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Weekend Picks: Jersey Boys, indie folk music and Taste of Minnesota returns

Plus: New Latin American exhibit at Mia; The Head and the Heart performs in Waite Park; local artists and best friends open new exhibit; and more.

Sam Stoll, Will Dusek, David Darrow and Shad Hanley in “Jersey Boys.”
Sam Stoll, Will Dusek, David Darrow and Shad Hanley in “Jersey Boys.”
Photo by Dan Norman

“Jersey Boys” opened at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres last week, and I’ve got a rundown for you of my thoughts on the show. Also this weekend, the Minneapolis Institute of Art opens “ReVisión: Art in the Americas,” a vast show that encompasses Latin American art from ancient times to today, organized with the Denver Art Museum. Listed below are two music shows that may peak your interest: Brass Lassie, a band founded by the talented Laura MacKenzie, bringing the sounds and rhythms of Ireland, Scotland and Western Europe to Minnesota, and The Head and the Heart coming to the Ledge Amphitheater in Waite Park. On Sunday, Taste of Minnesota returns for the first time since 2015, and then Paul Benson and Wayne E. Potratz take over Homewood Studios for a nature-inspired exhibition. 

Jersey Boys

Actor Will Dusek has the voice of an angel in Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ production of “Jersey Boys: The story of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons.” Dusek just graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University School, and returns to Minnesota where he had attended high school, at Cretin-Derham. Dusek’s channeling of Frankie Valli’s high-reaching falsetto is marvelous, matched with the performer’s vulnerability and openness as an actor. 

The other three main members of the Four Seasons, played by David Darrow, Shad Henley, and Sam Stoll (as Tommy Devito, Nick Massi, and Bob Gaudio, respectively), sound fantastic together as they croon out hits like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “Walk Like a Man.” Each of them take turns as narrators, telling their respective versions of the story of the musical group, starting in a shady neighborhood in New Jersey in the 1950s. 

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There seems to be a missing voice, however. Music producer Bob Crewe, who gets top billing as the lyricist in the program and who produced and wrote the lyrics for the band, is written as a fop whose homosexuality becomes the butt of numerous jokes in the script. Chanhassen’s production understates this framing in Mark King’s performance, but the book’s text— written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice— still feels a bit dated. A number of laugh lines that leave a sour note. 

Besides that element, the show still pleases with its catchy tunes and emotional connection. The leads all hold the emotional weight of their respective characters, making this a worthwhile journey. The show runs through Feb. 24, ($75 adults with dinner, $55-85 show only). More information here

Hija de la Vida, 2016, digital print on watercolor paper
Luis González Palma
Hija de la Vida, 2016, digital print on watercolor paper
ReVisión: Art in the Americas

The Minneapolis Institute of Art has partnered with the Denver Art Museum for a deep dive into Latin America, taking in its scope ancient objects and contemporary explorations. Featuring nearly 200 works, including 130 objects from DAM’s renown collections, the exhibition is arranged thematically. Among the highlights is a 3000-year old olmec mask, gold and silver figures from the seventh century, and photographs by Brazilian photojournalist and documentarian Sebastião Salgado. The exhibition also explores a historical record of the way race and class demarcations have evolved in Latin American culture through a full set of “casta” paintings by 18th century painter Francisco Clapera. Opens Saturday, July 1 through September 17 ($20). More information here

Brass Lassie 

Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Laura MacKenzie’s music group, Brass Lassie, brings together traditional tunes from Scotland, Ireland and other parts of Europe with idiosyncratic instrumentation. They’ve earned high praise from critics in the British Isles, who have responded enthusiastically to the group’s strong brass and rhythms grounding their folk sound and effervescent vocals. They’re playing Saturday, July 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Crooners ($20-$30). More information here.

The Head and the Heart
Photo by Shervin Lainez
The Head and the Heart
The Head and the Heart 

Indie folk band The Head and the Heart, whose pleasing vocal harmonies and piano fuse with an expressive sound, head to Waite Park for an outdoor show at the Ledge Amphitheater, performing with The Revivalists. The group has been on tour, playing tunes from their fifth studio album, “Every Shade of Blue,” an album that landed the group on a number of TV shows, including “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “CBS Saturday.” Saturday, July 1 at the Ledge Amphitheater, 6:30 p.m. ($47-127). More information here

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Taste of Minnesota 

Taste of Minnesota is back, this time in Minneapolis, with plans for two days of food, music, wrestling, arts and arts along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.

The Festival first launched in 1983, founded by Ron Maddox. For decades, the food and music event was held in the state capital, before a dispute led to the festival moving to Harriet Island. It moved to Waconia, after flooding damaged the Harriet Island site, and dwindling numbers led to the festival’s closure after the 2015 festival. 

Now it’s back, with performances by legendary Twin Cities family music group The Steeles and the Twin Cities’ own Motion City Soundtrack, as well as touring acts like Big Boi (former Outkast member Antwan André Patton) and California rock band Third Eye Blind. The music takes place on three stages along Nicollet, and there’s also an art market, food trucks galore, and a chance to catch the wrestlers of the Twin Cities-based F1rst Wrestling in action. Sunday, July 2 & Monday, July 3 from noon to 8 p.m. on Nicollet Mall— entrances at Washington Ave. S. and 5 St. S. (free, but ticket required.) More information here

Paul Benson & Wayne E. Potratz: Confluence

Flash; wood, steel
Paul Benson
Flash; wood, steel
Longtime friends Paul Benson and Wayne E. Potratz converge at Homewood Studios early next week for an exhibition that brings together poetry, photography and sculpture inspired by the two artists’ love of nature. Potratz, a professor emeritus from the University of Minnesota’s art department, has spent a lifetime up in the Boundary Waters, and is an avid canoeist, he tells me. He’ll be showing metal works, including pieces using cast iron and bronze, as well as copper and raw steel created through a smelting process. Potratz met Benson when the latter artist was showing at the MAEP Galleries at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. 

“We’re both interested in moving through the landscape,” Potratz says. 

Benson, a longtime teacher at St. Paul Academy and Summit School, walks every day, and often creates photographs that reflect the wonder of the natural landscapes, and his poetry and sculptural work reflect that connection with the outdoors as well. Artist and critic Neil Cuthbert curated the exhibition, selected the work that will be on view. Opens Wednesday July 5 and runs through July 29, Tuesdays 5-9 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays 1-6 p.m., Saturdays 1-4 p.m., Q&A Saturday, July 15 at 2 p.m. (free). More information here