Summer of discontent

So who else, at this point, is just waiting for “Spamalot” to appear at the Ordway Center? (July 24, to be exact.) Or am I the last person who hasn’t already seen it in New York? So what if it’s a rip-off of a movie you’ve all seen many times; as Eric Idle himself put it, it’s “lovingly ripped off,” and, as he said in 2005, “it’s as good as or quite likely better than any other show with killer
and a legless knight opening on Broadway this season.” So we’ll start a countdown, beginning now at 17 days, with a quote, again from Idle: “I did know, of course, that through box-office grosses or some kind of sexual harassment lawsuit, I would be rich.”

Anyway, seeing as how we have to live in the real world, that not graced by snarky British comedians, might as well talk about the Hot Summer Jazz Festival that recently ended. The Latin jazz portion, on Sunday, was indeed hot, with Nachito Herrera capping things off as a dozen or so couples swirled the salsa at the stage’s base (though I have to say, Herrera having to supply the horn parts via synthesizer was only an adequate conceit; c’mon horn players, I know you deserve to get paid, but get off your unionized butts and join the guy onstage–he’s one of the greatest Latin jazz pianists in the world, for Cuba’s sake, and isn’t that why you got into this business, to play with dudes like that?)

Anyway, as a couple of friends who recently moved here from New York noted, how nice that on a perfect day you can head to downtown Minneapolis, find plenty of parking and plenty of seats and still be in the company of plenty of jazz-lovers. As opposed to the Taste of Minnesota, where the parking was poor despite the crowds being lean, the food fatty, and the entertainment…limp? The Village People (or worse, was it a cover band of the Village People?)

And for anyone, and that’s most of you, who missed the 10-second film festival at the Soap Factory on Independence Day, you can watch all of the entries, many of them surprisingly good, in about 17 minutes on YouTube.

As for this week’s entertainment, Chicago opens at the Ordway on July 10 for all five of you who’ve missed it. Did the normally adroit Rohan Preston of the Strib really call it “a killer production”? I mean, this is a guy who recently won a McKnight grant for poetry.

And the ever-sharp Nautilus Music-Theater offers two nights of 365 Days/365 Plays, starting July 9, by the Pulitzer-winning Suzan Lori-Parks (with free milk and cookies) for a $5 admission. Nautilus has commissioned seven local singers/composers to transform parts of the script into mini-operas, with Christina Baldwin, Jake Endres, and others performing their own music as well as that of Mary Ellen Childs and other well-known composers. The July 9 show is at 7:30 at the Nautilus studio at 308 Prince Street in St. Paul, second floor. The July 10 show is at Augsburg College in the Tjornhom-Nelson Theater, Foss Center, at 22nd Avenue and Riverside Ave.