Blog rolling, plus three must-see shows!

Guthrie - Merchant of VeniceIf you read only one blog this week, read this one. Otherwise, allow me to plug this space. Here’s a list of things I won’t be writing about here: what I had for breakfast, where I get my hair cut, what my hair used to look like, where I was the day my dog died, or my secret aspirations.

What I will be writing about here, every Wednesday, are plays, concerts, and arts exhibitions to see now, actors and artists to keep an eye on, and general commentary on the state of the local arts scene.

This week, I’m recommending the Theatre de la Jeune Lune’s revival of their own “Don Juan Giovanni.” All year, the Lunies have been showcasing some of their most powerful past productions, and this one certainly qualifies on sheer volume of content alone. A little too much, perhaps: it feels like the theater’s end-all, be-all comment on everything. And while some comments are sharp (on the nature of nihilism and the male sex drive), others feel too easy (Bush jokes). Still, no theater makes opera more interesting. And few singers are as pleasant to listen to (or watch) as the lush-voiced trifecta of Christina Baldwin, her sister Jennifer Baldwin Peden, and Bradley Greenwald.

I’m also recommending “The Merchant of Venice” at the Guthrie Theater, the first Shakespeare production at the new Guthrie. And tonight I’m hitting the Dakota for some West African music from Toumani Diabate. The Twin Cities have enjoyed numerous African performances this year, largely courtesy of the Walker’s Africa Now series; Diabate should keep the good vibes coming.

p.s. Did anyone else catch the soulful Toots and the Maytals at the Fine Line last week? Two observations: 1) Who knew reggae was good for your health? Toots looked like he could bench three of the kids at this 18+ show. 2) The Fine Line needs to learn when to close the doors; the room was packed tighter than a spliff in Kingston.

Photo: The Merchant of Venice at the Guthrie.