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REVIEW: Classic comedy charmingly captures a simpler time
Tolstoy once wrote: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” However, he never said anything about what crazy families are like, an omission that playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart explore in the charming You Can’t Take It With You, which opened Thursday (February 9, 2017) night at the Duluth Playhouse. Today these characters are quirky but quaint, and their eccentric behavior is more endearing than embarrassing, at least until you get all of them in one room at the same time. Above all, they are just so kindhearted, which may well be what dates the play more than anything else.
REVIEW: American Idiot punk rocks the alien nation
When Green Day played “American Idiot” at the MTV Europe Music Awards last November, Billie Joe Armstrong changed the last line of the opening verse to “subliminal mind-Trump America.” If you get the point of that change and endorse the sentiment, then you are going to love the stage musical version of “American Idiot” that opened Thursday night at the Underground. If you are insulted by that line, then you should probably avoid this punk rock diatribe.
REVIEW: There’s a lot to dig-diggity–dig about Fantastic Mr. Fox!
The play adapted from Roald Dahl’s book was on the Playhouse stage, but it was also underground because when you looked straight up from your seat all you could see was brown butcher paper. That is because we were in the burrow where this family of foxes lives, which meant wide-eyed kids were walking into about the biggest set design the Playhouse can possibly pull off.
REVIEW: Joseph delivers promised bold new vision
This dream will do. As advertised, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, directed and choreographed by Michael Matthew Ferrell, is far and away the most original vision of a musical to grace the Duluth Playhouse stage in the 10 years I have been paid to pontificate on local theatrical productions.
REVIEW: There’s much to ‘Hyde’ in the Underground
- In the tarot of horror literature laid out by Stephen King, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson represents the hidden beast within, whose totemic form is the werewolf. But the intriguing drama directed by Jonathan Manchester that opened Thursday night [November 10] at the Underground tells the old tale anew by revealing that the beast within is legion.
REVIEW: Playhouse cast milks big laughs from farce
- The Duluth Playhouse once again opened its new season with a farce on Thursday night, Ray Cooney’s It Runs in the Family. Throughout the evening, director Robert Lee’s cast demonstrated an amazing ability to milk bigger laughs than what was warranted on the printed page. Really big laughs.
THE PLAYHOUSE IN THE NEWS (PRINT)
You Can’t Take It With You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart at the Duluth Playhouse Directed by Rob Hadaway
I could start this off with the usual critic-speak about Pulitzers, Tonys, Oscars, Broadway, Jimmy Stewart-this, Lionel Barrymore-that. Instead, I’m going to cut to the chase: You Can’t Take It With You, opening this weekend at The Duluth Playhouse, provides a more palatable alternative to the daily news and will boost your faith in humanity, if only for too short an evening.
American Idiot hits the Underground
It’s been about a decade since Michael Hasenmueller, his father and his brother took a road trip from Eau Claire, Wis., to Chicago so his brother could audition for “The Voice.” Hasenmueller claimed space in the backseat of a Pontiac Vibe. The driver’s side window didn’t roll down, so he was on toll booth duty, he recently recalled. Otherwise, he settled in with an old-school CD player and queued up his brother’s copy of Green Day’s “American Idiot.”
Wanted: Short Shorts (A&E Notes – January 26, 2017)
Attention, filmmakers: Are you sitting on a mini-movie? The Duluth Playhouse is now taking submissions for the 12th annual Short Shorts Film Festival, which is open to pros and amateurs from anywhere with a piece that is five minutes or shorter.
Duluth’s artists pick their favorites from 2016
A musical about murderers — both failed and successful, a personal photo project that only exists on social media and the release of Bob Dylan covers by local musicians are among the list of the top events from 2016 — as solicited from local artists, entertainers, and organizers. The News Tribune annually asks creatives to talk about the best of the best people and events — preferably something they were not involved with creating.
380 Performing Arts Organizations Begin New Partnerships with Vendini in 2016
- With only a couple weeks left in 2016, we are thrilled to share that 380 performing arts organizations joined Vendini to simplify their live events this year. Today, we announced new partnerships with performing arts organizations across the United States, including the brand-new Saint Helena Performing Arts Center, who kicked off their the inaugural season at their $14.5 million building in August 2016 and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, who are just shy of celebrating their 40th anniversary season. As a partner of performing arts organizations of all sizes, we also welcomed the multi-venue Artisan Center Theater and New York’s intimate IATI Theater.
Behind the Scenes: Hey, Kids, What Does It Take to Put on a Show?
- “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” And with those plucky words, teenagers Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney save the day with a surprisingly Hollywood-quality production. At least, that’s how easy it was in the 1939 film “Babes in Arms” that made the line famous. On the real stage, months of planning, preparation, and practice go into our local productions. From the seats, you see the actors, singers, and dancers, says Christine Gradl Seitz, executive director at the Duluth Playhouse, “but behind the scenes there’s a whole lot of magic and artistry being created to bring that project to the stage.”
TV INTERVIEWS / VIDEO
Playhouse Brings Popular Comedy You Can’t Take It With You to Main Stage (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)
Playhouse Kicks Off 2017 with Road Dahl’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)
Sneak Peak Of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat From The Duluth Playhouse (Duluth.com)
Playhouse to Reveal New Vision of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)
Cult Classics and Rock’n’Roll at Duluth Playhouse Through Halloween (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)
Duluth.com Visits the Set of It Runs in the Family at the Duluth Playhouse (Duluth.com)
Duluth Playhouse opens new season with fast, physical comedy (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)
Duluth’s Brewers Row Establishes New Brand for Historic Downtown District
- According to a recent press release from Just Take Action (JTA) – the beer-preneurs who created the iconic Fitger’s Brewhouse – the newly branded Brewers Row was established to promote the growing beer scene in Duluth’s Historic Arts and Theater (HART) District.
Views on Downtown Tourism: NorShor to spur housing, tourism in downtown Duluth
- The long-anticipated $30.5 million renovation of the NorShor Theatre in downtown Duluth began in June and is expected to be completed by December 2017. The new NorShor will be an anchor in Duluth’s newly designated Historic Arts and Theater District, or HART District. The theater and the district will be be transformative for Duluth and downtown, Mayor Emily Larson and Duluth Economic Development Authority Executive Director Heather Rand opined during an interview in September with News Tribune editorial board members.
Blacklist Brewery aims for mid-November opening
- Blacklist Artisan Ales, homeless since Sept. 1, is transitioning into its new and improved home at 120 E. Superior St. The revamped space is still under construction and is barely recognizable as the former site of the infamous Last Place on Earth head shop. If all goes well, the brewery will begin production in mid-October and the taproom will open in mid-November.
NorShor Fundraising Begins with a Splash
- The community portion of fundraising to complete the NorShor Theatre kicked off Thursday evening, with 200 people attending a pool party hosted by the Duluth Playhouse at Northland Country Club.
Minneapolis Developer Begins Long-Delayed Revamp of Duluth Theater
- Developer Sherman Associates has acquired Duluth’s NorShor Theatre, setting the stage for a long-delayed $30 million renovation of the vacant property. Finance & Commerce reports on the rehab plans, which officially get underway this week after Minneapolis-based Sherman bought the building from the Duluth Economic Development Authority for $2.3 million. The company plans to restore seats, expand the stage and add an orchestra pit in a project that will bring live theater back to the venue, built in 1912 as a vaudeville house