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Rare chance to see two great actors at work together

Husband and wife Richard Ooms and Claudia Wilkins have been fixtures on the Twin Cities theater scene for nearly three decades, presenting winning performances at the Guthrie (Ooms‚ longtime home), The Jungle Theater (Wilkins has presented several impressive turns there) and nearly every other company in the community.

In recent years, the two have also been able to share the stage in more productions, including their current turn at the tiny Pangea World Theater for a rousing production of Ionesco’s “The Chairs.”
In this absurdist one-act, Ooms and Wilkins play a married couple of many years who have planned a major event for the evening – one that will require the use of many, many chairs.

There’s a real thrill in watching two top talents working the stage together (and in an intimate, 40-seat setting), especially when you add in the unique chemistry that comes from having a longtime couple share the stage. It’s also a lesson on how the best actors are willing to completely sell any role, even if it requires you to hold your husband on your lap for an extended length of time while you share an old story.
“The Chairs” runs through Oct. 19 at the Pangea World Theatre Studio, 711 W. Lake St., suite 101, Minneapolis. Tickets are $10 and $15. For information, call 612-203-1088 or go online.

"Killer Joe"
Zach Curtis as policeman/killer-for-hire Joe in “Killer Joe.”

Theatre Pro Rata opens new season at new home
Theatre Pro Rata kicked off its new season over the weekend, when “Killer Joe” opened at the Gremlin Theatre’s new space on University Avenue. The location is a step up in a number of ways. It was a tough place to find (I still managed to get lost, even after three years in town) and lacking in amenities.
The new Gremlin doesn’t have those issues, and the company hasn’t lost a step moving digs, with the same attention to theatrical detail that made so many past productions a thrill to watch.
As far as “Killer Joe” goes, the production is better than the script. Playwright Tracy Letts (“Bug” and the Pulitzer-winning “August: Osage County”) muddles some good exploration of what it means to be poor and drifting in America, but traps his characters in a rather pulpy plot.
Still, there is plenty of good here, from Zach Curtis’ imposing turn as the policeman/killer-for-hire Joe and Clarence Wethern as the well-meaning-but-rock-stupid Chris. And the space itself maintains the intimate vibe that helped many shows at the Loading Dock succeed.
“Killer Joe” runs through Oct. 19 at the Gremlin Theater, 2400 University Ave., St. Paul. Tickets are on a sliding scale, $14 to $28. For information or tickets, call 612-874-9321 or go online.
‘Bright Lights’ for relocated Minneapolis Musical Theatre
Speaking of moving house, the always interesting Minneapolis Musical Theatre inaugurates its new home (Illusion Theatre, just a few blocks down Hennepin from its previous location) with an adaptation of “Bright Lights, Big City.”
This musical interpretation of Jay McInerney novel digs into the heart of 1980s Yuppie culture, with a 1980s rock score to match.
The company has built its reputation on bringing unusual and new works to the Twin Cities (“Jerry Springer: The Opera”), which should only be aided by a move to more traditional, and comfortable, digs.
“Bright Lights, Big City” runs Oct. 10 to 26 at the illusion Theatre, 528 Hennepin Ave. (eighth floor). Tickets are $25 to $28. For information, call 612-339-4944 or go online.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Chris Oien on 10/09/2008 - 04:17 pm.

    I saw The Chairs this past Saturday. Acting is top-notch and very intense. I would recommend the Friday and Saturday shows because they feature the post-show discussion with the actors and director. It really helped me process the ending and decide for myself what it all meant. But whichever day works for you, you should definitely go!

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