Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Boil, Boil, Toil, and T-Bone

Shakespeare and electric blues make an unlikely but fine Friday night pairing and I highly recommend the experience. My downtown entertainment double header began at the Hanna, intimate new home on East 14th for the Great Lakes Theater Festival. Kicking off the inaugural season is the Bard’s gory tragedy Macbeth . Two things I really loved about this lively production were the blood-cleverly depicted with yards of satiny red cloth that attackers pulled magician-like out of the wounds along with their swords, and the two taiko drummers, stage right and left, pounding out the sounds of tension and excitement. My favorite characters were the three white faced witchy spirits- brilliantly conceived and costumed, they had an intense eerie presence and moved like dancers around the stage.

About that stage- it thrusts out into the audience and has sections that go up and down so actors miraculously appear and disappear. The restoration of 1921 theater- meticulous and lovely- has also turned it into a fine place for live performance. The acoustics are so terrific that no microphones are needed. We sat up in the balcony and heard every word, even the whispered ones. Next time I go, I want to try watching from the banquette in the lounge/bar area.

When the play ended, the husband and I headed over to Crop Bistro in the Warehouse District. All the sturm and drang of Shakespeare’s Scottish kings left us hungry and thirsty. He prefers single malt scotch or Maker’s Mark but I like a cleverly crafted drink. My libation of choice was a Twisted Vine martini- a beautifully balanced mix of muddled grapes, sauvignon blanc, Stoli citros, and a splash of elderflower syrup. But then I discovered a new seasonal drink- the AT & B- and have become an instant fan. It’s made from vodka infused with fresh apples, local cider, tarragon, and champagne- a sort of healthy tasting blast of fall with bubble and buzz. For sustenance, we dipped deep into the late night menu- a wonderful flatbread with roasted squash on top, lamb sliders, and an irresistible mash-up of chopped Angus beef, fries, cheddar, pickles, onions, and bbq sauce called a Shrapnel.

Every other Friday night starting 10:30 or 11 PM, chef/owner Steve Schimoler trades in spoons for drum sticks and cymbals. The Crop band has a solid core of players but friends, colleagues, employees past and present, local musicians, and the random, unexpected passing-through-town players are welcome to join in. The set list is hard driving and eclectic: Eric Clapton, T-Bone Walker, Pink Floyd, and ...

The fall season at the Hanna runs through November 8, and performances of Macbeth will be alternating with Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods. The Crop Band plays October 17, 31, and November 7. For a great night out, book tickets and a table.

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