Black Beauty Theatrical: Little bit music, little bit theater, spectacular show

Last night I found out where good theater sets go when the curtain closes. They provide the backdrop to arts happenings in East St Paul; at least they do on May 6 and May 7 (2016). So if you really hurry you might still be able to go!

Black Beauty features the Twilight Hours. Black Beauty is the name of the event and their upcoming album. It’s performed amidst the set from Wise Blood, easily the best set I saw on a stage last year.

It’s like an annotated concert. There is a staged dialog between a man and a woman, talking about how things used to be especially in terms of music. I may be projecting, but it’s just like the kind of conversation you might have if you grew up in the Twin Cities in the 1980s and didn’t listen to Journey but listened to local music instead.

The conversation gives way to the music of Twilight Hours, led my Matt Wilson and John Munson. But they aren’t on a traditional stage, instead they are dispersed throughout the art studio of Chris Larson (Wise Blood set designer), and balanced on the set from Wise Blood.

The music has an updated familiarity. They songs are catchy. It’s a little bit Beach Boys, a little bit Minneapolis sound (no mistake with the Trip Shakespeare heritage), it’s hip-twisting rock in a subtle way. It’s the kind of music you hum the day after you hear it. In the Black Box space there’s a kind of surround sound and hint of good echo. And with the musicians spaced around the room, there isn’t a bad place to stand and listen.

The album is coming out soon. They have been quietly previewing it around town; I was lucky enough to see them a few months ago at the Driftwood Char Bar. For folks who have been hoping for new work – this is well worth the wait.

And back to the set – it brought the tone and included Alice-in-Wonderland-perspective bedrooms and small town outcropping with seedy touches. Like the back porch of the gas station you’re not supposed to visit at night.

Maybe the best part was the opportunity to step into the bedrooms – something I wanted to be able to do so badly last year during the show.

It would be great to see more events like this in the future – a mashup of Minnesota’s best arts and od second marriages of sets and songs from different past lives.

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