On the Townsend

Tony N’ Timothy’s Wedding
Through June 21
Vinnie’s Black Chapel of Love
375 Wabasha Ave., St. Paul
Vinnie’s Black Chapel of Love at Lowry Theater
16 W. 5th St., St. Paul
(612) 673-0404

Doug Anderson is one of the funniest gays…uh, guys…in comedy, but he’s not the least bit amused about the drama going on about Prop 8. So, he’s dishing it out literally and figuratively in Actors Theater of Minnesota’s gay male version of the great interactive comedy with Italian buffet of our time, Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding. In the new version, Tina has been replaced by Timothy, played by Anderson. And lucky for him, one of the studs who portrayed Tony in the hetero version, Tom Danford, plays homo now. They’re a cute couple, to be sure.

Danford says, “Tony is madly in love with Timothy. Of the two, he is the calm and collected one. Timmy is more outgoing.”

And we can’t imagine anyone more outgoing than Anderson.

Our favorite extroverted gay comic shares, “It’s clear there are still so many people who are afraid this same-sex marriage thing is going to endanger the heterosexual institution that is so valued. Note my facetious tone. I find that odd, since statistics show one in every two heterosexual marriages end in divorce. Tony N’ Timothy’s Wedding is a brief glimpse into the common link of weddings—all of them. It’s just that gay men and women do it better with cakes, flowers, and music. In short, the gay wedding is better theater!”

The Trial of Mother Teresa
Through June 21
Theatre Garage
711 W. Franklin Ave., Mpls.
(651) 229-3122

It has to be one of the most “don’t-go-there” subjects for a recent play, but Liz Neerland also directed Edward Albee’s bestial The Goat, and faced head-on the issue of US-sanctioned torture in Death and the Maiden.

The Trial of Mother Teresa playwright Dani Givens notes, “Traditionally, candidates for sainthood are put on trial to determine their worthiness for canonization. But also, I believe that Mother Teresa [Roneet Aliza Rahamim] is the ideal person to put on trial when one wishes to explore popular assumptions of sanctity, or simply ask how well we really know any much-lauded public figure. One of the cardinals says in the script that with so preeminent a figure as Mother Teresa, he didn’t think any investigation would be necessary. That we are also being asked this question proves the same assumption is at work here, and that’s one thing the play addresses. Finally, the play also depicts Mother Teresa’s critical examination of her own life—a personal trial. We never see her judged by the God of the Christian belief, but she does have to evaluate herself, and decide whether she can face the complexities of who she really was, rather than the one-note fantasy of popular adulation.”

Robots vs. Fake Robots
Through June 27
Cedar Riverside People’s Center
425 S. 20th St., Mpls.
(612) 375-0300

Yikes! Talk about high tech out of control. What happens in a post-Orwellian future when humans want to be like the ruling robot class? LA playwright David Langman Murray reportedly makes this sexy, so a cybersex crowd surely will want to lube up for this one.

Scenic designer Andrea Heilman observes that within this satire’s purview, “some people are very attracted to the robots, and want to become them. Part of the scenic goal was to make a space that could be the rundown world of humans, and then transition to the robot underground—a robot back alley with dealers and lowlifes.”

Isolated Acts
June 18-28
Red Eye Theater
15 W. 4th St., Mpls.
(612) 870-0309

Red Eye’s annual festival of innovative new work is bursting with Dance Pride in Maybe (June 18-22) and Hot Mess (June 25-28). HIJACK, the beloved female dance duo of Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder, teams up with Mad King Thomas for Maybe, a look at the nature of allegiance. Mad King Thomas is another way of saying Tara King, Theresa Madaus, and Monica Thomas. Nicolas Lincoln’s new dances culminate in Hot Mess. He draws from ballet, classical modern dance, and postmodern movement. The postmodern influence may account for his performance’s use of video feed, goggles, paint, and eggbeaters.

Dirty Queer Show: Fisting Corporate Pride Since 2009
June 27, 8 PM
Dance Party
10 PM-2 AM
1501 S. 6th St., Mpls.
(612) 341-1038

Watch out! There’s really bedlam at Bedlam, folks.

Radical DJ Shannon Blowtorch is up to radical festivity most definitely with what she assures us “will be quite a delicious, naughty, naughty show. I don’t want to give too much away other than it will be the hottest, sexiest event going on Pride Weekend.”

Blowtorch adds that at the Dance Party, which is sponsored by the TC Avengers, they’re going to tear down the walls. At the other end of it timewise is an Art Opening at 4 PM.

For those who are out of touch, Bedlam Theatre is the place where avant meets garde these days.

The Enemy: Time
Through June 28
Gremline Theatre, 2400 University Ave., St. Paul
(651) 228-7008

This dark little gem of a show glistens exquisitely with a crackling ensemble directed by Jef Hall-Flavin. It captures the thrilling spirit of master gay playwright Tennessee Williams and even though over half a century has passed you can still savor the transgressive sexuality and sensuality that it would have evoked in its day. Penned in the early ’50s as a rough draft, so to speak, of his 1959 dark comedy masterpiece, Sweet Bird of Youth, Williams probes self-deception, small town provincialism, and irrevocable consequences sprung from sexually transmitted disease.

Peter Hansen is Phil Bean, gigolo to an aging silent film star, who thinks he can recapture his hometown love, Rose (Caroline Cooney). As this play’s 30 minute running time unfolds we see him become aware of a serious misdeed he was unaware he had committed. Though one wonders if on some subconcious level he suspected it and hence, was drawn back to see her.

Bean is an actual study in narcissism and Hansen elicits an ingeniously numinous performance that hearkens to Greek tragedy as he faces a darkness within himself that strikes quickly and devastatingly. Oh how the pretty fall!

Cooney is poignantly understated. Tony-mominee Melissa Hart’s commanding turn as Princess Pazmezoglu emanates a rich sense of urbane wisdom.  Benjamin Rosenbaum as Rose’s brother is an utter fireball and there is one amazing moment in a tussle between the two that might just take your breath away. In this play Williams illustrates splendidly the direct connection between male on male violence and sublimated homoerotic desire.

Katherine Horowitz’s evocative sound design massages itself into long unvisited parts of our subconcious. Carl Schoenborn’s set and lighting nod to expressionistic imagery and shadowing that suit Williams’s relish for sexual intrigue. Obviously, this team needs to assemble again to revive Sweet Bird of Youth.

My Father’s Bookshelf
Through June 28
Guthrie Theater, 818 So. 2nd St., Mpls.
(612) 377-2224

As usual, Live Action Set demonstrates an impressive use of stage space and physical acting. but it barely scratches the surface regarding its main theme: Alzheimer’s Disease. Despite a convincing lead performance by Robert Rosen, co-directors Noah Bremer and Galen Treuer have not entered into any of the deeper difficulties and anguish that Alzheimer’s sufferers, their caretakers, and family members endure. There’s next to nothing in the piece about safety issues or health care policy, for instance, with Pawlenty’s harsh  approach toward Minnesota’s state budget. (It would be nice if a local theater company would take on local and state politics.) That said, much to her credit, Barbra Berlovitz as the wife manages to find what moments she can of depth.

The meandering nature of the disease itself seems to have given the collaboration the excuse to be meandering and philosophically uncommitted. I wasn’t sure just what they were trying to say. Lecture sequences bring forth some interesting factoids on Alzheimer’s and memory loss but they don’t harness any really substantial content and dramatic shape and at times even seem as if they are mocking the very idea of creating a show about the disease.

Romiette and Juleo
Through June 28
Ritz Theatre, 345 13th Ave. NE, Mpls.
(612) 436-1129

In 1991 Ballet of the Dolls’ gay dance riff on heterosexuality’s most famous love drama actually played in the Loring Bar and was such a sensation that it soon afterwards played in the Loring Playhouse. Choreographer Myron Johnson shares “I wanted to come back to the piece and see how differently I felt about the issue. Same sex couples, same sex marriage, AIDS, homophobia, all told through the story of Romeo and Juliet. As I approached the time to start, I realized that there was not one stitch of documentation. No video, no nothing. It was wonderful because I had to start over with just my meomories of it. Well, it turned out to be quite the continuation of my work. Much more to the point, much more courageous and intimately much more edgy and personally fulfilling. The piece makes some very strong statements about society. A big difference in this version is that there used to be one gay male couple, one lesbian couple….now there are three couples. One straight couple. Makes it very interesting I think to not exclude the boy/girl possibililty and because of the naive, fresh eager for life personalities of the young couples I find it great to watch the straight perspective and how they don’t understand why there is so much anger about the issues.”

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