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Michigan graduates produce off-broadway play 'Sea Legs' – The Detroit News (Oct. 29, 2014)

Broadway Grand Rapids' 'Once' is international love story of musicians following their dreams – The Grand Rapids Press (Oct. 29, 2014)

Tea-drinking tiger to entertain tots in interactive children's musical at Farmers Alley Theatre – Kalamazoo Gazette (Oct. 29, 2014)

Broadway Legend Chita Rivera performs with Seth Rudetsky at Berman Center – The Oakland Press (Oct. 29, 2014)

College mixes animation, live action in children's play – Observer & Eccentric Newspapers (Oct. 30, 2014)

Macomb Township boy lands role in national tour of ‘Camelot' – Macomb Daily (Oct. 29, 2014)


Wild Swan celebrates 35th birthday with benefit concert

Gemini is one of the featured performers at Wild Swan's 35th birthday benefit concert.

Posted: Oct. 30, 2014 at 7:39 a.m.

ANN ARBOR - Children, adults and families are invited to celebrate Wild Swan Theater's 35th season at its annual benefit concert, "Wild Swan's Birthday Concert: 35 Years Young," which will be held at The Ark on Sunday, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m.

An outstanding line up of family-friendly talent has been confirmed, including Gemini, David Mosher, Peter Madcat Ruth, and Kitty Donohoe. Each of these gifted artists has collaborated with Wild Swan in creating theater experiences that are magical, accessible and innovative.

In addition to the amazing musical talent, Wild Swan Theater favorites Hilary Cohen, Sandy Ryder and Michelle Trame Lanzi will perform a crowd-pleasing, audience-involving scene from one of the theater's productions. Storyteller extraordinaire and youth librarian Laura Pershin Raynor will be the emcee for this spectacular, not-to-be-missed concert fundraiser. This event will be signed for individuals who are hearing impaired.

Gemini, twin brother musicians Sandor and Laszlo Slomovits, write and play acoustic music for children and families, celebrating the fun, warmth and humor of family life. The highlights of their shows are Gemini's original, sparkling songs about the everyday experiences of childhood and growing up. Their recordings and concerts are filled with rousing sing-alongs, hand motion tunes, folk tales and music from around the world. Gemini will be joined by special guest Emily Slomovits.

For over 20 years, David Mosher has had the good fortune to perform, write, produce, record and teach music full time. Based in Southeast Michigan, he's stitched himself throughout the fabric of the state's musical community as a sideman for some of the state's best known performers, including Kitty Donohoe, Matt Watroba, Michael King and many others, as well as a band member of the Wayward Roots, The Raisinpickers, The String Doctors, and the go-to multi-instrumentalist for countless regional acts. He has toured internationally with Kate Mackenzie, John Rieschman and Tammy Fassaert, as well as recently accompanying folk icon Tom Paxton.

Peter Madcate Ruth is a Grammy Award-winning virtuoso harmonica player based out of Ann Arbor. But Madcat doesn't just play blues harp: He also sings and plays ukulele, guitar, high-hat, jaw-harp, penny-whistle, kalimba, banjo and other folk instruments from around the world. Madcat's repertoire of styles includes blues, American roots music, folk music, jazz, and world music.

Based in Ann Arbor, Emmy-recipient Kitty Donohoe draws from her Irish heritage as well as her American roots in her music, which is rich, earthy and compelling, making good use of her gifts for storytelling, her love of language, and her ear for melody.

Emcee Laura Pershin Raynor is an award-winning storyteller and librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library and board member for Wild Swan Theater. Laura performs across the country and has released two CDs of her stories. Laura brings to life the colorful cast of characters from her unique and loving family.

Tickets are $15 each, or $50 for a family 4 pack. Tickets are available at The Ark, online at, or by calling Wild Swan at 734-995-0530.

The Ark is located at 316 S. Main, Ann Arbor.

About Wild Swan Theater
Wild Swan Theater is dedicated to producing professional children's theater of the highest artistic quality for young people and families that is accessible, diverse and inclusive, through affordable ticket prices and innovative outreach programs. For more information about the company, its current season, touring programs, and drama camps and classes, visit the Wild Swan website at


Michigan-native actors, writers, directors, musicians come together to give back to the city that gave them their start

Keegan-Michael Key will host the "2nd Annual Detroit Party" In Los Angeles on Nov. 1.

Posted: Oct. 29, 2014 at 6:45 a.m.; updated Oct. 29, 2014 at 4:10 p.m.

DETROIT - For one-night on Nov. 1, a group of talented performers with Detroit connections and their famous friends will reunite at the Largo in Los Angeles for the "2nd Annual Detroit Party" hosted by Michigan native and star of "Key & Peele," Keegan-Michael Key. Produced by Laugh on Behalf, proceeds from the "2nd Annual Detroit Party" benefit The Detroit Creativity Project.

Guests who attend the "2nd Annual Detroit Party" and those who are not will be able to enjoy the laughs by downloading a podcast of the "2nd Annual Detroit Party" on Nov. 3 for free. Anyone who downloads the podcast can also donate to The Detroit Creativity Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The Detroit Creativity Project is a group of Detroit-native actors, writers, directors and musicians dedicated to giving back to the city that gave them their start by helping to preserve arts education in area schools. Founded in 2011, The DCP's mission is to help raise much-needed funds to provide arts education in Detroit Schools.

"As we continued to hear of many Detroit public schools having been forced to cut back on arts programming due to the stress of the economy and lack of funds in the school districts, we decided we needed to do something to help so we formed The Detroit Creativity Project as a way to give back," said Marc Evan Jackson of the DCP.

For those who love Detroit, comedy, music and more, the "2nd Annual Detroit Party" is a variety show with a line-up that features:

"The 2nd Annual Detroit Party Podcast" will be available via The Nerdist Podcast at Nerdist Industries was started by Chris Hardwick as a platform for all things nerd. Hardwick is the host of "@midnight" on Comedy Central and "The Talking Dead" on AMC.

For more information on The Detroit Creativity Project and to donate directly to the organization, visit

For more information on the "2nd Annual Detroit Party" or to get tickets to the live show ($40) on Nov. 1 in Los Angeles, visit

About the Detroit Creativity Project
The DCP founding members all have roots in Detroit and include:

In 2012, the DCP began collaborating with the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit Y-Arts to provide a free improvisational theater program for Detroit middle and high school students. The 10-week program is offered through Y-Arts Detroit during the fall and spring school semesters. The instructors are working artists with formal training in improvisation and arts education. In addition to their professional training, DCP instructors complete an orientation program through Y-Arts prior to leading their first class. To date, the course has been offered as part of English, language arts and theater curriculums. Students represent a broad cross-section of ethnicities and incomes, and come from neighborhoods across Detroit.

"The success of the program with the YMCA Y-Arts has gained momentum for the project, and we continue to receive requests from many Detroit school teachers looking to offer improvisational training to their students. With this, the Detroit Creativity Project's goal is to expand enrollment from six to 20 schools by the end of 2015," said Jackson. "To accomplish those goals, we are continuing to look for new ways to raise funds. The '1st Annual Detroit Party' (was) the first live event of hopefully many future fundraisers," Jackson added.


Jeff Daniels returns to The Purple Rose for holiday concert series

Onstage & Unplugged
The Purple Rose Theatre
Dec. 26-31, 2014

Photo: Sean Carter Photography

Posted: Oct. 27, 2014 at 2:45 p.m.

CHELSEA – The Purple Rose Theatre Company will present Jeff Daniels' "Onstage & Unplugged" for a limited seven-show engagement from Friday, Dec. 26 through Wednesday, Dec. 31. Two special benefit performances include a mid-performance Question & Answer opportunity with Daniels on Saturday, Dec. 27, and a New Year's-themed buffet dinner at the Chelsea Comfort Inn & Village Conference Center. Festive desserts by Laura O'Brien Sweets & Treats top off the 8 p.m. benefit in the theater's lobby. All performances will be at The Purple Rose Theatre.

A prolific songwriter, actor, as well as playwright, PRTC Founder Daniels will perform an arsenal of songs that are alternately humorous and poignant. Daniels has toured nationally with his music, most recently completing a 14-city Midwest tour with his son, Ben, and The Ben Daniels Band. Daniels' new album, "Days Like These," will be released in the coming weeks, as well as the highly anticipated sequel to the 1994 smash hit "Dumb & Dumber," titled "Dumb & Dumber To," opening in theaters nationwide on Nov. 14. He recently finished filming the final (third) season of his two-time Emmy nominated and 2013 Emmy winning lead role on HBO's acclaimed series "The Newsroom."

"Jeff Daniels is one of the busiest men in show business. The fact that he chooses to spend his holidays performing 'Unplugged' for the theater company he founded and continues to nurture speaks volumes of his dedication to not just our company, but to our state. We could not be more excited," says PRTC artistic director Guy Sanville.

This year's line-up will feature old favorites as well as songs from Daniels' new album. His first album, "Jeff Daniels Live and Unplugged," was recorded in 2001 during the original PRTC concert that sparked the tradition. Daniels' other critically acclaimed albums, "Live at the Purple Rose," "Grandfather's Hat," "Together Again with Jonathan Hogan," and "Keep It Right Here (Featuring Brad Phillips and Dominic John Davis)" are available for purchase at The Purple Rose Theatre Company Box Office. CDs and information about Daniels' music career are also available online at

Performances of "Onstage & Unplugged," appearing Dec. 26-31 at The Purple Rose Theatre, are as follows:

Founded in 1991 by actor and Chelsea native Jeff Daniels, The Purple Rose Theatre Company is the home of world-class, original American theater. The PRTC is a professional theater company with roots in the Midwest that takes a handcrafted, artisanal approach to producing new and classic American plays that are nothing less than one-of-a-kind experiences. The PRTC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit professional theater operating under a Small Professional Theatre agreement with the Actors' Equity Association.

The Purple Rose Theatre is located at 137 Park Street, Chelsea, MI 48118.

Tickets for "Onstage & Unplugged" are on sale in advance to donors on Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. and to the general public beginning Nov. 17 at 10 a.m., by phone at 734-433-7673 and online at


Big week at Michigan Theater

Posted: Oct. 27, 2014 at 3:28 p.m.

ANN ARBOR – The Michigan Theater Foundation reached not one, but two milestones this week as they finalized the purchase of the State Theatre and completed the first phase of the Barton Organ restoration project. Both developments come four months after these two initiatives began.

After signing the purchase agreement on June 16, the Michigan Theater had to wait to become official owners after a period of due diligence that included master deed negotiations and an architectural and engineering examination of the State Theatre. Russ Collins, Michigan Theater executive director, and Alec Allen, board chair, signed the final paperwork last week to acquire sole ownership over the film exhibition space at the State Theatre. The Michigan Theater purchased this space from the State Theatre LLC, who will continue to own the space that houses the Urban Outfitters retail store.

The acquisition promises future improvements to the historic facility, and will include addressing accessibility issues, namely installation of an elevator. The aesthetic enhancements that will transform the State Theatre from a well-used 1940s film theater into an outstanding 21st century digital cinema. These State Theatre improvements will not begin until after a community-based funding appeal occurs. The design of improvements and eventual construction are expected to take place within the next 14 to 30 months. Preliminary estimates done previously for the Michigan Theater put improvement costs, when combined with acquisition costs, at up to $5 million.

Another development for the Michigan Theater comes just in time for a Halloween tradition. The Renaissance Pipe Organ Company of Ann Arbor has completed the Barton organ's first phase of restoration. This phase include cleaning the console, reviving the signature red and gold colors, and sharpening the internal mechanisms. All of the old wiring and electro-pneumatics have been replaced with a more reliable and flexible digital system. This is the first phase of a plan to completely rebuild the Barton Organ.

Phase two will begin when funding has been raised and will involve the complete professional releathering and rebuilding of all this historic pipe organ to like-new condition. This phase will insure that the ensemble sound is more smooth and clear while still maintaining its distinctive sound. At the end of the complete restoration, the Michigan Theater's Barton pipe organ will be completely dependable, powerful and more versatile than ever before.

This Michigan Theater treasure is one of approximately 50 theater pipe organs left in its original location, and is a staple prior to film screenings, special events, and the accompaniment to silent films. The return of the Barton organ will be celebrated with a screening of the silent film "Nosferatu" on Wed. Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m., with a live accompaniment of an original score by Stephen Warner. A special pre-show reception with drinks and hors d’oevres is open to VIP ticket holders from 6-7 p.m. For more information about tickets to the "Nosferatu" screening, go to or call Amanda Bynum at 734-668-8397 ext. 21.

About the State Theatre
The State Theatre, designed in a classic Art Deco style by renowned architect C. Howard Crane, opened in 1942. Since the 1980s, The State Theatre, known for its campy midnight screenings and first-run independent films, has been a favorite of University of Michigan students for decades. It is now owned and operated by the Michigan Theater Foundation. The State Theatre is located in downtown Ann Arbor at 233 South State St. Visit or call at 734-761-8667 for schedule and ticket information.

About the Michigan Theater
Now celebrating its 87th year, the Michigan Theater is Ann Arbor's award-winning non-profit historic center for fine film and performing arts. The Michigan Theater welcomes more than 250,000 visitors each year to its art house films, concerts, lectures, live theater, and special programs such as Sundance Film Festival USA and Cinetopia International Film Festival. The Michigan Theater is located in downtown Ann Arbor at 603 East Liberty Street. Visit or call the 24-hour information line at 734-668-TIME for schedule and ticket information.


'Tibbits Takes Flight' Nov. 1 with 35th annual auction

Posted: Oct. 27, 2014 at 8:38 a.m.

COLDWATER – Just like the anticipation of flying off on a trip, excitement is building for Tibbits 35th annual auction on Saturday, Nov. 1 when "Tibbits Takes Flight."

Local businesses and individuals have again come together to donate an array of auction items, many of which carry the theme of flying, travel, vacation escapes or other enticing experiences. Group dinner packages offer a vacation for the palate prepared by professional chefs and local culinary aficionados, including Chef Carlos from Pasches, Chef Chris from Element 112, the Merrills, Altrusa's Epicurean dinner tour, or a Craig Lake dinner cruise. Escape to Cancun with a package from Sunset Resorts or to Crystal Mountain from Royal Chevrolet. Enjoy Disney park passes, a flight around Branch County from Century Bank and Trust, or a Red Wings game viewed from the PNC suite at Joe Louis Arena.

Tibbits Auction also offers chances to bid on truly one-of-a-kind experiences. Take a helicopter ride to a Coldwater Cardinals home football game, a donation from Jack and Sue Shaw that is truly priceless. Share with up to six friends a private, after-hours-shopping experience at Kiess Jewelry with first class treatment, exquisite hors d'oeuvres, drinks and $1,000 in store credit. Bid on a movie night at Tibbits and watch your favorite movie on the big screen. If you truly enjoy Tibbits and all it has to offer, the BST Sponsorship gives you your choice of four tickets to every public performance in the theater for 2015.

To escape closer to home, you can bid on a hibernation basket from Southern Michigan Bank & Trust, including a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, a Google Play gift card, wine and treats. Become a DJ for a Day with WTVB morning host Ken Delaney. Treat your favorite little girl to her own "princess party" at Studio 17 Salon & Spa in Quincy, or what child wouldn't thrill in their very own custom airplane swing created by Jody Lewis.

According to Sarah Zimmer, Tibbits special events development director, "There is absolutely something for everyone." Hundreds of items and services include baskets, jewelry, collectibles, home decor items, arts, crafts, food baskets, gift cards, automotive items, garden tools, beauty care products, electronics and equipment. In addition to the items and services, Tibbits received many cash donations: Coldwater Sintered Metal Products, Inc represented the "Million Mile Club" and donors in "First Class" included ASAMA Coldwater Manufacturing, Beta Sigma Phi, C & O Insurance, Great Lakes Health & Fitness, Marble Lake Resort & Marina, Taylor Plant & Watkins P.C., and William & Sharon Chinery.

Tibbits executive director Christine Delaney says, "Tibbits Auction is as much about the atmosphere of the event as it is about raising money for the theater to help it provide this great building and year round programming for our community." Costumed characters mingle with guests throughout the evening. Delaney adds, "Along with the vintage decor, the costumes help create an atmosphere in the theater reminiscent of a time when air flight was glamorous. We really make the entire evening an entertaining experience."

The silent auction in the lower level art gallery begins at 6:15 p.m., with the live auction on stage at 8 p.m. This year's event also features a $1,000 cash raffle, sponsored by Great Lakes Health & Fitness. The event also includes a wine pull, engraved souvenir glasses and a photo booth by Featured Photobooths LLC.

Doors open for the event at 6 p.m. The evening includes hors d'oeuvres by the Branch Area Career Center, desserts and beverages.

Join Tibbits' largest fundraising event of the year at Tibbits Opera House, located at 14 S. Hanchett St., Coldwater, MI. For more information call 517-278-6029 or go to



Musical shows how Motown changed the world – Detroit Free Press (Oct. 26, 2014)

Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, I can't help myself loving "Motown The Musical" – eTurboNews (Oct. 25, 2014)

Chicago singer with habit of playing nuns costarring in 'Sister Act' at Miller Auditorium – Kalamazoo Gazette (Oct. 26, 2014)

Why Detroit's improv comedy scene is no joke – Model D (Oct. 21, 2014)


Second Annual Cross and Light Fundraiser to be held Nov. 5

Posted: Oct. 26, 2014 at 10:29 a.m.

DETROIT – Living Faith – Fine Arts Apostolate and Nieto Productions LLC are hosting the Second Annual Cross and Light Fundraiser at Sacred Heart Seminary on Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. Meet and greet the actors from "The Cross and the Light," with special musical presentations by Kenny Watson, the man who played Jesus at Music Hall in 2013 and 2014; Brian LeDuc, who played Peter in 2013; and Beth Lackey, who played Mother Mary in 2014.

Living Faith's mission is to raise $100,000 for two important evangelization initiatives. First, in partnership with the Archdiocese of Detroit, Living Faith and Nieto Productions LLC have created a contemporary music concert that pairs the music of "The Cross and the Light" with a stunning digital media experience. Twenty-five performances in Metro-Detroit churches are planned in April and May 2015. Living Faith's goal is to sponsor 4,000 students to this life-changing event, for a cost of $40,000.

Bishop Arturo Cepeda, director of Evangelization, Catechesis & Schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit, wholeheartedly supports this important effort of evangelization. "In embracing the spirit of the New Evangelization, the Archdiocese is continually seeking new ways to evangelize and deepen the understanding of Christ's sacrifice to energize and renew our parish communities," he said. "'The Cross and the Light' is a great tool in this effort!"

Second, Living Faith and Nieto Productions LLC are also launching their first national tour in 2015. In order to market the tour, they are partnering with Fuzati LLC, the marketing genius behind Franciscan University and Steubenville Youth Conferences and the digital marketing powerhouse behind the Archdioceses of New York and Washington D.C., USCCB, EWTN, Special Olympics and Hollywood Acting Studio, to lead their marketing efforts. A total of $60,000 will be needed for marketing, with total fundraising goal of $100,000.

Details about the new Concert Experience, the Epic Musical, and their vision for the future are available at

Tickets are $50 for adults and $30 for students. Tickets and can be purchased by going online to or calling Diana at 734-620-2174. Mail reservation and donation checks to Living Faith, P.O. Box 343, Farmington MI 48332

Sacred Heart Major Seminary is located 2701 West Chicago Boulevard, Detroit

"The Cross and The Light" is produced by Nieto Productions LLC, and supported by the Living - Faith Fine Arts Apostolate. For more information, go to their website at


Gilda's 'LaughFest' readies 2015 festival of laughter

Posted: Oct. 25, 2014 at 9:45 a.m.

GRAND RAPIDS - On Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 a.m., Gilda's "LaughFest," the nation's first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, will announce headlining artists performing at the 2015 10-day festival, which runs March 5 through 15, 2015. The public is invited to attend the announcement, which will take place at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, 101 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids. Admission is free.

"LaughFest" is the nation's only 10-day community-wide festival of laughter and attracted 50,000 attendees from across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom during its fourth annual event. Designed to celebrate laughter for the health of it, "LaughFest" features free and ticketed events including stand-up, improv, film, authors, community showcases and a variety of seriously funny stuff. Past LaughFest headliners include Jay Leno, Lily Tomlin, Chris Tucker, Bill Cosby, Mike Birbiglia, Margaret Cho, Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg, Mike Epps, Rodney Carrington, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon, Wayne Brady, Jim Breuer, Joel McHale, Lewis Black, Brian Regan and Anjelah Johnson.

During "LaughFest 2015," officials expect to host more than 100 Community Showcases and other free events at various locations in downtown Grand Rapids, Lowell and Holland. The categories include stand-up comedy, music, short-film, sketch/improv, dance and kids' jokes. These non-ticked events will be free of charge and will be held at various times throughout the event.

"These Community Showcases have quickly become one of the most exciting parts of the Festival," said Joanne Roehm, festival director for "LaughFest." "Each year we get new and diverse talent from across the country that provides a unique experience for 'LaughFest' attendees."

Friends and fans of "LaughFest" can stay connected with the Festival year round by becoming a LaughFest Friends member. Memberships are available for purchase at, Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids (1806 Bridge St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504) and will be available at LaughFest Central (GRAM, 101 Monroe Center NW) when it opens mid-February. Attendees at the Nov. 11 launch event will also be able to purchase a LaughFest Friends membership.

LaughFest Friends has been expanded to include two new levels of membership and benefits. There are three levels of memberships available, starting at $25. Level one includes an exclusive tee shirt designed by The Mitten State, High Five button and donation, exclusive content and experiences, and early access to Fast Passes for free events. Fast Passes guarantee holders a seat for free showings as long as they are seated 15 minutes prior to the event start time.

The second level costs $50 and includes everything in the $25 level, plus a Smile Pass Book with special offers and discounts from partners in February 2015 (valued at more than $100), a Mitten State Smile Decal, a 10-percent discount for merchandise at LaughFest Central and online, and entry into a raffle for free tickets to a LaughFest 2015 Starring Artist show.

The third membership level is $100 and includes all the items at the $25 and $50 levels, plus pre-sale opportunities to purchase ticket packages on Nov. 13, and individual tickets on Jan. 8, 2015 before the general public, and entry into a raffle for LaughFest 2015 Starring and Featured Artist tickets.

As an additional benefit for early birds, a $5 coupon for merchandise at LaughFest Central is added to any membership purchase that is registered or renewed by Nov. 4.

On March 8, individuals can participate in the second annual 5K FUNderwear Run. The race will begin at 10 a.m. on the Grand Rapids Community College campus. Individuals can register at The cost is $25 prior to Feb. 19 and $30 after that date. Day of registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Participants will receive an official race t-shirt, and are encouraged to wear their finest (and funniest) underwear over running clothes.

"LaughFest" is recruiting individuals of all ages, and groups of all size, to showcase their talents in "LaughFest"'s free Community Showcases. Applications are free and are being accepted online through December 8 at under the About section or via phone 616-735 HAHA (4242). Applicants will be notified in early February about their assigned position at one of "LaughFest"'s events.


'Dinosaurus!' combines real and virtual worlds in new ways

By Bridgette M. Redman

Posted: Oct. 23, 2014 at 7:09 p.m.; updated Oct. 24, 2014 at 8:34 a.m.

"Dinosaurus!" is a show designed to be unlike anything you've seen before.

It takes virtual reality and adds in live actors to create virtual theatricality.

It takes three dimension and adds in additional sensual experiences to make it 4D.

The story itself takes you below the surface of the earth to where two humans stumble upon a lost colony of dinosaurs while looking for oil.

"This is not a movie or a cartoon, it is Virtual Theatricality," said director George Popovich of the show that opens Nov. 1. "You have live actors interacting with 3D animations: The synergy created is amazing. It is a physical and emotional experience."

It is a children's show designed for grades one through five, and Popovich said the emphasis on beauty and young audiences is a direct reaction to the most recent Virtual Theatricality show that they did at Henry Ford College.

"It is my apology play for 'The Skriker.' That was the ultimate horror story – the destruction of the world. The world does get destroyed at the end. It's a crazy show that is dark and horrific," Popovich said. "I felt kind of bad after I did that show. I wanted to do something fun after that – more cartoons, Saturday morning. Forgive me, save me, help me. I'm sorry."

The work that Henry Ford College has done with Virtual Theatricality has won national honors. "The Tempest," done in 2003, was selected as a regional winner in the Kennedy Center's American College Theater Festival.

Popovich and his team began working on "Dinosaurus!" five years ago. They first experimented with doing motion capture for the dinosaurs, but the physics just wouldn't work right.

"It doesn't work when you're a biped like us and you're trying to transfer into four legged things. The arm extensions didn't work," Popovich said. "We tested everything, and we scrapped it and said, let's go back to animation, to the traditional Disney, to the roots. We'll have the actors perform these dinosaurs, and then we'll give the videos to the animators for them to base their animations on, back like ‘Snow White' in 1939."

Once the animations were done, voice actors came in and voiced the dinosaurs while watching the animations. The result is that you sometimes have actors who are on the stage in three different ways at the same time – as a live actor, as the inspiration for the animation and as the voice of the dinosaur. They even interact with themselves a few times.

Popovich says what transforms the performance from mere technology to art is the way the actors connect with each other and with the animated figures on stage. They rehearse so that there is a spontaneity in their reactions to each event, so that they are in the moment and not simply following a script. It is in those moments where the actors connect with the images in a kinetic way that things change, Popovich said. "That's where the magic is here. That's the art. Otherwise you're just playing background videos, and it's silly.

"We're not doing that. The art form of this is to synergistically connect with the images, and when that happens, there is a new image. In a simplistic way, if a dinosaur is moving in a counterclockwise direction and the actor is countering and they're looking at the eyes of the dinosaur, that creates that moment. You give yourself the screen image and you imbue it."

You don't hire actors with these skills, Popovich said, because what they are doing is so new. "We teach them and we learn together. We say we want to do virtual reality with dinosaurs, and no one knows what that means until you start to explore it. We create the aesthetics of the acting style, and it has taken us a long time to do it."

Each show is limited to 80 people because of how the space works for the projections. The audience is seated on stage and is surrounded by the physical set that matches the virtual set. Audience members wear 3D glasses, and there is a 20'x36' 3D projection screen. The dinosaurs will appear to be 20 feet tall and 6 feet from the closest spectator.

As for the 4D effects? Audience members are warned that when the T-Rex sneezes, they should duck. "We'll spray water on them," Popovich said. "And I'm not going to tell you what happens when the raptors come out."

There are two separate sets of performances: One is open to the public, and the other are performances for public schools. Popovich said they're trying to educate their students at the college, but they also want to introduce kids to visual effects and live theater at the same time.

"A lot of time they go to these movies and they don't know how they're doing this stuff. They've got some basic ideas of special effects. Then the live theater itself is where a lot of them might not see it. Some of the places (we reach out to) are underserved areas. Forty-eight different counties are underserved as far as the arts go. We try to hit some of these school districts. We're trying to do something there."

While the run is only for the first three weeks of November, it will be the culmination of five years of experimenting and effort, all to create something different from what anyone else is doing – and using new technology to tell stories in new ways.

Educators interested in bringing their students to "Dinosaurus!" should CLICK HERE!

SHOW DETAILS: 'Dinosaurus!
Henry Ford College's Virtual Theatricality Lab
Adray Auditorium
5101 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn
2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, 8, 15, 22
7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, 8, 15, 22
2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, 9, 16, 23
7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, 14, 21
Recommended for grades one through five
$8 adult, $5 children under 12
Seating is limited to 80 persons per show

THERE'S MORE: CLICK HERE for a preview video of "Dinosaurus"!



Theatre de la Ville presents Luigi Pirandello's '6 Characters in Search of an Author,' courtesy of UMS – The Ann Arbor News (Oct. 23, 2014)

On stage, humans scarier than witches – Battle Creek Enquirer (Oct. 22, 2014)

8 small groups making big impact on Detroit – Crain's Detroit Business (Oct. 19, 2014)

Executive Director Maud Lyon to Lead Philadelphia Cultural Alliance – CultureSource (Oct. 22, 2014)

Motown family gathers for musical's Detroit opening – Detroit Free Press (Oct. 23, 2014)

‘Enter Laughing’ delivers wholesome, inspiring comedy – The Detroit News (Oct. 21, 2014)

Hundreds hope to hit it big at Motown musical auditions – The Detroit News (Oct. 22, 2014)

Motown: Gathering of the clan re-energizes the brand – The Detroit News (Oct. 22, 2014)

Love is here at Motown musical's grand opening night – Digital First Media (Oct. 23, 2014)

Motown alumni celebrate musical opening at Roostertail party – Digital First Media (Oct. 22, 2014)

Flint Farmers' Market is the venue for new production exploring the history, culture and community of the market – Flint Journal (Oct. 20, 2014)

LaughFest 2015: What you need to know before headliners are announced in November – The Grand Rapids Press (Oct. 23, 2014)

'A rock star for 5-year-olds,' Pinkalicious coming to WMU's Miller Auditorium – Kalamazoo Gazette (Oct. 21, 2014)

A tour of Detroit's enormous Masonic Temple – Metro Times (Oct. 22, 2014)

City Theater of Paris to perform groundbreaking Italian play – The Michigan Daily (Oct. 21, 2014)

The timelessness of theater – The Michigan Daily (Oct. 20, 2014)

Film-theater hybrid 'Aelita' is out of this world – The Herald-Palladium (Oct. 23, 2014)


'Miss Daisy' cruises to a stop at City Theatre

Driving Miss Daisy
City Theatre
Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, 2014

Posted: Oct. 23, 2014 at 8:20 a.m.

DETROIT - "Driving Miss Daisy" is set to warm audience hearts for five performances at the City Theatre on Friday, Oct. 31 through Sunday, Nov. 2 as part of the Fifth Third Bank Fox Theatre Series. Direct from a successful run at Performance Network Theatre in Ann Arbor, this engagement reunites the award-winning team of director John Manfredi and actor James Bowen in the classic tale of an unlikely friendship that blossoms into one of respect.

"Driving Miss Daisy" is the story of Daisy Werthan, a 72-year-old Jewish woman living in the South who is too stubborn to admit she needs assistance. Hoke, an illiterate black man, is hired to be her chauffeur, and a strong but reluctant bond grows between them. The play takes place from 1948-1973 as the civil-rights movement brings changes to the Old South.

The successful play written by Alfred Uhry in 1987 and produced across the country was later turned into an Oscar-nominated film starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy. In 2005, Manfredi's critically acclaimed theatrical version of "Driving Miss Daisy" garnered Wilde Awards for Best Play, Best Director (John Manfredi) and Best Actor (James Bowen) from Pride Source Media Group. The play was also named one of the season's Ten Best by the Detroit Free Press and received a 4-Star review.

Performances of "Driving Miss Daisy," appearing Oct. 31 - Nov. 2 at the City Theatre, are as follows:

Tickets ($30) are on sale now and can be purchased at, the Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy (without service charge) at all Ticketmaster locations and To charge tickets by phone, call 800-745-3000. Groups of 10 or more and Super Groups receive a discount by calling 313-471-3099.

For additional information, call 313-471-6611.

The City Theatre is located inside the Hockeytown Cafe at 2301 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201.


Creative Many Michigan awarded $100,000 grant for statewide research and analysis

Posted: Oct. 22, 2014 at 7:50 a.m.

WIXOM – Creative Many Michigan (formerly ArtServe Michigan), the statewide economic development organization for the arts, culture and creative and design industries, announced that the U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded the organization a $100,000 grant to continue its research and data analysis of Michigan's creative industries.

The funds will expand upon Creative Many's comprehensive research and analysis of its Creative State Michigan data on the extent, composition and contributions of Michigan's creative and design industries – statewide and in key regions including Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint and Grand Rapids.

Research findings will serve as a foundation for setting economic development priorities, strategies and investments that will cultivate growth opportunities for creative jobs and businesses in Michigan.

"Support from the EDA expands our ability to define and measure the influence of the creative industries on Michigan's economy and demonstrates that the creative sector is poised for growth and positioned to equip Michigan with critical competitive advantage," said Jennifer Goulet, president and CEO of Creative Many Michigan. "However we must also move beyond simply identifying the economic contributions of the creative sector to smartly developing the strategies, policies, tools and investments that will cultivate accelerated growth in Michigan's creative economy."

The EDA grant will provide Creative Many with the resources necessary to update existing research and to benchmark Michigan's creative industries against other state and regional competitors across the United States. The project will also document best practices nationally and internationally, and identify opportunities to strengthen resources needed to cultivate the creative and design industries as a growth sector in Michigan.

Interdisciplinary workshops with state and regional creative industry leaders will be convened to evaluate research results and identify model entrepreneurs, businesses and/or projects to serve as case studies for regional and statewide program recommendations. Further, case studies will illustrate growth opportunities and needed supports for the creative and design sectors of the automotive, technology, industrial and manufacturing industries. All of the data collected will be published in a comprehensive report available through traditional and online communications tools.

"Michigan's history of innovation and design continues to be felt around the world," said Doug Smith, senior vice president of strategic partnerships and government affairs for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. "To remain competitive in a global economy, it is imperative our state evaluates all of its opportunities for economic prosperity, and we are eager, through this partnership with Creative Many Michigan, to capitalize on the best practices identified during this important research and analysis."

In its first phase, the Creative State Michigan 2014: Creative Industries Report revealed that the creative industries paid nearly $3.6 billion in wages to 74,000 employees in more than 9,700 businesses in Michigan in Fiscal Year 2011. These figures accounted for nearly 3 percent of Michigan's total employment, more than 3 percent of total wages and 4.6 percent of total state businesses.

Partners in this comprehensive research and analysis of Michigan's creative and design industries are the MEDC, Masco Corporation Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Detroit Creative Corridor and Prima Civitas Foundation. Creative Many Michigan will also engage federal, state and regional partners to support this important work.

Contact Creative Many Michigan at 248-912-0760 or visit

THERE'S MORE: CLICK HERE to read the Creative State Michigan 2014: Creative Industries Report!


Beloved children's tale added to Farmers Alley schedule

The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Farmers Alley Theatre
Nov. 1-9, 2014

Posted: Oct. 22, 2014 at 7:31 a.m.

Kalamazoo - Farmers Alley Theatre's Children's Series is proud to announce a special event recently added to its 2014 schedule: "The Tiger Who Came to Tea." Based on the beloved picture book of the same name by Judith Kerr, "The Tiger Who Came to Tea" will run Nov. 1-9 at Farmers Alley Theatre.

It's just another typical day for Sophie and her Mummy. After Daddy leaves for work, they decided to have a spot of tea. Suddenly the doorbell rings. Who could it possibly be? They certainly didn't expect it to be a big, striped tiger who is ready to turn their ordinary day upside-down!

Filled with magic, mayhem and joyful interactive songs, "The Tiger Who Came to Tea" will be a delight for children of all ages.

"The Tiger Who Came to Tea" stars Tara Sytsma and Bannon Backhus of the comedic improv group “Crawlspace Eviction.” The show also stars talented youngster Bailey Ford. Direction is by Ken Holda, with musical direction by Brent Decker.

The show will last approximately 60-70 minutes; it is best suited for children ages 4 and up. At the conclusion of each show, children will be able to talk to and take their picture with members of the cast.

Performances of "The Tiger Who Came to Tea," appearing Nov. 1-9 at Farmers Alley Theatre, are as follows:

Tickets are $15. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Farmers Alley Theatre Box Office at 269-343-2727 or by visiting

Farmers Alley Theatre is located at 221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo.


Annual Black Tie Gala Nov. 15 at the Rep

Wallace F. Smith

Posted: Oct. 20, 2014 at 5:58 p.m.

DETROIT - Michigan's longest running, non-profit, professional theater, the Detroit Repertory Theatre, will hold its Annual Black Tie Awards Night and Homecoming Celebration and Performance on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. The Black Tie is the annual major fundraiser for the theater. Funds raised at the benefit go to the Rep's Working Capitol Fund. The Fund is used to help the theater meet its financial obligations in a timely and efficient manner and help set the table for the generations ahead.

The Detroit Repertory Theatre's artistic commitment and accomplishments help keep Detroit's rebirth active and alive. The Annual Black Tie Homecoming unites past Detroit Repertory Theatre artists and actors, loyal patrons of the theater and civic minded citizens who value the Detroit Rep's contributions to the cultural life of Metropolitan Detroit in an effort to bring hope to the community, vitality to the city and a promise of a future for the City of Detroit and the Detroit Repertory Theatre.

Sponsors of the Black Tie event are Quicken Loans, MGM Grand Detroit, UAW Region 1A, St. John Providence Health System, Health Alliance Plan of Michigan, Domino's Pizza, Greektown Casino and FirstMerit Bank.

Tickets include a champagne and hors d'hoeuvres reception, followed by a ceremony hosted by mistress of ceremonies Amyre Makupson, noted TV host and author.

Noted humanitarian and theater entrepreneur Wallace F. Smith will give a keynote speech about the importance of the arts and legacy of the Detroit Repertory Theatre, followed by the annual presentation of awards given to the best artists of the 2013-14 season as voted by the theater's subscribers.

The evening will feature a presentation of the first play of the Rep's 58th Season, the world premiere comedy "Buzz" by Richard Strand. The night winds down with a champagne and dessert afterglow in the Lobby Gallery with the Detroit Rep's artists of the past, present and future.

Black tie is optional.

Tickets for the special evening are $75 and may be purchased by calling the Box Office at 313-868-1347 with a Visa or MasterCard, with no surcharge.

The Detroit Repertory Theatre is located in the geographical heart of Detroit at 13103 Woodrow Wilson, Detroit MI 48238. Parking is attended, adjacent, fenced-in and free.

More information may be found at

About the Keynote Speaker
For many years, Wallace F. Smith was active in the professional theater and film world as an actor, director and producer and was a member of the Actor's Equity Association, Screen Actor's Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He has appeared in scores of film and theater productions.

He was a Hilberry Fellow in the Hilberry Theatre's inaugural season at Wayne State University, where he completed his Master of Arts degree.

In addition, he wrote, produced, directed and performed in a chamber theater production that toured the world. It was simply known as Wallace Smith Productions. It was an entertaining production for all ages and demographics, and included in its subtext aspects of conflict resolution, problem solving and positive value building. Truly a "Peace - Love" project. The estimated performances with this company numbered somewhere between 2 and 3 thousand.

The seed for this extensive project was gratefully discovered at the Detroit Repertory Theatre.

Now in semi-retirement, Wallace is a distinguished professor emeritus of communication, He taught interpersonal communication, public speaking, film, video and theater at Oakland Community College in Auburn Hills. In 1983, the theater at the Orchard Ridge Campus of Oakland Community College was dedicated in his honor. It is now known as the Wallace F. Smith Performing Arts Theatre.

For many years, Wallace has been facilitating workshops internationally (recently in France, Poland, Scotland, Hawaii, Crete, England and the U.S.A.) in interpersonal communication, conflict management, beginning and advanced seminars in a bioenergetic healing modality, as well as a series entitled, "A Celebration of Healing.....Awaken the Flow," and his stellar and life changing seminar on listening.

He is an ordained minister with the World Congregational Fellowship Church, and is a certified instructor with the International Network for Esoteric Healing, the Institute for Bioenergy Studies and the National Association for Esoteric Healing.


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