Downtown Art

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August 8, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

Standing by

I can totally see Constance Middleton from "The Constant Wife" make an appearance on "Jerry Springer" or "Sally Jessy Raphael." The likely topic is "Women Who Defend Their Husbands and His Mistresses."

Just imagine. Here's Constance Middleton, say, a PR and marketing person from London. The introduction goes something like this: "Constance is here today to confront her husband for his infidelity. Dr. John Middleton is cheating on her with her best friend."

Meantime, all three characters grace the stage and take their seats alongside each other. We in the audience eagerly anticipate the brawl that'll probably ensue.

But in the proper society of 1926 upper-middle-class London, Constance just can't bear the humiliation of a gossipy social circle, especially when her husband's love interest happens to be her best friend. Even if she had the chance to broadcast her anger on a national talk show, she'll subject her husband, friend and others to a different kind of remorse. All the while, never letting on that she knows about the affair.

Sure, she sulks for a while, but she soon mellows out as she decides to stand by her man, a prominent surgeon. However, Constance isn't as powerless as she looks. The crafty Constance knows how to manipulate her husband's secrets. Reminiscent of the game "telephone," Constance takes advantage of the communication model and the twists and turns it'll probably take when a rumor starts. After all, husbands and wives talk too much anyway, don't they?

W. Somerset Maugham's satirical play, "Stand By Your Man," about the sanctity of marriage relates the universal challenges of marriage, going beyond the polite drawing room scene with a comedy of errors that's still relevant today.

• Tu-Su Aug. 13-19; Tu-Sa 7:30 p.m., Su 7 p.m. Guthrie Theater, 725 Vineland Pl.$15-$50. 377-2224, www.guthrietheater.org.

Loving Billy just the way he is

"Movin' Out'" returns rock music to its lyrical roots, fleshing out the story that inspired the music in the first place. In the same way that one might re-create the setting featured in a still-life painting, the experience of four friends described in Billy Joel's songs are developed in this musical told through movement.

Even though there's no dialogue in this show, the artists aren't just athletes with expressive qualities for performance. The dancers did background research to make their characters real.

Thanks to Twyla Tharp's choreography, Joel's concrete references to people and places, such as in the song, "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," become three-dimensional.

Joel has received countless offers to dramatize his music. But usually these ideas are too cheesy, he said in a statement about the show.

However, after Joel saw Tharp's work, he felt compelled to give her creative control of the story in stage form. The result is an American rhapsody that hits on some major milestones, spanning post-World War II optimism, the Vietnam War and its aftermath.

Beginning in Long Island in the 1960s, prom royalty Brenda and Eddie are on the brink (Tony loves Brenda) while James and Judy will be together forever, right?

Unfortunately, youthful optimism goes stale when the men are called to war. Their clique is fragmented when Tony and Eddie return without James (who dies on the battlefield). But that doesn't mean the survivors are prepared for normality. Now they're aliens at home. Later, though, wounds do heal - fully demonstrating the dynamics of Joel's theme song "Movin' Out."

• Tu-Su thru Aug. 14; 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 Theater, 910 Hennepin Ave. S. $23-$75. 651-989-5151, www.hennepintheatredistrict.org.