8 Hot Picks: 6/1
There are no doe eyes, no cartoon colors, and no characters voiced by Robin Williams. In fact, the only thing Disneyesque about Disney’s Mulan Jr., playing through June 13 at the Children’s Theatre Company, is the real-life story of Katie Bradley, who plays the titular heroine. A 29-year-old veteran of Theatre de la Jeune Lune and Pillsbury House Theatre, Bradley has been teaching English in her native South Korea since last fall. But she adored the original movie for its depiction of a strong Asian girl (who disguises herself as a male soldier to defend the Chinese empire) and relished the opportunity to play this latest incarnation. Plus, she gets to wield a giant sword. Playwright David Mann, whose Queens of Burlesque recently sashayed across the History Theatre stage, sprinkles the musical with more tension than Disney fairy dust, and Bradley plays it with the toughness of a woman defending her turf. childrenstheatre.org
|The Walker Art Center kicks off Open Field, a summer-long slate of art-making and family fun at its new outdoor lounge, a cross between a pub and a public patio. walkertart.org|
|Osmo Vänskä conducts the Minnesota Orchestra’s season finale: Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto.” mnorch.org|
|The Cantus choir performs Covers III, its a capella take on pop music, at the Ritz Theater. cantusonline.org|
|The Flint Hills International Children’s Festival features theater from around the world, a butterfly garden, a parade, and more at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. ordway.org|
|Minneapolis MOSAIC, a festival of diverse local dance and music troupes, kicks off with a teen talent show at Pantages Theatre. minneapolismosaic.com|
|“Ordinarily Here,” at the Weisman Art Museum, focuses on art in everyday life through the work of such Minnesota artists as Diane Willow and Vince Leo. weisman.umn.edu|
|Cirque du Soleil brings Alegría, a baroque spin on its high-flying stunts, to the Target Center. cirque-dusoleil.com|
THE FACES BEHIND THIS MONTH’S ARTS AND CULTURE
Want a painting with that mortgage?
Douglas Flanders, the longtime local art dealer, strolls through the Edina headquarters of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty in sweatpants and a green plaid jacket, its sleeves severed at the shoulder. A couple dozen paintings, priced in the low thousands, line the corridors and offices where they may be spotted by home buyers—that is, people about to find themselves with a whole lot of empty walls to fill. “Did you like the sailboat painting?” Flanders asks Jacob Smith, a Sotheby’s broker. “I really liked this one painting a while back,” Smith replies. “It had a lot of blue in it.”
For decades, Flanders wooed clients with his no-nonsense approach, making the most of a market with few hard-core art collectors. “I’m not afraid to call complete strangers who I know have certain paintings and ask if they’ll sell,” he says. “I’m pretty aggressive. These days, even more so.”
When his Minneapolis gallery ran into hard times (it’s now closed), Flanders made arrangements for paintings by the artists he represents to be hung at the real-estate agency. He points to brochures advertising million-dollar properties. “About half of these homes are already owned by clients of mine—filled with my art,” he says.
This month, the agency is displaying the paintings of Luke Hillestad, an edgy artist who uses Rembrandt’s dramatic palette. Previous shows haven’t resulted in many sales, Flanders admits, though he’s received plenty of inquiries. “It’s a nice marriage,” Smith says, eyeing the paintings in his office. “It just remains to be seen if it’s benefiting Doug or just benefiting our eyes.” Through June 30, lakes-sothebysrealty.com
Freak shows get a second look
The sound of a harmonica, soft and low, fills the Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Minneapolis as an actor rehearses a monologue from Madame Majesta’s Miracle Medicine Show.
Then he veers a little off course. “One day,” he says, “the Pope a-come to the restaurant.”
The director, Dario Tangelson, laughs. “No, the Pope is too much. It’s the mayor, the mayor.” The actor pauses, confused. “I thought it was the Pope? They told me Pope.” Dario shakes his head. “He’s gotta punch the mayor, he can’t punch the Pope. Okay? The Pope is not here. The Pope has left the building.”
The Interact Center works mostly with actors who are physically or developmentally disabled. “In many ways, it’s much the same as any company,” says Tangelson. “But one day you’ll expect somebody for a rehearsal and he’ll have a seizure. Or that actor you’re counting on for a certain scene, they change his meds.”
Madame Majesta’s, opening June 4 at the Lab Theater, depicts Wild West medicine shows as the original big-tent parties, where freaks, outcasts, cowboys, and Indians could all feel at home. It’s an idea that clearly resonates with the performers, many of whom have found their calling through the Interact Center. “Each day, you never know what to expect,” says cast member Nathan Fordahl.
After rehearsal, Aimee Bryant, the Penumbra Theatre regular starring in the title role, explains her affection for the company. “Professional actors can get jaded,” she says. “But these folks are always so passionate, so energetic. It’s absolutely infectious.” June 4, interactcenter.com
Camping out in the Jungle
Bradley Greenwald and Steven Epp haven’t even sipped from their coffees before running out of things to share about The Mystery of Irma Vep, their first show together since Theatre de la Jeune Lune closed. “We know the title!” Greenwald offers.
Opening June 18 at the Jungle Theater, the play resists explanation. A monster-movie spoof, it shifts from moors to deserts as the two actors invoke a cavalcade of male and female ghosts, mummies, and vampires (Irma Vep is an anagram of vampire). Costume changes are limited at times to 15 seconds.
“We will both have strokes, I assume, by the end,” says Epp.
He’s joking—a little. Epp and Greenwald are used to physical theater. “The play picked the actors,” says the show’s director, Joel Sass. “My job was to a create a playground and make sure to put the right toys in it.” Those toys include a shifty-eyed painting and a false-bottomed sarcophagus. The play demands silliness—rights to perform it stipulate that the actors be the same gender, ensuring cross-dressing.
The actors can’t miss a beat. “On the one hand, there’s this amazingly precise machine,” says Epp. And then there’s the less predictable interaction between the actors. “You both have to be sensitive to the flow, loose and playful—that balance is thrilling. When it works, it’s a high.” June 18, jungletheater.com
Written by Alex Davy, Tim Gihring, and Jocelyn Stone.