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December 13, 2004 // UPDATED 4:52 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

'Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris'

The North Star Opera's 25th anniversary season kicks off with a musical cabaret devoted to the French (Belgian by birth) wordsmith and brooding troubadour, Jacques Brel. "Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris," epitomizes Brel's keen eye and deep container for human comedy and tragedy.

Brel was a prolific poet, singer and composer whose compassion for pedestrian pleasures/strife infused his life and work. The North Star troupe wraps all of Brel's roles into one musical revue.

With 23 songs and ballads, the revue brings listeners/viewers on an emotional roller coaster -- one minute you're swooning in a tale of love and the next you're in the throes of loss, loneliness and war.

The show's Craig Field put it best, "[Brel's] songs can be at once biting and tender, sarcastic and sweetly touching, yet always with compassionate understanding for our human foibles, our vanity and our hypocrisy."

Although Brel's impassioned works are universal, they also portray a fascinating history of the previous era, detailing items like carousels and the lifestyles of sailors and vagabonds. Find out why many consider Brel a dynamic force in the evolution of Broadway and, no doubt, alive and well and living in Paris.

Dec. 16-19, Thursday-Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m. Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S. $22-$34. 651-209-6689.

'Loyce Houlton's Nutcracker Fantasy'

"Loyce Houlton's Nutcracker Fantasy" has drawn a loyal audience for what will be its 40th year, making it the state's most enduring arts event according to "Nutcracker" sources.

This year, the holiday mainstay features over 60 dancers to conjure the Nutcracker's dreamy adventure after coming to life and combating the rodent dictator. See the ensuing battles that arise among live toys, snowflakes and royalty.

Loyce's daughter, Lise Houlton, directs the familiar adaptation with Tchaikovsky's music and the elder's now-classic choreography. Philip Brunelle, who hails from VocalEssence, heads the symphony orchestra.

Dec. 16-20, Thursday 11a.m., Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 2 and 8 p.m., Sunday 2 and 7 p.m., Monday 7 p.m. Historic State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave. S.