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'Weird Al' coming to St. Paul as part of fall lineup for 'Wits'

Posted by: Neal Justin Updated: August 21, 2014 - 9:58 AM

 

 

"Weird Al" Yankovic/ photo by Casey Curry/AP

"Weird Al" Yankovic and Colin Hanks are among the big stars that will visit "Wits," the St. Paul-based radio show hosted by John Moe.

In addition to the celebrities that have been named for the fall season, American Public Media has announced some intriguing venues. Here's a run down:

Sept. 10, Portland, Oregon: Jim Gaffigan and Reggie Watts. Sold out.

Sept. 28, at the Guthrie: Colin Hanks and Father John Misty.

Oct. 3, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University Fine Arts: Maria Bamford and Jeremy Messersmith.

Oct. 24, Fitzgerald Theater: "Weird Al" Yankovic, Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster.

Nov. 8, Fitzgerald Theater: Neil Gaiman and My Brightest Diamond.

Nov. 14, Fitzgerald Theater: Hari Kondabolu and OK Go.

Nov. 21, Fitzgerald Theater: Keegan-Michael Key and Bhi Bhiman.
 

Old BNW space at 2605 Hennepin Avenue is sold

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: August 13, 2014 - 4:45 PM

The old Brave New Workshop at 2605 Hennepin Av. S., Minneapolis, has been sold and will be rebranded as a performance space operated by a new nonprofit.

Dudley Riggs had moved his comedy troupe into the building in the early 1960s and it served as home to shows almost continuously until 2011, when the owners of the business moved the club downtown.

Still, the Workshop was using the 2605 Hennepin space as the Brave New Institute School, where classes in improvisation and other stagecraft were held. No one from the Workshop was available to comment on the future of that program. Mike Fotis and Joe Bozic, both veterans who had performed on stage, had been co-directors of the school. They both left earlier this year for other jobs. The Brave New Workshop business is owned by John Sweeney and Jenni Lilledahl, who purchased it in 1997 from Riggs.

The theater, which had about 200 seats, will be remodeled and operated as the Phoenix Theatre. A nonprofit called The Arts’ Nest is being launched to program the space, according to the group’s executive director, Jenna Papke.

Papke said the purchase price was $485,000 and the buyer was an individual who has organized a limited liability partnership called ERK. She did not identify the person, other than to say he or she is on the Arts’ Nest board of directors. The building is being rented to The Arts’ Nest for the cost of taxes and insurance, Papke said. Records show that the 2014 tax bill was about $25,000.

Those documents also show that the previous owner was RICMAR LLC, with an address for Richard Kohn of Cumberland, Wis.

Papke said the new space will open in November. Mission Theatre Company will be the first company to use the theater, with a new work by playwright Sam Graber. The play, "Detainee," will run Nov. 6-15.

Hundreds of actors and writers found their legs in The Brave New Workshop at 2605 Hennepin. Al Franken and Tom Davis did shows there. Hollywood screenwriter Pat Proft called the theater one of best rooms for comedy because of the way laughter resounded off the walls. Sweeney and Lilledahl had moved BNW shows to Calhoun Square for about three years but moved back in 2002.

Charles Keating had a long association with the Guthrie

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: August 12, 2014 - 1:50 PM

Veteran actor Charles Keating, whose roots extended to the early years of the Guthrie Theater, has died at 72. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer three year ago.

Keating is best known to the wider universe as a soap opera star, particularly for his superbly oily lothario Carl Hutchins on “Another World.” He was nominated for an Emmy in 1996 for his work as Carl. He also performed on “All My Children” and “As the Word Turns.”

But long before he was a daytime villain, Keating trained with Sir Tyrone Guthrie in Minneapolis. He appeared in “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” and “The House of Atreus.” He returned to Minneapolis in the past 15 years as Malvolio in “Twelfth Night” and as Scrooge (at right in Michal Daniel's photo) in the 2004 production of “A Christmas Carol.” His performance in that role was considered the best in Twin Cities theater that year by Star Tribune critics – an estimable achievement given how familiar the character is.

He also played a key role when Joe Dowling staged Brian Friel’s “The Home Place” on the Guthrie proscenium. In 2007, he brought a solo show, “I and I, about aging and the self, to the Guthrie studio.

“Charles Keating was a quintessential actor’s actor,” said Dowling, the Guthrie director. “Mercurial, flamboyant, highly intuitive and with a deep and rich voice. He was a joy to work with and brought his great intelligence and his inquiring mind to every role he played.”

His film credits included "The Thomas Crown Affair," and "The Bodyguard." In addition to the soaps, he did TV with "Alias," "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules." And on stage, he was Tony nominated for a revival of “Loot” in 1986.

Keating, London born, was married 50 years and died at his home in Connecticut. His wife, Mary, and two sons survive.

Fringe Festival hits new ticket record

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: August 11, 2014 - 11:57 AM

The Minnesota Fringe Festival, which ended Sunday, eked out a new attendance record. The 11-day flurry of theater, dance and spoken word issued 50,226 tickets to 878 performances (an average of 57 people per show) and beat the previous high of 50,222 in 2010.

“It’s always great when we break through that 50,000 ticket mark,” said Jeff Larson, who is in his first year as executive director. “But it’s even better to have a new record.”

The festival has is calculating total revenue, about two-thirds of which is paid to artists. In 2013, total income was $365,101.

 

Photo by Renee Jones Schneider

 

Bollywood Dance Scene’s “Hi! Hello! Namaste?” (above) had the highest attendance of the festival. “Fotis Canyon,” produced and performed by Mike Fotis finished second and “Mainly Me Productions’ Our American Assassin; or You Can’t Handle the Booth!” (favorite title in the Fringe) was third.

“Into the Unreal City” sold out 11 performances (with capacity of about 20 people for each show) and “Crime and Punishment” by Live Action Set sold out eight performances. “The Sex (Ed) Show” presented by V as in Victor packed out six shows.

The Minnesota Fringe is the nation’s largest unjuried theater festival. Next year’s 11-day run – the 22nd annual – will be July 30-Aug. 9.

Workhaus Collective will stage three new plays

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: August 7, 2014 - 11:32 AM

"Lake Untersee," a new play by Joe Waechter about a disaffected teen who travels to Antarctica, will open the 8th season of Workhaus Collective in Minneapolis. It will be directed by Jeremy Cohen of the Playwrights' Center, and will be staged at Illusion Theater in downtown Minneapolis.

The Workhaus season continues with "Skin Deep Sea," by Stanton Wood. It is described as "an unusual love story about a two-headed witch, a pirate airship captain cursed with bad luck, a Cuban war hero in search of a meaningful cause, and the two feuding daughters of robber baron Penelope Cooke, the fifth richest person in America." It opens in February at Playwrights' Center. 

The third play is "The Reagan Years," by Dominic Orlando. The play follows four friends as they graduate from college. Their attempt to "keep the party going" runs spectacularly off the rails. It will open in April at Playwrights' Center.

The Minneapolis-based Workhaus Playwrights Collective includes Trista Baldwin, Alan Berks, Jeannine Coulombe, Christina Ham, Carson Kreitzer, Dominic Orlando, Joe Waechter, and Stanton Wood.

Tickets for "Lake Untersee" are available not via Illusion's box office at 612-339-4944. Or click on the Workhaus website.

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