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‘Hadestown’ is coming; Iranian Film Festival to begin

ALSO: “The Clemency of Tito’s Tennis Club: A Picnic Operetta”; “Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes” at the Trylon; and more.

Members of the Broadway cast of "Hadestown" performing a number at the 73rd Annual Tony Awards on Aug. 6.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Hennepin Theatre Trust’s 2020-21 “Broadway on Hennepin” season won’t be announced until next year, but it’s already shaping up nicely. Not only will “Hamilton” return, but eight-time Tony winner “Hadestown” will include Minneapolis in a national tour that will launch in Fall 2020.

Written by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, developed with director Rachel Chavkin, “Hadestown” is the first musical in over a decade to have been written entirely by a woman – music, lyrics and book. Two ancient, intertwining love stories – of Orpheus and Eurydice, King Hades and Persephone – are told to a score that blends modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz.

The most honored show of the 2018-19 Broadway season and the highest-grossing musical in the history of the Walter Kerr Theatre (where it continues to sell out nightly), “Hadestown” ruled the 73rd annual Tony Awards in June, winning Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Direction of a Musical, among others. The show also won four Drama Desk Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Musical, and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical.

Here’s the Broadway cast in a pre-Tonys appearance on “CBS This Morning.”

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The dates aren’t set – all we know now is Minneapolis is among the first eight cities announced for the tour – but we can add “Hadestown” to our list of things not to miss. And, like “Hamilton,” the best way to ensure your seat is by subscribing to the 2019-20 season, whose ticketholders get first dibs on 2020-21.

“Bomb, A Love Story” to open Iranian Film Festival

Why see foreign films? Because they’re foreign, duh. They take us places we’ve never been among people we’ve never met and conditions we’ll never experience – in some cases, we hope and pray we’ll never experience. Like life in Tehran during the Iraq-Iran war, when daily and nightly bombings were common, and chemical weapons were used.

Beginning with a lengthy tracking shot of the city at night through sandbagged streets, past vegetable sellers, a small, hand-operated Ferris wheel, food carts, windows X-ed with tape, street performers, balloon sellers and memorials to the dead, ending in a scene of carnage (“Do not touch your face if there are chemicals on your hand!” warns a voice through a bullhorn), Payman Maadi’s “Bomb, A Love Story” is a you-are-there movie about somewhere you wouldn’t want to be.

The city is under siege, yet life goes on. Schoolteachers schedule exams, trying to time them for when their students won’t be in bomb shelters. Children sail paper airplanes off a roof. A married couple struggles with their relationship. A father-in-law dispenses wise advice. A man sings a song honoring the birth of his daughter. Pomegranates are peeled. A blue bike rests against the wall of a building. Kids in a schoolyard raise their fists and shout “Down with America! Down with heathen Saddam!” And each night, the residents of an apartment building wait for the blackout, then head to the basement until the bombs stop falling. Hoping one won’t fall on them.

Director and actor Payman Maadi in a scene from “Bomb, A Love Story.”
Courtesy of Dreamlab Films
Director and actor Payman Maadi in a scene from “Bomb, A Love Story.”
Director Maadi also wrote the screenplay and stars as Iraj, school principal and husband to Mitra (Leila Hatami), toward whom he is inexplicably cold. Maadi was born in New York City in 1972 to an Iranian couple who returned to Iran when he was 5 years old. So he was a schoolboy during the war, probably raising his fist and shouting. In a brief director’s statement, he wrote, “Every time I think about war, I also remember that I could have been one of those people living in their homes when a bomb dropped and ruined their lives … [Their] unfulfilled desires and dreams still haunt us.”

If Maadi looks familiar, it’s because in the hugely popular, Emmy-winning HBO miniseries “The Night Of,” which aired in 2016, he played the role of Salim Khan, Naz’s (Riz Ahmed) father, whose taxicab Naz borrows one night to attend a party.

“Bomb, A Love Story” won several awards at film festivals in 2018. Tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 15) it will launch the MSP Film Society’s second annual MSP Iranian Film Festival, with seven films from new Iranian cinema. All but one will screen twice at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre 3. FMI including times, trailers and tickets.

The festival will run four days. On the final day (Sunday, Aug. 18), after the final film, a free public reception at Artspace Jackson Flats will celebrate the closing of the film festival and the opening of the first Twin Cities Iranian Culture Week. FMI.

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The picks

Tonight (Wednesday, Aug. 14) at the Trylon: “Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes.” This fascinating documentary screened last November as part of Sound Unseen. It’s back for one night only. Here’s our review from the first time around. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($12). There aren’t many left, so hurry.

Tonight at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre 3: Italian Film Festival: “God Willing (Se Dio Vuole).” One foreign film festival is not enough, so the MSP Film Society is running another at the same time. This year’s Italian Film Festival is a 10-year retrospective spread out over several months. Tonight’s film is a crowd-pleasing comedy that was originally shown at the 2016 MSPIFF. FMI including times, trailer and tickets. One night only. The trailer isn’t subtitled (the film is), but it still looks hilarious and charming.

The Clemency of Tito’s Tennis Club: A Picnic Operetta
Photo by Clare Nieto
“The Clemency of Tito’s Tennis Club: A Picnic Operetta” is Mozart, served up Mixed Precipitation-style with fresh bites.
Opens Thursday at Dodge Nature Center Farm Education Center in West St. Paul: Mixed Precipitation’s “The Clemency of Tito’s Tennis Club: A Picnic Operetta.” High-stakes sports drama, natural disasters and music by Devo and Pat Benatar. Sounds just like Mozart! In fact, it is Mozart, served up Mixed Precipitation-style with fresh bites. Co-directed by company founder and artistic director Scotty Reynolds and Jacob Miller, this year’s Picnic Operetta adapts Mozart’s rarely performed “La Clemenza di Tito” into a story about resurrecting a defunct tennis club. 7 p.m. 1701 Charlton St., West St. Paul. Mixed Precipitation is an itinerant opera company; it will take “Tito” to Arden Hills, Hastings, St. Louis Park, New York Mills, Oronoco and other locations before the final performance Sept. 29 in Loring Park. Check the schedule to find out when it’s nearest you. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly encouraged. The suggested donation is $10-20, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Next Friday (Aug. 23) at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater: The Theater of Public Policy: The United Kingdom vs. the European Union or Brexit, Pursued by Bad Hair. We were going to tell you about a T2P2 event this Saturday at Lock and Dam #1 but it’s already sold out so let’s jump ahead to next week, because tickets are still available. If you’ve been wondering “What the heck is Brexit?” do not miss this. John Crace, one of the UK’s best-loved satirists and parodists and a regular writer for the Guardian (UK edition), will explain everything and make you laugh, with help from T2P2’s crack team of improvisers. Doors at 6 p.m., show at 7. FMI and tickets ($12 advance, $15 door).