May Arts and Entertainment Picks

photo by Joseph Moran

4/23 – 5/17 Detroit ’67

I was a resident of Los Angeles during the riots of 1992, an experience that vividly exposed the threadbare nature of the fabric that holds this complicated society together. The major American cities in the 1960s lived this upheaval first, not least in Detroit, which is the backdrop of Dominique Morisseau’s play: Two siblings inherit a childhood home and start hosting parties to raise a few bucks (and enjoy some of the astonishing music coming out of the Motor City in those years). It’s a delicate proposition, what with the law looking askance, and the tension gets ratcheted when they take in an anonymous, badly beaten white woman, and the city itself threatens to self-immolate.

photo Courtesy of Minnesota Opera

4/25 – 5/10 Carmen

The Minnesota Opera rounds out an ambitious and appealing season with Georges Bizet’s masterwork of sensuality, seduction, jealousy, and crazy passion—the usual springtime preoccupations. The action concerns a soldier (and bit of a bumpkin) who falls in love with the titular sexpot. It’s only after he abandons his childhood sweetie and his military responsibility that she spurns him for a charismatic hunk—triggering a rage that shocked in its 19th-century context and still does today. Bizet deals in immorality and licentiousness combined with gorgeous melody and evocation of the razor’s edge of romantic obsession. What a shame that he died during its initial short run of performances and never knew what a classic he had created.

poster courtesy Midwest Comic Book Association, Characters Trademark of ©DC Comics

5/1 – 5/3; 5/16 – 5/17 Wizard World Comic Con; MSP ComiCon

Confusingly enough, there are two comic/pop culture/geek glamour conventions in the Cities this month. The first, Wizard World, is one of a national circuit and features celebrity guests including The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson and Lance Reddick, who played a weirdly chilling Papa Legba in last season’s American Horror Story. The MSP Comicon is resoundingly homegrown—it’s at the fairgrounds, volunteer-run, and free for kids 9 and under. Both will include attendees in costumes so outlandish that a word balloon will pop up over your head containing a single oversize exclamation point.;

Photo by Blue Delliquanti

Through 5/16 Creepy Crawly

This exhibit is subtitled “An Entomological Investigation of Textile Pattern,” which sounds very dry and academic (its creator, Jennifer Angus, is a professor at the University of Wisconsin) until you realize that it is composed of actual real-life insects that are affixed to the walls of the Textile Center in Minneapolis. They’re not alive, of course, but they’re meticulously arranged to represent familiar fabric designs and patterns—which are beautiful, until you get up close, when your comfort level with big old bugs becomes a pressing concern. It’s singularly weird, inventive, memorable—and enough to make you reach for the can of Off.

photo by Paul Mac Manus

5/7 The Waterboys

They’re roughly the same vintage as U2, but while that outfit has left a battleship’s wake, the Waterboys have charted a meandering course, with the only constant being the voice and songwriting of frontman Mike Scott. They’re the kind of band whose fans can be wildly split in their opinion over the group’s best work—for my money, 1988’s sublime Fisherman’s Blues—but in recent months Prince has performed their “The Whole of the Moon” live on solo piano, and indie flavor The War on Drugs has offered audiences a take on Scott’s “A Pagan Place.” They draw inspiration from everyone from poet Robert Burns to professional enigma Van Morrison, weaving rock, soul, and a mean fiddle with heart-on-a-sleeve, whiskey-wisdom lyrics.

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