Saturday, July 24, 2004

I Feel A Song Coming On...

I'm not much for musical theatre. Normally.

Even though I wrote one.

Even though I'm a gay man and we're supposed to be walking jukeboxes with a show tune for all occasions (but then I don't know opera either, so sue me)

Normally, seeing "musical theatre" as a qualifier, or, worse, the dreaded,

"[Insert any word in the English language here], The Musical!,"

is enough to make me roll my eyes and cry out, "Next!..."

(Let the irrate comments begin if you must, but please read to the end first, you might like this post after all)

So, what I'm about to say perplexes the heck out of me, but...

There is *so* much good musical theatre potential in this year's Fringe.

Maybe I just woke up and smelled the treble clef, but I don't think so.

Here are some of the titles that are overcoming my natural bias and making me actually want to see a musical this year...

Nautilus Music-Theater is doing triple duty this year, for starters. Since I greatly admire Nautilus and their mission to bring new and original forms of musical theater to the Twin Cities, and their program developing the talents of the composers and lyricists of the future, anything they do automatically climbs to the top of my list. Any or all of these are worth your time...

From The Diary of Virginia Woolf
Nautilus Music-Theater
Hey City Theater, upstairs

A Pulitzer prize-winning song cycle, based on the diaries of the author who Michael Cunningham's gorgeous (also Pulitzer prize-winning) novel and Nicole Kidman's Oscar-winning putty nose made trendy again, by a local composer, sung by one of Nautilus' many supremely talented singer-collaborators.

John and Jen: Part One
John and Jen: Part Two
Nautilus Music-Theater
both at
Hey City Theater, upstairs

This is an intriguing concept. A two-person musical in which each act can be done separately and taken on its own terms. Audiences that manage to get in to see both will be treated to an extra set of resonances between the two, regardless of the order you see them in. Act One - John and Jen, a brother and sister, come of age in the 60's, with John going off to fight in Vietnam. Act Two - Jen is a single mother raising her son John, named for her late brother. Again, two more amazing voices from the seemingly inexhaustable Nautilus stable of stellar local singing talent.

Sky's The Limit Productions
Minneapolis Theatre Garage

What's a Fringe during an election year without a Stephen Sondheim musical about presidential assassins - both successful and unsuccessful? (Thankfully, we don't have to find out.) I saw a delightfully twisted production of this over ten years ago at the Great American History Theatre and I'm long overdue for a return visit to this clever and thought-provoking funhouse ride of a musical.

Seussical, The Musical
Front Porch Theatre
In The Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre

Though we've all been burned by too many Jim Carey/Mike Meyers vehicles that were more bloated commercials than movies, I'm still curious about this one. And, unlike Assassins, this is one you can take the kiddies to.

Folks, if I'm genuinely interested in going to musicals this year (and I am), we're down the rabbit hole.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

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