Although I typically spend weekends on the couch in sweatpants, reading or watching a movie, my best friend and I teamed up last weekend to explore the arts and music scene in the Twin Cities.
Friday night we explored a jazz club in downtown St. Paul, before enjoying a Sunday matinee showing of Aida in Minneapolis.
The Artist’s Quarter was everything I had thought a jazz club might be — underground, dark walls decorated with framed posters of the greats: Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Art Kane, Ella Fitzgerald, lights dimmed low, and candles burning on every table.
We saw a local group called Lulu’s Playground.
A friend of my friend’s band, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, especially when I heard the quartet included a guitar, trumpet, cello, and accordion.
But from the opening notes, I was impressed. The group had a uniquely Parisian sound to it, almost as if I should be sitting in a cafe in Paris or New Orleans’ French Quarter and enjoying a latte while listening to street musicians. There were parts of pieces that made me laugh, others that made me close my eyes and relax.
To compliment the music, homemade tacos were also available.
I was skeptical, jazz and tacos? Two things that I couldn’t connect with each other, no matter how hard I tried. But somehow, it worked. The tacos were delicious, the music was great, and it just made an experience of the whole night.
The one thing I could have done without was the spoken word poet the band featured a few times.
The first time she took the stage, I expected her to sing. She didn’t. I’m not a huge fan of poetry to begin with, and I wasn’t mentally prepared for the dramatic spoken word, so I spent most of her performances staring at the ground trying not to laugh.
I spent Sunday at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis to see Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida.
A story about star-crossed lovers in ancient Egypt, this production featured mostly local talent.
As a self-proclaimed theatre nerd, it was really cool to read the cast biographies and see theatre credits to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre and the Guthrie.
This interpretation had a few modern twists to it.
The shallow Egyptian princess wore sunglasses and a short pink dress in one scene, while a supporting male character wore red Converse All-Stars.
Jeans and leather were prevalent, as were some black kilts.
The orchestra, which was more of a rock band, was visible at the back of the stage for the whole production, and the set was fairly bare, expect for a few suspended elements and props.
There was a party scene where two men did acrobatic stunts on a ring suspended from the ceiling. While it didn’t really pertain to the story, it was certainly exciting to watch.
I tend to judge the quality of productions and films on whether it makes me cry. A known movie crier, I can be pretty easily swayed. But during Aida, I was tearing up before the first act was over, and cried for probably the last 15 minutes of the production. Good thing I brought tissues.
I won’t give too much away in case you’re inspired to go see it, but the musical was absolutely fantastic. The singing, dancing, acting, and even modern costume adaptations were impressive.
It wasn’t quite what I had expected, but it set a new standard for all future musicals I may see.
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]