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February 7, 2005 // UPDATED 1:51 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

Valentine's Day

I can see how a complex or two might accompany a name like Charity Hope Valentine. Somehow, though, Charity's sunshiny romanticism isn't destroyed by bad luck on the dating circuit. Even when she gets dumped over and over, she moves on with enviably high spirits.

I, on the other hand, probably wouldn't bounce back as beautifully as the plucky Ms. Valentine. (Perhaps that's not in store for someone whose name isn't as eternally optimistic as Charity's. I'm cursed. My initials are ASP - the name of a poisonous snake).

The heart-shaped face of Christina Applegate lends itself well to the role. The all-grown-up star of "Married With Children" trades a dejected look for one full of fresh enthusiasm.

In this upbeat revival, you'll hear classics such "Hey Big Spender" and "If My Friends Could See Me Now."

Minneapolis gets a sneak peek at Applegate's singing and dancing before they hit Broadway. There are a lot of good reasons for a Minneapple preview, said "Sweet Charity" producer Scott Zeiger.

First, the company seeks a starting point offering them "a warm, appreciative response that was also sophisticated and discerning in its taste crowds here have a [good] reputation," Zeiger said.

This town, he indicated, would help the show shape up by the time it gets to Broadway.

"History is such that when a show does launch from Minneapolis, producers learn a lot about how to improve a show," he said.

He's looking forward to the input.

"If the choreography isn't buttoned right, than the audience doesn't clap."

Same rule applies to jokes. If the audience doesn't laugh at what are supposed to be the funny parts, then the comedy isn't working.

Starting out in such a responsive town teaches a producer about whether the casting is perfect, numbers are properly buttoned (industry slang for delivery) and the scenery and lighting are right.

Pre-Broadway shows are expensive to import because their sets are permanent, but despite the hassle, "the learning is invaluable and the positives outweigh the negatives," Zeiger said.

There are other advantages as well. In addition to what he called terrific subscription rates, an accommodating union and a strong history of single ticket sales, the local media is known to offer constructive critique, Zeiger said.

Plus, our audiences just enjoy seeing productions first.

As an aside, Zeiger addressed potential audience nervousness regarding the word "revival."

This isn't a museum piece taken out of a mildewed box, but a totally revamped and re-branded version of the 1969 original, he said.

"Minneapolis is one of those rare cities in America where truly those stars line up," Zeiger said.

Tu-Su, Feb. 8-20; Tu-Th 7:30 p.m., F 8 p.m., Sa 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Su 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. Orpheum, 910 Hennepin Ave. S. $23-$76. 651-989-5151.

Dream on

"Dream On Silly Dreamer" is an animated movie the people at Disney probably won't want to see emerge as a major blockbuster replete with a line of cuddly children's toys and collectible accessories.

This documentary shows the plight of the creative forces behind the hand-drawn animated films of Walt Disney Feature Animation. Although these talented people were known for giving their all to a job, their numbers were reduced once digital animation became increasingly common in the industry.

Told in signature Disney style, the story is framed like a modern fairy tale with cute strips of "Winnie the Pooh" shorts and lively characters that step out of a sketchbook imagination.

But this story isn't as appealing as its pictures.

Just two years ago, 200 Disney animators were notified that their services were no longer required at the studio's Feature Animation Department in Burbank, Calif.

They were told they were obsolete at a get-together known as "The Tom Meeting," where the animation department's president ended the company's 75-year-old artistic legacy. Skilled artists and craftsmen for all of Disney's studio locations got the same treatment.

Animated films are no longer to be hand-drawn. In "Dream On," you see interviews with some of these artists right after the fateful "Tom Meeting."

Interestingly, the screening precedes the Friday, Feb. 11, annual Disney corporation shareholders meeting to be held Downtown.

Written, directed and edited by Minneapolis College of Art and Design alum Dan Lund and produced by Tony West, former animators from the Disney Studios.

Th Feb. 10; 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. & 8 p.m. Crown Theater Block E, 600 Hennepin Ave. Free. 338-5900, &