Trashmen in May block party lineup; Ibsen Festival to feature ‘The Master Builder’

Photo by Ana Hagedorn
The Commonweal Theatre Company has announced its 18th annual Ibsen Festival, a celebration of Scandinavian theater, visual art, music and dance in lovely downtown Lanesboro.

The block parties are coming! It’s one thing when restaurants start putting tables and chairs on the sidewalks (which already happened, even though everyone knew it would probably snow at least once more), quite another when venues announce perfectly good reasons to stand outdoors on tar or concrete, drinking beer and listening to loud music.

The 7th Annual Memory Lanes Block Party, held in the bowling alley’s parking lot at 26th Ave. South and East 26th St. in Minneapolis, promises a Memorial Day weekend worth staying in the cities for (and sets the bar high for other block parties). The two-day lineup includes the Trashmen with guitarist Deke Dickerson, Cactus Blossoms, Dead Larry, Davina & the Vagabonds, L’Assassins and Rupert Angeleyes. Starting at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 23-24, running late both nights, it’s yours for the exorbitant daily cover charge of $5. FMI.

If you haven’t heard, the Trashmen have made a comeback after almost 50 years of occasional sightings. Formed in Minneapolis in the early 1960s, they had a big hit with the infectious novelty song “Surfin’ Bird” in 1963 (bird is the word), then played the State Fair last August and First Avenue in January for the Current’s 10th birthday. (To learn what happened in between, read Chris Riemenschneider’s story for the Star Tribune.) They released a new album, “Bringing Back the Trash!” with Dickerson last year. Here they are with “Surfin’ Bird” on “American Bandstand” in 1963, and again at First Ave in January.

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The Commonweal Theatre Company has announced its 18th annual Ibsen Festival, a celebration of Scandinavian theater, visual art, music and dance in lovely downtown Lanesboro. The festival is one reason Lanesboro, a town of fewer than 800 residents on the Root River in southeast Minnesota, was named one of America’s Top Twelve Small Town ArtPlaces in 2013. In 2008, the Commonweal received one of four inaugural International Ibsen Scholarships from the Norwegian government.

This year’s festival, set for April 17-19, features the world premiere of a new adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher of Ibsen’s “The Master Builder,” whose title character, Halvard Solness, is a narcissistic architect. Minnesota playwright Hatcher has had a long relationship with the Commonweal; this is his sixth Ibsen adaptation for the theater. The play opens during the festival and runs through June 13.

The festival will feature special events and presentations all weekend long, including a lecture by Dr. Marvin Carlson, theater professor at City University of New York, on “Solness’s Faustian Bargain” and another by Darrell Henning, an expert on Norwegian architecture, which will focus on Norwegian American domestic architectural styles. Other notable events include a photography exhibition on Norwegian stave churches, an aquavit tasting, a chat with the set designer for “The Master Builder,” and a staged reading of a play based on writings by Norwegian immigrants in the 19th century. And it all happens in a place fondly called “the bed and breakfast capital of Minnesota,” with many historic inns and more than 60 miles of bike trails nearby. FMI.

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It’s always good news when a performance is extended, so congrats to Theater Latté Da for getting an extra five nights at the Ritz for its hit production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” And for the thumbs-up from the New York Times, which likes Latté Da’s German beer-hall theme. It ends (for real) on Saturday, April 4. FMI and tickets ($20-$45).

The picks

Tonight at the Minneapolis Central Library: Talk of the Stacks with Lisa See. For 20 years, the New York Times bestselling author has been writing about the Asian-American experience, informed by her own family’s experiences. She’ll present her latest novel, “China Dolls.” 7 p.m. in Pohlad Hall. Free.

Thursday at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage: Gremlin Theatre presents “Boeing-Boeing.” Marc Camoletti’s 1960s farce, winner of a 2008 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play, centers on a Parisian with three fiancées, each a beautiful airline hostess. Of course he’s trying to keep them all from learning about each other, and naturally he fails. Directed by Craig Johnson, with Zach Curtis, Sam Landman, Rachel Finch, Mo Perry, Sara Richardson and Stacia Rice. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($8-$30). Ends April 4.

The weekend

Thursday through Sunday, various locations: “The Culture Wars: Then & Now.” In 1994, the Walker presented body-modification artist Ron Athey’s “Four Scenes in a Harsh Life” at Patrick’s Cabaret. The performance involved ritual incision and paper towels spotted with blood. Jesse Helms, Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh heard about it and hated it. A national debate about art and censorship erupted, the NEA’s budget was slashed, and we’ve been talking ever since about controversial artwork and the “culture wars.” With characteristic thoroughness, the Walker explores the topic in a series of events that include a conversation with Athey (7 p.m. Thursday at the Walker; free), a four-hour graduate symposium (1-5 p.m. Friday at the U of M’s Regis Center; free), and two nights of performances exploring themes of censorship, queer expression and radical embodied performance (8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Patrick’s Cabaret, $15).

Friday through Sunday at the Ted Mann: Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus: “Here Comes the Sun: The Music of the Beatles.” TCGMC welcomes spring with new arrangements of songs we all know and love: “Norwegian Wood,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Hey Jude,” “Nowhere Man,” “Imagine,” “Let It Be,” “With a Little Help from My Friends” and many more. Fine songs, fine singers; this should be a real pleasure. Tickets remain for all three performances, with the best main-floor seats available at the Sunday matinee. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($30-$53). Or call 612-624-2345.

Saturday at Leonardo’s Basement: “mini_polis” Community Build. The winner of this year’s Creative City Challenge is a miniature scale model of Minneapolis on the Convention Center plaza, to be unveiled at the Northern Spark festival on June 13. (Read more about it here.) The goal is to have much of it built by community members. The first building workshops will be held this Saturday at 10 a.m. and noon. They’re free, but space is limited, so registration is required. Ages 9 and up.

Plan ahead

Tuesday, June 23 on the Cabooze Plaza: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Another reason to stand outdoors and listen to music. Troy Andrews, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty, is a New Orleans trombonist, trumpet player and singer who puts on a high-energy, musically satisfying show. If you’ve seen him at the Zoo, you know this to be true. With Willie Murphy and the Angel Headed Hipsters and Jack Brass Band. 6:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($32.50 advance, $35 day of show). 

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