Saturday, August 14, 2010


We're lucky to have such great theater choices in the Twin Cities metro. The Big Kahuna in the local theater scene is the Guthrie Theater, and, even though I tend to prefer the smaller theater companies, we see most of the sometimes-overblown Guthrie productions. Some of their choices are debatable, but at the moment there are a couple of remarkable plays being performed there, and, if you're anywhere nearby, you should try to see them.

The first is that Tennessee Williams classic, A Streetcar Named Desire, a near-perfect drama in some ways but maybe difficult to attempt because so many theater-goers, because of the 1951 film version, can only picture Marlon Brando as Stanley, Vivien Leigh as Blanche, and Kim Hunter as Stella. For a mortal stage actor, that's a lot to live up to without seeming to imitate. And while nobody will ever be able to put the same raw emotion into screaming "Stelllllaaa! Stelllllaaa!" that Brando did, these Guthrie actors are thoroughly believable in their roles. The Guthrie staging is world-class, as always.

Down the hall from Streetcar, a new musical, The Scottsboro Boys, is on a pre-Broadway run. It's the last collaboration of Kanter & Ebb, the team that brought us Chicago and Cabaret (Fred Ebb died in 2004). The show is based on a downer of a subject -- a true story about nine black men wrongly accused and ultimately ruined for life in the 1930s in Alabama -- but all presented in a kind of minstrel style. Much of the show is very light, with amazing choreography and good music (although with no show-stopping songs that I noticed), all leading to a depressing yet hopeful conclusion. Not sure how it will do on Broadway. I don't think it's a show that a person would go back to see over and over. Worth seeing once? Definitely.

No comments: