You commit a crime, do your time and, appropriately rehabilitated, having learned your lesson, you pick yourself up and move on. That’s how it goes in theory anyway, on the proverbial drawing board.
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Austene Van, a brilliant performer, has long been outshone by fellow stars Jevetta Steele and Regina Marie Williams. But not because she’s, per se, a lesser talent. However, Steele saw her profile incredibly heightened by a stint in her autobiographical hit Two Queens, One Castle at Mixed Blood Theatre and Williams saw hers receive a tremendous boost when she performed in Dinah Was…at Penumbra Theatre Company. I’ve written on more than one occasion that Austene Van, —while for years enjoying the enviable success of not needing a day job and being able to make a rock solid living at theatre — sings beautifully, acts her hips off and can trip the proverbial light fantastic hadn’t come across just the right vehicle to distinguish her as a leading lady. Well, she found one in the form of Aida, which had a recent run this past January in downtown Minneapolis at the Hennepin Theater Trust’s Pantages Theatre. It’s fairly understandable why Austene Van — to those for whom the name doesn’t ring quite the same bell as does Steele or Williams — has been a harder fit for the Cinderella slipper, despite the fact that she’s a Penumbra company member and mainstay on the venue’s stage. Continue Reading →