December 2014 Twin Cities Arts and Entertainment Picks


11/15–1/31 Twerking Around the Christmas Tree

Oh, why be coy: They had me with the title on this one. Most years I find my way to the Brave New Workshop’s holiday shows, with their angry dads, soused mothers, and Lauren Anderson’s one-woman take on “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” among the biggest gut laughs I’ve ever experienced on the local scene. And while the BNW has been in its new downtown digs for some time, some local stalwarts from classic casts have also moved on (we’re looking at you, Ferrari McSpeedy), and the old haunt on Hennepin Avenue has officially changed hands. A new chapter seems to be emerging, which makes a visit and perhaps a gratuitous twerk or two just right for the holiday to-do list. •

™ & ©1957 & 2002 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. All rights reserved

11/21–12/31 The Art of Dr. Seuss

Theodor Geisel’s books taught me crucial lessons at an early age: that someone always has it worse than you, that power and authority are ever ripe for mockery, that sleep is one of our grandest luxuries, and that subversive weirdness is always right beneath the surface of things if you’re looking at them from the proper perspective. He also lent me a permanent infatuation with the elastic, rhythmic curlicues that are possible in language—the knowledge that words can twist in a joyful dance. This touring show landing at Jean Stephen Galleries in St. Louis Park includes early commercial work, editorial cartoons, and book illustrations from an artist who hopefully is still influencing new generations to come.•

Courtesy of The Ordway

11/29–12/28 A Christmas Story, the Musical

What a strange thing was the 1983 film A Christmas Story: a collection of homely anecdotes strung together by a young boy’s ardor for his first firearm. OK, there’s a bit more to it than that—namely, the story’s eccentricities typified by alleyway bullies, a tongue frozen to a lamppost, and a father’s profane battles with a recalcitrant furnace. This staging at the Ordway is a homegrown production (the show made its debut on Broadway in 2012 to a positive reception), and surely opportunities will not be missed to display the fishnet leg lamp, to warn Ralphie that he’s going to shoot his eye out, or to threaten him with soap poisoning over his occasional use of salty language. • 

12/5 Omar Souleyman

Emerging seemingly from out of nowhere from the hinterlands of Syria, Omar Souleyman performs a hybrid of traditional songs in Arabic with techno-trance backing—it’s pretty much as strange as it sounds, and oddly compelling. There’s been some debate about how much his music really represents pop culture in the Middle East—but then, who has a responsibility to “represent” anything in the arts (who would represent American culture, anyway? Beyoncé? Springsteen? Toby Keith?)? The bottom line is that it’s addictive dance music and that Souleyman himself seems not to be lacking in a sense of humor about it all (watch the video for “Khataba,” or “A Proposal” to see him, among other things, ride on the space shuttle’s wing and sing to a giant bird, all while never breaking his deadpan expression). •

Photo by Bruce Silcox

12/11-21 La Natividad

One of my warmest holiday memories is taking my daughter to La Natividad, the Mexican-culture-inspired telling of the Nativity story that takes place at In the Heart of the Beast’s theater space and then spills out into the streets for a candlelit procession with snacks to follow. It’s a bilingual mix of puppetry and street theater that somehow manages to feel both transcendent and grittily urban. Thematically, it’s based around the notion of the pregnant Mary as an archetypal refugee and the grace and beauty of the concepts of shelter, aid, and the limitless hope that accompanies every birth. •