“The Harty Boys in The Case of the Limping Platypus”
WHERE: Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, 810 Lake St. W.
WHEN: Friday, April 23, 7 p.m.
A priceless work of art has been stolen from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts . Where on Earth could it be, and more importantly, who’s the rat behind the crime?
Actually, it’s not a rat, it’s a platypus whose flippers are about to get caught red-handed by a pair of young gumshoes, Fred and Tom Harty. Even though the ambitious Harty boys solved this crime a while ago, or so they say on their blog, they’re recreating it onstage at the Bryant Lake Bowl so you can be part of their thrilling adventure.
Platypus don’t walk, nor do they burgle art on the regular, but local actors Josh Scrimshaw and Levi Weinhagen made it happen. The former University of Minnesota students and parents of young children had such a fondness for the Hardy Boys books of their youth that they decided to adapt one for the stage. Only problem? The books, written beginning in 1927, weren’t yet in the public domain, hence the slight change in surname.
“We tried to adapt the books into parody and make them local. Part of the original books is the fictional locale of Bayport and its abandoned warehouses and factories, so we made it local,” said Scrimshaw. “The books have been read for so long that completely different generations share nostalgia for them.”
In the play, the young Harty boys are alerted to an art burglary at the MIA and the thief is an old nemesis of Frank and Tom’s father, Philmore Harty.
Using an Australian mammal as the ultimate foe proved a bit of a problem for the pair. “We had to write our way around it and keep it a mystery story but with riffs on the genre conventions,” Scrimshaw said. “It’s an affectionate parody that pokes fun at the genre; we spoof the gender politics in the books.”
Both Scrimshaw and Weinhagen have theater backgrounds, as do others involved in the play. Their parents, played by Leslie Ball and Ari Hoptman, are longtime theater vets. Ball runs BALLS Cabaret at the Southern Theater and has been called the “den mother of the Twin Cities art community,” while Hoptman made an appearance in the Coen brothers’ recent film “A Serious Man.”
In summer 2009, “The Harty Boys in The Case of the Limping Platypus” drew raves from local theater critics and theater-goers alike at the Fringe Festival, earning it the esteemed title of top-selling show that season. While “The Harty Boys” is a family-friendly piece that definitely appeals to little ones, Scrimshaw said that we older folks can enjoy it too.
“It’s not a kid’s show adults can only tolerate. It’s funny,” he said.
The proof is in the pudding, gumshoes, so if you’ve got a yen to play detective, by all means, help those brothers out.
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