Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Small Mouth Sounds Has a Quiet Brilliance

Sometimes the most interesting aspect of a piece of art is what it does not include.

Photo by Dan Norman

After all, when we see a play we take for granted that there will be things like lines in it, right?

Photo by Dan Norman

So imagine if a play removed one of its core elements - dialogue - for the majority of the time, and instead had you take a closer look at the gestures and small intimations that actors utilize to convey their characters outside of literal words.

Photo by Dan Norman

That's the concept behind Small Mouth Sounds, a quietly brilliant new play showing at the Jungle Theater. The show focuses on a group of strangers attending a meditation retreat. All are thrilled to go for their own individual reasons, but learn the retreat has one caveat: it is completely silent throughout, and no one except for the teacher will speak for the entire week. This has varying degrees of success at first as characters encounter different obstacles: one woman is forced to share a room with a man and wants to be moved; a couple in the retreat end up in a fight halfway through; a few budding romances take awkward turns. But for the most part, it's a joy watching six completely individual characters find a voiceless peace, each in their own totally unique way.

Photo by Dan Norman

A play this quiet needs a robust cast, and this one is a joy. Christina Baldwin is expressive as ever as Joan, who attends the retreat with her partner Judy (played with tearful, inspiring determination by Faye M. Price) and experiences some heartrending moments. Becca Hart continues her growth into one of my favorite character actresses in #tctheater with a turn as Alicia, Small Mouth Sounds' emotional hurricane. Eric Sharp is a literal heart-breaker as Rodney, the sexy yoga guru with a secret. Michael Curran-Dorsano was surprisingly poignant as the earnest but seemingly cursed Ned. Jim Lichtscheidl lent a quiet profundity to Jan, the most eventually enlightened member of the retreat. And Jay Owen Eisenberg holds it down as the Teacher, who is not only the character with the most lines but is also the only one we never see on stage. Eisenberg gives a fascinating voiceover performance, solidifying his place as one of the most iconic local voices around (and maybe a firm step towards a future career in voiceover work on the silver screen?).

Photo by Dan Norman

Mina Kinukawa's scenic design is a masterful exercise in multifaceted minimism. What appear to be the blank walls of a room at the retreat are retracted like blinds to become trees; the stage rotates on a wheel to provide ever-changing views of deceptively simple pieces, and combined with Karin Olson's elegant lighting, the overall effect retains the feeling of calm, peace and feng shui generated by Small Mouth Sounds' quiet script. Sarah Bahr's costume design cleverly delineates between each character, telling us so much through their appearance that we can't learn through words. And Reid Rejsa's subtle sound design allows the quiet to open up through the theater, enveloping the audience in meditation with the characters and facilitating the effect of every tiny sound.

Photo by Dan Norman

I think Small Mouth Sounds is likely to be an acquired taste for some theater-goers. It is such a different kind of performance, with such different elements than you traditionally see, that you could leave underwhelmed if you're expecting the usual kind of play. I, however, really loved how this flips the script (literally) and forces the audience to do most of the work reading into the performance. We become in communion with the show itself, and the peaceful ambiance generated by the lack of words lets so much more shine through. This is a truly human show that packs a lot of life into 95 short minutes, and I've been smiling on reflection of it ever since. Small Mouth Sounds is on stage through June 16, so make sure to click here for more information or to get your tickets.

Photo by Dan Norman

Monday, May 13, 2019

Thrillist: Best Rooftop Bars

The weather's warming up, so you know what that means... 

Photo courtesy of Thrillist

Patio time! But patios fill up so quickly when the weather is nice; what to do? Hit one of the spectacular rooftops (or honorary rooftops) in my latest piece for Thrillist. I've got several favorites here (some of which I'm loathe to share, but hey - I want these places to stay in business). Click here to read the full article, and tell me: what are your favorite rooftops to visit? Where should I go next? I'd love to know.


What do you do when the weather’s a perfectly sunny 75+ degrees but every patio in sight is packed to the gills? Head upstairs, naturally. Some of the Twin Cities’ savviest diners know that the best real estate is really on the rooftop, where you can get direct access to cool breezes and skyline views in addition to your happy hour tipples. Many venues are adding niche entertainment aside from stunning views, making these destinations worth a stop for more than drinks. From themed cocktails to arcade games, hot new venues to lush cool foliage, we have something for every diner’s rooftop dreams. Here are a few favorites:

Brit's Pub Downtown
Downtown, Minneapolis
The rooftop to rule them all
When it comes to rooftop patios, one name always rises to the top. The worst kept secret in downtown Minneapolis, Brits has a fabulous space that goes far beyond simple dining. Outdoor second level bar? Check. Indoor overflow in case of unexpected summer showers? Check. An all-grass, barefoot bocce ball court that also serves as a plein air movie theater and soccer stadium? Check, check and check. Don’t miss it, especially for this year’s Women’s World Cup. A word to the wise, however: although Brits’ capacity marches well over 2,000 patrons at a time, it regularly fills up on soccer days. Get there early.

Louis Ristorante & Bar West 7th St
Downtown, St. Paul
Italian food that would even impress Tony Soprano
Better known on the street as Cossetta’s, Louis Ristorante is the glamorous top-shelf eatery perched at the top of this Italian culinary retail mecca. I honestly hate to invite even more traffic to Louis because I love it so much (especially the melted mozzarella appetizer – don’t ask, just get it and thank me later), but it really is the best. With great service, spectacular food, lovely vistas from St. Paul’s highest rooftop, and an innumerable amount of delicious items to purchase and take home later in the main floor specialty grocery, Louis is a mustn’t-miss experience for any St. Paul summer rooftop dining.

Moto-I Uptown
Uptown, Minneapolis
The sake brewery and steamed bun rooftop of your dreams
Doing ramen before anyone knew who David Chang was, Moto-I is a perfect stop for fulfilling your umami Japanese food cravings. Not into the idea of mixing your ramen with a hot, sunny rooftop? That’s cool too. With miso popcorn, a full suite of steamed buns available, and a daily happy hour, Moto-I has plenty for the snackier al fresco diner. Moto-I also happens to be the only restaurant in Minnesota that can claim to have an on-site sake brewery, meaning any sake drinks you order are guaranteed to be found nowhere else on earth (we recommend a flight so you can try them all).

The Liffey
Downtown, St. Paul
For your whiskey and chicken shot cravings
There are a plethora of excellent Irish pubs scattered throughout the Twin Cities, but the only one with a rooftop to enjoy is the Liffey. Holding down the corner of the rapidly developing West 7th in downtown St. Paul, the Liffey is the OG hotel bar that will wipe all your Holiday Inn blues away. It also (impressively, for bar food) features a gluten free menu and a veggie juicy lucy burger, so you can take even the pickiest of eaters with you. Thrifty diners take note: if you join the Liffey’s pub club you will get 10% back on all food and beverage purchases.

Uptown, Minneapolis
A mainstay with N64 games and giant beer pong
In a neighborhood where restaurants swiftly change tenants, Libertine has proved to have staying power. That might be because they know how to evolve smartly with the times, adding elements like giant beer pong and Nintendo 64 games to attract new generations of diners. The cheeky menu tops out at $16 for the most expensive options, and the impressive drink list includes towers of rose for your group that break out to $6 per serving. The rooftop patio is a great place to sit and hang when the weather gets nice, with a view of downtown Minneapolis’s beautiful skyline from the rooftop obstructed only slightly by neighboring Stella’s.

Loring Park, Minneapolis
The best kept secret in Twin Cities fine dining
A quiet four blocks from her more famous big sister restaurant the Butcher & the Boar, 4Bells is still quietly producing some of the consistently best food in the Twin Cities. A new chef has revived the Southern Lowcountry roots of this restaurant, bringing back the fried chicken, fluffy biscuits and spicy shrimp and grits to community- wide applause. The cocktails are still fantastic, including that beet juice negroni and gin and tonics (where the tonic is house-made). Even better? A perch on the roof will nab you gorgeous views of the Basilica and Loring Park. Make sure to take the back stairs so you don’t miss the fabulous giant squid mural on your way out.

Ox Cart Arcade and Rooftop
Lowertown, St. Paul
An '80s- and '90s-themed wonderland
Oh what a difference a few short years can make. What began two years ago as Ox Cart Ale House has evolved into an '80s and '90s-themed entertainment hub. The revamped facility has Ms. Pac-Man and many pin ball and arcade games, as well as a menu with kitschy items like artisanal pop tarts, Minnesota sushi, and bacon on a stick by the half pound. The drinks are equally creative, including mystery shots in Capri Sun pouches, booze-filled snow cones, and the Wu Tang made with tequila and OG Tang powder. Thanks to Chef Justin Sutherland’s newfound television fame, this location is sure to be packed to the gills all summer long, especially since the hours are Thursday – Sunday only.

Boca Chica
West St. Paul
Three words: Affordable. Rooftop. Margaritas.
Mexican food is finally getting its fair due in the Twin Cities, and where better to head than Cesar Chavez Avenue to experience it? Boca Chica has an unusual facility that includes indoor murals and a walk out patio with shady umbrellas overlooking a grassy hill; the overall footprint is far larger than it seems from the street level. The large tables are great, because you’ll want to take full advantage of Boca Chica’s excellente happy hour menu (including $5 margaritas, $3 tap beers and $5 – 7 appetizers) by ordering one of everything.

LynLake Brewery
Uptown, Minneapolis
The rooftop that lets you bring your own food
Of all the rapidly developing neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, Uptown is certainly one of the busiest. The constant foot traffic means buildings have to be creative about finding outdoor space, like this brewery converted from an old theater. Going strong for five years now, LynLake Brewery features dozens of delicious brews to cool yourself down on hot summer days. Even better? The kitchen is getting a full update for the first time and will feature rotating pop up guest chef and food trucks as of June 2019, meaning you'll never be bored with the food choices.

The Lexington
Macalaster – Groveland, St. Paul
Tiki cocktails for your pleasure
The restaurant theme of 2019 seems to be a revival of the Twin Cities’ grande dame dining spaces, but only one of them had the foresight to install a rooftop patio for the modern eater to enjoy. The Lexington, St. Paul’s answer to Minneapolis’s vaunted 510 Groveland address, has a swaggy rooftop that will net you some high-end Asian fusion cuisine (like foie gras-stuffed potstickers, a pineapple kimchi-topped Hawaiian hot dog, or kalua pig cubano sliders) and cutting-edge tiki cocktails. Make sure to wear your best Hawaiian shirt with your shades.

Up Down
Uptown, Minneapolis
Cheap games, pizza, and several floors of fun
Gaming while drinking is one of the hottest trends to hit the Twin Cities in the last two years. Up Down, a multi-floor arcade experience in the heart of Uptown, is best poised to take advantage of this during the summer months. The main floor includes an arcade jam-packed with vintage and modern games, while the rooftop patio has group gaming and more tactile activities like life-size Jenga. With pizza by the slice and game fees topping out at 25 cents per play, you can’t beat Up Down as one of the most creative, affordable dates in town.

Downtown, Minneapolis
A lush rooftop experience when it’s too wet everywhere else
What if you want a rooftop experience but it’s raining cats and dogs? The unusual space surrounding Giulia, the most exciting addition to the downtown Minneapolis’ culinary scene in a while, is the perfect answer. An indoor jungle paradise of skylights and endless greenery surrounds this eatery serving up pitch-perfect northern Italian cuisine. Swig one of the specialty negronis (the smoky mezcal Spaghetti Western or the excellently balanced Classic negroni on-tap are our recommendations) and order tableside fresh pulled mozzarella (yes, they make it right in front of you) for a culinary experience that you’ll never forget, rain or shine.

Downtown Minneapolis
Where the drag brunch is the hottest ticket in town
Despite a sleepy start when it first opened, Union has rebranded itself into *the* hottest brunch ticket in Minnesota thanks to Flip Phone’s ingeniously themed weekly drag brunches. This location is a surefire bet year-round as shows take place snow, rain or shine thanks to Union’s year-round, glass-enclosed, heated rooftop patio. Appetizers and shareables are definitely the star of this menu, so bring a group with you to enjoy (and let’s be honest, who werks a drag show solo anyway?). Snatch your tickets early as tickets to drag brunches at Union sell out almost immediately.

Target Field and CHS Field
Downtown Minneapolis and Lowertown, St. Paul
Stadiums count as patios, right?
Are baseball stadiums technically rooftop patios? No. Do I care? Not a bit, because some of the most unique dining options available these days are on the top tier of local stadiums. Target Field has consistently knocked it out of the park with their al fresco dining options, including chicken and waffle cones, bacon tot dish, impossible burgers, vegan sriracha brats and traditional Kramarczuk’s sausages. CHS Field is nipping at their heels with an impressive 30+-tap beer open air beer garden, handmade sausages and what has been aptly entitled the “Belly Buster.” Go beyond baseball this summer and try out either option.

Swanky suburban rooftop with a view
What should you do if you live in the suburbs and don’t want to blow your dining budget on a pricey Uber into the city? Stay local by enjoying a rooftop view of summer shenanigans on Lake Minnetonka instead. The seasonal space at 6Smith (soon to open for 2019) gives access to high-end dining options, including lavish weekend brunches, an expansive menu focused on surf and turf, and a full menu just for vegans. 6Smith also regularly hosts classes and special events, so make sure to check their event calendar ahead of time if you want a more hands-on experience.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Autonomy Is In A Class All Its Own

I can truly promise that you will never see a show like this again. 

You've heard of drive-in movie theaters, but have you heard of drive-in plays? No?

You wouldn't be alone! It's a highly unusual concept, but a drive-in play (or maybe a drive-by play is more accurate) is exactly what Autonomy, the latest show from the ever innovative Mixed Blood Theater, is. Hosted in St. Paul's River Centre, Autonomy is a densely packed, politically charged play set amidst a closely curated collection of exotic automobiles that moves the audience through the action on golf carts, rather than having us sit statically in a theater as usual.

Photo by Rich Ryan

It's hard to succinctly describe exactly what Autonomy is all about. The main characters focus on the life of Gabby Reyes, an undocumented teenager, as she tries to survive in an America where ICE has unfettered powers three years from now and her father has recently died in a car accident. Hidden away from the public for risk of deportation, Gabby slaves away online to invent a free coding program for controlling autonomous vehicles that will help barter her freedom and make the world safer. Gabby is finally hunted down by for-profit companies like Amazon and Ford to take her coding offline, and a new chapter begins. At the same time, scientists are working to clone woolly mammoths to assist in the fight against climate change and unknowingly release an ancient pandemic in the process. All of these threads take place in and around cars and transportation. 2022 is a world where almost all vehicles are automated, and Autonomy closely examines the nuanced implications of transitioning the world to an automated driving system (which are far more complex than anyone might suspect).

Photo by Rich Ryan

The large cast is almost a who's who of #tctheater, including several of my personal local favorites. You can see three possible actresses play Gabby Reyes; we had Isabella LaBlanc, who is quickly becoming one of my top young performers to watch locally. LaBlanc is dynamic and emotional, and you can't help but empathize with her plight as the show unfolds. Other amazing performers from my local favorites include Juan Rivera Labron; Malachi Caballero; Bruce Young; Raúl Ramos; Taj Ruler; Nathan Barlow; and Ansa Akyea, all of whom make poignant cameos. There is also a delightful voiceover short film starring Joy Dolo, Stephen Yoakam and Jeff Hatcher that was hilarious and utterly charming; it reminded me of something you might see on Adult Swim, and I'd happily subscribe to a channel of similar shorts featuring local actors.

Photo by Rich Ryan

The set is really just a chance to look at all those specialty cars! It's a dizzying array of types from many eras of American automotive design, from Corvettes to El Caminos to DeLoreans. My personal favorite included a suite of movie themed cars in pristine condition. This collection included a Gotham Roadster Batmobile; Jaguar XKE Series 1, also known as the Austin Powers "Shag Jag"; a 1981 DeLorean just like the Back to the Future Time Machine; the Ghostbusters station wagon; and a bonafide Ford Econoline Scooby Doo Mystery Machine. It was so nostalgic and fun to be that close to those famous cars, and it really showed how much character and personality an inanimate object can carry.

Photo by Rich Ryan

Ambitious is hardly a big enough word to describe what Autonomy is. There are so many things about this play that are truly unique: it's not set in a theater at all; attendees have to drive around from station to station to see the show; nothing is told in a linear fashion; there are 9 concurrent productions happening at any given moment; dozens of actors and cars are included in the show, all of whom are giving distinct performances; attendees have to wear ear pieces to hear all of the dialog in the cavernous space; film elements have to be routinely switched and coordinated to match each cast member acting for each specific group, without disrupting the radio channels that the 8 other groups are listening to; and so on. It's a mammoth undertaking and mostly successful. We had some audio glitches at the very beginning of our performance, but they were quickly fixed and the rest of the show went seamlessly. I also definitely recommend getting a seat in the middle carts if possible to help with visibility, although any position will allow you to see the action. Overall, Autonomy is a really impressive risk to take, and hats off to Director Jack Rueller for the mountains of work he surely completed in order to get this off the ground and the insanity the sound and tech teams are tackling in every performance with very few errors.

Photo by Rich Ryan

I thoroughly enjoyed Autonomy and learned so much from the unusual mix of subject matter. It's an awkward mix of things on the surface - who else would be smart (crazy?) enough to combine immigration policy, automated (aka robotic) cars, and climate change into a single show that finishes in less than two hours? Somehow Autonomy not only works but actually hits on some surprisingly profound insights. Every person I overheard leaving the River Centre was having rich conversations about things they learned, and there are just so many ways in which to engage with this material. While the story may be fictional, many of the events are based on things that have actually already happened, and it's really important to remember that issues are always more complicated than they seem on the surface. Autonomy is an absolute blast and a completely different kind of theater experience, one that I highly recommend you see. I have heard that the first two nights are already completely sold out, and there are only four days of performance available - so make sure to click here to snap up your tickets ASAP before they're gone forever.

Photo by Rich Ryan

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Play That Goes Wrong is a Hysterical Mess

What if absolutely nothing went right? 

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

That's the question asked in the seriously committed physical comedy The Play That Goes Wrong (TPTGW), the latest in the traveling Broadway series at Hennepin Theatre Trust's Orpheum Theater.

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

A play within a play, TPTGW is supposed to be a devastating performance of a murder mystery on a college theater campus (think Clue). Unfortunately it never achieves the gravitas it wants, because literally everything goes south from the second the curtains open. Sets fall apart, actors forget their lines, props are misplaced, technicians get distracted, effects come in at the wrong times (or don't come in at all) - go down the list of the worst case scenarios you can imagine for live performances, and something is going to be awry at every single stage of this accidental horror show. The result is a heavily physical comedy that can't help but get you laughing at some point; the plot is so absurdly over the top that you just can't believe what you're seeing. There are several special effects that even had me gasping in shock, and I was amazed at how committed the performers were to this show.

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

A play like TPTGW only works if everyone is on board, and this cast is in it to win it. It's a taut group of eight performers, each of whom end up serving multiple roles in the play as events unravel and further support is needed to keep the show going. Annie Twilloil is the jack of all trades as the crew member who is forced on stage when the only female performer, played by a vivacious Sandra Wilkinson, is knocked out by a set piece. The two women have very different styles and duke it out, and I enjoyed the contrasting temperaments they displayed. Max Bennett takes clear delight in the absurdities, and his balletic movements made an odd contrast to the roaring dumpster fire of a production surrounding him. Jonathan Harris has the fewest lines as "victim" Charles Haversham, but his wordless stage exits were the funniest thing to me in the entire show. Robert Grove's carefully rehearsed basso voice is just the kind of outrageous exaggeration a show like this needs, and Trevor Watson's disgusting antics as the out of control stage hand shed unwelcome light behind the scenes. Dennis Tyde was charming as the memory-challenged butler Perkins, and Chris Bean has a smooth, lithe delivery as the only cast member worth their salt.

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

If this show gives any value outside of comedy, it's in demonstrating the extreme importance of good, safe production design and technician work. It's easy to take for granted how hard it is to make safe, visually exciting set pieces. There is a horror to be found in the comedic antics of this group; if this were a real life scenario it would be extremely dangerous and even life threatening. I'd like to take this opportunity to give a resounding round of applause for the unsung heroes of our #tctheater community, the stage hands and set builders and costume and scenic designers who spend thousands of hours ensuring that every performer is able to safely act their part. It's unfathomably hard work that very rarely is adequately applauded, and The Play That Goes Wrong does an amazing job of demonstrating why those roles are so important.

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

I also enjoyed the light TPTGW sheds on choreography. Too often people associate choreography and blocking solely with musicals; while musicals provide the most obvious example of choreography, it's also very important in plays. I think it's especially important in comedies, where timing is everything; in a physical comedy such as TPTGW, where the disintegrating set is almost a character of itself, is even more important than usual. There are several moments in this show where a person standing even an inch to the left or right could mean serious injury to their person, and this group clearly has run through every conceivable scenario to ensure they stay safe. It's a masterful physical performance and is sure to awe even the most jaded theater goer with how daring it collectively is.

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

TPTGW is not a perfect play. It's a little too long for my taste (I think it could well do with an intermission-trimming haircut) and can become a little overwrought. We get the point after seeing a joke repeated two or three times - going up to five or six is overkill and unnecessarily time consuming. This is definitely on the farther end of the spectrum for "dumb" humor, so if physical comedy isn't your jam it might be a tougher sell. All that said though, I was very impressed with the amount of spectacle on stage and the sheer bravado of the choreography. If there were ever meaning behind the cliche phrases "all for one and one for all" and "the show must go on no matter the cost," this cast absolutely defines it. They are totally fearless and seem like they're having a lot of fun, and isn't that what live theater is supposed to be all about? This is a very different kind of Broadway play than usually tours through the Orpheum, so I think it's worth a look if you want a change of pace. For more information about TPTGW or to buy tickets, click on this link.

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Brothers Paranormal is a Thrilling Nail-Biter

Although not my preferred genre, horror really seems to be having a moment these days. 

Thanks to brilliant filmmakers like Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) and Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story), horror is becoming a nuanced, complex genre that many people share a love of. More than many genres it is a group fan effort, with people taking whole friend groups or hosting viewing parties to dissect the latest and greatest. 

That said, horror is not a genre often seen on stage. There are likely many reasons for this, but it makes those who do attempt productions stand out in the crowd. The Brothers Paranormal, a blended production equally co-produced by Penumbra Theatre and Theater Mu, is an excellent addition to this group and a true original in more ways than one. 

The Brothers Paranormal tells the story of two Thai brothers, Max and Visarut, as they make their first home site visit for their fledgling business investigating ghostly paranormal activity. Delia, a transplant from New Orleans, is terrified as she describes seeing an angry Asian woman who she is certain is a ghost. Thinking they are about to earn some easy cash, Max and Visarut immediately dispatch to Delia's home, where they meet her husband Felix and learn many unsettling details about the case. I don't want to reveal any more of the plot here because there are many important, unnerving surprises in this nail-biter of a script; instead, I'll just say that even the most jaded, experienced theater goer is likely to find plot twists here that they didn't expect, and it is a really exciting live experience. 

One of the unusual things about this show is that it truly blends different cultures (in this case Thai immigrant and African American), making both greater than the sum of their parts by their contrast. There were nuggets of cultural information and history tucked throughout the script that I didn't know before, and in addition to the thrilling action I was delighted to have learned a lot of new things by the end of the show. It helps that The Brothers Paranormal is perfectly cast, with a rock-solid group that brings so much nuance to their acting. Perennial favorite Regina Marie Williams is magnificent as Delia, making the ghostly visions totally believable. Sherwin Resurreccion is tenderly emotive as Max and brings a real depth to his role, leaving many of us teary-eyed on more than one occasion. Kurt Kwan brings necessary levity as Visarut, and James Craven is powerful as the concerned husband Felix. Michelle de Joya is positively terrifying as Jai (you'll know what I mean); hats off to her serious physicality. And the standout was new-to-me Leslie Ishii as Max and Visarut's mother Tasanee; Ishii was a warm, mysterious presence throughout the show, and her story was the most profound for me. I'd love to see her stay in the Twin Cities to work with more companies in the future. 

The set, designed by Vicki Smith, bears many hallmarks of Penumbra's recent shift in vision, with small but expertly crafted dioramas that hold all sorts of surprising, secret special effects. Combined with Mathew LeFebvre's simple costume design, we are able to stay focused on the tiny details that alert us to paranormal presence, and several are real wowzers. Karin Olson and Scott Edwards play several tricks through their respective lighting and sound design that had me on the edge of my seat, and Ruth Coughlin Lenkowski's dialect coaching provided nuanced characterizations for each generation of character in the show. Hats off overall to the direction from Lou Bellamy and assistant direction from Sun Mee Chomet; their clear vision provides a seamless integration of two very different companies, and this excellent production is better for both of their involvement. 

The Brothers Paranormal is a significant performance for several reasons. It's one of the best live horror shows I've seen on stage, anywhere; it combines two powerhouse but very different companies and provides a template for how to produce more integrated work in the future (which I surely hope to see); and it also marks by far the most ambitious outing for Theater Mu since the abrupt departure of their long-term artistic director, Randy Reyes. Bringing in Sun Mee Chomet to lead Theater Mu's portion of the production was an inspired choice and shows that Theater Mu is going to stay a strong presence in #tctheater regardless of the unexpected changes. I am very excited to see where Theater Mu's leadership search finally ends up, and if The Brothers Paranormal is any indication we have great things to expect in the future. 

If you're on the fence because of content, know that I loved this production despite being a person who hates being scared. It's a gripping and beautifully acted drama starring some of our finest local actors, and there's not a bad seat in the house to see the really special production design. I highly recommend readers check this out; for more information or to buy your tickets, click on this link