700 Sundays: A comic's childhood, with sides of baseball and tragedy

Billy Crystal
Billy Crystal
Photo courtesy Hennepin Theatre Trust

The Twin Cities is a long way from Long Island, but how different really was Billy Crystal's home from mine? Big family? Check. Eccentric uncles dominating family gatherings? Check. Famous jazz players crowding the front room for impromptu jam sessions?

OK, Crystal has me there.

Crystal's one-man show about his roots and the deep connection he feels to his father, even 50 years after his death, lands at the

State Theatre

this week for a short run before returning to Broadway. It's a well-honed piece that digs deeper than everyday Baby Boomer nostalgia into an examination of loss and the long climb from grief.

That makes 700 Sundays sound a lot more maudlin than it is. Don't worry, Crystal is a master comic who knows how to play a room. A lot of this storytelling/standup hybrid is howlingly funny, from his recreations of his extended family to a fateful basketball game that cemented his high school reputation.

Still, the title is drawn from the amount of time he got to spend with his father as a youth, so there is a tinge of loss that runs throughout the show. Jack Crystal ran Commodore Records, an influential music store in New York City, and promoted jazz gigs every weekend. That introduced the young Crystal to generations of music greats and gives the show a rich texture beyond 1950s and '60s nostalgia.

Still, the loss of his father looms over the show, especially in the second act. Crystal examines the darkness of those years (along with jokes as well; he's still a comedian) and comes to a deeper and richer place by the end.

Sandbox gets all Warhol in This Is a World to Live In

A mix of anarchist art, somewhat improvised theater, and an examination of the concept of fame, This Is a World to Live In remixes Andy Warhol's Factory scene into a puzzling, bemusing, and  intriguing piece of theater.

The Sandbox Theatre company has taken a massive, empty City Center space and transformed it into a white-walled happening. Here, a group of artists with various interests and skills worship at the feet of Matthew Stone on the final evening of his gallery space and the unveiling of his latest work.

The evening proceeds with overlapping narratives as the crew of artists first showcase their own interests (music, dance, photography, spoken word) and then get ensnared in their own conflicts and egos.

The attention to detail is remarkable, from the finished works in the gallery's waiting room to the collection of flyers hanging on the wall, packed with convincing-sounding fake band names and performances at a place called the Boutros Boutros Gallery.

The piece is intentionally ramshackle, but the crew of performers does a good job of including the milling audience in the action, offering them a chance to shake a tambourine, add some paint to a canvas, or have their picture taken. The pace does pick up as the show continues, especially with the arrival of Sam Landman in a flowing white dress as an artist who has undergone a radical transformation.


700 Sundays
Through Saturday
State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 1.800.859.7469 or online.

This Is a World to Live In
Through Nov. 16.
Minneapolis City Center Suite 165, 30 S. 7th St., Minneapolis.
For tickets and more information, call 1.800.838.3006 or visit online.

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Historic State Theatre

805 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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