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Sally Bowles (Kira Lace Hawkins) and dancers in "Cabaret." The Theater Latte Da production features choreography by Michael Matthew Ferrell. Photo by Michal Daniel.
POST BY CAROLINE PALMER, SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
Choreographing for “Cabaret” must feel exhilarating and daunting. After all, whoever tackles this job is following in the footsteps of first Ronald Field and then Ron Marshall on Broadway, not to mention the legendary Bob Fosse on film. But Ivey award winner Michael Matthew Ferrell proves he is up to the task in the new production of the famed John Kander and Fred Ebb musical now playing at the Pantages Theatre.
“Cabaret” captures a specific moment of time – the blinkered days leading into Hitler’s cruel domination of Germany and Europe. Berlin has an atmosphere of thrilling sleaziness but something far more ominous is brewing, and there’s nothing fun about it. The story evolves from carelessness into darkness, as if the entire city itself transitions from a playful dream into a years-long nightmare. Ferrell picks up on this pivotal transition in his choreography for the Peter Rothstein-directed staging, produced by Theatre Latte Da and Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Because “Cabaret” takes place in a underground nightclub, the dancing is sexy-as-all-get-out, propelled by pelvic thrusts, swaying hips and nearly bare bottoms. It would be easy to rely on a stock bump-and-grind approach for the early musical numbers but Ferrell’s movement choices consciously hint at the danger to come.
Tyler Michaels as the Emcee is a sneering, audience-teasing, glittery dynamo and often joins in with the bawdy chorus who stomp through their paces with a frankly impatient sensuality. They aren’t in jackboots (yet) but there’s clearly a force afoot to transform these hedonists into either enemies or allies of the state (“Mein Herr” with its militaristic forcefulness, led by the gutsy Kira Lace Hawkins as Sally Bowles is a prime example).
Ferrell completes these connections with his movement choices in the second act. A high-kicking chorus line devolves into goose-stepping and Nazi salutes. Partygoers waltz prettily before joining in with Fraulein Kost’s (Aeysha Kinnunen) rendition of the chilling hymn “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.” Michaels and a monkey-suited dancer happily hoof toward a horrific climax: “If you could see her through my eyes … she wouldn’t look Jewish at all.” The Emcee can only make such a joke in a society primed to accept it so the combination of the upbeat tap dancing and the deadly statement is all the more rattling.
Ferrell, along with Rothstein, exposes the beating heart of “Cabaret.” It’s a story about transitory liberation, about abandoning troubles at the door, about being true to one’s self, others be damned. But of course we all ignore our surroundings at our own peril. We can only dance so long before the music stops playing.
“Cabaret” ends February 9. For further information visit www.hennepintheatretrust.org.
Vergne in a Thomas Hirschhorn 2006 installation at the Walker. Star Tribune staff photo by Tom Wallace.
Philippe Vergne, who was curator and later Deptuy Director and Chief Curator at Walker Art Center, has been picked as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. He follows Jeffrey Deitch, a former New York art dealer, whose controversial leadership of MOCA ended with his resignation last September after three years on the job.
The 35 year old museum in downtown Los Angeles has struggled financially in recent years as it tried to manage three sites and to develop an artistic vision that would please artists and excite support from wealthy collectors and potential donors. Within the past year board members raised $100 million to shore up an endowment that had dropped to $6 million in the 2008 financial crisis. The money is expected to produce income of at least $5 million annually to support operations.
Vergne,47, is fondly remembered in Minneapolis for his indelible French accent and his venturesome exhibitions which included more than 25 international shows including solo show and installations by Yves Klein, Thomas Hirschhorn, Huang Yong Ping and Kara Walker.
His decade long association with the Walker (1998 - 2007) was briefly interrupted by a return to his native France to run the private Francois Pinault Foundation in Paris. When the foundation's namesake mogul decided to relocate the foundation to Venice, Vergne in 2005 returned to the Walker as Deptuy Director and Chief Curator.
In 2008 he moved to New York to head the Dia Art Foundation which focuses on massive installations, conceptual, and earth-art primarily by mid-20th century Americans. He is credited with strengthening Dia's board of directors, consolidating its operations, and developing long range plans to stabilize its finances and artistic ambitions.
Artists have been deeply involved with MOCA since its founding in 1979 and their vociferous criticism of Deitch as overly commercial contributed to his departure. Conceptualist John Baldessari heartily endorsed Vergne's selection, saying in a statement issued by the museum, "I am 100% excited that Philippe Vergne will be the new director of MOCA. MOCA is very fortunate. I think it's a perfect marriage."
Other artists who touted Vergne in the museum's statement include Barbara Kruger who cited his "intelligence, vision, and ambition to lead MOCA forward;" Catherine Opie who declared herself "personally thrilled;" and Ed Ruscha who dubbed him "the most artist friendly and at the same time the most community friendly" candidate.
Richard Koshalek, a MOCA director in the 1980s, told the New York Times that, "The most important challenge for the new director is to raise the standard of expectations of the museum within this community and beyond, and that means new, original ideas for the future. If you don't raise expectations in every sense -- in terms of leadership, programs and such -- you will not have the chance to raise the funding needed for the museum to sustain itself programmatically and operationally going forward."
Koshalek, who began his career as a Walker curator in the 1970s, recently returned to L.A. after running the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D. C. for several years. In one of those small-world, musical-chairs coincidences endemic in the art community, the Walker's current director Olga Viso preceded Koshalek as director of the Hirshhorn.
Family heritage would make Katya Chavchavadze a princess in the Republic of Georgia, but she gave up any claims to a royal title with her marriage to John Redpath of St. Paul. Still, the links to royalty are enough to earn her a date at The Museum of Russian Art where she will recount family tales in conjunction with the museum's sparkling and tragic exhibition The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost.
Chavchavadze Redpath will give two talks at TMORA. The first, 7 p.m. Jan 29, is sold out. Tickets are still available for the second, 7 p.m. Jan. 30, $9. (The Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Av. S., Mpls. Diamond Lake Rd. at Hwy 35 W. Call 612-821-9045 or www.tmora.org)
A descendant of the Romanov's Chavchavadze Redpath has a family history that combines fairytale glamor with surreal encounters and "suspense, espionage and kidnapping," according to her sister-in-law Kate Redpath.
Among her tales is one of an 1854 kidnapping of a relative who was snatched by a Muslim warlord and held for ransom in Dagestan. The woman and her children were imprisoned for months with the warlord's harem.
Katya's great grandparent's fled from Russia during the Bolshevik revolution, escaping with enough jewels to enable her grandmother to sell some in order to purchase property on Cape Cod. Her father worked for the American CIA during the Cold War.
And somewhere along the line, Katya met and married St. Paul native John Redpath, a graduate of Cretin High School and the University of Minnesota. Katya and John have two daughters and divide their time between New York City and Vermont where they are launching an organic farm.
The must-see exhibition "The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost," is a touching, dramatic and tragic show featuring memorabilia --letters, paintings, china, photos and clothing -- belonging to the Romanov family whose dynasty began 400 years ago this year, and ended with the Bolshevik revolution of 1917-18. The show runs through March 23.
Though it doesn't look like the chilly North Atlantic of Iceland, where American violinist Hilary Hahn and German pianist Hauschka recorded their 2012 CD "Silfra," this music video (by Hayley Morris) from one of the album's tracks has a captivating, stop-action charm that matches the music's forward-spinning energy.
The two musicians discussed the CD for two years, but when it came time to record it with producer Valgeir Sigurðsson in Reykjavik, they did it without scores, and mostly in single takes. In all but one of the CD's tracks, Hauschka plays a "prepared" piano, with various objects and dampers placed on the strings.
Hahn and Hauschka (born Volker Bertelmann) will perform "Silfra" at a show Sunday evening at Aria in Minneapolis, the opening date of a new concert series presented by the Schubert Club. Called Mix, the series (being done with Liquid Music) presents two more shows this winter/spring, including pianist Anthony de Mare (April 13) and alt-chamber group Ethel (June 3). De Mare will reinterpret songs by Stephen Sondheim for solo piano. Ethel will present works by contemporary composers, including Mary Ellen Childs, as well as video projections.
The Hahn/Hauschka show has just a few standing-room tickets remaining, which will be sold at the door on Sunday. Tickets for the two later shows are still available.
Chastity Brown, performing at outgoing Mayor R.T. Rybak's "Un-auguration" at First Avenue, also will play at Mayor Betsy Hodges' inaugural party on Jan. 11. Photo by Ben Brewer, Special to the Star Tribune.
Saturday night's inaugural party for Betsy Hodges, the new mayor of Minneapolis, will feature music by Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, Chastity Brown and her Band, Desdemona, Iron Boy Drum Circle, the Brass Messengers, and more. Theater of Public Policy is also on the entertainment lineup.
"One Minneapolis: A City in Verse" will be peformed by a small army of poets that includes: John Colburn & Sarah Fox, Juliet Patterson, Paula Cisewski, Ed Bok Lee, Kirk Washington Jr., Heid Erdrich, Andrea Jenkins, Bao Phi, Allison Broeren,Brian Beatty, Sun Yun Shin, Doug Wilhide and Nimo Farah.
The bash, which suggests a dress code of "Minneapolis chic," also inaugurates new and returning members of the Minneapolis City Council.
Some beloved local eateries will be working the food court, including Afro Deli, Wise Acre Eatery, Birchwood Cafe, Barbette, Red Stag Supperclub, Kyatchi, Manny's Steakhouse, Gandhi Mahal, Manny's Torta's, Sen Yai Sen Lek, Scott's Ice Cream, Glam Doll Donuts.
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