Triple win for that 'Espresso' guy
"That Wonder Boy," an autobiographical show by Twin Cities performer and "Triple Espresso" co-creator Bob Stromberg, won three awards Sunday at the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York. Stromberg won for best one-man show and Risa Brainin was honored as best director. The piece also won an audience award in an online poll by Backstage Magazine. His show is one man's ruminations about what makes art and whether it comes from great suffering or great joy. He opened the show several years ago at the Music Box Theater in Minneapolis. "It's the first award that I've won since I won for playing the accordion when I was 7," Stromberg told I.W.
Sing it sinister
It's a safe bet that nothing resembling the line, "Did you remember the parking brake?" has ever before been written for an opera. But there's a lot of new ground being broken with Minnesota Opera's commission of "The Shining," arguably Stephen King's best-known horror novel and film. With music and libretto by two Pulitzer winners (Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell, respectively), the commission, premiering next May, promises to be a noteworthy addition to the opera's new-works initiative. Moravec and Campbell attended a private workshop of the opera's first act last Friday night at the company's rehearsal space in downtown Minneapolis. Moravec seemed to like what he heard. "Opera is about three things — love, death and power," he said. "This story was practically an opera already."
New York-based, Twin Cities-launched jazz singer Karrin Allyson welcomed her mentor Debbie Duncan onstage at the Dakota Jazz Club Monday with a sartorial salute. "All the people in New York wear all black except for red shoes," Allyson said. "Ask me if I care," retorted Duncan, who was wearing red shoes. (For the record, Allyson was wearing black shoes, black leather pants and a red top.) The audience did care about the pair's wonderful duets: "It Might As Well Be Spring" and the largely improvised "Some Other Time" during which the singers traded lines, echoed each other and harmonized.
Eclipse Records v.4.0
After moving to his store's fourth location in its 16-year history, Eclipse Records owner Joe Furth found an easier way to go about his latest relocation in downtown St. Paul. "This time we only went a block away, so that helped," Furth told I.W. The new site is the former Shinders bookstore at 419 N. Wabasha St., which has been vacant since whenever America stopped being literate (2007). Besides getting a better deal on rent, Furth chose the new location because it's bigger, and because it's just around the corner from the Palace Theater, now deep into renovations to reopen under First Avenue management in time for its 100th anniversary late next year. "I think it's going to be a great space for hosting in-stores with bands and other special events," Furth bragged.
'Bridge of Spies' scions
Steven Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies" is an excellent examination of the moral and geopolitical combat between the United States and the Soviet bloc in the early days of the Cold War. It dramatizes the consequences of Russia capturing U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Powers saw his only hope for freedom was lawyer James Donovan, recruited by the CIA to negotiate his release. At St. Louis Park's Beth El Synagogue, John Donovan and Gary Powers Jr., the sons of the attorney and the Army pilot, will offer their takes on international diplomacy at 7 p.m. Thursday. For information, go to BEsyn.org/bridgeofspies or call 952-873-7300.
In the Folds
Two things you don't usually see at the Turf Club: a packed house at 4 p.m. on a Thursday, and a grand piano onstage. Such was the scene last week when 89.3 the Current hosted plunk-rock star Ben Folds at the Turf for a special taping (to be aired 7:30 a.m. Dec. 7) to tout his new classically tinged album, "So There," and his March 6 date with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall. He played eight songs, including the old favorite "Song for the Dumped" and more refined new tunes "Phone in a Pool" and "Capable of Anything." As if he's grown too used to fancier music halls amid his classical renaissance, Folds dryly quipped mid-set of his surroundings, "This is pretty cool. It feels like a real rock club in here."
MusiCares Foundation, the charity wing of the Grammy organization, is offering free dental checkups and free molded earplugs for musicians next week in Minneapolis. Natch, the earplug appointments are all booked but there are openings for dental exams on Tuesday and Wednesday at Diamond Lake Lutheran Church, 5760 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis. Insert your Brit-rockers-with-bad-teeth joke here. Details at MCMNdentalclinic.eventbrite.com.