Best Bets: ‘1984’ to ‘The Phantom’ and More

By Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune

Blood and jockstraps

A former rodeo competitor has retired to a ranch in Wyoming, where she tends to the needs of injured rodeo cowboys — whatever the needs might be. Big 8 is facing foreclosure on her spread when She Devil shows up, tailed by one bad and mad Black Dog.

Renegade Theater Company’s production of “Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage,” by Jane Martin, pokes at Western and B-horror genres. Expect a lot of blood, violence, reportedly a jockstrap and, um, comedy.

A 2006 production at Theater in the Round in Minneapolis was described in the City Pages as “a work that revels in its warped path to the cliche of a happy ending, thumbing its nose at sincerity and authenticity, dressing its stage in bones and body parts.”

Renegade Theater Company’s production of “Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage” plays at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday Oct. 5-21 at Teatro Zuccone, 222 E. Superior St. Tickets: $20 adults, $17 students, $10 rush tickets on Thursdays for students, seniors, artists. Go to renegadetheatercompany.org.

Renegade Theater Company’s “Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage” opens today. Photo by Andy Miller

He’s watching

Smack-dab in the latter half of 2017, “1984” is again very en vogue: There is, reportedly, another cinematic adaptation in the works, the book by George Orwell has returned to best-seller lists and the New York Times said of the stage adaptation by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan currently playing on Broadway: “In periods when the world and its inhabitants seem too vicious to bear, some people find themselves drawn magnetically to what might be called feel-bad entertainment. I mean the sort of book, song or show that massages your anxiety the way your tongue might insistently probe an abscessed tooth.”

Cut to The Underground, which is opening its take on the Big Brother tale today, directed by Robert Lee.

“1984” plays Thursday-Saturday Oct. 5-14 at The Underground, 506 W. Michigan St. Tickets: $20 adults, $18 students at duluthplayhouse.org.

Improvisational organist Aaron David Miller provides the soundtrack for a screening of “The Phantom of the Opera” at Sacred Heart Music Center.

‘Phantom’ gets a live score

Aaron David Miller, an organ player who was described by the Los Angeles Times as producing “an impressive haze of swirling virtuosity” during a 2014 performance, will improvise a live score on the Felgemaker pipe organ at Sacred Heart Music Center, an accompaniment to the 1925 silent film “Phantom of the Opera.”

The film, an adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel “Le Fantome de l’Opera,” stars Lon Chaney as the titular character who haunts the Paris Opera House. His goal: to make the woman he loves a star.

“Phantom of the Opera,” with improvised score by Aaron David Miller, is at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 at Sacred Heart Music Center, 201 W. Fourth St. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children at the door.

‘As Above, So Below’ exhibition at Kruk

Karen Owsley Nease’s “As Above, So Below,” an exhibition of new oil paintings, has its opening reception today at Kruk Gallery at the Holden Fine Arts Center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Nease said in her artist statement: “I approach the immediate landscape in much the same way as a naturalist. Instead of words, I use paint. Through concentrated observation of the natural phenomena in my surroundings, I deepen my understanding of the larger system as a whole. My artwork is an act of witness.”

Karen Owsley Nease’s “As Above, So Below” opens from 5-7 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Kruk Gallery at UWS. Free, open to the public.

Karen Owsley Nease’s exhibition opens today at the Kruk Gallery at UWS. Submitted by Nease.

Scares afloat

About this time every year, the William A. Irvin channels its alter ego: the Haunted Ship. This year’s tour, “Nightmare on Harbor Drive,” probes visitor’s lights-out fears: clowns, claustrophobia, scaley things that slither. Tours go below the deck — where all sorts of screeching and startling occurs — and run through Halloween.

See schedule at duluthhauntedship.com.

Haunted Ship tours run on specific days between Oct. 5-31 at the William A. Irvin. Tickets: $12.

Films, everywhere

There are three film festivals playing regionally this week: Sprout Film Festival returns, a collection of pieces that star and/or were made by people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. The New York City-made festival has made a stop in Duluth, thanks to ARC Northland, for the past six years. There are two sessions, both showing different selections;

The 7th Annual Highway 61 Film Festival is a three-day Pine City-based festival that includes a mix of films ranging from “Different Realities” from the perspective of a phone, to the horror film “The Bet (Styx),” which is about a man who wakes in a new body every day, to “Laymun,” a short piece of animation about a gardener in a Middle Eastern war zone.

Manhattan Shorts Film Fest is a screening of short films by audiences around the world, who then vote on the best of the best. The 10 featured filmmakers are a global mix selected from a pool of 1,600.

Sprout Film Festival is at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at Zinema 2. Tickets: $7 for each screening session or $10 for both.

Highway 61 Film Festival runs Oct. 5-8 at venues in Pine City. Go to highway61filmfestival.org.

Manhattan Shorts Film Fest plays at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at The Park Center, 15791 U.S. 63, Hayward, Wis.

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