On the Townsend

The Fresh Five / Through Jan. 23 / Bedlam a1038 / www.bedlamtheatre.org

20% Theatre Company Twin Cities’s five new plays include one about trans dating on the Internet and one by the editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series.

Anthony Neuman, local actor/playwright of Artichoke Hearts, says, “I wanted to look at the transgender dating world in a different light—not as depressing and lonely like we often see. I play the transman, Justin. He has the ability to crack jokes about his own stories, which is what has kept me positive through my transition, and I hope I can translate it to a broader audience as taking life as it comes.”

New York-based Kathleen Warnock, whose childhood reflections are certainly far from erotic, won the esteemed and gay- and lesbian-oriented Robert Chesley Playwriting Award for Rock the Line.

Warnock shares, “I had no problem playing up the truly odd child that I was, and using my own early years in an all-girl Catholic school in Philadelphia as source material. My sister also attended the same school, and some of our dialogue is taken from actual conversations we had as kids.”

Singled Out: A Festival of Emerging Artists / Through Jan. 24 / Romeo and Juliet / Through Jan. 31 / Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Mpls. / (612) 377-2224 / www.guthrietheater.org

Watch out! The Guthrie’s coming out swinging in the New Year with new ideas and faces.

In the Dowling Studio, four Minnesota Fringe Festival hits offer homegrown brilliance with the Singled Out Fest. Playwright Ryan Hill, who penned the gay drama What Remains, spoofs 1950s motherhood in June of Arc. Brian Balcom exquisitely directs Trista Baldwin’s stunning American Sexy. Jeremey Catterton’s off-the-wall Lamb Lays with Lions troupe raises eyebrows with the rock ’n’ roll-inspired The Black Arts. The Four Humors ensemble-created Mortem Capiendum has three con men who con themselves. Benjamin McGovern, who directed the Guthrie’s staged reading of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, curates.

In addition, the Guthrie joins forces again with The Acting Company to present Romeo and Juliet on the McGuire Proscenium Stage.

Brett Favre’s Christmas Spectacular: The Immaculate Interception / Through Jan. 30 / Brave New Workshop, 2605 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. / (612) 332-6620 / www.bravenewworkshop.com

The fabled comedy troupe’s 268th revue actually riffs less on the new Vikings quarterback than the title implies, but a saucy rap number that likens the former Packer to the Messiah is a charming send-up on spectator-sports obsession. The sharpest satire in this brisk, cast-created show involves the economic downturn, with a downsized nuclear family that must fire its 12-year-old daughter, and Santa Claus carving up Rudolph to feed the elves and other reindeer. A bit of silly spice is added with Mike Fotis’s recurring take on a curmudgeonly older man suspicious that his son might be gay. Overall, it’s a delightful show, but it plays a bit too safe.

Out There 2010 / Through Jan. 31 / Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. / (612) 375-7600 / www.walkerart.org

The Walker’s annual Out There Series always offers awesome performance work from out of town.

New York’s Radiohole troupe loves to wax melodramatic. German director Douglas Sirk, known for his lush technicolor films that simmered with sexual tension, is divine inspiration. Whatever, Heaven Allows puns on Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows. Director Todd Haynes modeled his gay-themed New York Film Critics Winning Film Far From Heaven, with a glorious Julianne Moore, totally after Sirk.

Cofounder and codirector Eric Dyer notes regarding Whatever, Heaven Allows (January 14-16), “We love his over-the-top use of color, light and shadow, music, and symbolism. We love the way he can take totally wooden, bad acting, and make in beautiful and amazing—in fact, make it the center of his film. We really identify with that. He makes all these choices in his film, as if he were still directing expressionistic dramas for the stage.”

LA’s Obie-winner Roger Guenveur Smith performs his monologue The Watts Tower Project (January 21-23), with sound by Chocolate Genius and lighting by Jose Lopez. Sports, alternative art, jazz, and the City of Angels become part of an intense poetic riff. Smith is best-known for the Black Panther-based The Huey P. Newton Story.

Rotterdam’s Hotel Modern troupe brings its acclaimed reconstruction of World War I, The Great War (January 28-30). Soldiers’ letters, trench warfare, and beguilingly realistic projections of landslides and explosions are matched with visceral live performances. How stunningly ironic to think that what was referred to as “The War To End All Wars” took place almost a century ago!

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