When a Man Loves a Diva: Still a fun ride

Dane Stauffer, Ben Bakken and Julius Collins.
Dane Stauffer, Ben Bakken and Julius Collins.
Photo by Dan Norman

While Beyonce held court across the Mississippi in St. Paul Thursday night, a trio of diva-lovers strutted their own unique stuff at the Lab Theatre in Minneapolis.

When A Man Loves a Diva is back for another summer run. The musical revue works on a simple premise: Take a trio of talented singers, give them a hot band, and then have them rip through songs made famous mostly by female singers.

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It holds up on repeated viewings (I saw last summer's production, which featured a similar song lineup) mainly due to the engaging concept and the thrilling performances from the singers.

It's the same trio as before: Ben Bakken (an Ivey winner for Jesus Christ Superstar), Dan Stauffer (of Triple Espresso), and Julius Collins (who has plenty of theater experience, and is the singer for Greazy Meal). They're under the musical direction of Sanford Moore (of Moore by Four and many other projects), and all of them work hard to make it a breezy show that still packs an emotional impact when needed.

Still, some of it is just for fun. Stauffer gets quite a comic moment out of "Like a Virgin," as he searches the audience for love. The trio takes on the role of backup singers, with a spotlight on a feather boa for the lead singer, on "He's So Fine." While at the beginning, they tackle  bunch of songs from male "divas," like "We Will Rock You" and "Born to be Wild."

The meat of the show, however, finds the singers taking the songs on head-on, providing terrific interpretations full and emotion and power. Bakken gets highlights in the first and second acts, first with a fiery reading of "Rollin' in the Deep" and then topping it later on with Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me."

The trio's well-honed chemistry comes through in the group numbers, such as act one closer "Proud Mary" (the Tina Turner version, naturally) and encore number "It's Raining Men."

So there's nothing all too serious here, but the musical selections and performances are certainly worth the trip.


When a Man Loves a Diva
8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays
Through August 3
Lab Theater
700 First Ave. N., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.333.7977 or visit online.
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The Lab Theater

700 1st St. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55401-1143



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