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JET concludes 25th season with emotional blackmail

Other Desert Cities
The Jewish Ensemble Theatre
April 23 - May 18, 2014

Posted: April 20, 2014 at 1:48 p.m.

WEST BLOOMFIELD - The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company's final main stage production of its "Share the Magic" 25th Anniversary 2013-14 season is "Other Desert Cities" by Jon Robin Baitz. Previews begin Wednesday, April 23, with opening night on Saturday, April 26. The production runs until Sunday, May 18.

In "Other Desert Cities," Brooke Wyeth returns home after a six-year absence to celebrate a holiday reunion in the Palm Springs, California desert home of her parents, actor and former Ambassador Lyman and his wife Polly Wyeth. Brooke comes with a manuscript of a memoir she's about to publish about things her parents want to forget; it's a true case of emotional blackmail.

Directed by David Wolber (artistic director at Ann Arbor's Performance Network Theatre), "Other Desert Cities" features Leah Smith, Hugh Maguire, Sandra Birch, Naz Edwards, and Bryan Lark, as well as the design talents of Dan Walker, Mary Copenhagen, Mary Cole, Phil Powers, and Diane Ulseth.

The following is the performance schedule for "Other Desert Cities":

Tickets range from $41 to $48 with discounts for seniors, students and groups. For reservations and information, please call 248-788-2900 or visit www.jettheatre.org.

JET performs in the Aaron DeRoy Theatre located on the lower level of the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield at 6600 W. Maple Road. There is ample free parking and handicap accessibility.


 

America's premier figure skating production showcases our best skaters

Stars on Ice
Joe Louis Arena
April 27, 2014

Posted: April 20, 2014 at 2:08 p.m.

DETROIT - When America's top figure skaters convened in Boston on Jan. 9 for the U.S. Championships, two things were at stake a trip to Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympics and a coveted spot skating in the 2014 Tour of the Emmy-Award winning "Stars on Ice."

The country's premier figure skating production, "Stars on Ice," is proud to announce that America's figure skating champions and top Olympic medal contenders at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia will headline this year's nationwide tour. Bringing the spirit and passion of the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating team back to home ice, this year's highly anticipated "Stars on Ice" will arrive in Detroit on Sunday, April 27 for a 4 p.m. performance at Joe Louis Arena presented locally by AT&T.

The "Stars on Ice 2014 Tour" will feature a cast of dazzling young skaters that will look to have their golden dreams come true in Sochi. While the U.S. Championships could infuse the cast with a few surprise medalists, some favorites are also top candidates to be part of the 2014 Stars on Ice Tour. Two-time and reigning U.S. Champion Ashley Wagner and U.S. Silver Medalist Gracie Gold have become two of America's most popular performers, and would be among the most coveted headliners on this year's tour. Other headliners could be "Stars on Ice" veterans Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The popular duo won Silver, and the hearts of America, at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and followed that with Gold at the 2013 World Championships in London, Ontario. Davis and White hope to make this year's tour a road show for an Olympic Gold Medal.

"Stars on Ice" continues to be a pioneer in figure skating by offering fans the rare opportunity to witness some of America's most creative and cherished champions performing together in both individual and ensemble routines. Founded and produced by Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton, "Stars on Ice" is one of the premier family entertainment events in the U.S., and the only figure skating tour in America bringing you the greatest performances and competitors from the 2014 Winter Games. This year's production is moving its dates to the spring in order to showcase the World's best figure skaters at the top of their form.

Tickets for the 2014 Stars on Ice Tour are on sale now. Special on-ice seating is available upon request. Tickets start at $30 and are available via www.starsonice.com, www.olympiaentertainment.com, www.ticketmaster.com, The Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy (without service charge), all Ticketmaster locations, and by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more.

Please visit www.starsonice.com for the most up to date information, as well as exciting show announcements.



 

OTHER VOICES - NEWS & PREVIEWS: April 20, 2014

Detroit native Tom Skerritt comes home Tuesday to reflect on his life, Hollywood times Detroit Free Press (April 20, 2014)

Gilmore Fesitval and Farmers Alley Theatre collaborate to stage 'Old Wicked Songs' Kalamazoo Gazette (April 20, 2014)


 

Ixion kickstarts 'The Four Disgracers'

Posted: April 20, 2014 at 12:59 p.m.

LANSING - Newly formed theater troupe Ixion is in the final stages of a Kickstarter campaign for its first production, "The Four Disgracers." The Kickstarter concludes April 25 at 5 p.m.

The fundraiser has reached the midway point of its $3,500 goal. As in all Kickstarter projects, this project will not be funded if it doesn't reach the full goal by its deadline.

"The Four Disgracers" was conceived by Ixion artistic director Jeff Croff. "As we looked at scripts and thought of ways to launch, it struck me that maybe the inspiration for our name could also inspire our first production," observes Croff. "The name of our troupe was inspired by a trip to the Detroit Institute of Art, where I encountered the engravings of Friederich Goltzius named 'The Four Disgracers.' The engravings featured four figures from Greek mythology: Icarus, Phaeton, Ixion and Tantalus. After reading Goltzius's Latin interpretation of the Ixion myth, I had a name for the new troupe. So I thought why not take the inspiration provided by art and see if it could inspire new art?"

Croff then recruited four local playwrights to develop short plays, each derived from a different Greek myth. After months of writing and rewriting, "The Four Disgracers" took shape with "Distance from the Son," "Tantalizing Menu," "Empty" and "Icarus Flying."

"Distance from the Son" by O.G. Ueberoth transforms Phaeton into Pate, a man-child struggling to find himself and deal with his daddy issues. Helios has become a cantankerous old soldier, who is helping out with conflicts as well as his usual duties.

"Tantalizing Menu" by Sarah Hauck takes us front and center with a family dinner filled with backbiting, acrimony and new menu items. Tantalus becomes a nervous and edgy host hoping that everyone appreciates his time in the kitchen.

"Empty" by Brad Rutledge transforms the tete-a-tete between Zeus and Ixion into a meeting of a mafia don with his lieutenant. Tough guys talk and get a little nervous as truths come out.

"Icarus Flying" by A. S. Freeman offers a fresh perspective on the myth. We enter a totalitarian world and learn Icarus's mom's perspective.

The Four Disgracers is slated to open in Lansing on May 15.

To donate to Ixion's Kickstarter campaign or for more information, CLICK HERE. The deadline to help fund this project is Saturday, April 26 at 3:21 p.m.

For more information about Ixion, log on to www.ixiontheatre.com


 

Shop Floor to conclude 2014 Staged-Reading Series

Seeds
Shop Floor Theatre Co.
April 26, 2014

Posted: April 20, 2014 at 8:59 a.m.

FLINT - Shop Floor Theatre Company is concluding its 2014 Staged-Reading Series on Saturday April 26 with a performance of "Seeds" by Annabel Soutar. This series of staged readings at Flint's Buckham Gallery is dedicated to exploring contemporary issues and promoting civic dialogue. Each play will feature local actors playing a variety of different roles.

The three plays chosen for the 2014 Staged-Reading Series were all created in a similar "documentary" style and explore a variety of contemporary social issues, including heath care, wealth inequality and in the final play, "Seeds," the debate over genetically modified foods.

"Seeds" documents the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada showdown between Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and biotech multinational Monsanto Inc., a David-and-Goliath struggle that cast Schmeiser as the small-farmer underdog fighting the unscrupulous major corporation. Through a suspenseful labyrinth of legal conflicts regarding patent rights, scientific showdowns about genetically modified food, and property clashes between farmers and the biotechnology industry, "Seeds" asks the essential question: Can you patent a living thing? Or as Schmeiser famously asked, "Who owns life?"

The play will be performed on Saturday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m., with a dialogue about the play immediately following.

Tickets are $5 at the door (cash only, please).

Buckham Gallery is located at 134 1/2 West 2nd St., Flint, MI 48502.

This series is generously funded by the Ruth Mott Foundation, The University of Michigan-Flint Student Government & supported by the Greater Flint Arts Council.

Shop Floor Theatre aims to create original and transformative theater with and for people of all ages, experiences and backgrounds. Shop Floor is a community centered, place-based arts and education organization, with a focus on creating programming that represents diverse voices and opinions, encourages civic dialogue and engagement, and promotes social and cultural awareness.

For more information on the Staged-Reading Series, or how to support Shop Floor Theatre Company, please contact Andrew Morton (andrew@sftco.org) or Kendrick Jones (Kendrick@sftco.org), or visit www.sftco.org.


 

Pulitzer nominee next at Farmers Alley

Old Wicked Songs
Farmers Alley Theatre
April 25 - May 11, 2014

Posted: April 19, 2014 at 7:25 a.m.

KALAMAZOO - Presented in collaboration with the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Farmers Alley Theatre is proud to present the haunting and musical play "Old Wicked Songs" by Jon Marans.

In 1986 Vienna, a young Jewish pianist has come to study. But before he begins his piano instruction, he must first take singing lessons from the harsh, anti-Semitic Professor Mashkan. As the play unfolds through the poetry of Heinrich Heine and the music of Robert Schumann, secrets are revealed, and these two men from different generations find they have much more in common than they think.

"Old Wicked Songs" will run Thursday-Sunday, April 25 to May 11, throughout the duration of the Gilmore Festival.

"Old Wicked Songs" will be directed by D. Terry Williams, professor emeritus of theater at Western Michigan University. Portraying the stern professor is Keith Baker, a professional actor who comes to the Gilmore Festival from Bristol, Pennsylvania where he serves as the artistic director for the Bristol Riverside Theatre, just outside of Philadelphia. Nich Mueller, current Western Michigan University student and local jazz musician, plays the arrogant, young student.

Tickets are $29 on Friday and Saturday, and $27 on Thursday and Sunday. Group rates are available. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 269-343-2727 or by visiting www.farmersalleytheatre.com.


 

Hey, kids! Set sail when pirates drop anchor April 25-27

How I Became A Pirate
City Theatre
April 25-27, 2014

Posted: April 18, 2014 at 8:43 a.m.

DETROIT - Olympia Entertainment and Etico Productions present "How I Became A Pirate," a musical based on the book written by Melinda Long. Children will join the adventures of Jacob Jeremy as he jumps on board to join Capitan Braid Beard and his pirate crew. Buried treasure, sea chanteys, pirate talk - who wouldn't go along? "How I Became A Pirate" lands at the City Theatre Friday, April 25 through Sunday, April 27.

Join young Jacob Jeremy as he sets sail with Captain Braid Beard and his mates! Terrific songs like "A Good One to Boot," "Green Teeth," "I'm Really Just a Sensitive Guy," "You've Got To Talk Like A Pirate," "Pirates Don't Aaargh!," and many others will have you rolling in the aisles and leaving the theater secretly wishing for Braid Beard and the gang to one day pay you a visit! This is a story of finding one's own heart - a path that can't be found on any treasure map.

With book, music and lyrics are by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, "How I Became a Pirate" is produced by Etico Productions. Etico Productions has been providing high quality professional theatrical entertainment for over a decade. Specializing in family fare, Etico Productions has brought to Michigan stages such children's favorites as "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," "Good Night Moon," "Untangled," "Puss n Boots" and many more.

Performance schedule:

Tickets ($19) are now on sale and can be purchased at www.OlympiaEntertainment.com, The Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy (without service charge) at all Ticketmaster locations and www.Ticketmaster.com. To charge tickets by phone, call 800-745-3000. Groups receive a discount by calling 313-471-3099 for more information. Family four packs are available for $60 and must be purchased in denominations of four.


 

OTHER VOICES - NEWS & PREVIEWS: April 17, 2014

Hit film 'Sister Act' becomes a musical blast from the disco past The Detroit News (April 17, 2014)

Student and teacher return to the stage in Hilberry's 'August: Osage County' The Detroit News (April 15, 2014)


 

Michigan premiere brings USO tour to Michigan

The Andrews Brothers
Meadow Brook Theatre
April 23 - May 18, 2014

Posted: April 17, 2014 at 8:37 a.m.

ROCHESTER Songs from the fabulous '40s hit the stage when the USO heads for the South Pacific. The headline act is the Andrews Sisters, but what happens when they get stuck in quarantine? Luckily, three brothers, who also just happen to have the last name of Andrews, know all the tunes! Songs include "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Slow Boat to China," "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" sung like you've never heard them before.

"The Andrews Brothers" plays at Meadow Brook Theatre on the campus of Oakland University from April 23 through May 18. Written and created by Roger Bean, "The Andrews Brothers" has musical arrangements by Jon Newton and vocal and musical arrangements by Michael Borth.

"Last year we produced 'Life Could Be a Dream,' which was also created by Roger Bean," said Travis Walter, MBT artistic director. "Our audiences loved it! When I saw Mr. Bean had created a musical with 25 songs made famous by the Andrews Sisters, I knew we had to do it."

The cast of "The Andrews Brothers" includes Joe Lehman (Max), Lucas Wells (Patrick), Ben Garrett (Lawrence) and Allison Hunt (Peggy Jones).

"The Andrews Brothers" is directed by Travis W. Walter, with music direction by Daniel Feyer and choreography by Tyrick Wiltez Jones. Terry Carpenter is the stage manager, with set design by Jennifer Price Fick, costumes by Corey Globke, lighting by Reid G. Johnson and sound by Mike Duncan.

Tickets range from $25 to $40 and are available by calling the Meadow Brook Theatre box office at 248-377-3300 or going online at www.ticketmaster.com. Student discounts are available at the box office. Groups of eight or more should call 248-370-3316 for group pricing.

Meadow Brook Theatre is located on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester, MI at 2200 N. Squirrel Road. For additional information, please visit www.mbtheatre.com. Meadow Brook Theatre is a nonprofit, cultural institution serving southeast Michigan for more than 45 years.


 

New flavor added to Shakespearean classic

Richard III
Performance Network
April 24 - June 1, 2014

Posted: April 16, 2014 at 8:53 a.m.

ANN ARBOR - From April 24 through June 1, William Shakespeare's famous history "Richard III" gets an innovative treatment in this boldly re-imagined tale of power, treachery, seduction and fate. Directed by Julia Glander, this revolutionary take on the age-old classic explores the themes and fate of gender, power and government set in the distant yet ominous future. This is an exciting first-time collaboration between student actors and faculty of Eastern Michigan University Theatre and the artists of Performance Network Theatre.

In this gender-fluid rendition of "Richard III," associate artistic director Carla Milarch stars as Richard III, the ruthless and conniving Plantagenet, whose ascent to power is littered with corpses. By casting this show in a gender blind style, Performance Network's production of "Richard III" seeks to examine the relationship between gender, identity and power. Milarch's rendition of Richard III is a transgender man who was born in a female body. Other examples of gender-fluid casting include John Seibert as Queen Margaret and Alysia Kolascz as Hastings. Other characters were cast that matched the gender of the actors, including Terry Heck as the Duchess of York, and Logan Ricket as Catesby.

"The quest for power (the crown) really felt like a means of survival - a perfect setting, actually, for a villain to take advantage of a disheartened people. Make our villain a female who openly identifies as a male, and it opens up possibilities for a time period in which gender fluidity comes to the forefront. I am particularly excited to have Carla Milarch bring a new, outrageous, audacious, and humorous re-imagining to Shakespeare's 'Richard III,'" said Glander.

Performance Network's production of "Richard III" may intrigue students, intellectuals, theater lovers and countless others with this dystopian interpretation of a Shakespearean classic. Patrons will be immersed into the future by set, props, and projections design by Monika Essen, lighting design by Daniel C. Walker, costume design by Katherine Nelson, and sound design by Will Myers.

"Richard III" runs Thursday through Sunday, April 24 - June 1 at Performance Network Theatre. Previews begin Thursday, April 24; opening night is Friday, May 2.

Regular tickets are $27 - $46 with discounts for students, seniors, children under the age of 16, and military. Tickets can be purchased online at www.performancenetwork.org or by calling the box office at 734-663-0681, or at the theater at 120 East Huron in Downtown Ann Arbor.


 

Wicked Green celebrates Shakespeare's 450th birthday with gender-twisting 'Twelfth Night'

By Bridgette M. Redman

Ryan Ernst, Bailey Boudreau and Emilio Rodriguez in "Twelfth Night." Photo: Wicked Green Productions

Posted: April 14, 2014 at 7:12 p.m.

Shakespeare's plays often lend themselves to modern treatments with some suggesting current themes more than others.

When it comes to plays about gender identity as a social construct, it's hard not to think of "Twelfth Night," Shakespeare's comedy in which male actors play women pretending to be men, and both male and female characters fall in love with the same mixed gender character.

It's the main reason that Emilio Rodriquez joined forces with Wicked Green Productions to put on a one-night showing of "Twelfth Night" to mark Shakespeare's 450th birthday on April 23. As co-director, producer, script editor and the actor who plays Olivia, Rodriquez wanted the play to both explore gender identity and to be a celebration of the Bard's birth.

"We're tying in the party element," said Rodriquez. "It brings in a cohesive, modern feel to the play, but doesn't go against the text. Because it is music and a party, we're doing it on Shakespeare's birthday. The core of the text perfectly aligns with a party."

Rodriquez brought his idea to Bailey Boudreau, and they decided to cast an all-male troupe just as was done in Shakespeare's time, but they'd add yet another twist to it.

"When Shakespeare did use males as females, they were dressed up with female powder face, but it was very clear they were males. His females are so much bolder than his males," Boudreau said. "So for Shakespeare in his time to be writing females that would never act that way, it makes us easy to bring it into the current age without modernizing it, but making it modern."

Boudreau said all of this idea originally came from Rodriquez, who had studied gender identity in college and how it was all a social construct. Rodriquez asked Boudreau to be an actor in the play, and the Wicked Green artistic director is playing the part of Viola, the woman who dresses as a man after being shipwrecked in a strange land. From there, Boudreau's role grew.

"I gladly took (Viola) on and costume design," Boudreau said. "In a lot of one-on-one discussions of his concept, I was going along with that and adding some ideas about the set and doing a lot of minimalistic things. I like to do theater that makes the audiences have to choose things. We don't give them much they decide what things mean."

Boudreau's role grew to that of costumer and co-director, and the two began to collaborate on how to make this play a new experience for its audiences.

"It was great to have a co-director," Rodriquez said. "I loved all of Bailey's suggestions, and we connected right away with a vision. It's a very good partnership."

One change is that the play is cut down from three hours to 75 minutes. The other is that the male actors playing female characters are not in drag. They also took advantage of the Michigan Actors Studio space where they will be performing. Michigan Actors Studio hosts comedy sports and improv troupes. One side has a red wall and the other side has a blue wall.

"It is very bold," Boudreau said. "You have to design accordingly. It just aided in the male-female action. Roses are red. Violets are blue. The red is the female side, the male is the blue side and the set was built around that."

Rodriquez pointed out that when you combine the red and blue backdrops, you get purple or Violet a color very similar to the name of the main character. He also said their set designer, Alexander Trice, worked with adding picture frames to the set that would suggest backgrounds like the sea or the count's courtroom.

"If we're going to have males playing females and not in drag and have the audience buy into that, we have to have a set that allows them to imagine it as well."

Since a one-night production leaves little time for news to spread about the show, Boudreau and Rodriquez said they're relying on social media and getting out a lot of posters in the Ferndale area. Also, all of their 10 actors are connected in the community. Since the performance is on a Wednesday, when other actors typically have the day off, they're hoping to see a lot of industry turn-out.

Rodriquez emphasizes that the performance is as much a party as it is a play.

"It is celebrating Shakespeare, and it still being alive so many years later," Rodriquez said. "Theater is a very viable art form, and we're celebrating one of its most accomplished places of origin. We're able to do that by bringing the idea of celebration, party and festivity and using a cast that is out-of-this-world funny. There are back flips and it is crazy. The idea of celebration is really what it is about. It's a celebration that we are in this art form together and it is a beautiful to think it has lasted this long."

SHOW DETAILS: Wicked Green Productions presents "Twelfth Night" at Michigan Actors Studio, 648 E. Nine Mile, Ferndale, 7:30 p.m. April 23. Running time: approximately 75 minutes. Tickets: $10 adult, $4.50 student. For information: www.facebook.com/wickedgreenproductions.

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