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‘Charlotte’s Web,’ ‘Cinderella’ in next CTC season; Walker lays off 8

Courtesy of the Children's Theatre Company/Dan Norman
'Cinderella' is part of the Children's Theatre Company's 2013–14 season.

The Children’s Theatre Company has announced its 2013-14 season and launched a new website. The site is bright and friendly, the season looks very promising, and in case you don’t know, every seat in the Children’s Theatre has massive amounts of legroom. Sept. 17 – Oct. 27: “Charlotte’s Web,” based on the book by E.B. White. First time at the CTC. Oct. 8 – Nov. 17: “The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!” A world premiere, told in the visual style of a graphic novel (think Japanese anime), co-produced with New York’s Ma-Yi Theater. Nov. 12 – Jan. 5, 2014: “Cinderella.” The return of the holiday hit with the cross-dressing stepsisters. Jan. 14, 2014 – Feb. 23: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favorites.” Charming stories retold on stage by Nova Scotia’s Mermaid Theatre, using colorful puppets in black light. March 11 – April 6: “The Scarecrow and His Servant.” The biggest deal of the season. Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher has adapted the children’s book by Philip Pullman (“The Golden Compass”) for the stage in this CTC world premiere. March 25 – May 4: “Balloonacy.” Another world premiere, this time for the wee ones. April 22 – June 8: “Shrek the Musical.” The Broadway show. Theater Latte Da’s Peter Rothstein will direct. May 22 – July 20: “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat.” The previous run sold out, even with an extended run. Series subscriptions are on sale now.

If you watched Friday’s “Almanac,” you saw SPCO president Dobson West and musician Fred Bretschger talk, sort of, about the talks now taking place between management and the locked-out musicians in an effort to salvage at least a sliver of the 2012-13 season. Somehow management always looks happier than musicians in these televised conversations, maybe because they’re holding the keys. Dear Almanac: Please keep hauling people into your studio, sitting them down on your sofa, and asking why the lockouts have not yet ended. Over four months for the SPCO! Over five for the Minnesota Orchestra! At least SPCO musicians and management are speaking ; contract talks continue this week. That’s more than we can say for the Minnesota Orchestra. Many of us are wondering – who will be there to reopen the newly renovated Orchestra Hall? Update: The SPCO today cancelled more concerts—through April 21. While the discussions have been productive,” West said in a statement issued this afternoon,  “we have not yet reached agreement on any major points and there is still significant work to be done. Unfortunately, we are at the point where we need to give several artists and presenters final confirmation on upcoming engagements. 

The Walker has laid off eight staff members. We’d heard the number would be higher. The reason: a drop in the Walker’s endowment due to the 2008 financial crisis. Eight (make that nine, including associate PR director Christopher James, who was let go in December) doesn’t compare to Best Buy’s 400, but still, ouch. Meanwhile, the Walker will begin a multimillion-dollar renovation project this week. Timing, anyone?

Calling all unpublished poets: Garrison Keillor and Common Good Books are holding the first annual Common Good Amateur Love Poem Contest. (To be clear, “unpublished” means you haven’t yet published a book of poetry.) The rules: Entries may be up to 14 lines or 200 words long. Due March 18. One entry per person. Mail poems to Finalists will be announced April 1, the start of Poetry Month, and the winner will be announced Sunday, April 21, when Keillor hosts an afternoon of poetry in the Weyerhaeuser Chapel on the Macalester campus. That starts at 1 p.m. and it’s free.

Ten days of picks

Artscape is taking a break; we’ll be back Friday, March 15. Here are 10 events worth going out for, one each day between now and then. All are Minnesota-centric.

Tuesday, March 5: Minneapolis Public Schools Viva City Fine Arts Festival at the Cedar. Now in its 19th year, Viva City showcases performances by local musicians and performers, all Minneapolis Public School students. Tonight’s event, “Fringe at the Cedar,” features junkyard symphonies, Bollywood dancers, and other alt-performances. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7. Donations requested.

Wednesday, March 6: “Carol and Cotton” at the Minneapolis Theater Garage. A play about the murder of Carol Thompson in the Highland Park home she shared with her husband, T. Eugene “Cotton” Thompson, and their children. Named Best Drama at the 2011 Fringe Festival, now in an expanded, full-length version, just in time for the 50th anniversary of Minnesota’s “Crime of the Century.” Steve Sweere and Catherine Johnson Justice take on multiple roles. Presented by Partizan Theater. 7:30 p.m., 711 Franklin Ave. W., Minneapolis. Through March 10. FMI

Thursday, March 7: Opening reception for “D.I.Y. Printing: Presses Not Required” at the MMAA’s Project Space. Printing outside the box from eight collectives and 12 artists in the Twin Cities and nearby, plus works from MMAA’s collection. Teaching artist Jaime Vu will lead kids in a printing activity; Printing on the Cheap will offer do-it-yourself demos. 6 p.m., Pioneer Building (corner of 4th and Robert streets, St. Paul). Free and open to the public.

Friday, March 8: Intermedia Arts and Freestyle Theater Present “N.I.G.G.E.R.” An experimental examination of the N-word through a female lens. Shá Cage’s new solo work is still taking shape; each evening will be slightly different. She plays several characters and tells their stories in monologue, song and movement. With acoustic guitarist and vocalist Chastity Brown; choreography by Lea Nelson and Kenna Cottman. Ages 14+. 8 p.m. Through March 10. FMI and tickets.

Randy Brecker
Photo by Merri Cyr
Randy Brecker

Saturday, March 9: JazzMN Orchestra with Randy Brecker at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center. Trumpeter Brecker has won a clutch of Grammys. Rockers will know him from Blood, Sweat & Tears, funksters from the Brecker Brothers, which Randy co-led with his brother, the late and much-loved jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker. Now in its 14th year, JazzMN is our homegrown jazz big band, full of top area players. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Sunday, March 10: Lila Downs: “A Song for My Father/Una Canción para Me Padre” at the Ted Mann. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Lila Downs recently won her second Latin Grammy, for “Pecados y Milagros” (Sins and Miracles). She grew up in three places, Oaxaca, California, and Minnesota, graduating from the U in voice and anthropology. Her father, Allen Downs, taught art at the U for more than 20 years and started its first international study program. Lila’s performance is part of the Allen Downs Project, years in the making, that includes the group exhibition “Allen Downs Life and Work: Winter Quarter in Mexico,” on display in the Katherine E. Nash Gallery through March 30. Following Sunday’s concert, guests may cross the street to the Regis Center and view the exhibition. FMI and tickets (which are going fast BTW). 

Monday, March 11: Terry Tempest Williams discusses her new book, “When Women Were Birds,” in the Weyerhaeuser Chapel on the Macalester campus. Wait; she’s not Minnesotan! But this part is: Before the reading, a remarkable music performance will take place. Emmy-winning St. Paul composer Steve Heitzeg has set Williams’ poem “Wild Mercy” to music. Williams wrote the poem in honor of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; Heitzeg scored it for soprano, Yupik frame drum, and Beluga whale jawbones. With soprano Polly Butler Cornelius and percussionists Heather Barringer (of the St. Paul new music ensemble Zeitgeist) and Erik Barsness (of the contemporary music group Ensemble 61). Presented by Common Good Books. 7 p.m. Free.  

Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
James Madison Bowler and Elizabeth Bowler, about 1862

Tuesday, March 12: Minnesota and the Civil War” at the Minnesota History Center. When the war began in 1861, Minnesotans were the first in the Union to answer the call. The exhibit includes nearly 200 artifacts and firsthand accounts drawn from letters, diaries, and memoirs. The History Center is open until 8 p.m. Tuesdays. Through Sept. 8.

Wednesday, March 13: John Rosengren discusses his new book, “Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes,” at SubText: a Bookstore. Minnesota author Rosengren enjoys writing about and playing baseball. His eighth book is a sensitive and deeply researched biography of baseball’s first Jewish superstar, Hall of Famer Henry Benjamin Greenberg, whose Jewish fans dubbed him the “Moses of Baseball.” 7 p.m. Free.

Harry Blackmun (Clyde Lund) and Warren Burger (Nathaniel Fuller)
Photo by Scott Pakudaitis
Harry Blackmun (Clyde Lund) and Warren Burger (Nathaniel Fuller) in “Courting Harry.”

Thursday, March 14: “Courting Harry” at the History Theatre. Lee Blessing’s new play explores the lifelong friendship between Justice Harry Blackmun and Chief Justice Warren Burger that began in the streets of Dayton’s Bluff and ended in the chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court. The two men come together and look back over their lives, careers, and the passionately disputed Roe vs. Wade decision. Directed by Joel Sass, with Clyde Lund as Blackmun and Nathaniel Fuller as Burger. 8 p.m. Through March 24. FMI and tickets.

Plan ahead

Several musicians who’ve been around for a while, some for a very long while, are coming our way: 

April 5: Michael Nesmith at the Fitzgerald Theater. The former Monkee goes solo.

April 11: Boz Scaggs at the State Theatre. Boz plays his best-known songs with a full band.

April 15-16: Doc Severinsen & His Big Band at the Dakota. At 85, Johnny Carson’s former bandleader is still blowing strong.

April 29: Gordon Lightfoot at the State Theatre. The Canadian troubador is calling this his “50 Years on the Carefree Highway Tour.”

May 20: Todd Rundgren at the Varsity. The prolific, chameleon and wizardly Rundgren is touring behind his 24th solo studio album. 

June 9-10: John Sebastian at the Dakota. Hot time, summer in the city with one-fourth of the 60s band The Lovin Spoonful.

June 19-20: Ramsey Lewis Trio at the Dakota. With special guest Dee Dee Bridgewater. Pianist/composer Lewis (“The ‘In’ Crowd”) is a multiple Grammy winner and NEA jazz master; vocalist Bridgewater is a force of nature.

July 14: Alice Cooper at the State Theatre. The King of Shock Rock brings his “Raise the Dead Tour” to town. Just what we need, more zombies. 

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Stephen Dent on 03/05/2013 - 11:06 am.

    Is it a coincidence…

    …that when art’s palaces go into a re-modeling mode, other expenses, such as employees, the people that make the arts happen, suffer? Perhaps it’s management’s technique for bringing out the best in our artists…making them suffer. Did it work for van Gogh? He ended up with a bullet through the head. Perhaps management needs to re-think its “employee relationship” strategy, or as Ms. Espeland notes…when the hall is finished, will anyone show up? Good question.

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