Arts and Entertainment roundup

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Front and center on this week’s A&E section is a story about Nikolaus Wourms of the Minnesota Ballet who has returned this season after a hip injury.

Here’s Tony Bennett’s review of the new Courtney Barnett. “‘Sometimes’ is likely to end up as one of the year’s best albums, and it’s bound to gain Courtney Barnett a ton of new fans. Recommended,” he writes.

Here’s my column about finding the right person to make the right recommendations.

Best Bets include: Ballet, theater, so much music.

Weekend Arts and Entertainment roundup

AIRBNB DULUTH

Where to begin. Where. To. Be. Gin.

Dear Diary, it has been far too long since I’ve updated this site with the A&E-inspired words. So here goes nada.

Rebecca Petersen, executive director of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra let us into her home – which she has begun renting out to Airbnb’ers. She’s got three bedrooms, a decanter of sherry and the potential to see wildlife.

Meanwhile, the DSSO’s concert, which featured a side of fashion, was sensory overload, according to reviewer Lawrance Bernabo.

Meanwhile, last week’s A&E section had a story about some movie-making on the Iron Range. Christopher Lloyd has been involved with filming “I Am Not a Serial Killer.” Here’s the sights and sounds of a day on the set.

Also in A&E: Celtic Thunder plays today at Symphony Hall and includes a guest artist who had a decent run on “Glee.”

Gaz Coombes leaps confidently into solo work, says music reviewer Tony Bennett.

 

Today’s A&E roundup

Mary Bue is concentrating on promoting her new album nationally. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Mary Bue is concentrating on promoting her new album nationally. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Today’s A&E section includes a feature on musician Mary Bue who plans to have a ceremonial burial of her keyboard to announce her new life as a rock ‘n’ roller during Friday’s CD release show for “Holy Bones.”

“It’s like finding out you’re going to be able to stand 3 feet away from the Holy Grail and the Shroud of Turin at the same time,” said Chani Ninneman of Wise Fool Shakespeare. Earlier this week, UMD announced that it will host a traveling exhibition featuring the First Folio — the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays.

I wrote a column about eating oysters alone: “It’s a give-and-take relationship. He’s got his — who knows, time-travel movies? — and you’ve got your $3 dirty secret crammed between the butter beans and canned peaches.”

Tony Bennett reviewed Screaming Females: “The New Jersey-based trio didn’t get the memo that rocking is passe. Lead vocalist and guitarist Marissa Paternoster was apparently never told that playing ripping guitar solos and writing grunge-pop songs was not the hippest move possible. And yet, here she is, doing just that, and it’s pretty glorious.”

Best Bets include: Head of the Lakes Jazz Fest, “Holy Bones” CD release, “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon,” “Old Jake’s Skirts,” “Goody Night” and Russian films at Zinema 2.

Today’s A&E roundup

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A new film series by the Duluth Superior Film Festival gives familiar-faced locals a chance to present  a secret movie (preferably critically panned and personally beloved) to an unsuspecting audience. The Defenders series plays monthly at Zinema 2. The first defender is Mayor Don Ness.

I wrote a column about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” like everyone else on Earth. My take: This thing is a big old inside-joke for everyone who read the novels.

Best Bets include: an operetta, the DSSO, a couple of CD releases at Beaner’s Central and more.

Tony Bennett reviewed “Pandemonium” by Moors and McCumber.

Today’s A&E, etc., reads

A bunch of locals with movie smarts weighed in on this year’s Oscar picks. Local filmmaker Lance Karasti likes “Whiplash,” film aficionado Lawrence Lee likes “Birdman,” Valerie Coit, a co-founder of the Free Range Film Festival likes “Boyhood.”

The founder of the annual Tattoo You event was having a good day on Wednesday, which included securing tickets to see Rush in May. A few hours later he learned that his house was on fire. Dave Nelson talked to the News Tribune about the fire that has him living in a local motel with just a car, a few mementos and the clothes he’s wearing.

Goodbye, Lionel. A local FM Hot Adult Contemporary station is switching to sports radio.

And just for fun:

Sam Cook investigates today’s haps.

Encyclopedia Brown and the case of the missing crib-part.

Today’s A&E roundup

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Front and center of this week’s A&E section is KUMD music director Christine Dean’s contribution to the “Homegrown Rawk and/or Roll” collection. Her approach to the compilation, created annually by high-profile music heads: A chronological trip through Duluth’s music scene.

Also in the A&E section:

Music reviewer Tony Bennett calls Hans Peterson’s “Every Breath I Sing”
“… as gentle and pleasant as an afternoon shopping for cardigans with Fred Rogers.”

Best Bets include: Trampled By Turtles, Black Violin, a coupla art openings, folk-n-roll at The Red Herring Lounge, Daniel Durant at CSS and a short shorts film fest.

I wrote a column about how maybe I’m not exactly who I remember myself being in high school. Case in point: The discovery of a stash of old mix tapes.

Today’s A&E roundup

Beth Olson helps Reinhard von Rabenau with a flip during their performance of a jitterbug during the ninth annual Celebrity Dance Challenge on Thursday evening at Marshall School. They won both the Judge’s Choice and the People’s Choice awards. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Beth Olson and Reinhard von Rabenau won both Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice at the Minnesota Ballet’s Celebrity Dance Challenge on Thursday. Here’s all the color from the annual event.

John Lundy has a story about Ryan Lane, a musician who is releasing his debut CD today — then taking off for Madagascar, where he will spend 27 months with the Peace Corps.

Duluth East grad Karl Doty is up for a Grammy Award. Here’s his story.

Theater reviewer Lawrance Bernabo won’t tell you why you should see Renegade Theater Company’s production of “Murder Ballad” — but he promises audience chatter after the show.

Reviewer Paul Brissett called UMD’s production of the family-friendly “Go, Dog. Go!” “… a riot of color, movement, sight gags and silliness that had the audience giggling from the get-go …”

Features editor Melinda Lavine reviewed “Horns” in her weekly IndieWatch column.

And here’s a story about the Packingham family, which found the perfect recipe for hot cocoa and then started a small business around it.

Today’s A&E section

Elyse Snider, a choreographer who lives in Ashland (right), talks with her 4-year-old son Shepard while watching Reinhard von Rabenau and Beth Olson rehearse the jitterbug last week, which they will perform at the Minnesota Ballet’s Celebrity Dance Challenge tonight in Fregeau Auditorium at Duluth’s Marshall School. Also watching are Maeggie Licht-Benning with Snider’s sons Seamus and Sullivan. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

This week’s A&E section includes a feature on Ashland-based choreographer Elyse Snider, who has visions of dancers dancing in her head. Her work can be seen during the Minnesota Ballet’s Celebrity Dance Challenge today at Marshall School.

Tony Bennett reviewed the new buzzed-about Sleater-Kinney album.

Best Bets include: Peter Mayer, “Murder Ballad” at Renegade, Eric Paslay and more.

I wrote a column about this invisible hole in our house.

Flashback: The ‘Odd’ edition, 2014

Jody Kujawa (left), who played Oscar and Felix in “The Odd Couple” and Jason Skorich, who also played Oscar and Felix, rehearsed scenes from the play at the Duluth Playhouse in this 2014 photo. On this particular night Kujawa played Oscar and Skorich played Felix. 2014 file/ News Tribune

It’s been about a year since Jody Kujawa and Jason Skorich performed the ultimate “Odd Couple” challenge: The local actors switched between playing Felix and Oscar on alternating nights.

Here’s an A&E Flashback — The story that ran Jan. 28, 2014:

Oscar Madison is a mess. He’s a recently divorced sportswriter. His hair stands on end, his shirts are stained, his stuff is scattered everywhere.
If you think he annoyed his ex-wife, you should see what his neatnik roommate, Felix Ungar, thinks about him.
Oscar might be Felix’s nightmare, but he’s been a dream role for local comedic actor Jody Kujawa.
“I’ve always wanted to play Oscar,” he said. “It’s the perfect role. It’s a slob role. It’s the guy that
doesn’t care, the kind of guy that’s rebelling against his life.”
Finally, Kujawa landed the role – with a twist.
In the Duluth Playhouse’s upcoming production of “The Odd Couple,” the two lead actors will switch roles on alternating nights. Kujawa will open the show as Oscar and the next night he will be Felix. Same goes for Jason Scorich, who plays opposite.
“The Odd Couple” is Neil Simon’s story of freshly divorced poker pals who come to be roommates. One exists in a laidback haze of cigar smoke and snack packages; the other is a compulsively organized foil.
The tribulations of Oscar and Felix have played out on Broadway, with Walter Matthau as Oscar and Art Carney as Felix, in film with Matthau and Jack Lemmon, and on TV with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.
The switcheroo was director Julie Ahasay’s idea, and the actors knew the plan going into auditions.
“Most everybody I know has some Oscar and some Felix,” she said. “I thought it would be an interesting challenge to play with that a bit.
“In some ways, Jody is a more obvious choice for Oscar and Jason is a more obvious choice for Felix; it’s fascinating to see that turned on its head.”
It’s the challenge that further piqued the actors’ interests.
“It’s a seemingly impossible thing to do,” Kujawa said. “It’s flattering that you would think I have the ability to pull that sort of thing off.”
It’s a unique situation, Scorich said, and he welcomed the chance to stretch himself as an actor.
“I couldn’t think of something that would be much more of a challenge than playing both parts,” he said.
Both actors opted to learn both roles simultaneously.
Kujawa took it page by page, investing hours of work only to find he had committed only five pages to memory.
Scorich’s method included reading and re-reading, first as one character, then as the other. He recorded Oscar’s lines and left blank air so he could respond as Felix. Then he recorded Felix, leaving room for Oscar’s lines.
“I really tried to memorize it in as many ways as I could,” he said.
Until recently, the actors have had the option of nixing the plan. If it got to be too much, they could go back to just playing a single role.
“I wanted them to start working on stuff and see how they felt about it,” Ahasay said. “It’s one thing when it’s an idea. But you have to actually start doing the work it takes to make it happen.”
Kujawa said he and Scorich believed they could pull it off. And once word spread through the local theater scene, there was no turning back.
“I was like, if you’re going to commit to something that arrogant, you have to do it,” Kujawa said. “(Although) I don’t know that it was arrogant because there was sheer terror. When people question me about it, I say Sometimes your vanity gets the best of you. You deserve what you get and you reap what you sow.’ ”
It’s not uncommon for theater sorts to take a show and give it an extreme twist. The leads in Sam Shepard’s “True West” have switched roles. Last year, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s theater department produced an all-female production of Shakespeare’s “Coriolano” – and renamed it “Coriolana.”
In 2004, Entertainment Weekly magazine reported a rumor that a Broadway revival of “The Odd Couple” would sometimes feature Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in their opposite roles. And later this year, Skyway Playhouse in Camarillo, Calif., will attempt the same feat. The community theater is taking it seriously.
“This is not up for debate or discussion,” it says on the Skyway Playhouse’s website. “It’s a vital component of this particular vision. If you don’t feel you can accomplish this, do not audition for those roles.”
The night-to-night performances will not be mirrors of each other. Kujawa and Scorich have taken ownership of the separate roles and Ahasay has left room for a little spontaneity.
Kujawa and Scorich have been meeting up at least an hour before rehearsals to get into character and run lines.
Scorich said when he’s Oscar, he’s Oscar.
“If I’m playing Felix, the Oscar lines will fall out of my head,” he said.
Kujawa said he has been surprised to find that he prefers playing Felix.
“Which is weird because I went in with Oscar as my dream role,” he said. “I think it’s because it was so out of the box I had to work harder and think about it harder.”

Today’s A&E (and eat) reads

Duluth native Matthew Johnson (left) and Cullen Folks check out which PepsiCo ingredients they get to work with in the semi-final round of Game Day Grub Match, a Super Bowl-themed cooking competition. The duo advanced to the finals with a Pepsi-marinated chicken and Sierra Mist-flavored slaw. They will serve the dishes to chefs and NFL players on Saturday in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images / PepsiCo)

A Denfeld graduate has cooked his way to the Super Bowl. Matthew Johnson and his co-chef Cullen Folks will prepare dishes using PepsiCo. ingredients for professional chefs and NFL players on Saturday in Arizona.

Mike Creger surveyed locals in the ad business to talk about favorite Super Bowl commercials. Animals and high-emotions rate high.

Features editor Melinda Lavine gives “Frank” an A- and says its worth “a buncha watches” in her IndieWatch column.

Lawrance Bernabo reviewed Thursday’s opening of “The Turn of the Screw” at The Underground and predicted that audiences will be moved.