2016 Ivey Awards

by CHRISTINE SARKES Inclusiveness and gratitude were the themes of the 12th Annual Ivey Awards held last evening at the Historic State Theater, downtown Minneapolis. Theater professionals honored their own and one of ours–Star Tribune theater critic Graydon Royce–as they reached beyond the typical candidates by awarding a non-actor, costume designer Trevor Bowen, with the Emerging Artist Award. Bowen got his…

Disgraced

by CHRISTINE SARKES In Disgraced at the Guthrie Theater, playwright Ayad Akhtar lays bare the deepest, darkest prejudices and fears of his diverse cast. In some ways, this is the most important review I’ve written to date and, like the play itself, the pressure to get it right is intense. What is it like for…

South Pacific

by CHRISTINE SARKES La vie est belle, life is beautiful, on the set of South Pacific at the Guthrie Theater through August 28. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1949 Broadway musical (and 1958 film) is romantic and lush, with such indelible music and lyrics that many left the theater whistling the tunes. It takes on prejudice and…

The Amish Project

Jessica Dickey wrote and performed her one-woman show The Amish Project in response to the 2006 school shooting in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, PA. She is very careful, however, to point out that the play, although based on real events, is entirely fictional; no real people’s names are used, and she deliberately did not research…

To Kill a Mockingbird

by CHRISTINE SARKES SASSEVILLE Guthrie Theater’s new artistic director Joseph Haj could not have chosen a more timely and relevant play to open his first season than Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, now through October 25 (recently extended) on the Wurtele Thrust Stage. As he states in the program’s introduction, “There is a timeliness to…

Stage Kiss

By ELLEN FERRY. “It’s only acting.” Or so they say. Sarah Ruhl’s charming new romantic comedy, Stage Kiss, is a hilarious yet refreshingly honest exploration of what happens when the lines between acting and real life become blurred. Using a unique blend of comedy and drama, Ruhl playfully exposes the plight of romantic leads turned…

The Cocktail Hour

by ADAM SCHENCK and REBECCA HALAT. We live in an age of oversharing, as if our every whim must be declared on social media. In politics, partisanship prevents us from reaching compromise; we go to Target instead of Wal-Mart; Facebook prompts us to say where we work and whom our romantic partners are. We “like”…

A Christmas Carol

by REBECCA HALAT and ADAM SCHENCK. Christmastime is a reminder that our best stories are not new. The Guthrie’s annual production of A Christmas Carol is just such a story. How then to make the old familiar story new? The Guthrie celebrates its 40th year of A Christmas Carol this year, and this classic production…

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

BY TAMAR NEUMANN: A Christopher Durang play is never dull. Even when he uses Chekhov as a jumping-off point, as he does with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, he manages to keep the story entertaining. At first you might think, “Oh, just what I needed—another story about depressed Russians,” but it turns out…

Wreck

By LIZ BYRON. Even as you walk into the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater, you feel yourself sinking into the eerie atmosphere of Wreck. Five musicians sit facing the empty stage, playing quiet but haunting music. You are directed to carefully make your way around the very edge of the stage (presumably to keep dirt off the…