'Emma Woodhouse Is Not a Bitch'

vita.mn | Updated 2/7/2013

Plus: "Reefer Madness," "Babe Lincoln" and "Ganesh Versus the Third Reich."

Tanner Curl, Kathryn Fumie and Hannah K. Holman in “Emma Woodhouse Is Not a Bitch.”
Photo by Carl Atiya Swanson of Savage Umbrella

OPENING

‘Emma Woodhouse Is Not a Bitch’

Of all of Jane Austen’s romantic heroines, Emma Woodhouse from “Emma” may be the most misunderstood. Often decried as arrogant, snobbish, ignorant, a control freak or a “mean girl,” Emma was famously described by Austen as a character “whom no one but myself will much like.” With “Emma Woodhouse Is Not a Bitch,” theater company Savage Umbrella runs to Emma’s defense. The new, original adaptation merges contemporary influences such as social media and “Gossip Girl” with the book’s timeless themes of class stratification, sexual politics and romantic complications. By the end of the play, you may just find yourself on Team Emma. (7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun., next Thu. Ends Feb. 23. $12-$20 sliding scale. Cedar Riverside People’s Center Theater, 425 20th Av. S., Mpls. www.savageumbrella.org.) Jahna Peloquin 

‘Reefer Madness’

The original 1936 film was made to “stamp out this frightful assassin of our youth,” then became side-splitting entertainment for generations of stoners. Writer Kevin Murphy and composer Dan Studney decided “Reefer Madness” was ripe for stage parody. A 1999 hit in Los Angeles, the show found its way to off-Broadway two years later. Minneapolis Musical Theatre’s production opens at the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s New Century Theatre in City Center. Munchies are available. Artistic director Steven Meerdink is at the wheel. The plot has to do with wholesome kids who stumble into the clutches of demon weed. Pretty soon they’re down the path to … down the path to … to … I’m sorry, what was I talking about? (7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 5 p.m. Sun., 7:30 p.m. next Thu. Ends Feb. 24. New Century Theatre, 701 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. $24-$29. 1-800-982-2787 or www.hennepintheatre trust.org.) Graydon Royce

CONTINUING

‘Babe Lincoln and theVajazzled Badge of Courage’

For Brave New Workshop’s latest, Katy McEwen has found a willing partner in Lauren Anderson, currently the funniest thing on the Workshop stage. Honest Abe’s birthday is coming up, and the current movie “Lincoln” will make news at the Oscars. As for the “Vajazzled Badge of Courage” portion of the title, we shall leave that untouched. When McEwen was a Workshop regular, she was as sharp and funny as they come. And Anderson is fearless with her emotions and keen with voices and characterizations. (7:30 p.m. Thu., 8 p.m. Fri., 5 & 8 p.m. Sat. Ends March 9. Brave New Workshop Theatre, 824 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., $25-$30. 612-332-6620 or theatre.bravenew workshop.com.) G.R.

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

‘Ganesh Versus the Third Reich’

Walker Art Center concludes its 25th annual Out There series with a show by Australia’s Back to Back Theatre. The plot centers on reclaiming the swastika, an ancient Hindu rune, from the Nazis. The production, performed by a company of mostly mentally disabled actors, also has a meta-narrative about the performers’ attempts to make a challenging theater piece. (8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. $18-$22. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. 612-375-7600 or www.walkerart.org.) ROHAN PRESTON