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Colleen Kruse (bottom) and Karen Vieno Paurus are a perfect pairing in "The Lotus Center for Renewal" at the Bryant-Lake Bowl. Photo by Leslie Plesser/ Shuttersmack.
"The Lotus Center for Renewal" sounds like someplace you might debut your new Luluemon yoga ensemble or learn tai chi. But it's actually where men go to fulfill darker, more private urges through one-on-one fantasy scenarios with the women who work there, one step or so removed from a brothel or massage parlor.
It's also the primary setting for a new age-18-plus show featuring five original stories told by Colleen Kruse, alternated with songs written and performed by Karen Vieno Paurus.
Kruse begins by reminding us that "everyone is weird," which in hindsight may be interpreted as a gentle suggestion to park your judgments outside. She briefly examines her own vulnerabilities around the universal desire to be desired, then moves on to the mysterious demimonde of the Lotus.
Whether she's doing stand-up comedy or showing her serious side as she does here, Kruse rivets with her honesty. As she delves into the paid-for secrets of the Lotus clientele, the stories become a collective rumination on where the search for sex without intimacy --or at most momentary, compartmentalized intimacy -- can take "normal" people. She makes frank observations about the customers, and herself, keeping pity at bay.
Paurus's voice, always effortlessly soulful, here takes on a hushed, confidential tone. She may be on stage, but she's performing for an audience of one, particularly in a highly personal rendition of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," the only song in the show she didn't write herself.
The magic of this unusual show, also booked for a stint in Los Angeles in April, has less to do with its subject than the easy, mutually fond dynamic between Kruse and Paurus. As one unnerves, the other soothes. Both are masters of their respective arts and the best of friends in real life -- the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler of sensual raconteuring.
"The Lotus Center for Renewal" runs 7 p.m. Fri. and Sat. through Feb. 22. Tickets $20 at bryant-lakebowl.com/theater.
"The Color Purple," the Broadway musical adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, will get its first local Twin Cities production at Park Square Theatre next year, the company has announced.
A touring version of the show, about a woman's struggle against abuse and oppression, played the Ordway Center a few seasons back. This Twin Cities version will be directed and choreographed by Lewis Whitlock III, who was at the helm of Penumbra's "Black Nativity" for many years.
There's no word on casting. Actor Traci Allen, a new member of the Children's Theatre's acting ensemble, performed in a national tour of the show. Park Square notes that "The Color Purple," which will take place in the its 348-seat proscenium theatre next year, is "one of its largest musicals ever, featuring the largest all-African-American cast in its history."
The theater also will produce the area premiere of Sharr White's "The Other Place." The show, a family drama, will be directed by Aditi Kapil and star James A. Williams and Linda Kelsey in Park Square's new thrust stage.
Park Square will announce its full season in March.
Jason Alexander got a warm reception on a chilly night when he walked onto the State Theatre stage Monday decked out in a heavy coat, gloves and scarf. He then sat down at the piano and launched into a ditty about life in Minneapolis with references to Mary Tyler Moore, our Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture and the Minnesota Twins.
It was one of the highlights of a 90-minute fundraiser for the family of Carl Lee, the former director of marketing and theatrical programming at Hennepin Theatre Trust, who died of Hodgkin’s disease last November, leaving behind a large medical debt.
Much of the show consisted of Borscht-Belt humor, but Alexander did perform a couple other musical numbers including "Georgie," a parody of "Georgia on My Mind," while clips from "Seinfeld" played on the background.
Unfortunately, Alexander passed on playing one of his biggest hits. During a short Q&A session, an audience member requested that the Emmy-winning actor perfrom the answering-machine message George Costanza recorded to the tune of "The Greatest American Hero"'s theme.
"For that, I need big money," Alexander said. "'Seinfeld' money."
James Bakkom of Minneapolis has won the USITT's top award for a lifetime of creativity.
Artist and set designer James Bakkom was working with found objects before found objects were cool -- and he proceeded to make them cool. Bakkom, who did set design for the Guthrie Theater from 1964 to '74, became known for his "Garbage to Grandeur" workshops in which he taught designers on a budget how to recycle free and low-cost materials into fabulous props costumes and scenery. He went on to teach at several universities and do freelance design projects for theater, television adn corporate clients.
This year the United States Institute of Theatre Technology is marking Bakkom's many-faceted career with its top honor, the USITT award, to be presented at its annual conference in Forth Worth Texas, in late March.
More recently Bakkom, 76, has focused on painting and sculpture, including a "Scarecrow" series that can be seen on his website, jamesrbakkom.com. Minneapolis filmmaker Mark Wojahn made a documentary about Bakkom, "Getting Lost in My Own Art," in 2009.
Though he was diagnosed last year with Parkinson's disease, Bakkom told broadwayworld.com that he plans to attend the USITT conference.
“The Book of Mormon,” the blockbuster musical that had a sold-out run in Minneapolis last February, will return to the Twin Cities to kick off the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s 2014-15 Broadway on Hennepin season, announced Wednesday.
The lineup also includes fresh-from-Broadway productions of the Cyndi Lauper musical “Kinky Boots,” the jukebox show “Motown the Musical” and the revival of “Pippin.”
Altogether, the shows have won nearly three dozen Tonys.
“It’s a season of fun,” said Tom Hoch, president of the trust. “A lot of these shows do have deep meaning, but if you don’t want to find something deep, you can just have a great time.”
The season begins Aug. 20-Sept. 7 with “Mormon,” the acidic send-up of white missionaries in Africa by the creators of “South Park” that won nine Tonys.
Closing out the season is “Kinky Boots,” the musical about the revival of a bankrupt footwear business that won six Tonys last year, including best musical (July 28-Aug. 2, 2015).
In between, look for:
• “Dirty Dancing,” a stage adaptation of the 1987 film that starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey (Oct. 7-19).
• “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” which had a successful engagement at the Ordway a couple of seasons ago (Nov. 25-30).
• The holiday slot is given over to the soulful sounds of “Motown the Musical,” the behind-the-scenes story of the iconic record label, written by co-founder Berry Gordy and with songs made popular by the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations and many more (Dec. 16-28).
• “I Love Lucy Live on Stage,” a adaptation of the classic TV show featuring Lucy and her Latin love (Jan. 20-25, 2015).
• “Pippin,” the Stephen Schwartz musical about showbiz in ancient times that won the Tony for best revival last year (Feb. 17-22, 2015).
• Perennial favorites “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” (March 10-15, 2015), “Annie” (March 31-April 5, 2015) and the popular Four Seasons musical “Jersey Boys” (April 28-May 3, 2015).
In addition, Theater Latté Da artistic director Peter Rothstein will revive “Oliver!” at the Pantages Theatre as part of the trust’s locally produced Broadway Re-Imagined series (Feb. 4-March 1, 2015).
Tickets are available for season subscribers, donors and groups at 9 a.m. Wed. Individual tickets go on sale later. 1-800-859-7469 or via fax, 1-800-329-8587, or online.
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