Now playing at the Guthrie

This week I attended the Guthrie Theater two nights in a row.  For those of you not from Minnesota, the Guthrie is one of the more well-known theaters in the Twin Cities.  It boasts three stages, restaurants, an observation deck, theater classes, tours and more.  They are famous for their yearly production of “A Christmas Carol”.  If you live in Minnesota, you know about the Guthrie.  Instead of writing two individual posts, I have chosen to write a short blurb with bullet points of them.  First, “As You Like It” and then “The Servant of Two Masters”.

“As You Like It”
William Shakespeare

The last time I saw a Shakespeare play was in high school.  At a young age I was not a fan which I assume was because I did not understand much of what was happening.  It seems to me that in order to “do” Shakespeare you must act it out very well.  Why?  Because the dialect is confusing and hard to understand (unless you are used to talking in verse) so you must convey by performing well.

On Wednesday night I attended the opening night of “As You Like It” performed by The Acting Company in association with the Guthrie.  The show follows Rosalind who flees persecution from her uncle, into the desert.  Her cousin Celia and the court jester, Touchstone accompany her and find safety in the Forest of Arden.  They disguise themselves as they travel.  Meanwhile, Rosalind’s lover, Orlando seeks her out.  It was done very well and I am happy to say, I enjoyed Shakespeare.  Some key elements that stood out:

  • Actors: Joseph Midyett played Orlando.  He did a wonderful job in the role of a brother and lover.  Chris Thor who played Jacques was somewhat of a hippie.  His part was free flowing and melancholy.  It added a new vibe to the play which made it entertaining.
  • Costumes: The costumes were very elaborate and jolly.  Although I was unsure what time period they were going for, I still found them pleasing to the eye.  Christopher Michael McFarland who played Touchstone, had the best costumes.  He had two green suits that were just plain fun.  Plus, he sported a silly mustache which was adorable.
  • Scenery: At the opening of the second act we found ourselves in a forest.  The trees were covered in love letters written from Orlando to Rosalind.  It was beautiful and I could not help but find it romantic.  Ladies, can you imagine stumbling across love letters to you?
  • Music: There were three phonographs that were used throughout the show.  They opened the show and played during scene transitions.  Owning a record player myself, I absolutely loved that.  The characters sang a little bit and one of the boys played the guitar as well.

If you enjoy Shakespeare this is one to see.  If you don’t usually, I suggest giving it a try.  Since the actors are young it gave the show a contemporary feel.  The show runs now through February 3rd in the Dowling Studio.

The Servant of Two Masters
By Carlo Goldoni, Adapted by Constance Congdon and Translated by Christina Sibul

If you are looking for a barrel of laughs that just keeps going and going and going, this is the show for you!  “The Servant of Two Masters” was a two and a half hour comedy put on by the Yale Repertory Theatre at the Guthrie Theater.  My two friends and I bought tickets for a few weeks ago which just so happened to be when the water main broke so we had to re-schedule.

The premise is that there is a servant who is serving two masters, just as the title of the show states.  Of course he gets tangled up and confused because he can’t keep everything straight.  The show is comedia del arte, colorful, a complete comedy, and has up-to-date jokes that are sure to get anyone chuckling.

  • Actors: My favorite was Truffaldion (the servant) played by Steven Epp.  He was absolutely hilarious and cast perfectly.  The actor who usually played Pantalone was sick so they had a stand in actor reading from the script.  I’ve never seen a professional show have someone read out of a book so I was excited for this new twist.  He (David Hanbury) was marvelous!  The cast even made jokes about it during the show which was fun and caused much laughter from the audience.
  • Set and costumes: My friend Dan explained the set as “a toy train village”.  It was simple yet served its purpose.  They had a lovely colorful string of lights leading from the top of the theater all the way to the stage.  The costumes were bright and cheery.  Many were robust and over the top.
  • Music: There were two musicians on stage who played a few instruments.  They played the accordion, violin, and drums.  The cast sang a little bit as well.
  • Seats: We sat in the “tweet seats” at the top of the theater.  What are “tweet seats” you may ask?  This is the highest section of the theater and a place where the Guthrie is trying a new concept where people can “tweet” during the show.  There had been a lot of controversy so I was happy to sit there.  There is only one long row and you are so high up the actors could not see phones.  It was not distracting at all.  The more distracting thing was the guy who was practically rolling with laughter half the row down from us.  I found it actually humorous that he thought everything was so funny.  One other note on the seats, I absolutely loved sitting that high up.  At intermission I said “I feel like we have God’s eye view”.  We could see everything!
  • Humor: The show was hysterical.  The actors energy was incredible.  They had immaculate timing and always were picking up their cues.  No matter what your style of comedy is, this had a little bit of everything.
  • References: Some include: “Food Glorious Food” from “Oliver”, Florindo’s costume was called Captain Morgan and Puss and Boots, someone yelled “Nobody puts baby in a binder”, there was a scene with a couple songs from “Les Miserables”, two times “Titanic” was brought up, the water main break, Fiddler on the Roof, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and more!

“The Servant of Two Masters” is playing now through January 20th on the McGuire Proscenium Stage.

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