A peripatetic ‘Pride & Prejudice’ at the Guthrie; Talking Volumes to include Atwood, Conroy

Photo by Michael Brosilow
Christine Weber (Jane Bennet), Juan Rivera Lebron, Aeysha Kinnunen (Lydia Bennet) and Emanuel Ardeleanu in the Guthrie Theater's production of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, adapted by Simon Reade.

Now at the Guthrie, “Pride and Prejudice” is entertaining, effervescent and moving. It never stops moving. Alexander Dodge’s set, a three-part Lazy Susan, changes scenes by whirling a tall exterior colonnade and interior wall (with doors and windows) into place. Sometimes the pieces rotate clockwise, sometimes counterclockwise. Chandeliers drop down and rise up. Costumed set-changers dash in and out. And there’s a lot of dancing. One needs a moment now and then simply to catch one’s breath.

The play has the right elements – a mostly well-paced script by Simon Reade, gorgeous costumes by Mathew J. LaFebvre, nimble dances by Joe Chvala, a generally strong cast – but it’s over the top. Some of the roles, especially Lydia Bennet (Aeysha Kinnunen), Mary Bennet (Thallis Santesteban), Mr. Collins (Kris L. Nelson), and Caroline Bingley (Anna Sundberg), seem more caricature than character. Suzanne Warmanen as Mrs. Bennet and Sally Wingert as Lady Catherine de Bourgh push the limits, but we don’t care because they’re fabulous, especially Wingert’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a dead ringer for Cruella de Ville. As Mr. Darcy, Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell of “Mad Men”) does not steal the show. Nor does he look entirely at home in those snow-white breeches. But he’s handsome and convincing as the romantic hero. The biggest, best surprise is Ashley Rose Montondo, who stepped into the role of Elizabeth Bennet when Erin Krakow got a better offer. She’s full of wit and just the right amount of sass, and she commands our attention as the center of the play.

Despite its charms, this is Austen’s comedy of manners without the manners. Graced with elegant sets against a Turneresque backdrop, it lacks refinement. There’s too much high-pitched laughter, too little acknowledgement of the truth, universal in Regency England, that a woman without means had to marry or face a life of poverty and irrelevance. We get a glimpse of that reality in the character of Charlotte Lucas (Laura Esping), whose marriage to the icky Mr. Collins (Kris L. Nelson) is a last resort. Elizabeth is lucky, lucky, lucky to pair up with Mr. Darcy, a man both handsome and rich whom she can actually stand. Through Aug. 31. FMI and tickets.

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In case you were one of the few people absent from Jeanne Arland Peterson’s funeral yesterday afternoon, we’ll catch you up. It was standing room only at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Richfield, packed with musicians and full of music including a stirring “It Is Well With My Soul” performed by Oleta Adams and a powerful, a cappella “Without a Song” by the Steeles. In between, Jeanne’s five children, Billy, Linda, Patty, Ricky and Paul, all accomplished and successful musicians, sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in tribute to their mother. They managed to hold it together, but we can’t say the same for the crowd. In his remarks, longtime family friend Don Shelby wryly commented, “It’s an unusual Mass of Christian burial that is interrupted so often by applause,��� then shared warm memories of a wife, a mother, a musical talent, a radio personality (“back when radio was really radio”), and a lady. “How lucky we all have been,” he concluded. “She only played in one key – the key of love.” The “matriarch of Minnesota music,” Peterson died Sunday, June 25, just two days shy of her 92nd birthday.

Fall 2013’s Talking Volumes season looks delicious. Presented by MPR and the Star Tribune in collaboration with the Loft, hosted by Kerri Miller, this series is now in its 14th year of bringing acclaimed authors to the Twin Cities. And it’s not just talking heads; each program also includes live music. Sept. 25: Haitian-born novelist, two-time National Book Award finalist and American Book Award winner Edwidge Danticat (“The Farming of Bones,” “Krik? Krak!”) will read from her latest, “Claire of the Sea Light.” Oct. 1: much-honored multi-genre Canadian writer Margaret Atwood (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) will present “MaddAddam,” the conclusion to her dystopian trilogy that began with “Oryx and Crake,” followed by “The Year of the Flood.” Oct. 15: The No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of young-adult fantasy-adventure-mythology fiction, Richard Riordan (“Percy Jackson,” “Kane Chronicles”) will feature his latest “Heroes of Olympus” title. And Nov. 12 (drum roll): the esteemed novelist Pat Conroy (“The Prince of Tides,” “The Great Santini”) will read from “The Death of Santini,” about his father’s “miraculous turn-around after he retired from the Marine Corps … It’s the great surprise of my life that I ended up loving him so much,” Conroy says. All at 7 p.m. at the Fitzgerald Theater. Season tickets go on sale today ($80). Single-show tickets are available to the general public Aug. 2. Go online or call 651-290-1200.

Charles Askegard

Minnesota Dance Theatre has a new associate artistic director. Recently retired from a distinguished career as principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre, Minneapolis native Charles Askegard looks forward to coming home. “It has always been my dream to give back not only to the dance community but the community as a whole,” he said in a prepared statement. Askegard has danced for and with ballet legends Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jerome Robbins, Natalia Makarova, Agnes de Mille, Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, and Peter Martins. 

Attention, literary types: Milkweed Editions is looking for a publishing assistant. You’ll work on contracts, read and critique manuscripts, coordinate the editorial and production process, request and grant permissions, draft launch memos, help publisher Daniel Slager with correspondence and other tasks – pretty much everything. FMI.

If you’ve always dreamed of performing at the State Fair, the clock is ticking. Registration closes at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, for the 2013 Amateur Talent Contest. Can you sing or dance, juggle or clog, play an instrument or know your way around a yo-yo (like one of last year’s semifinalists)? Nearly $10,000 in total prize money will be awarded. FMI and online registration.

Crafters, the second annual Minneapolis Craft’za is accepting applications until July 31. This year’s Craft’za will be held in the Grain Belt Bottling House in NE Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 16. FMI and online application.

Animators, you, too, have until July 31 to submit your short (less than 5 minutes long) to the second MinnAnimate festival of Minnesota-made animation. As we learned one night while sitting at the bar at Jasmine 26, the Twin Cities is a hotbed of animators. MinnAnimate II will screen at the Ritz on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. FMI.

Don Stolz has sold his Old Log Theater, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of the game. He’s taking his children’s holiday musical “The Elves and the Shoemaker” to the Chanhassen. Don’s son Tom will direct the show, which runs Nov. 1 – Dec. 29 in repertory with the Chan’s 45th anniversary revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.” School group tickets are now on sale; call 952-934-1547.

Those of you who saw and loved pianist and MacArthur fellow Stephen Hough at the Ordway last November (his stellar performance was part of the Schubert Club’s International Artist Series), who want to know more about the Liszt Sonata in B minor, and who don’t mind paying $13.99 for an iPad app will click “buy” for “The Liszt Sonata” from Touch Press. Seated at a Steinway, Hough plays, explores, and explains the Romantic masterpiece. Watch from multiple angles, follow the score, see a graphic representation of the notes being played. Gramophone thinks it might be “the best classical music app yet.”

At least we’re in good company. A new Pew poll finds journalists and artists in a close race to the bottom of respectable professions. Just 28 percent of respondents say journalists contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being; artists get 30 percent. Both are down from 2009’s figures, but while artists fell only one percentage point (from 31 to 30), journalists plummeted 10 (from 38 to 28). We’re still above business execs (24 percent) and lawyers (18 percent), both of whom make a lot more money. Members of the military are at the very top (78 percent), followed closely by teachers (72 percent), but they don’t make much money either.

Our picks for the week

Starts today (Tuesday, July 16): Best Days of the Bakken. Five days of free admission and special programming at the museum with the fabulous garden on the west side of Lake Calhoun. Today: Inventors Day. Tomorrow: Ben Franklin Day. Thursday: Frankenstein Day. (Museum founder Earl Bakken was a big fan of the story and the film.) Friday: Wizards Day. Saturday: Art & Science Day. FMI.

orchestra pic
Courtesy of the Dakota Valley Symphony
The Dakota Valley Symphony presents: “Unforgettable: the Love Songs of Summer” on Tuesday night.

Tonight: “Unforgettable: the Love Songs of Summer.” A free concert by the Dakota Valley Symphony with songs you know from Hollywood, Broadway, and pop music – like “Unchained Melody,” “Windmills of Your Mind,” music from “Camelot,” and music by Cole Porter and Ennio Morricone. Pack a picnic basket, bring the kids. 7 p.m., Normandale Lake Bandshell, 5901 W. 84th St., Bloomington.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 17): Minneapolis Aquatennial Torchlight Parade. A big parade. A big parade at night. A big parade with bands, floats and lights. Along Hennepin between Dunwoody and 5th Street. 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 18: Art History Lecture: Installation Art. What is installation art, anyway? Isn’t all art installation art by virtue of being installed somewhere? Not exactly. In a free lecture at the Minnesota Museum of American Art Project Space, art historian Anna Chisholm will spell it out. 7 p.m., 332 N. Robert St., St. Paul. No registration required.

Thursday, July 18: Bike Night at the Minneapolis Institute. Pedal over to MIA for a night of bike- and art-related activities and live music outdoors in Target Park. Play Bike Night Bingo, strike a pose in the photobooth with a Nice Ride MN bike, check out stuff from local bike shops and brands, and get a free safety check from the Hub Coop. 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis. Free.

Thursday, July 18: Tales of the Twin Cities, Live and Unscripted. The Theater of Public Policy presents a night of unscripted theater inspired by your stories of life in the Twin Cities. Bring any tale of people, culture, life, or whatever in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the quick minds and fearless spirits of T2P2 will create improv scenes and sketches based upon it. Yes, horrible winter stories are fair game. Part of the Paper Darts Pop-Up series. Doors at 7:30 p.m., 3506 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis. FMI and tickets ($12).

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