The Arts

Best Bets for December

Boy Friend’s Back

Song, dance, and Julie Andrews go together like…well, if we have to tell you, then Andrews’s latest project won’t make much sense. The Boy Friend, set in a 1920s French Riviera finishing school and featuring 18 sweet songs, was the show in which she had her first starring role on Broadway, in 1954. Now Andrews is making her directorial debut with the same musical, which visits the Ordway from December 6 to 17. • Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, 651-224-4222,


First Impressions

Ah, the love between a man, his sheep, and Heath Ledger. The Walker Art Center is celebrating Academy Award–winning director Ang Lee’s work with a month-long retrospective—Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon—plus the local premiere of his latest film, Brokeback Mountain, on December 11. Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal play a Wyoming ranch hand and rodeo cowboy who fall in love while sheepherding in the 1960s. On December 13, Lee and producer James Schamus will discuss the film, which is based on an Annie Proulx novella. • Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600,


Fiery Footwork

Dance doesn’t get more primal than the moves you’ll see in Joe Chvala and the Flying Foot Forum’s Between the Fire and Ice (Mjøllnir II), a sequel to the troupe’s signature 1995 stomp through Nordic and Teutonic myths. Staged December 10 to 17 at the Walker Art Center, this imagining of modern life meeting pagan antiquity risks veering into Lord of the Rings territory. But with the exhilarating Chvala at the helm, and featuring music by industrial hammerers Savage Aural Hotbed and ethereal songstress Ruth MacKenzie, the show promises to be more explosive than exploitive. • Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600.


Poetry with Prudence

Vocalist Prudence Johnson, known for her contemporary takes on folk song on A Prairie Home Companion, has been heading up a project to set the work of bohemian poet Edna St. Vincent Millay to music. On December 3, she’ll perform these new jazz, folk, and blues tunes at the Hopkins Center for the Arts with a host of familiar player-composers, from pianist Laura Caviani to guitarist Joan Griffith. • Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins, 952-979-1111.


Portraits by Young Artists

Spot the next Manet, or just the next great addition to your living room, at the student art sale December 2 and 3 at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Get good works at better prices from painters, sculptors, furniture-makers, and jewelers who may still be experimenting enough to have hit on something more original than commercial. • Minneapolis College of Art and Design, 2501 Stevens Ave., Mpls., 612-874-3700.


Engine of Change

Most interactions with freight trains are bound to end badly, but the Holiday Train invites close inspection. From December 7 to 16, the Canadian Pacific Railway will stage free concerts from a boxcar on a whistle-stop tour through the Midwest. Past trains, lit up with thousands of Christmas lights, have attracted locals by the hundreds at depots and railroad crossings in small towns. Musicians perform and collect food and monetary donations for charity. This year’s artists include John Gorka and Milwaukee folk favorite Willy Porter (no, not Boxcar Willie). Local stops include Winona and Red Wing on December 11, St. Paul’s Lowertown and northeast Minneapolis on December 12, and various points in between. • Visit for more information, or call 800-766-7912.


Carol Kings and Queens

Anyone can sing carols, but the Singers, a group composed largely of Dale Warland’s former choir, make them sound like the reflective tributes they’re supposed to be. In Christmas with the Singers December 3, 4, and 10 at various area churches, Renaissance-era music and new carol arrangements combine to make our “Deck the Halls” versions sound like nursery rhymes. • Dec. 3 at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, 1900 Wellesley Ave., St. Paul; Dec. 4 at United Methodist, 702 S. Hwy. 69, Albert Lea; Dec. 10 at Wayzata Community Church, 125 E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata. Call 651-209-6689 for tickets to any show.


No-Nonsense Nutcracker

The Joffrey Ballet is anticipating its 50th anniversary with two very different performances in the Twin Cities: the Nutcracker on December 10, and a zestful romp through several newish works, including Twyla Tharp’s Deuce Coupe (set to music by the Beach Boys) on December 8. The Joffrey’s Nutcracker, of course, was the signature work of the troupe’s founder, who was inspired by his vintage toy collection to create his personal vision of the classic. • Northrop Auditorium, University of Minnesota East Bank campus, 84 SE Church St., Mpls., 612-624-2345.


AIDS Awareness

December 1 is World AIDS Day, and the Intermedia Arts center is partnering with the African American AIDS Task Force to increase awareness with a special event. Last year’s was part theatrical performance, part resource fair. This time around, a more intimate environment will be created for a frank discussion titled “Women, HIV, and the Spread of AIDS.” The Oprah-like evening will include poetry, film, and dialogue about the epidemic and its effect on women and society. • Intermedia Arts, 2822 S. Lyndale Ave., Mpls., 612-871-4444,


Prairie Pitching

Garrison Keillor: king of all media? Well, at least he can claim popularity in England for his latest adventure—in advertising. Keillor sings in a Honda spot that won the ITV Best Television Commercial of the Year; it’s included in this year’s British Television Advertisement Awards, which are screening at the Walker Art Center December 2 to 30. More than 11,000 people saw last year’s show. Keillor curiosity may draw even more this time around. • Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600,


How Funky Is Your Butt?

Funky Butt Hall was a real club in the early 1900s in New Orleans’s Storyville red light district, the place where jazz was reputedly born (it appears now that there was more whoopee-makin’ than music-makin’ going on). In Live at the Funky Butt Jazz Club, the story of America’s original musical form is told by six of the area’s best-known African American actors, along with guest actor/singer Xavier Rice, a cast of 30, and, of course, a jazz band. The musical theater production plays November 17 to December 17 at the Interact Center, which specializes in performances by people with disabilities and others whose voices aren’t typically heard—perfect for a show about marginalized musicians looking for a way to express themselves. • Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, 212 N. Third Ave., Suite 140, Mpls., 612-343-3390.


Conscience Stuffers

From November 12 to December 31, shoppers at the Mall of America may pause—not because their credit lines are sagging, but because of poignant art. The Outsider Art Center has chosen the mall as the site for its first-ever juried show of works by people who are homeless. It will be co-curated by news anchor Robyne Robinson, and all proceeds will benefit the artists. This could really simplify holiday shopping. • Mall of America, Bloomington. Call 612-338-3435 for more information.


Motherland Masterpieces

The Museum of Russian Art doesn’t do nesting doll folk art any more than it panders to Soviet stereotypes. But it does remind us of Russia’s high art traditions with exhibitions such as “The Art of Russian Icons,” on view from October 13 to January 14. This collection of classic Orthodox religious imagery spans three centuries (and no, not a Jesus within a Jesus within a Jesus). It’s an exotic show for the Twin Cities’ most beautiful new museum—and quite appropriate, given that the space is a former church. • Museum of Russian Art, 5500 S. Stevens Ave. (Diamond Lake Rd. exit off I-35W), Mpls., 612-821-9045.