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Alison Klawiter Posts

PDD Quiz: Homegrown Band or Fairy Tale?

An illustration of a rooster .In honor of Homegrown Music Festival, which begins on April 30, this month’s quiz features a mix of Homegrown band names and fairy tales from around the world. Can you tell which is which? Take the quiz and see how well you know your field guide!

The next PDD Quiz will cover this month’s notable (and not-so-notable) news and will be published on April 30. E-mail question suggestions to Alison Klawiter at [email protected] by April 27.

PDD Quiz: March 2017

Lake Superior ConvoyAs Garrison Keillor observes, “March is the month God created to show people who don’t drink what a hangover is like.” Did you retain anything from the hangover that is March? Take the quiz and find out!

The next PDD Quiz will cover Homegrown band names and will be published on April 16: start scouring those field guides! E-mail question suggestions to Alison Klawiter at [email protected] by April 13.

PDD Quiz: Duluth in Popular Culture

ticket to rideReferences to Duluth abound in popular culture; how many are you aware of? Take this quiz to find out! (Hint: you might have an edge if you’ve been paying attention to previous quizzes and the PDD blog.)

Our next PDD Quiz, reviewing the events of March 2017, will be published on March 26. E-mail question ideas to Alison Klawiter at [email protected] by March 23.

PDD Quiz: February 2017

duluth potteryDespite being the shortest month, February was full of stuff and things. How much do you remember? Take the PDD Quiz to find out!

Our next PDD Quiz, on the subject of Duluth in popular culture, will be published on March 12. E-mail question ideas to Alison Klawiter at [email protected] by March 9.

PDD Quiz: Robots in Duluth

makerspace-duluthTest your knowledge of local robotics teams (and other area robots) with this quiz, inspired by the upcoming FIRST Robotics regional competitions taking place Mar. 3-4 at the DECC.

Our next PDD Quiz, reviewing this month’s local happenings, will be published on Feb. 26. E-mail question ideas to Alison Klawiter at [email protected] by Feb. 22.

PDD Quiz: January 2017

burcin's galaxyHow much do you remember about this first month of 2017? Take the quiz and find out!

Our next PDD Quiz, on the subject of robots and Duluth, will be published on Feb. 12. E-mail question ideas to Alison Klawiter at [email protected] by Feb. 8.

PDD Quiz: Ringing in 2017

Brewery ViewOut with the old, in with the new; this quiz looks ahead to coming attractions in 2017.

Our next PDD Quiz, which will be published on Jan. 29, will review the notable things that happened in our area during this first month of 2017. E-mail question ideas to Alison Klawiter at [email protected] by Jan. 25.

PDD Quiz: 2016 in Review

Duluth Mayor 2016We bid farewell to 2016 with a recap of regional happenings.

Our next PDD Quiz, which will cover coming attractions in 2017, will be coming your way on Jan. 15. E-mail question ideas to Alison Klawiter at [email protected] by Jan. 11.

“Don’t Feed the Plants”: Review of the Duluth Play Ground Production of Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors

Originally, I hadn’t planned on reviewing Little Shop of Horrors, but I was so tickled by the preview show that I had to recommend it. The show works well with the venue: the intimacy of the Play Ground enhances the campy, B-movie qualities of the musical. Delightfully kitschy costumes, hair and make-up; excellent vocal performances; and palpable chemistry among the cast members make this a fun end-of-the-summer distraction.

“Wishes Come True, Not Free”: Review of Into the Woods

Into the WoodsSondheim’s Into the Woods, with its incorporation of fractured fairy tales, may seem like kid’s stuff at first glance. In reality, it’s anything but.

The first act weaves together a number of familiar fairy tales through a quest narrative that involves a Baker and his wife securing a number of objects (a cape as red as blood, a slipper as pure as gold, etc.) to undo a curse, courtesy of the witch next door, which has left them childless.

The first act closes with the fulfillment of wishes for the heroes, and deserved comeuppance for the villains. However, the distinction between heroes and villains is blurred as things devolve quickly in the dark second act, when our heroes (still wishing for more) must reckon with the consequences of securing their wishes. A number of weighty themes are explored: moral relativism, isolation, loss, and parent/child relationships.

Into the Woods paints this last issue as especially bleak: whether overprotective, indifferent, or absent, parents can’t seem to avoid inflicting lasting damage on their children. Ultimately, it remains up to the individual to decide what’s morally right, though, as one of the final songs affirms, “no one is alone.”

Despite such heavy themes, Into the Woods remains a very fulfilling show; to their credit, the Playhouse cast conveys the emotional highs and lows with equal gusto. Though the performances in the first act were a bit uneven (perhaps just some bad juju?) things definitely picked up in the second half, and the cast delivered when it counted. The orchestra (under the assured baton of Blake Peterson) and singers ably tackled a notoriously difficult Sondheim score in this ambitious production.

Review of The 39 Steps at the Duluth Playhouse

The 39 Steps

I won’t go into a lot of detail about the intricately convoluted plot of The 39 Steps, largely because the plot resists description, but also because part of the delight of this cinematic play is to see how it all unfolds. Needless to say, it involves the usual trappings you’d expect of Hitchcockian suspense and film noir: a femme fatale, foreign espionage, and false murder accusations. With a cast of four playing innumerable characters, The 39 Steps lovingly lampoons the genres of noir (and even, at times, screwball comedy), with many winking references to Hitchcock’s oeuvre.

Review of 13 at the Duluth Playhouse

13 Poster

This review is not targeted at the (justifiably) proud parents of the cast of 13, nor anyone else who has tickets to the show in hand. Rather, this review is targeted at those of you who, like me, peruse the schedule of Duluth’s many arts events and consider a Children’s Theatre productionas something to skip. Which would be a shame, because to miss this show is to miss one of the true delights of this year’s theatre season.

“Heaven Nowadays”: Review of the Duluth Playhouse Production of Chicago

Poster for Chicago

The gin may not be cold (or available), but the dancing is certainly hot in the Duluth Playhouse’s production of Chicago. Set in a Prohibition-era Windy City, Chicago is inhabited by irredeemable (yet likable) hucksters and hustlers, all dancing for their lives. The bondage-lite costumes and the spare, gritty set only rarely hint at the Jazz Age, but that’s just as well: the story at the heart of Chicago, about crime, corruption, sensational journalism, the cult of celebrity and all that jazz, feels contemporary and relatable.

Review of the Duluth Playhouse’s
Production of Picnic

Poster for Picnic

The Duluth Playhouse kicked off 2011 with William Inge’s Picnic, a drama that reflects on beauty and its uses, restrictive gender roles, and identity. Though Inge’s play grapples with such profound philosophical themes, it does so with plenty of sultriness and a surprising amount of fun. Through its strong performances and an absorbing plot, Picnic transports the audience to the lazy, fleeting days of summer.

Merry and Bright: A Review of the Duluth Playhouse’s Production of White Christmas

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I suffer from almost pathological nostalgia, a condition that only becomes more acute during the holiday season. Out come boxes of familiar, musty Christmas ornaments that probably should be replaced and mountains of Scandinavian desserts from a tradition now many generations removed from my own.  And the annual viewing (okay, multiple viewings) of favorite holiday films: Holiday Inn, It’s a Wonderful Life, Christmas in Connecticut, and, of course, White Christmas.

Given the inviolability of established holiday traditions, it was with a bit of trepidation that I attended a preview show of White Christmas at the Duluth Playhouse. Happily, the production did not disappoint, sailing along with plenty of glitz and good cheer. The set, framed like a vintage Christmas card, the familiar Irving Berlin tunes, vibrant mid-century costumes all invoked an amber-tinted yesteryear.