The Strange Conversion of an Engaged Wonk
Now that we have been publishing on a more regular basis some of you more careful readers have noticed that Online speaks more and more with one voice rather than the award winning blended voice that has provoked for 22 odd years. It’s true that our senior editor has shifted focus; his diminishing contributions show in inferior prose and narrowed range of topic. Junior editor has colored the tone in a blunt take-no-prisoner fashion that almost presumes we are no longer using Online to market for business. That last remark couldn’t be further from the truth and junior is going to mend his ways, soon.
As far as senior goes we thought it was time to share the “dramatic” nature of the shift. Once upon a time there was a Charles S. Neerland, always natty down to the bow tie and occasional beret. His compact build and winning smile belied remarkable athletic prowess and competitive drive. Mr. Neerland had passion for community. He always provided clients with direct, honest and optimistic advice that was underpinned with the notion that their best interests should always be in line with the best interests of the greater good. That notion applied provided a lot to the common good and the bottom lines of treasured clients.
Everything changed this last April during a stormy weekend in Dallas, Texas. To most of the guests attending this particular wedding party it was a lovely evening in keeping with the love emanating from the newlyweds they were there to honor. Moved in Dallas like most of the world in the wake of Prince’s passing, the DJ started the second dance set of the night in tribute to the great one. The first few familiar bars of 1999 brought the crowd streaming to the dance floor. For the Liberal Arts raconteur we knew and still love (even if we no longer “know” him) something much more dramatic occurred. Prince’s riffs were to Neerland like the radioactive spider was to Peter Parker, or should we say that potion was to Dr. Jekyll? The bow tie went from the neck to around his head. He frantically tore the sleeves from his blue blazer and ripped the monogrammed buttons from the front. Then the artist formerly known as Chuck hit the dance floor with the fury of a seventeen year old in heat…ChasN was born.
ChasN has returned to the Twin Cities, but it isn’t the same. Nicollet Mall is just too small; Target Field is, in his eyes, merely a field. He still wears a beret but it is of a raspberry hue. ChasN has sought out a new crew and together they have crafted a creation from the deepest parts of their collective Third Eye.
Whew, that is a long lead in to let you all know that you can find ChasN in the flesh beginning tonight, Thursday, August 4, 2016, at the premier of The Cast was Dyed. This is an original work, the skeleton provided by accomplished actor and playwright Don Cosgrove, meat by ChasN and flourishes by fellow cast members Tom Joyal and John Beal. The Cast was Dyed has been described as your usual non-linear, quasi-dramatic interactive comedy, featuring magic leafs, chest piercing arrows and ravenous wolves.
Thanks to opening the dress rehearsal to critics, the early reviews are in and they are boffo. Joke Imball, culture editor for the Onion, called it “an introspective romp that delightfully tromps across heartache and leaves mirth in its wake.” Erin Cann of the Norwegian-Irish Gazette: “This is an anguish-filled lament kicked to the curb by rowdy audience participation. Woe is you if you don’t go!”
So if you want to catch up and see the human metaphor ChasN and take in great art, in less than an hour run time, go to the MN Fringe website. Performances are held at the Playwrights’ Center on August 4, 7, 9 and 13; start times vary so choose wisely.
Self-Proclaimed Expert Proclaims Christine Toy Johnson’s Portrayal of Bloody Mary Breathtaking
Trying to keep up with ChasN, we sent junior as our own stringer to catch the Guthrie Theater’s spectacular production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s American classic, South Pacific. He left thrilled, and claims to have seen his favorite play through a whole new lens and left a changed man (must be something in the water, what with all this changing). Given the storied theater company’s long tradition for excellence we expected this production to be “worthy” but had no clue of the new depth that director Joseph Haj would bring to this staging. Junior declares the cast assembled simply the most powerful ensemble he had seen on one stage, anywhere. The director’s keen eye was evident everywhere. “It’s the first time I have seen Nellie played with an authentic Arkansas accent and it makes the racial disconnect even more apparent.”
The standout, the featured jewel in a bedazzling crown, was the performance of Christine Toy Johnson as Bloody Mary. Ms. Toy Johnson’s commanding singing voice was the perfect punctuation for her deft interpretation of a pivotal character in this Pulitzer Prize winning script. “Too often, Bloody Mary is treated as a cartoonish laugh line, a comic foil that deflects the deep introspection of the plot,” observed our stringer. He went on to credit Ms. Toy Johnson’s interpretation as graceful and dignified as it was strong.
Both Junior and his wife, who actually made the arrangements and dragged our lout out for the evening, hope that Ms. Toy Johnson, as well as other cast and crew members working in Minneapolis for the first time, are enjoying their stay when finding escape from the grueling schedule. Like all insecure Minnesotans they desperately want visitors to feel at home and leave thinking that Minneapolis is cool, even in the heat of summer. Going forward we are confident that great things are in store for theater audiences under Mr. Haj’s leadership.
We reported earlier on Neerlands and theaters and do so again with pride. Online’s favorite little theater company that could, can and will has moved from its Central Avenue NE spot to a beautiful albeit quite raw spot in the warehouse complex on Kennedy in Northeast Minneapolis. Co-founders Josh Cragun and Liz Neerland are not ones to be daunted. Although converting this space that looks like it was designed to split atoms would seem insurmountable to some, it’s just another day in the theater for those two. Nimbus is getting sent to launch a capital/crowdfunding campaign. If you are so inclined to learn more, check the nimbus theater website or like them on Facebook.
As we bid adieu we remind you that next up is our summer reading issue, written neither by senior nor junior but relies on you, Dear Reader. Send us recommendations and we will let the world know what has been floating your mental boats this summer. Closed circuit to Lee Lynch and Pat Delaney: send us all the 411 on your creations and we will be certain to feature them prominently.