February 21, 2008.By Graydon Royce, Star Tribune.
Opening: Theatre Latté Da and Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company are combining forces to produce this musical based on a 1913 tragedy in which a Jewish factory owner was accused of killing a 13-year-old employee. It’s not cheery material for a musical, and the 1998-99 Broadway production closed after 85 performances. However, playwright Alfred Uhry won a Tony for best book, and composer Jason Robert Brown won for best score. A recent production at the Donmar Warehouse in London has been nominated for seven Olivier awards. Latté Da artistic director Peter Rothstein said he feels the show lends itself to the thrust stage – which is why he’s doing it at the History Theatre in St. Paul. “The story is very intimate but epic at the same,” he said. With 25 actors, this is the biggest show either Latté Da or MJTC has attempted. The cast includes six Equity actors: Dieter Bierbrauer, Ann Michels, Jody Briskey, Brian Skellenger, Shwan Hamilton and Randy Schmeling. Denise Prosek is music director, with Ivy winners Michael Matthew Ferrell (choreography) and Kate Sutton Johnson (set) pitching in. (8 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., 7:30 p.m. Thu.; History Theatre, 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul; $25-$35 – pay what you can, Sun. – 651-292-4323.)