February Arts and Entertainment Picks

February 2017’s top cultural events in the Twin Cities

through 3.19

The Royal Family

This is an intriguing match. George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber’s play is a familiar and deservedly beloved comedy loosely based on the legendary Barrymore family of actors in 1920s New York—generations of brilliant egomaniacs negotiating the terrain of domesticity and art amid fast-paced dialogue and crackerjack one-liners. The Guthrie has invited Rachel Chavkin (right) to direct, and she’s fresh off an Obie Award for directing The Royale at Lincoln Center and the red-hot Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, making her one of the most exciting new talents to arrive in the Twin Cities in recent years. With her freewheeling, multi-sensory aesthetic that has earned many enthusiastic notices, I can’t help but be drawn to the possibilities of what she’ll do with this crowd-pleaser. guthrietheater.org (Photo by Chad Batka)


The Love Show

As the late Leonard Cohen wrote, Everybody wants a box of chocolates, and a long-stem rose. Granted, this line was delivered amid a nicotine-drenched drawl of cynicism and heartbrokenness, but we know the crustiest among us tend to be the biggest romantics (don’t look at me). Kevin Kling brings his Valentine’s revue to the O’Shaughnessey for a third year, with stories and songs that trace this crazy little thing called love through the ages—one guesses it hasn’t changed all that much, from settings here ranging from antiquity to the Disco Era. Kling’s cast includes luminaries such as heart-melting singer Bradley Greenwald, and the show promises the mix between heart-on-the-sleeve and black-hearted that accompanies real-life love and all the humor that comes with it (when it’s good). oshag.stkate.edu


Masters of Hawaiian Music

These guys are truly “masters”—greats in the Hawaiian slack-key guitar (a style featuring open tunings, the intricacies of the ukulele, and an irreverence to match their virtuosity). The trio includes Grammy winner George Kahumoku Jr., the producer of Maui’s renowned live concert series Slack Key Show; tireless collaborator Kawika Kahiapo (with more than a thousand projects with artists including Jack Johnson); and 16-year Don Ho band veteran Nathan Aweau. While at first you’re hearing a sound that evokes welcome island vibes, soon the greatness of the musicianship settles in, like dropping in on a great jazz combo taking what you thought was familiar into unexpected places. dakotacooks.com


Fiddler on the Roof

I don’t think it’s precisely that Ten Thousand Things has a particular knack for choosing shows that feel spiritually lifted out of the news—more that the company produces plays that touch on universal themes that keep playing out again and again, sometimes for centuries, on the stages of the world. That’s not to take anything away from TTT director Michelle Hensley or her decades-long project of stripping theater down to its core and delivering it to incarcerated and other underserved populations—a mission that’s also been a boon to conventional audiences as well. In this Fiddler, Steven Epp takes on the classic role of Tevye, struggling to maintain his traditions and stay alive under the persecution of his government. Hopefully someday his story will lose its relevance. tenthousandthings.org (Photo courtesy of Ten Thousand Things)


Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt

I remember discovering both of these guys on cassette tapes back in the dinosaur days of the 1980s, so it’s a pleasure to see them lined up for a duo acoustic tour stopping at the State Theatre. They’re both astonishingly great songwriters—funny, tuneful, able to grasp those smoky wisps of hope and longing and bittersweet observation. Lovett tends toward wry humor but can also deliver a tearjerker vignette in a single verse, while Hiatt relishes being the rocky ne’er-do-well whose characters are always looking for the next moment of fleeting goodness in between their screw-ups. These combo shows mix and match established musicians in ways that juxtapose their considerable craft and lead to unexpected sparks. hennepintheatretrust.org (Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust)