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While there are no tickets left for this weekend’s sold-out public screenings, Minneapolis is hosting the Midwest double-debuts of a film worth noting. After a decade as producer of acclaimed films including Ang Lee’s "Brokeback Mountain," Robert Altman’s "A Prairie Home Companion" and Steve McQueen’s "12 Years a Slave," Minneapolis financier Bill Pohlad moved behind the camera to direct the Brian Wilson biography "Love & Mercy." The drama, starring Paul Dano and John Cusack as the legendary Beach Boys composer in parallel stages of his talented yet troubled life, has been winning scads of praise. Variety called it "a vibrant cure for the common musical biopic" thanks in part to its soundtrack filled with Wilson hits. "A deeply satisfying pop biopic whose subject’s bifurcated creative life lends itself to an unconventional structure," wrote The Hollywood Reporter. The Washington Post said "Pohlad’s extraordinary, even visionary chronicle" with "unconventionality and form-busting structure" plainly "stole the show" at September’s prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. No wonder then that Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival partnered to present it Friday and Saturday evening respectively, with Pohlad on hand to discuss it. The official opening comes June 5, but for some things, you just can’t wait.
Torch Theater and Gremlin Theatre – two middle-aged small troupes – are collaborating on a season of four shows in what could be the final year of the Minneapolis Theatre Garage. The corner at Lyndale and Franklin Avs. in Minneapolis has been targeted for redevelopment although the project plans are a bit unclear.
Stacia Rice and Peter Christian Hansen starred in "Sea Marks" at Gremlin Theatre in 2012.
Regardless, Torch and Gremlin will co-produce “Death and the Maiden,” by Ariel Dorfman. A reaction to Chile’s authoritarian past, the play is a taut melodrama about torture and revenge. David Mann will direct Stacia Rice, Peter Christian Hansen and Craig Johnson – all Torch/Gremlin regulars. The production runs Jan. 30-Feb. 21.
Torch then gives the regional premiere to “Boeing Boeing,” the Marc Camoletti farce that Mark Rylance sent into orbit on Broadway several years back. Zach Curtis, Rice and Mo Perry will be directed by Johnson. Lots of slamming doors, confused identities – that sort of thing. It runs March 13-April 4.
Gremlin then takes charge with “H2O,” a regional premiere of the play by Jane Martin. Ellen Fenster, who directed last spring’s “Rocket to the Moon” for Gremlin, is back for this production. The play is about callow actor who will star in “Hamlet” and meets his match in the woman who will play Ophelia. No casting news about the production, which runs June 5-28.
The fourth production will be another collaboration between the two companies. The title and dates and have not been announced. Nothing on the web sites as of this moment. Rice and Hansen -- artistic directors of each troupe -- promise that information will be forthcoming. Check back.
Ann Michels will be dropping down onto the Chanhassen stage when "Mary Poppins" opens next February. The dinner theater plucked Michels to play the title character in its production, along with Mark King as Bert, the chimney sweep. Veterans Keith Rice and Janet Hayes Trow will play Mr. and Mrs. Banks. The show is scheduled to run through August.
Michels has teed up several key roles at Chanhassen, beginning with Hope Harcourt in 2004's "Anything Goes" (Really, that was ten years ago?). She was Rosie Alvarez in "Bye Bye Birdie" also. Last summer, Michels was in "My Fair Lady" at the Guthrie.
King is also a Chanhassen regular who had a lead role in "Singin' in the Rain" a few years back. He's best recognized for his work as Chan's dance captain.
Other cast notes: David Anthony Brinkley is back as Admiral Boom and Michelle Barber (currently playing "Hello Dolly") is the Bird Woman. Michael Brindisi will direct.
This is the first time "Mary Poppins" has been produced in this region, following national tours that have stopped in the Twin Cities. The stage musical is based on the 1964 film and the books by P.L. Travers. Cameron Mackintosh got the show onto the West End in 2003 and then Broadway in 2006. It ran until 2013.
More info here.
Beth Butala/ courtesy of "Alt for Norge"
Bloomington's Beth Butala took home a win on a popular reality series that you've probably never seen.
That's because "Alt for Norge" ("The Great Norway Adventure") doesn't air in America. It is, however, wildly popular in Norway where Americans with even a tinge of Norwegian blood immerse themselves in the country's culture through a series of adventures and challenges.
The winner gets $50,000 and a chance to meet relatives he or she never knew they had.
As we noted last week, Minnesotans have represented a large part of the casts. Over five seasons, 13 of the 58 contestants have hailed from our state. But Butala is the first one to actually win it all.
An open call for season 6 takes place at the Mall of America this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Executive Center.
From left to right, Kari Tauring, show host Henriette Bruusgaard, Grant Aaseng and Deb Breberg, all Minnesota contestants on "Alt for Norge," two years ago. Photo courtesy of Kari Tauring
When Norway's top reality series goes looking for Norwegian-American contestants, they know exactly where to head.
"Alt for Norge," also known as "The Great Norway Adventure," will be holding a casting call at the Mall of America Nov. 8 for all those interested in becoming cast members.
The premise: A dozen Norwegian-Americans fly into Norway and immerse themselves in the culture through a series of adventures and challenges. The winner nabs $50,000 and meets relatives they didn't know they had.
The series has had good luck here in the past. In the past five seasons, 13 of the 58 cast members have been from our state.
"We met over a third of season five's callback finalists last year at our Minnesota casting call and three of them became cast members," said casting producer Joan O'Connor. "This open call is a lucky charm."
The open call takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mall's Executive Center, which is located on level 4. To get on the VIP list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone over 18 with even a little Norweigian blood and has never traveled to the country is eligible.
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