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Minneapolis by Ed Huyck

The Chairs, Killer Joe and
Broadway's Legendary Ladies

Also see Elizabeth's review of Tyrone and Ralph

Pangea World Theatre The Chairs

Husband and wife Richard Ooms and Claudia Wilkins have been fixtures on the Twin Cities theater scene for nearly three decades, presenting winning performances at the Guthrie (Ooms' longtime home), The Jungle Theater (Wilkins has presented several impressive turns there) and nearly every other company in the community.

In recent years, the two have been able to share the stage in more productions, including their current turn at the tiny Pangea World Theater for a rousing production of Ionesco's The Chairs.

In this absurdist one-act, Ooms and Wilkins play a married couple of many years who have planned a major event for the evening—one that will require the use of many, many chairs.

There's a real thrill in watching two top talents working the stage together (and in an intimate, 40-seat setting), especially when you add in the unique chemistry that comes from having a longtime couple share the stage. It's also a lesson on how the best actors are willing to completely sell any role, even if it requires you to hold your husband on your lap for an extended length of time while you share an old story.

The Chairs runs through October 19 at the Pangea World Theatre Studio, 711 W. Lake St Suite 101, Minneapolis. Tickets are $10 and $15. For information, call 612-203-1088 or online at http://pangeaworldtheater.org.

Theatre Pro Rata Killer Joe

Killer Joe
Katie Willer and Zach Curtis
Theatre Pro Rata kicked off its new season last weekend, when Killer Joe opened at the Gremlin Theatre's new space on University Avenue. The location is a step up in a number of ways. The old location was a tough place to find (I still managed to get lost, even after three years in town) and lacking in amenities. The new Gremlin doesn't have those issues, and the company hasn't lost a step moving digs, with the same attention to theatrical detail that made so many past productions a thrill to watch.

As far as Killer Joe goes, the production is better than the script. Playwright Tracy Letts (Bug and the Pulitzer-winning August: Osage County) muddles some good exploration of what it means to be poor and drifting in America, but traps his characters in a rather pulpy plot.

Still, there is plenty of good here, from Zach Curtis' imposing turn as the policeman/killer-for-hire Joe and Clarence Wethern as the well-meaning-but-rock-stupid Chris. And the space itself maintains the intimate vibe that helped many shows at the Loading Dock succeed.

Killer Joe runs through October 19 at the Gremlin Theater, 2400 University Ave., St. Paul. Tickets are on a sliding scale, $14 to $28. For information or tickets, call 612-874-9321 or online www.theatreprorata.org.

Buffalo Gal Productions Broadway's Legendary Ladies

A big hit in two previous incarnations at the Loring Playhouse (and on a 13-state tour), Broadway's Legendary Ladies makes the jump across the river to the larger Ordway McKnight stage with its cast largely intact and its intent as clear as ever: to celebrate the lives and music of 15 of the Great White Way's largest talents.

In a breezy two hours, the production runs through more than two-dozen numbers, as a cast of six great talents don't just recreate, but bring the essence of these performers to the stage.

There are a number of highlights sprinkled throughout the evening, including Jody Briskey's epic interpretation of Patti LuPone's classic "Meadowlark"; Holly Schroeder channeling Elaine Stritch for "The Ladies Who Lunch"; and Holly Schroeder and Ann Michels bringing Chita Rivera to life for "Nowadays." And, fittingly enough, the entire cast—which also includes the talents of Kathleen Bloom and Jen Burleigh-Bentz—share the stage for the Follies showstopper, "I'm Still Here."

The production, created and directed by Perrin Post, uses the larger Ordway space well, with an open and inviting staging that keeps the focus where it belongs—on the ladies on stage.

Broadway's Legendary Ladies runs through October 26 at the McKnight Theatre at the Ordway Center for the Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul. Tickets are $37 to $40. For tickets are or more information, call 651-224-4222 or visit www.ordway.org

Photo: Charlie Gorrill


- Ed Huyck



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