A series of original podcasts that explores the issues facing Michigan's professional theaters.
Encore LIVE! - it's like radio, but over the internet! A production of EncoreMichigan.com. Produced for EncoreMichigan.com by Barton Bund and Tony Caselli. Executive Producer Donald V. Calamia. Theme music by the World Famous Love Machine.
Plus, episodes of Encore LIVE! are available from iTunes free of charge! Find us under "Podcasts" in the Arts category!
Season 3, Episode 20:'Fela' comes to Detroit's Music Hall (Part 2) When "Fela!" arrives at Detroit's Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts Feb. 14, the show comes with a Michigan connection: Associate Choreographer and Ann Arbor native Maija Garcia. She is director of Organic Magnetics - a synthesis of dance, music, visual art and interactive design in collaboration - producing live installations and theater workshops to generate urban folklore for the future. Garcia has worked alongside Choreographer Bill T. Jones since 2006, developing the award winning musical off-Broadway (2008), on Broadway (2009), at the National Theatre of London (2010), and in Lagos Nigeria (2011). Garcia is now Creative Director for the international tour of "Fela!"
In the second part of our "Fela!" coverage, Garcia talks with host Barton Bund about the creation and life of the production - and what theatergoers can expect when the show comes to Music Hall Feb. 14 through March 4.
Season 3, Episode 19:'Fela' comes to Detroit's Music Hall (Part 1) Situated on the corner of Brush and Madison Streets in Downtown Detroit's theater district sits Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts. A magnificent, fully restored 1928 historic theater seating 1,701 and holding four lounge areas, Music Hall plays host to approximately 250 events per year, plus corporate annual meetings, parties, receptions, benefits and fundraisers. Yet Music Hall is more than a theater, as President and Artistic Director Vince Paul explains to hosts Barton Bund and Donald V. Calamia. Part of Paul's mission comes to fruition this month as Music Hall embarks on a three-week run of "Fela," which tells the true story of the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, whose soulful Afrobeat rhythms ignited a generation. It's a major collaboration that pulls together disparate organizations from throughout the region, the result of which is an exciting synergy the likes of which we haven't seen in ages. In part one of a two part celebration of "Fela," Paul talks about his vision for Metro Detroit's performing arts scene and "Fela," which runs Feb. 14 - March 4 at Music Hall.
Season 3, Episode 18:Talkin' about a 'Dead Man's Shoes' In the past, team-ups occurred only in super-hero comic books. But in recent years, theaters have found efficiencies in jointly producing plays that appear first on one stage and then on the other. Why they do that is easy to explain: Plays aren't cheap to produce! The latest theater team-up is now onstage at Williamston Theatre, which is co-producing the world premiere of "Dead Man's Shoes" with Performance Network Theatre. Written by the award-winning local playwright Joseph Zettelmaier, "Dead Man's Shoes" is a rather unique story - a western - that is already getting rave reviews from critics and theatergoers alike. Host Donald V. Calamia talks with Zettelmaier and Tony Caselli, artistic director of Williamston Theatre, about how the production came together - and the bizarre true story that helped launch the script. Plus, Caselli gives us a preview of what theatergoers can expect at Williamston Theatre during the 2012-13 season!
Season 3, Episode 17:An intriguing switcheroo at The Purple Rose The Purple Rose Theatre Company has earned a reputation as a company willing to take chances. Whether it's a never-before-staged script to offering opportunities to talented young artists to work outside their comfort zones, The Purple Rose has - since its inception in 1991 - become the creative home for emerging talent and seasoned professionals to stretch their artist wings. Situated in historic downtown Chelsea, The Purple Rose begins 2012 with "A Stone Carver," a heartfelt story about the rekindling of a father-son relationship by William Mastrosimone that opens Jan. 27. And true to form, Artistic Director Guy Sanville is taking yet another chance with this production - namely, by handing the reins to first-time director (and familiar face to PRTC patrons) Rhiannon Ragland. But that's not all: Sanville is returning to the stage in the role of Agostino, a seventh-generation stone carver who is evicted from his home to make space for a highway. Host Donald V. Calamia talks with Sanville and Ragland about the production and the switcheroo that finds two familiar faces swapping duties. Plus, Sanville reveals what's in store for the 2012-13 season!
Season 3, Episode 16:A 'Nunsensical' discussion with creator Dan Goggin There's an old show biz saying around Metro Detroit: Put a nun on stage, and tickets will go flying out the box office window. That certainly seems true, as numerous productions around town over the past few years have often been goldmines for their respective theaters - which is why they keep coming back in various permutations and sequels. Why they're so popular is somewhat easy to explain, or so people theorize: It's a mix of nostalgia for Catholics of a certain age and they're just darn funny! Among the theaters that have been heavenly rewarded by these funny nuns is Meadow Brook Theatre, which has been home to several editions of the "Nunsense" franchise over the years - and which is currently hosting the Michigan premiere of the latest chapter in the story of the Little Sisters of Hoboken, "Nunset Boulevard," through Jan. 29. And who better to ask about this phenomenon than its creator, Michigan-native Dan Goggin. Host Donald V. Calamia sat down with the writer/director recently for a lively chat about the history of "Nunsense" and its many sequels. And joining them are two familiar faces to Meadow Brook audiences, Bambi Jones and Stephanie Wahl, who reprise their roles of Sister Mary Hubert and Sister Mary Leo.
Season 3, Episode 15:'Bernhardt on Broadway' with Carol Dunitz Before mass media and modern travel, Sarah Bernhardt ingeniously marketed her meteoric rise to superstardom. Before Lady GaGa and Marilyn Monroe posed nude for national magazines and Janet Jackson "accidentally" bared one breast on national television, Bernhardt shamelessly posed nude for renowned 19th century photographer Felix Nadar while still in her teens. Before Britney Spears and Madonna French-kissed at MTV's 20th annual Video Music Awards, Bernhardt spread rumors that she studied her parts in a coffin and played croquet with human skulls. Before Elizabeth Taylor was led to the altar seven times and Zsa Zsa Gabor sampled marital bliss with nine men, Madame Sarah received over 1,000 proposals of marriage. Now, a century after her last appearance in Ann Arbor (on Feb. 13, 1917 at The Whitney, once located at the corner of Main and Ann), audiences can once again experience the wonder of Madame Sarah in "Bernhardt on Broadway" that comes to Towsley Auditorium Jan. 14 for two performances. Join host Barton Bund and Carol Dunitz for a talk about "Bernhardt on Broadway," her new one-woman show. Dunitz wrote the book and music for this tour-de-force performance based on the life of the legendary actress. Dunitz discusses the research, rehearsal, and performance history of this powerful and funny new production coming to both Ann Arbor and Detroit.
Season 3, Episode 14:Celebrating Tipping Point Theatre's fifth birthday While some theater companies come and go rather quickly, a major milestone for a theater to reach is its fifth birthday. To customers, that signals a programming philosophy has been attained that satisfies the needs of its audience base, while to granting organizations such as foundations and corporations, it represents a financial stability has been reached that will likely allow the theater to grow and prosper in succeeding years. The latest theater to achieve this significant milepost is Northville's Tipping Point Theatre, which made a major splash with its opening five years ago and hasn't slowed down since. Host Donald V. Calamia sat down recently with Producing Artistic Director James R. Kuhl, who joined the company at the start of its third season, to find out where Tipping Point has been and where it's going.
Season 3, Episode 13:A 'Tempest' in Downtown Detroit A once-abandoned building in Downtown Detroit has become one of the city's hottest hangouts - as well as one of the area's newest theaters. Owner Jerry Belanger originally rented the Park Bar's upstairs space to area theater groups and other interested entertainers, but his goal was always to start a theater company of his own. That dream comes true beginning Dec. 2 when the Park Bar Theatre celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Host Donald V. Calamia sat down recently with producer/director Belanger and Joe Kvoriak, the theater's public relations manager, to talk about the theater's genesis - as Michael "Rollo" Rollin quietly worked all around them!
Season 3, Episode 12:'This Wonderful Life' in Williamston, 2011 The holiday season kicks into high gear beginning Thanksgiving weekend with a plethora of entertainment options - from favorite TV and movie classics to live musicals and comedies at a theater near you. While many of these productions are based on - and adhere closely to - beloved holiday classics, some theaters attempt to create classics of their own - either by adapting a recognized work or by coming up with an original idea all their own. Two seasons ago Williamston Theatre took the holidays by storm with a unique endeavor that featured one actor playing the entire population of Bedford Falls in a theatrical re-telling of the classic holiday film "It's A Wonderful Life." Barton Bund is joined by actor John Lepard and director Tony Caselli to discuss the revival of the award-winning "This Wonderful Life" at the Williamston Theater. This tour-de-force takes the classic film to the stage, with Lepard playing dozens of roles.
Season 3, Episode 11:30 years of "A Christmas Carol' at Meadow Brook Theatre One of the most anticipated events of the holiday season is Meadow Brook Theatre's annual production of "A Christmas Carol." Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, the production was written and initially directed by the legendary Charles Nolte at the behest of MBT artistic director Terence Kilburn, who appeared as Tiny Tim in the 1938 MGM film version of the beloved tale by Charles Dickens. Many of Metro Detroit's top performers have appeared in the show over the years, but only a handful have been associated with it since the very beginning. To explore the show's long and memorable history, host Donald V. Calamia ventured to the campus of Oakland University in Rochester and talked with Cheryl Marshall (MBT managing director), Travis W. Walter (artistic director), Terry W. Carpenter (associate director) and longtime participants Tom Mahard, Paul Hopper, Judy Dery and Sara Catheryn Wolf.
Season 3, Episode 10:'It's a Wonderful Life' at The Encore Musical Theatre It's starting to look a lot like Christmas - not only in stores everywhere, but also in theaters throughout the state. One such theater - The Encore Musical Theatre in Dexter - opens its family-friendly treat Nov. 18, but the company has taken a different route than most by creating an original, large-cast Christmas musical from scratch. True, It's a Wonderful Life is based on a rather popular holiday movie that's near and dear to the hearts of young and old alike, but there's always a major risk anytime a young theater tackles such an enormous (and expensive) project. So after its impressive debut in 2010, the creators took the lessons they learned and immediately went to work on the new-and-improved It's a Wonderful Life for 2011. Host Donald V. Calamia wondered what theatergoers can expect this holiday season - and so he sat down with The Encore's Associate Artistic Director (and audience favorite) Steve DeBruyne, Director/Choreographer Barb Cullen and actress Liz Griffith to find out!
Season 3, Episode 9:The Legacy Project Nov. 12 marks the return of longtime artistic director Evelyn Orbach to the public stage. The founder and now artistic director emeritus of The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company, Orbach has spent much of the past two years working as an independent producer with internationally acclaimed playwright Shauna Kanter developing the Michigan premiere of Legacy, a play based on a cryptic statement made by Kanter's father while on his deathbed. The result is a story of a young American determined to rescue a Jewish family in Nazi Germany, which has received critical acclaim in past performances throughout Europe and New York City. But the project includes much more than just a production, so host Donald V. Calamia sat down recently with Orbach, Kanter and actress Kat Grilli to discuss the Legacy Project in detail and to learn what theatergoers can expect when they attend the show Nov. 12-22 at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield.
Season 3, Episode 8:Introducing Two Muses Theatre If there's one thing Metro Detroit's theater community has plenty of, it's talent. From the actors onstage to all the people working behind the scenes, we're blessed with an amazing array of dedicated, hard working and highly skilled artists who live and work in one of the country's toughest economic environments. So it's surprising to many, then, when a handful of creative souls decide to branch out on their own and start their own theater company in the midst of the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression. But that's the rule and not the exception in the Motor City, which seems to bring out the brave entrepreneur when times are the toughest. That includes Diane Hill and Barbie Amann Weisserman, who open their new venture, Two Muses Theatre, Nov. 4 in West Bloomfield with the female version of The Odd Couple. Host Donald V. Calamia talks to the co-founders about the origins of their new company and its mission to provide opportunities for female artists and artisans in the theater.
Season 3, Episode 7:Celebrating Matrix Theatre's 20th anniversary Nestled in the center of Mexicantown in Southwest Detroit sits Matrix Theatre Company, founded in 1991 by Dr. Shaun and Wes Nethercott. The couple came to Michigan in 1987 when Shaun was hired by the University of Michigan-Flint to work on a play about the 1936-37 UAW sit-down strike against GM, but the unexpected happened: While doing research in Detroit, they fell in love with the city - and never left. Since its inception, Matrix has become an integral part of its neighborhood, offering numerous theater-related programs to people of all ages and ethnicities. To celebrate the theater's 20th anniversary, host Donald V. Calamia met with with Shaun Nethercott, Inclusive Education Director Laura Perez and Director of Education Andrea Scobie to discuss Matrix's history and programming, and to learn what a "community-based theater" really is!
Season 3, Episode 6:The critics return to chat about the 2011-12 season Everyone's a critic, but gather together a room full of professional theater critics and you'll have all sorts of opinions about whatever subject is tossed their way. On a recent Sunday afternoon, hosts Barton Bund and Tony Caselli grilled theater critics from EncoreMichigan.com and the Rogue Critic about the 2011-12 professional theater season and, in particular, what they're looking forward to most! And, as you might expect, other subjects work their way into the discussion as well. Listen as Bart and Tony talk shop with Donald V. Calamia, Carolyn Hayes, Martin F. Kohn, Michael H. Margolin, Jenn McKee, John Quinn and Bridgette M. Redman.
Season 3, Episode 5:City Theatre resurrects 'Evil Dead: The Musical' Metro Detroit's newest theatrical tradition returns Oct. 7 when Olympia Entertainment and Who Wants Cake? Theatre join forces once again to resurrect the popular Evil Dead: The Musical at the City Theatre. The hilariously bloody production, based on the 30-year-old cult classic movie and its sequels, packed the house last fall and was the talk of the town. To find out what theatergoers can expect to find THIS year at the City Theatre, host Donald V. Calamia talked recently with Who Wants Cake?'s media director Joe Plambeck, director Michelle LeRoy and actors Tim Kay and Pete Podolski.
Season 3, Episode 4:Performance Network turns 30! The business of theater is no different than any other. While some theaters open and close within a single season, others peak after a few years and then slowly and quietly disappear. A lucky few may last a decade or more, but only a handful seem to make it to the quarter-century mark or beyond. Michigan has had several professional theaters reach significant milestones recently, including one that started in 1981 as an artists' collective in an abandoned warehouse and is now one of the most acclaimed theater companies in the state. Performance Network Theatre's 30th anniversary season begins this month, and so co-hosts Tony Caselli and Donald V. Calamia journeyed to Ann Arbor to talk with Executive Director Carla Milarch and Artistic Director David Wolber about their company's history, the upcoming season and what theatergoers can expect in the future.
Season 3, Episode 3:Unlocking the secrets behind 'Unlocking Desire' One of the most iconic characters in American literature is Blanche DuBois from Tennessee Williams' 1948 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, A Streetcar Named Desire. Committed to a mental institution during the play's final moments, generations of theatergoers, authors and readers have theorized what became of her following her incarceration. That includes local author Barbara Neri, whose original work Unlocking Desire debuts Sept. 23 at the Marlene Boll Theater inside the Boll Family YMCA in Downtown Detroit. A multimedia presentation that serves as an homage to the 100th anniversary of Williams' birth, the story initially appears to follow the faded Belle's life in the institution, but all is not as it seems. Hosts Barton Bund and Donald V. Calamia talk with Neri, director John Jackary and cast members Madelyn Porter and Eric Niece about the show, the research that went into its creation, and why the world is so fascinated with this strong and memorable character.
Season 3, Episode 2:Introducing The Berman Center for the Performing Arts Beginning mid 2010, residents and visitors to the West Bloomfield neighborhood of Maple and Drake Roads watched in amazement as a new structure seemed to spring up over night on the campus of the Jewish Community Center. As the state-of-the-art Berman Center for the Performing Arts took shape, the questions and rumors began: How will the building be used? Who would be performing there? And will that be the new home of The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company? With the announcement of its first full season earlier this week, host Donald V. Calamia sat down with JCC Executive Director Mark A. Lit and members of his management team to discuss The Berman, and what's in store for the 2011-12 season and beyond!