Cabaret 2015: Cast Interview with Katharine Strom

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Katharine Strom first became a part of Lyric Arts when she auditioned for Young Frankenstein at the beginning of our 2014-2015 season. As a part of the cast of Into the Woods and instructing education workshops to joining the upcoming cast of Boeing Boeing, Katharine has made fast friends with cast, crew, staff, and others at Lyric Arts. The following is an interview we has with Katharine recently about her participation in our 16th annual Cabaret. We also had the pleasure of sitting down with her after a Cabaret rehearsal to visit about her Lyric Arts story. Enjoy

LA: How did you become familiar with Lyric Arts?

KS: I auditioned last spring on a whim and was so impressed by the professional yet friendly atmosphere, that I came back to audition for "Young Frankenstein" in July! Playing Elizabeth Benning was such a delight!

LA: How would your life be different if it wasn’t for Lyric Arts?

KS: Honestly, if it weren't for the people and productions at Lyric, my acting career wouldn't be what it is today. I've done some of my best work here as well as met two of my closest friends, Molly and Ben Schrade.

LA: Why do you choose to share your passion on this stage?

KS: Performing puts an actor in a vulnerable place, but the audiences and staff here are incredibly supportive. The production quality really puts this theater above many others. I am continually impressed by the artists here at Lyric Arts.

LA: What moment are you really looking forward to this year for Cabaret?

KS: The lyrical dance number choreographed by Molly. It has been such an inspiring piece to work on and what a treat to dance with THE Brad Bone!

LA: What’s been your very favorite number to perform in your acting and singing career so far?

KS: I played Judy Bernly in “9 to 5: The Musical” during my undergrad at NDSU. Her solo number, “Get Out and Stay Out” is still one of my favorite pieces to perform. Such a cathartic and kick arse number to sing!

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LA: Describe a favorite bonding moment with someone at Lyric Arts

KS: As I mentioned previously, I met my best friend, Molly Jo during “Young Frankenstein” last fall. She invited me out for sushi during the run and the rest is history.

LA: How and when did you decide to pursue a career in performing arts?

KS: My last year of high school was when I decided to pursue a career in fine arts. It took two years of community college to solidify my plan to major in theater.

LA: What other hidden talents might lurk below the surface?

KS: Bird Calls. It truly is a gift. Common loon, wild turkey, mourning dove…the list goes on.

LA: If you could live in any time period, when would it be and why?

KS: The 80s. So many terrible but awesome trends, songs and movies!

LA: If you could star in any film, which would you choose and who would you play?

KS: Any Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen film. I would play both twins, obviously.

LA: What are your favorite musicals?

KS: Sunday in the Park With George, The Last Five Years, West Side Story, The Wild Party, Oklahoma! to name a few.

LA: Let people know what it feels like to spend your time and talents at Lyric Arts. Any stories that help describe this?

KS: My time on and off stage at Lyric Arts has been inspiring. The experiences I’ve had and continue to have encourage me to further my craft and better myself as an actor, singer, dancer and teacher.

 KS: Lyric Arts feels like home and it just feels so good.

"Bunnicula" Audience Review—Roxy Orcutt

By Roxy Orcutt When I saw Bunnicula up on the marquee at Lyric Arts, I may have let out a little squeal.  The Bunnicula books were one of my favorites when I was a kid, how could they not be?  A not-so-scary vampire bunny that sucked the juice from vegetables rather than the blood from humans was downright delightful.  I was curious as to see how the books would translate to the stage, and Lyric Arts did not disappoint.

The moment Harold the dog opened the show, played wonderfully by Sarah Frazier, I knew this production was going to do the Bunnicula I grew up with justice.  Harold, and his housemate, Chester the cat, played with such perfect feline precision by Brianna Regan, live comfortably with their humans, the Monroes, in suburban bliss.  One night, however, when the Monroe’s come home from seeing a movie and bring back a wayward bunny, Harold and Chester’s lives go from napping on couches and eating table scraps to investigating the unexplained, as only a dog and cat can.

Harold and Chester soon realize this bunny isn’t any ordinary bunny, he’s something downright supernatural.  Through their instincts and a few of Chester’s books, the pair come to the conclusion that Bunnicula lives up to his bloodsucking namesake.

While Harold, Chester, and the Monroes, are all played by a phenomenal cast of humans, (Mr. and Mrs. Monroe, played by Bailey Hess and Jason Stone, are particularly hysterical in their straight-outta-the-vintage-sitcoms Mom and Dad) Bunnicula is brought to life by the use of puppetry.  When Bunnicula goes into vampire mode, his eyes glow red and his fangs come out in full force, but not too scary to illicit nothing more than giggles from the mostly-kids audience.

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One of the best elements of the play was the music and lighting.  We are taken through several days as the play unfolded, all communicated through the great use of light and musical cues.  There is one piece of music used just off-stage to a great foreboding, and humorous, effect that may have been my favorite part of the play.

I was downright charmed by this entire production.  I brought along my four-year-old daughter whose eyes never left the stage and has since told everyone we see about the vampire bunny that turns the vegetables white.  I would recommend this play to all ages.  Like I mentioned, the audience was filled with mostly children, and not a single one of them seemed to lose interest or get antsy during the rapid-fire, entertaining 70 minute production.

Roxy Orcutt
Roxy Orcutt

Roxy Orcutt, The Halloween Honey, is a local author and theater enthusiast. Her book, “History and Hauntings of the Halloween Capital,” explores Anoka, MN, its spooky tales, colorful characters, and why it is named the “Halloween Capital of the World.” It is available for sale online at www.HalloweenHoney.com.

Cabaret 2015: Cast Interview with Brad Bone

Brad Bone

Brad Bone

Brad Bone returned to Lyric Arts after a 10 year hiatus from the stage, but after making that comeback in our production of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)," Brad found  himself juggling multiple roles after being cast in both "Young Frankenstein" and "A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas." Featured recently in the Star Tribune, Brad spoke about acting as "a way to eat" and finds Lyric Arts to be "the outlet I've been looking for."

We're very excited to have Brad Bone as a part of our upcoming Cabaret. Described by Resident Director, Matt McNabb as "such a warm person, you're predisposed to like him," we agree, it'd be hard not to. We interviewed Brad about his time with Lyric Arts. Here's what he shared with us.

LA: How did you become familiar with Lyric Arts?

BB: I’ve driven by many times. One day I saw an audition posting for a show that got me to finally pull over. I’m so thankful I did.

LA: How would your life be different if it wasn’t for Lyric Arts?

BB: Without Lyric Arts, I would be living in a rut of structure. Lyric Arts gives me the outlet to explore and be creative.

LA: Why do you choose to share your passion on this stage?

BB: Honestly, for me, it started with location. But what has kept me here is the people and the opportunity to be working in a theater that is growing so fast as well known brand in Minnesota and has the real talent to back it up.

LA: What moment are you really looking forward to this year for Cabaret?

BB: I am really looking forward to a lyrical dance piece that I’m doing with Katherine Storm. It is a far cry from my character roles and has some great challenging lifts that we’re excited to pull off.

LA: What’s been your very favorite number to perform in your acting and singing career so far?

BB: At lyric arts, my only song I’ve really done was the song “Someone” as the Hermit in Young Frankenstein.

LA: Describe a favorite bonding moment with someone at Lyric Arts

BB: There is not one particular “bonding” moment, but I have found that the theater world is a small one. I have run into so many friends or friends of friends from other times in my life. It is great how Lyric Arts brings so many people back together. Way better than Facebook…as I’m not a social media fan.

LA: How and when did you decide to pursue a career in performing arts?

BB: I wish I had a “career” in performing arts, meaning that I didn’t have to go to a “real” job. My first attempt at anything in the performing arts was my senior year in High School. That opportunity opened the door to a BFA in Duluth.

LA: What other hidden talents might lurk below the surface?

BB: it’s a mystery.

LA: If you could live in any time period, when would it be and why?

BB: No better time than the present.

LA: If you could star in any film, which would you choose and who would you play?

BB: Steve Martin in The Jerk!

LA: What are your favorite musicals?

BB: Honestly, I’m not really a musical actor, so I usually don’t watch them. Being in Young Frank was awesome, and it seemed funny, butt I wish I could have seen it.

LA: Let people know what it feels like to spend your time and talents at Lyric Arts. Any stories that help describe this?

BB: I only want to say that I love every moment I get to spend here, but life is a balancing act between roles on the stage and roles as a husband and father.

Cabaret 2015: Cast Interview with Hannah Weinberg

Hannah Weinberg

Hannah Weinberg

Hannah Weinberg has been in several productions at Lyric Arts, with her last performance as Edith in Noël Coward's "Blithe Spirit." She has provided choreography for past Cabaret Fundraisers and returns this year to choreograph and perform in our 16th annual Cabaret.

LA: How did you become familiar with Lyric Arts?

Hannah: I auditioned for Hairspray and was offered my dream role of Penny Pingleton.

LA: How would your life be different if it wasn’t for Lyric Arts?

Hannah: I wouldn’t have met my boyfriend. We met in a show here at Lyric and have been together ever since. He’s the best thing in my life and I am thankful to have met here.

LA: Why do you choose to share your passions on this stage?

Hannah: The people! It’s a gift when you can share a stage with your best friends. At Lyric Arts it feels like you are part of a community and something very special.

LA: What moment are you really looking forward to this year for Cabaret?

Hannah: There are a few moments I am excited for. I have two numbers I choreographed and they are going to be amazing! But the moment I think I am really looking forward to is the song I get to sing. Our audiences will be seeing a different side to me and I am excited to share that on this stage.

LA: What’s been your favorite number to perform in your acting and singing career so far?

Hannah: This is a difficult question to answer, but I think if I had to choose one it would be a choral arrangement of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. I am very emotionally connected to it. 

LA: Describe a favorite bonding experience with someone at Lyric Arts.

Hannah: I am not sure I can pick just one, but during “Hairspray” Reese Britts and I thought that Penny and Seaweed should have a totally awesome handshake. At every rehearsal we added a new part to the handshake. It is about 40 seconds long, but it is really awesome. 

LA: How and when did you decide to pursue a career in performing arts?

Hannah: Performing arts has always been apart of my life since I was born. I live and breathe on a stage. There has been nothing else that I have been as passionate about. I believe that in life you only get a few things that you truly love and when those things present themselves you should do everything you can to keep them apart of your life. 

LA: What other hidden talents might lurk below the surface?

Hannah: I can impersonate almost every female Disney character out there. I speak four languages other than English. I make some mean truffles. 

LA: If you could live in any time period, when would it be and why?

Hannah: I would probably say the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. I like the idea of living in a simpler time. Not so disconnected from the world by electronics and social media, with no distractions when having dinner or a conversation.

LA: If you could star in any film, which would you choose and who would you play?

Hannah: That’s a question with many possible answers. I would say “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and I would love to play Audrey Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly. 

LA: What are your favorite musicals?

Hannah: Les Miserables, Singing In the Rain, Ragtime, Jekyll and Hyde, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Bonnie and Clyde, 1776, Next to Normal, Mary Poppins, Funny Girl, West Side Story, Hairspray, Chicago, Oklahoma…too many others to name. 

LA: If people asked what it feels like to spend time and talents at Lyric Arts, what would you tell them?

Hannah: It’s exciting! They think outside of the box with their shows and try to do something different. Everyone working there is extremely talented in what they do, and everyone is doing it because they love it. I am honored to be a part of it! 

Cabaret 2015: Cast Interview with Patrick Jones

Patrick Jones

Patrick Jones

Patrick Jones' first interactions with Lyric Arts began with Rent, at the end of our 2013-2014 season. We've very proud to have him back on the Main Street Stage for our 16th Annual Cabaret Fundraiser. We caught up with him to get a little bit better feel for the man behind the performance, a theme we'll definitely explore in this year's Cabaret. We want to provide an inside glimpse into the lives of the talent that chooses to perform at Lyric Arts. And on this very sunny, warm mid-April afternoon, we'll start with Patrick.

LA: How did you become familiar with Lyric Arts?

Patrick: I auditioned for RENT and was awarded the role of Tom Collins. 

LA: How would your life be different if it wasn’t for Lyric Arts?

Patrick: I would definitely not be as fulfilled—musically and emotionally. Lyrics Arts gave me another chance to share my love of theater. 

LA: Why do you choose to share your passion on this stage?

Patrick: The people! I auditioned to be in RENT. I came back because I fell in love the people and the culture that is Lyric Arts. 

LA: What moment are you really looking forward to this year for Cabaret?

Patrick: Stepping out onto the Main Street stage and being greeted post-show by the loyal members of the Lyrics Arts community. 

LA: What’s been your very favorite number to perform in your acting and singing career so far?

Patrick: I'll Cover You-Reprise from RENT. I am always overcome with emotion by the sense of heartbreak that is present in that piece. 

LA: Describe a favorite bonding moment with someone at Lyric Arts

Patrick: I'm not sure I can pick just one. I had the chance to have a lunch date, post RENT, with two of my favorite people, Nykeigh Larson and James Ehlenz. They were two people that welcomed me to Lyric Arts right away and I am so thankful for that! 

LA: How and when did you decide to pursue a career in performing arts?

Patrick: I wouldn't call it a career. I wish I could!! I have just always had the itch to be on stage and share my passion with others. 

LA: What other hidden talents might lurk below the surface?

Patrick: I am an accomplished swing dancer and can still do a lot of the fancy lifts. 

LA: If you could live in any time period, when would it be and why?

Patrick: I would have to say the 40's or 50's. It was a simpler time that wasn't so dominated by social media. I feel like they were able to have more meaningful, face-to-face conversations without so many distractions. Call me old fashioned! 

LA: If you could star in any film, which would you choose and who would you play?

Patrick: This is a very loaded question considering that I am major film buff. I would have to say Kevin Spacey's character "Verbal" in the film "The Usual Suspects."

LA: What are your favorite musicals?

Patrick: Next to Normal, Jekyll and Hyde, Spring Awakening, Les Miserables, Once

LA: If people asked what it feels like to spend your time and talents at Lyric Arts, what would you say?

Patrick: It is a wonderful community that is way more talented than it gets credit for. The amount of work that goes into each production is amazing and I am so honored to be a part of it! Every time I step foot into the building, I am overwhelmed with excitement! 

"In the Woods" by Jill Zasadny

by Jill Zasadny Having seen Into the Woods for the first time at Lyric Arts, I did a lot of thinking about the woods, Sondheim's analogous place of danger, turmoil, and change. A place we've all been, though few willingly. But it occurred to me, due to “circumstances beyond my control,” that I feel that I have lost the ability to move. There feels no longer any way to "go into," nor to "go out of." I am simply "in the woods." Of course it isn't at all true: I got here; I can leave, right? Maybe.  But the woods are my abuser and protector alike, yet inflicting pain and shielding me from others who would do the same. Is there a place for me where I am not treed?  I fear meadow and forest alike. Feeling paralyzed, here, in the woods.

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Is anyone here with me? Trees are the scapegoats of confusion, Banding together, as is their wont, And casting shadow over might what otherwise seem clear. They do not favor the straight path, the quick run. They passively enforce circumlocution.

I live here, in the woods: A coerced convert to Druidism, I pray for release

and protection alike. They know, as I have resisted knowing, that raised from the woods, I can never assimilate to the plains. I am an orphan renegade. Restless in the woods. And at home here too. I hand pushed up from the earth a wanton seed, probably too shaded, too shallow in my birth place, too thirsty.

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And sunlight comes in fingers here, Pointing with Nazi nonchalance,

"You live. You live.

You don't."

Living in the woods is an uneasy sleep. I sense its heartbeat, lion-like. She does not rock me to rest, But waits for my unconsciousness.

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We pretend that we can build places of safety, but we all live here in the woods, where wild creatures fly and flee and flesh-feed. Uneasily. For the trees have slowed us; the trees have shown us that life is here, without walls or halls or haloes. Equal to the lowest life... and certain of the same cycle.

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Here.

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In the Woods.

Copyright © 2015 Jill Zasadny. Used with permission of the author.

Jill Zasadny

Jill Zasadny

Jill Zasadny earned her PhD in English from the University of Kansas in 2005. Her work has been published in various editions of poetry; her doctoral work about the foundress of Benedictinism in this country put into original song. She currently teaches at St. Cloud State University and Western Governors University.

"Into the Woods" Audience Review-Kylie Schultz

by Kylie Schultz

In a production full of “too-good-to-be-true” happily-ever-afters, I’m happy to announce that Lyric Arts has put on a show good enough to leave you feeling happily ever after. In the way that Lyric Arts continuously and flawlessly seems to do, they have put on a show that is both refreshingly classic with a twist.

Equal parts twisted fairy tale and morality play, Into the Woods is a fun Sondheim romp through the forest. Following a large cast of characters recognizable from childhood, the interwoven storylines follow each character’s “happily-ever-after” beyond its seemingly happy ending. Audiences follow Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack, Cinderella, the Witch, and a Baker and his wife as they journey through the woods to get their wishes. As Act 2 begins, the characters realize that you don’t always get what you want. At times dark, the story is still a delightful play on classic fairy tales that will leave you smiling, learning, and feeling alongside the characters.

This production boasts a very large and extremely talented cast. Regular attendees of Lyric Arts productions will recognize many of the performers, but new or returning, all of the performers in this show are outstanding.  The Witch, portrayed phenomenally by Lara Trujillo, is easily the connective tissue that guides the story and is by far one of the most difficult and comical roles. Trujillo is spot on and doesn’t disappoint. I was also stunned by the Baker (Joseph Pyfferoen) and his Wife (Kelly Matthews) who had marvelous chemistry together, matched perfectly with amazing vocals, and drove the story emotionally with their performances. There really are too many characters, and while each should be highlighted, there wouldn’t be enough time to praise Director Matt McNabb on his artistic and charming portrayal of a Sondheim classic.

McNabb chose to employ the use of puppetry in this show which gave the timeless character of the Wolf (of Little Red Riding Hood fame) an interesting, fun, but sinister new twist. In addition to using puppets, the show is heavily reliant on its use of sound and limited staging to portray a complicated, wider world beyond the woods where the story takes place. McNabb nails it and this show feels bigger than the stage space to which it’s confined.

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This show is wonderful. If you’ve seen it, be prepared to see and hear all your favorite moments sprinkled in with some new fun ones. If you haven’t seen it, buckle in. It’s a long show, but it’s rewarding and you’ll see all your favorite childhood fairy tales transformed before your eyes. It’s always an experience to go to a Lyric Arts production and I say Bravo! Into the Woods can be added to the list of not-to-miss performances by one of the greatest theaters in the Twin Cities Metro.

Kylie Schultz

Kylie Schultz is a Minneapolis local and an Arts Ambassador with Theoroi, a young professionals group of the Schubert Club in St. Paul, MN.

"Into the Woods" Audience Review–Roxy Orcutt

by Roxy Orcutt

Into the Woods, the beloved musical from Stephen Sondheim, made its debut at Lyric Arts Main Street Stage over the weekend and I was able to catch a showing on Preview Night, the big warm-up to opening night, on Thursday.

For those unfamiliar, Into The Woods follows a group of fairytale characters that we all know and love, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, The Baker, his wife and Jack (as in And the Beanstalk) among others, on separate missions that bring them together in the titular woods.  Lyric Arts, keeping in the spirit of their production of A Christmas Carol in 2014, takes a few of the more well-known elements of the show and turn them on their head, creating a more untraditional interpretation.

My favorite part of the show was the puppetry.  The character of Milky White, a cow who only communicated in moos, was an absolute joy to watch.  She became a fully formed character in the skillful hands of Gabriel Gomez.  The Wolf, also operated by Gabriel Gomez and Kyler Chase, was equal parts hilarious and sinister.

Nykeigh Larson, who I adored in Young Frankenstein, was an absolute treasure as Little Red Riding Hood.  She was adorable as the innocent little girl who has a not-so-innocent run in with a Big Bad Wolf, and also laugh-out-loud funny, delivering Little Red’s lines with brilliant comedic timing.

Nykeigh Larson stars as Little Red Ridinghood
Nykeigh Larson stars as Little Red Ridinghood

The character of the Witch, portrayed by Lara Trujillo, the connective tissue among all our characters, was outstanding.  From her first appearance on the stage looking like a voodoo priestess emerging from the forest, to her transformation to a younger, more beautiful, but just as vicious version of herself, she was no less than magical.

With all of Lyric Arts musicals, the addition of live musicians only enhances the show.  Even though you cannot see the collection of talented musicians, hearing them is an exhilarating experience, especially when they are accompanying such a talented group of singers that we encounter in this entire cast.

This was my first time seeing any production of Into the Woods, and I now understand why this show is so popular among audiences it warranted a big screen version.  While nothing will compare to the experience of live theater, I am now eager to see the film version, if only to see if Meryl Streep compares to Lara Trujillo (I may be partial to witches).

However, since this was my first time seeing Into the Woods, I occasionally found myself in the woods when it came to certain parts of the show.  I would suggest if you are also a first-timer to Into the Woods, maybe read up a bit on the plot.  The show moves quickly, and you want to be sure you are keeping up.

While Into the Woods can be dark in some places, I feel this particular production is safe (and fun) for the entire family, even though you may find yourself explaining a few things to the kids after the show.

Lyric Arts continues to be one of the best, if not the best, community theater in the Twin Cities, and I am so proud to have them right here in Anoka.

Roxy Orcutt
Roxy Orcutt

Roxy Orcutt, The Halloween Honey, is a local author and theater enthusiast. Her book, “History and Hauntings of the Halloween Capital,” explores Anoka, MN, its spooky tales, colorful characters, and why it is named the “Halloween Capital of the World.” It is available for sale online at www.HalloweenHoney.com.

"Into the Woods" Audience Review - Gary Davis

by Gary Davis

First things first. Should you see Into the Woods at Lyric Arts Main Stage?  Yes, but remember, they sell out frequently, so get your game in gear and get tickets.

Second, a confession:  I have not seen the movie version currently in theaters because I don’t want to compare the two.  That would be like comparing apples and, say, kumquats.  Just not appropriate.

Now, to the show.  Entering the theater, I was reminded that one of the best things about Lyric Arts is their sets.  This one is no different.  Scenic Designer Ben Olsen has constructed a multi-level, multi-entrance wooded set that beautifully supports the action of the show, with its interweaving fairy tales.

For the uninitiated, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine have weaved together several fairy tales and imagined them all meeting in the magical woods near where they live.  Like all fairy tales, everyone lives happily ever after, that is, if the show ended when Act 1 does.  Act 2 is much darker as the fairy tales un-weave, only to be followed by a ‘kinda happily ever’ after ending.

With the exception of the Narrator (more on that later), director Matt McNabb has cast the rest of the show to type….with an ensemble of excellent actor/singers.  And that ensemble is the essence of this production.

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What I like most here is that Mr. McNabb avoided caricature, with the characters being believable, even though they are fairy tale characters.  This show can lead to “over the top” caricatures and director McNabb has given us true characters who let the circumstances of the play drive the humor and emotion.

Another strength is that all of the cast carries their vocals well, essential in that this show is almost all music, with 25 songs.  The 10-person pit orchestra (seated behind the set), led by Louis Berg-Arnold, is excellent and, thankfully, does not overpower the vocals.

As expected at Lyric Arts, other technical elements are professional and support the action on stage seamlessly.  Of special note are the sound effects for the giants.  The theater literally was shaking when the giants came to the woods.  Caution to parents of young children, you may want to hold their hands here.

Another item of appreciation I took away from this show was, while none of the dance scenes were spectacular, they fit the mood and pace of the show perfectly.  There is more to choreography than dance numbers.  The almost continual movement in this show was really one long dance number and I have to think choreographer Penelope Freeh had a lot to do with that.  The show is relatively long, over 2-1/2 hours including intermission, but does not feel long because of the pace and the numerous plot lines.

You may have noticed I haven’t discussed any individual performances, and with apologies to individual cast members, there will be none, as I would feel compelled to discuss all of them.  This cast is excellent across the board, with the major distinguishing factor the size of the role.

                                                    Gary Davis

                                                    Gary Davis

As promised, a note on the narrator role.  Director McNabb has cast a middle school age boy in this role.  At first, I was not sure how that would work, but it turns out it works very well.  This young man is obviously “of the show” but not in it, so his constant presence on stage adds to the story as he supplies props and sound effects.  Kudos for an innovative casting choice.

Gary Davis is a local actor/director who is a big fan of theater.

"A Christmas Carol" Review - Kylie Schultz

'Tis the season. It's Christmas (almost), the time for eggnog, Christmas music, and much beloved traditions. We all know the story behind a Christmas Carol. We've heard it read or read it ourselves; we've seen the movies and parodies; somehow or another, even if you aren't a fan, we all know the story.

I, personally, like Dickens' A Christmas Carol. But, many stagings are the same retelling of the same story. It's hard to take such a time-honored Christmas tradition and remake it into something fresh without changing all that makes it classic.

I feel like I don't need to tell you that Lyric Arts has done just that, and done it with flying colors.

Director Daniel Ellis weaves a marvelous and fantastical retelling of such a wonderfully classic story. Without modernizing the Victorian setting and language, Ellis has transformed the setting with a Steampunk twist. The story is at times funny, alarming, and always heartwarming. The costumes are beyond outstanding, transfixing me to the Ghost of Christmas Past, and causing me to audibly gasp at the Ghost of Christmas Future. Ellis has created a wonderfully believable setting without causing the audience to feel out of place or time with the story.

And please, can we talk about Ebenezer Scrooge? What a performance by lead actor Richard Brandt. Again, it must be said that it is hard to stage a show that is not only being staged simultaneously by other theaters, but that has been staged thousands of times by theaters across the world. Brandt successfully and freshly portrays the character of Scrooge and maintains your ire and affection from Act 1 to Finale.

There are many ways to get your A Christmas Carol fix this holiday season. I highly recommend that you add to your repertoire of more conventional retellings and delve into the world that Ellis and the spectacular cast and crew of Lyric Arts Anoka's A Christmas Carol so eloquently enact.

Kylie Schultz

Kylie Schultz

Kylie Schultz is a Minneapolis local and an Arts Ambassador with Theoroi, a young professionals group of the Schubert Club in St. Paul, MN.