The Agenda

What you need to do, see, and hear this month

Theater

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  • It’s been 37 years since the Guthrie last staged Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize–winning melodrama—and 54 years since Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman pawed each other in its big-screen debut. They’ve been a hard act to follow ever since, though the steamy story of deceit, seduction, and boozing stands on its own. 1/14–2/26, Guthrie Theater, guthrietheater.org
 

Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women • A two-woman cast at the New Century Theatre tackles teenage diaries, tampons, and more. • 1/18–3/18, hennepintheatretrust.org

Out There Festival • The Walker Art Center features alternative theater  from global artistic hot spots. • 1/5–1/28, walkerart.org

Ragtime • Park Square Theatre stages this amiable musical about the start of the “American Century.” • 1/20–2/19, parksquaretheatre.org
 

Music

Werther • If James Valenti and Roxana Constantinescu were actors instead of opera stars they’d be on TMZ every week—they’re that hot, that spunky, and, with any luck, that single. In this romantic tragedy staged by the Minnesota Opera (he’s an idealistic young poet; she’s, well, ideal), they’re practically Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, impossibly cool and singing sweet nothings—in French, no less. • 1/28–2/5, mnopera.org

Meshell Ndegeocello • The free-spirited heart of the neo-soul movement brings the orchestral sound of her new album to the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant. • 1/22–1/23, dakotacooks.com

Bravo Brahms! • The Minnesota Orchestra salutes the great Romantic composer with such in-demand soloists as pianist Peter Serkin and violinist James Ehnes. • 1/12–1/21, mnorch.org

Charlie Parr • The Duluth bluesman brings his hard-earned tunes to the Cedar Cultural Center. • 1/14, thecedar.org
 

Film

Frozen River Film Festival • A kind of Fringe Festival of film, this likeably laidback potpourri in Winona includes more than 40 documentaries, music, art, and a smattering of lectures. The progressive-minded movies range from a look at legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold to a globe-trotting search for the key to happiness from the Academy Award–nominated director of Genghis Blues. • 1/25–1/29, frff.org

Di Leo • The Trylon screens this mini-festival of vintage films from the Italian master of spaghetti noir. • 1/6–1/29, take-up.org

Ronia: The Robber’s Daughter • For the 28th year, the Film Society screens this Swedish fantasy classic. • 12/26, 12/30 & 1/1, St. Anthony Main Theatre, mspfilmsociety.org

Albert Noobs • Glenn Close plays a woman passing as a man in order to work  in 19th-century Ireland. • Opens 1/27, landmarktheaters.com
 

Dance

Evidence • For more than 25 years, Ronald K. Brown has been mix-mastering African dance and American culture through his Evidence troupe—to fantastic effect. So it’s not surprising that the choreographer’s newest work, On Earth Together, co-commissioned by and performed at the Ordway Center, draws inspiration from an African-American icon: Stevie Wonder. • 1/15, ordway.org

Ragamala Dance • The adventurous troupe brings its classical Indian dance to Fergus Falls and the College of St. Scholastica. • 1/20–1/23, ragamala.net

St. Paul Conservatory of Performing Arts • This free performance at the Cowles Center showcases aspiring dancers. • 1/20–1/21, thecowlescenter.org

Breaking Boundaries • The Twin Cities’ newest troupe offers sharp, accessible dance at the Cowles Center. • 1/27–1/28, thecowlescenter.org
 

Visual Arts

Pop-up Park • That’s no mirage. This winter, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts has cultivated a bonafide oasis of palm trees and exotic grasses—lovely as a Gauguin fantasy—in its lobby. It’s a nod to the nationwide vogue for short-lived green spaces that appear in unexpected urban environs. Take a deep breath in the Castaway-worthy attraction before heading into the galleries. • 1/19–4/15, artsmia.org

Connections • Jody Williams and Jim Dryden show images from their new artist’s book at Form + Content Gallery. • 1/5–2/4, formandcontent.org

Get Lucky • Soo Visual Arts Center’s glitzy fundraising gala offers an elegant night of hobnobbing. • 1/28, soovac.org

A Moment Stays • The acclaimed local printmaker Drew Peterson exhibits his latest series of candy-colored fantasy contraptions at the Burnet Art Gallery. • 1/13–2/26, lemeridienchambers.com/art
 

Events

Tour de Twin Cities • Can’t wait for the Winter Olympics? Wouldn’t mind if it was all ski events, all the time? Then you need to get your Lycra-ed butt to this Nordic ski extravaganza: five races at two locations, Theodore Wirth Park and Battle Creek Park, including an Olympic qualifying race and a pursuit race. Bring your cowbell. • 1/21–1/29, tourdetwincities.com

Minneapolis Jewish Humor Festival • Comedian Julie Goldman opens this new annual celebration of Semitic wit at the Sabes Jewish Community Center. • 1/14–1/28, sabesjcc.org/arts_humor.htm

St. Paul Winter Carnival • The annual cavalcade of ice carving (see page 38), parades, and performances commences with free skating outside Landmark Center. • 1/26–2/5, winter-carnival.com

Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars • The Wild take on the state’s once-loved former hockey team at the Xcel Energy Center. • 1/21, wild.nhl.com
 


Curtain Call

The faces behind this month’s arts and culture
 

Green Guru

Mary deLaittre imagines the next great city parks

“Water in a glass okay?” asks Mary deLaittre. There is no bottled water in the little yellow Longfellow House, adjacent to Minnehaha Park, where deLaittre heads up the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. She bikes here every day along Minnehaha Creek from her home on Lake Nokomis. “I don’t even have to get off the parkland,” she says.

DeLaittre recently took over the foundation, which supports city efforts to create and improve parks, after years of shaping downtown Minneapolis. Through her consultancy, Groundwork City Building, she led the high-profile design contest in 2010 to reclaim miles of industrial riverfront, as well as the ongoing transformation of the Target Field area. Now she’s focused on the undeveloped pockets between all the buildings.

“An amazing legacy,” she says of the city’s enviable lattice of green space. “But it can’t just be turf and trees anymore.” She’s helped conceive the Next Generation of Parks vision, inspired by urban attractions like the High Line in New York, a former railway turned slender greenway. “The future of parks is multifunctional,” says deLaittre. “It’s green space and transportation corridors, ecology and economic development.” She’s currently eyeing the former Fuji-Ya site near Mill Ruins Park as future parkland.

“We need to look in nontraditional places in the industrial landscape for new parkland,” says deLaittre. “The identity of Minneapolis is its parks.”• mplsparksfoundation.org
 

WTF! LOL!     

Pete Hautman goes deep to channel teen angst

Of all the past winners of the National Book Award, Pete Hautman is the most likely to be found at the Mall of America. “It’s like Las Vegas,” he says at a café near his Golden Valley home. “You want to go, but you usually regret it.” In Hautman’s case, the visits are research: since winning the National Book Award for Godless, his 2004 novel about teens who worship the St. Louis Park water tower, he’s written a series of books aimed at teenage readers, including his latest, What Boys Really Want (Scholastic, $18), about a girl who writes an advice website for her peers. “I’ve spent a lot of time online looking at teen advice blogs,” Hautman says. “They’re basically ‘Dear Abby’ with abbreviations and acronyms.”

Hautman and his partner, the mystery novelist Mary Logue, have no children—which Hautman believes has made it easier to write for them. “Parents get amnesia,” he says. “They forget they were once teenagers. They become hypocritical, attempting to keep their kids safe.”

In the new book, Hautman’s characters attend a fictional Wellstone High while constantly and hilariously making bad decisions: slandering teachers, sabotaging classmates. Hautman does not paint these failures as shocking aberrations, but as the natural result of open but uninformed minds—a subversive frankness that has won Hautman both praise and criticism. “Many people think the purpose of young-adult literature is to provide lessons,” he says with a smile. “I’m not teaching any lessons.” • What Boys Really Want hits stores on January 1, petehautman.com
 

Jungle Love

The Lion King returns to its birthplace

Fifteen years ago, when The Lion King musical was being developed at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Tom Hoch was something of a stalker of director Julie Taymor. “I used to slip into the Orpheum Theatre at night and watch her work,” he says. “She’d just had her gall bladder out so she would direct from a recliner in front of about 50 computer monitors. It was so incredible.”

Hoch ran the Orpheum then and still does, along with the State, Pantages, and New Century theaters, as head of the Hennepin Theatre Trust. When Disney approached him about launching the The Lion King here, he didn’t hesitate—even though they wanted to cut through the theater floor and otherwise have their way with the place. “I wouldn’t let anyone else do it,” he says, “but I knew they had the wherewithal to put it back together.”

Hoch’s gamble paid off. The musical, which returns to the Orpheum this month, is now the seventh longest-running show in Broadway history and its innovative use of puppetry has been widely imitated. The launch led to more high-profile premieres in the Twin Cities, from Aida to Beauty and the Beast. “It really put us on the map,” Hoch says.

Hoch, who travels to New York about every other month, has twice seen Taymor’s latest epic, Spider-Man, and recognizes her style from The Lion King. “It’s serene, beautifully lit, very intellectual,” he says. “Julie doesn’t do dumb.” • The Lion King opens January 11 at the Orpheum Theatre, hennepintheatretrust.org
 

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