a pre-teen girl’s murder in the 1980s.
“Starbuck” is a French-Canadian artificial insemination comedy about a likable goof-off dealing with the consequences of his past as a massively prolific sperm donor. See it now before the inevitable Paul Rudd remake.
Jim Sturgess (“Across the Universe”) and Kristen Dunst (“Spider-Man”) play lovers from neighboring worlds with opposite gravity in “Upside Down.” Luckily she has some experience in inverted smooching from her Mary Jane/Peter Parker days.