Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why Minneapolis Rocks

This is one of my (Paige's) favorite times of the year. I bask in the sun, I blow out my birthday candles (22, thanks for asking!) and I get half-day Fridays at work. Jealous?
But I especially love this time of year in Minneapolis because local theaters (and we have really really good ones) are revealing their upcoming seasons. Most theaters in town run their seasons from September to August (excepting rebels like the Jungle Theater & Pillsbury House Theatre, who do it by the calendar year). And I’m really excited for some of the ambitious, thought-provoking and entertaining productions that are in the works (full disclosure - I work closely with most major theaters in town). Here’s my own, in no way all-reaching or fully informed look at what I’m most excited to see.

A Streetcar Named Desire at the Guthrie (July-August)
• I fell in love with Marlon Brando and his intensity as Stanley in the movie version of this Tennessee Williams play. And Blanche is one of the most fully-drawn female characters out there. I’m especially excited to see TV and theater actress Gretchen Egolf dig her teeth into the role after reading her self-deprecating, sweet and sometimes very raw blog about the rehearsal process on the Guthrie’s website.

The Scottsboro Boys at the Guthrie (August)
• This is the show’s final push to tighten things up before they try it on Broadway. It’s received great reviews so far and I’m curious to see how a big, splashy musical pulls off the subject material (it’s based on the real story of 9 black men who are accused of rape and thrown in jail). But hey, if Les Miserables can put music to the French Revolution, anything’s possible, right?

Wicked at the Orpheum (August – September)
• Yes, I’ve already seen it. Yes, so have most people. But it’s fun, memorable and you can’t get the songs out of your head - who doesn’t get goosebumps when Elphaba defies gravity? I personally love this version of the song sung by Idina Menzel who originated the role …

Vigil at the Pillsbury House Theatre (September-October)
• Pillsbury always does theater that makes you want to immediately go have a drink with whoever you came with and talk about what you just saw. And this one is sure to inspire conversation, given that it’s directed by Stephen DiMenna. Steve’s a good friend of Project SUCCESS (where I work) and does all our training for our classroom workshops. I’ve always been impressed with what he can pull out of our facilitators. I’m excited to see him do it with actors on stage.

A Cool Drink of Water at the Mixed Blood (September-October)
• Here’s what’s cool about the Mixed Blood. They infuse a little bit of humor in everything they do. In this show, they’re taking the characters from A Raisin in the Sun (brilliant play, but not a belly-laugher) and transporting them into a modern-day comedy. Intriguing ….

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – A Penumbra production at the Guthrie (February-March)
• If you can see a Penumbra production, any production, it’s worth it. But they’re never better than when they’re putting on an August Wilson play. Penumbra and Wilson had a very special relationship and he lived in St. Paul for more than 2 decades, honing his craft and working directly with the Penumbra, while they produced many of his plays.

Barrio Grrrl! At the Children’s Theatre (March)
• How great that the Children’s Theatre is doing a musical with a Latina girl as its protagonist? With hummable pop music, and a main character who is dealing with real life stuff like her dad being in Iraq, this show could speak to a lot of girls. Yay empowerment!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chocolate Jesus

The following is an account of the bizarre path I went down following an innocent google search. Keep in mind that I consider myself a religious person.

Let me set the scene. Our dear friends, the Beckers love the movie Jesus Christ Superstar. They watch it fairly often, on lazy Sundays, and it puts them in a good mood. Same with our friends the Welles. In fact, it appears Justin and I are in the minority for never having seen the movie. I worry that the stage version ruined it for us. Ted Neely (original star!) was in a recent touring production we went to see at the Orpheum. After two hours of him screaming/singing all his lyrics (we'll call it scringing) and overacting even the most simplistic phrases (YES! LET'S WALK OVER HERE!), I found it comical - right at the moment he was hung on the cross. Yes, theater snobs - that was me giggling so hard I couldn't stop my shoulders from shaking while Jesus was dying for my sins. Justin was embarrassed, and I'll probably go to hell but more likely for writing this blog entry.

Anyway .... the Beckers are having people over to watch Jesus Christ Superstar (starring Ted Neely!) and they want everyone to bring something to eat surrounding that theme. I love the idea! Any party involving movies, food and a theme is my kind of night. They'll have bread and wine (makes sense), someone's bringing fish (I get that) and we were assigned dessert. I don't remember seeing cupcakes at The Last Supper, but okay, we'll go with it.

Searching the computer for recipes, I first made the mistake of googling "Jesus" and "Chocolate". As some music lovers might guess, all that came up was Tom Waits's song "Chocolate Jesus."
Then I found the story of a six-foot, anatomically correct milk chocolate sculpture of Jesus. I'm not THAT good a baker.

Then I typed in "Jesus" and "dessert" and Google tried correcting me: "Did you mean 'Jesus' and 'desert?'" No, Google, I know Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and nights but just telling folks at the party, "Jesus fasted, why don't we?" won't really work.

But I finally found a page that I thought might work. It was the website for the Christian Moms of Many Blessings. I have no doubt these women are great moms who cook a lot of great meals for their kids. But if they would have been my mom, I would have had a troubling, psychologically complicated relationship with desserts. The following recipe listed on the website is why:

Easter/Resurrection Rolls
1 package Cresent rolls
Melted Butter
1 Large Marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Give each child a triangle of cresent rolls.
The cresent roll represents the the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in.

Give each child a marshmallow. This represents Jesus. (white)

Have the child dip the marshmallow in melted butter. This represents the oils of embalming.

Then dip the buttered marshmallow in the cinnamon and sugar. This represents the spices used to annoint the body.

Then wrap up the coated marshmallow tightly in the cresent roll (not like a typical cresent roll up…but bring the sides up and seal the marshmallow inside) This represents the wrapping of Jesus’ body after death.

Place in a 350 degree oven for 10 – 12 minutes. The oven represents the tomb–pretend like it was three days!

When the rolls have cooled slightly, the children can open their rolls (cloth) and discover that Jesus is no longer there, HE IS RISEN!

The marshmallow melts and the cresent roll is puffed up, but empty.

Those children will never look at a marshmallow the same way again. Here's the link if you want to see more.