Whata Week

The cast of “Singin’ in the Rain”
The cast of “Singin’ in the Rain”

Punk at the Round Up
If you’ve ever been to 4th Street’s Round Up Bar and Grill on a Friday night, you know that’s karaoke  and half-price, really-big-burger time. But a Thursday 3.29 notice in the Reader listed a Move to Amend Awareness Show with 3 bands, and Nathan Ness with a corporate personhood speech. What a cleverly designed chance to find out what Move to Amend is all about without going to a meeting. Pat McKinnon gave us a poem. Three punk bands performed: the last and best, Infected, from Lexington KY. A punkie girl started banging on patrons till she was shown the door. But I have yet to hear Nathan Ness’ speech.

Friday night, friend LaVerne and I started out at the College of St. Scholastica. An African dance group from Milwaukee, called JamakJam (Peace and Peace) tore up the Mitchell stage. A young man, pulling lush, lyrical sounds from a West African stringed instrument was followed by impassioned drummers and fiery, gifted dancers. Too bad the seats in Mitchell were not filled.

We barely made it down the hill to Teatro Zuccone in time for UMD’s Stage II performance of Steven Dietz’s “More Fun Than Bowling”, a quirky, gently funny story of a bowling alley owner who has known three wives. Scenic designer, Preston Daniel Grant’s setting, three plots on a hill in a cemetery, is the ticket. Student director, Ryan Kuczmarski, made me laugh all the way through. Freshman Jared Walz played off-hand husband, Jake. Amanda Sjodahl was dear as his motherless daughter. Emily Fletcher and Brittany Mingo, as consecutively dead wives II and III, blithely fill us in on family tragedies and triumphs. Kuczmarski might have gotten a little more out of UMD Senior, Kaio Kealoha, the chauffeur sent by just passed wife I. Stage II produces a number of student-run shows each season. Production and executive board positions are open to students across campus.

Techno at Clyde
I used to love the house and techno my teenage son played, so last Friday, I popped into Clyde Iron Center to sample some of the same. Guys and costumed girls danced solo in the fuzzy air. The beats pounded on. Anyone know who the last (and best) performers were?

In the Rain
Saturday, I saw “Singin’ In the Rain”, presented by Superior Community Theater. A group of girls in my grade school class would be out on the playground, singing songs from movie musicals. My family had so many kids, if we saw a movie, it was a Western (for my Dad) at the drive-in, so it was nice when my jolly classmates intro’d me to such great tunes as “Singin’ In the Rain”. But not till Saturday did I know anything about the story. Who would’ve guessed it’s about the transition from silent movies to ‘talkies’? The music is mostly from the 20’s and 30’s, great old classics that were also used in other movies: “You Stepped Out of a Dream”, “Make ‘Em Laugh”, “You Were Meant for Me”... Ben Robinson played Gene Kelly’s role, Don Lockwood. I’ve heard Ben before, and feel on Saturday, he was undersinging. Only occasionally did his full voice come through. Don Johnson was robust as Simpson, the studio director. Star Strycharske as nasally-impeded Lina Lamont had comic moments. Period costumes by Mondie Kruse were appropo. The fluid dancers, including the play’s ingenue, Kathy Seldon (Sarah-anne Kruse) were led by dancer/choreographer Megan Abel Schmitt. Cartoons from the teens and 20’s were cleverly screened during scene changes, as were silent takes of members of the cast, done by Wes Cruse. The temporary performance space left something to be desired. Sight lines were poor at United Presbyterian Church; acoustics likewise. A projector, showing the cartoons and videos, was an obstruction.

Rubber Chicken
at Animal Allies

Doreen and I segued from Superior to Rice Lake Road where Minden Hulstrom and hubbie, Anders, played cat and dog ever so cutely. Rubber Chicken Theater performers helped find homes for pets in a 30 hour marathon over the weekend. Father Stu Flanagan was a riot, with a tale about his dog, Ricketts, flying down Piedmont Avenue, he on a bike, Ricketts attached via clothesline. And did you know that “compost pile is just a fancy name for a personal dump”? Ya had to be there. By the way, Allies placed close to 50 cats and dogs.

South Shore Music Scene
Not a lot onstage in Ashland, except for Second Street Bistro where you can find good music almost every Friday night. Friday, April 6, find Fire in the Kitchen, a duo consisting of Kaia Deschane and Ben Mattson. If you like Charlie Parr, you’ll like Kaia and Ben.