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"The Season of Love" is a Valentine for a snowy day

This cabaret feels more like a pot of zinnias than a dozen roses, and that's okay.

The ensemble cabaret consists of Hope Nordquist, Leslie Vincent, James Rodriguez, C. Ryan Shipley, Damian Leverett, Anna Leverett, Michelle de Joya, Reese Britts, Sophina Saggau, and (not pictured) Craig Johnson. Courtesy Yellow Tree Theatre.

It's not Valentine's Day anymore, but in a way, that fits the tone of Yellow Tree Theatre's "The Season of Love" even more. Yes, the cabaret is billed as the theater's Valentine to you. However, as drippingly romantic as some of the pieces are, the cabaret's nostalgic tone is what makes it a spoonful of sugar for any day of the weekjust make sure to watch it on demand before it goes away Feb. 28.

The digital cabaret stars 10 Twin Cities favorites and feels more like an old radio show, beginning with Reese Britts and a smooth rendition of "Somebody Loves Me" by the Gershwins (the first of a few jazz hits) followed by our host-by-the-hearth, Craig Johnson. "Hello everybody," he says, "and thank you for joining us for some Valentine's Day romance: some sweet, some funny, some from today, and some from many generations ago."

Scenes and snippets cut seamlessly to each other, bridged by Johnson's introductions. Many are iconic sentiments of ardor, but the unknown ones are a nice treat. Johnson dons a wig in an over-the-top but entirely giggle-worthy story about how "the lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine," and on the other end of the spectrum, James Rodriguez gives a restrained telling of two Mexican myths that lets them shine that much more. Whereas my college English class only showed me the importance of Oscar Wilde's satires, Damian and Anna Leverett add the twinkle and the smirk, and while parts of Michelle de Joya's telling of "Sakura" feel too overwhelming for my small phone screen, the heart and sincerity she puts into it carries us home.

My favorite parts, though, were the snippets of real life modern love experiences. Different settings and outfits also played into this, giving each sound byte more context so it wasn't a simple recital. Even if it were stripped down, though, I would have loved the curated splashes of humor and relatability just the same. (The ones picked for Damian were perfect, mixing Jim's deadpan frankness in "The Office" and all the abashment and gangliness of a teenager.)

The hour-long show is the perfect length, but if you can't spare that, try putting it on as you go about your morning routine or make dinner. I wasn't kidding when I said "The Seasons of Love" was like radio theater: It has the same storytelling traditions built into its DNA. The visual effects, while nice, are secondary to the pleasant spell the actors are able to weave, and their performances have just the right amount of old-time showmanship to transport you to simpler times.

As for the next show Yellow Tree Theatre does, we'll have to wait and see what flavor its new producing artistic director Austene Van (founding artistic director of New Dawn Theatre) adds into the mix.


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