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Creative drama workshops allow students to imagine their own circus performances

Article: 9517; Posted: March 31, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

Breakdancing squids, telekinetic sharks and singing rhinocorns (that’s a cross between a rhino and a unicorn, of course) are just a few of the circus acts that students imagined through dramatic play. Krista Schafer Ewbank, artistic director of Open Book Theatre Company, was a guest in seven downriver classrooms this March.

As part of the National Reading Month festivities Ewbank presented workshops based around Dr. Seuss’ book "If I Ran the Circus." Students began with a discussion of circuses they had seen, and imagined themselves as circus performers. Pantomimes of tightrope walking and juggling turned even more fantastical as students were encouraged to juggle whatever they wanted. Students juggled things such as houses, giraffes and blades of grass. After a lively reading of the book, in which young Morris McGurk imagines himself the ringleader of a stupendous “Circus McGurkus”, Ewbank led groups of students to create and perform their own circus acts, right there in the classroom. Each act was greeted with thunderous applause, a rule Ewbank has for all audiences watching their peers perform in class.

“Elementary students are naturals at dramatic play,” Ewbank said, “they are already using their imaginations to become characters and role play at home and on the playground.” These workshops were fun and focused on play and imagination, but creative drama workshops can be used to take students deeper into many different topics. “Creative drama can help students imagine what it was like to travel by covered wagon into new territories or fight for their lives on the Titanic as it sunk. They can be inventors or zoo keepers or explorers. Dramatic play increases empathy and awareness, and is a wonderful way to deepen learning in many subjects.”

Open Book Theatre Company is a new professional theatre company Downriver. In May the company will present "Kimberly Akimbo," the last of four professional productions in its inaugural season. This July they will present a family friendly show, Susan Zeder’s "Wiley and the Hairy Man," and offer a two week theatre summer camp for students through a partnership with Southgate Parks and Recreation.

In addition to another full slate of plays, next season Ewbank plans to get into more classrooms with more creative drama workshops. “I’m really excited to develop and share these workshops with the students. It’s not about performing. It’s about learning and exploring. At Open Book we are interested in the story. We believe that stories are one of the best ways to learn about ourselves and others. Creative drama workshops put kids inside the story.”

For more information about Open Book Theatre Company you can go to their website, www. openbooktc .com, or call 734 288-7753.


Puzzle Piece Theatre announces its 2015-2016 season

Article: 9512; Posted: March 29, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

Werewolves, robots, damnation: Puzzle Piece Theatre's third season packs a punch.

Puzzle Piece Theatre is expanding for the company's third season – the group will be offering three productions for the first time. "Last year both of our productions received the largest audiences we have had, and both were profitable" said producing artistic director D.B. Schroeder. "What we were hearing as audiences were leaving the theater was a strong desire to shorten the wait between our productions. As an organization we are well positioned to expand our offerings. I couldn't be more proud of our scrappy company."

The season will open in the fall of 2015 with the American premiere of London based playwright Matthew Osman's The Boy Who Cried, directed by Schroeder. In a world where werewolves lurk in the shadows, Sam Elvin has been acting strangely. His concerned mother calls the authorities to help her boy and what follows leads the Elvins down a dark path where nothing will be left the same.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to bring this play to Detroit for its American premiere" offers Schroeder. "The original production was extended and had to transfer to a larger venue when it debuted in London. Our audiences will love it."

What the critics are saying about The Boy Who Cried:
"When its claws are out, it’s fiercely original and sharply funny."- Tom Wicker, Time Out
"A paranormal mystery with some 'bite'!"- Michael Davis, Everything Theatre

The rise of technology sometimes has unexpected consequences. The rise of the machine has begun. The Robot revolution is here! In the winter of 2016, Puzzle Piece Theatre will bring a fresh take to the Modern Theater classic Rossum's Universal Robots by Karel Čapek. For Puzzle Piece, D.B. Schroeder will bring the story to life with a high-energy production and comic book intensity. The robots will try their best to thwart the group's plans but Puzzle Piece will answer mightily!

Faith will be tested in the spring of 2016 when the story of a troubled novice nun is brought to light. Agnes of God by John Pielmeier closes the company's third season and will be directed by associate artistic director Laura Heikkinen. Agnes has given birth and possibly killed her newborn baby. A psychiatrist and the convent's mother superior seek answers to many challenging questions as they investigate what has occurred.

With their third season, Puzzle Piece Theatre continues to bring its brand of fresh, bold, and provocative theater to Detroit.

For more information about Puzzle Piece Theatre's upcoming season, visit their website at


In Memorium: Charlotte Leisinger

Charlotte Leisinger

(left) in a Detroit Rep's 2012 production

Article: 9514; Posted: March 28, 2015 at 1:30 p.m.

The Detroit theatre community lost one of its most stalwart members this month when Charlotte Leisinger, 72, died from cancer.

A life-long Detroiter, Charlotte was a "true person of the theatre," according to Ray Schultz, one of her close friends and colleagues. "I first met Charlotte when I was a member of the Hilberry acting company. Not only was she supremely talented as an actor, director, and stage manager, she was also an enormous lover of theatre and actors, often coming back to see multiple performances of shows. Charlotte was also one of the most generous people I've ever known: at the Hilberry we affectionately called her 'the Fudge Lady,' because she would always be making fudge or stopping by with other treats."

Charlotte received her undergraduate degree from Marygrove College and pursued her master of fine arts in acting at the University of West Virginia. Her life-long love for the theatre in general and Shakespeare in particular manifested itself in the many productions she participated in as actor, director, and stage manager throughout the Metro-Detroit area in both community and professional venues. As a member of the Harper Woods Greasepaint Players, Charlotte directed both comedies like You Can't Take It With You and dramas like Our Town and also got to perform one of her favorite roles, Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. Charlotte would also supervise costuming for the group; her daughter, Theresa, recalls that her mother had what amounted to "a costume factory set up in our garage, which always looked like it was Halloween."

In the 1980s and '90s, Charlotte acted in dozens of plays in the Hilberry Studio Theatre; she was, says Schultz, "one of the 'Queens' of the Studio." Some of her many roles there include Lenny in Crimes of the Heart, Paulina in The Seagull, Susan in Bed Among the Lentils, and Dorothea in Eleemosynary. Professionally, she performed at many area theatres, including Performance Network and the Jewish Ensemble Theatre (her performance in Nickeled and Dimed earned her a Wilde Award nomination), but her artistic home was, undoubtedly, with the Detroit Repertory Theatre. For the Rep, she directed Doubt, Looking for the Pony, and Byrd's Boy among others. Charlotte made her acting debut there in 1998 in Odd Jobs, for which she received a nomination for best actress from the Detroit Free Press, and subsequently appeared in many plays, including Fast Ducks, Coming to Life, and Dead and Buried, for which she received the Rep's 2012 Subscriber Award for best supporting actress. In addition to acting and directing, she was also a crackerjack stage manager, doing twelve productions for DRT alone in this capacity. "She was a busy gal," the Rep's Barb Busby, her close friend and colleague, aptly noted, and, in a more serious vein she added, "Charlotte was a dedicated theatre artist, who made important contributions to the Rep in the form of her many vivid and wonderful performances. We treasure those performances and mourn the ones we won't get to see."


GoComedy! set to pop up in downtown Detroit

Article: 5902; Posted: March 25, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.

FERNDALE-Go Comedy! will bring its award winning All Star Showdown to downtown Detroit April 18 and May 16 at The Elizabeth Theatre located above the Park Bar at 2040 Park Ave, Detroit. Tickets for these special Downtown Detroit pop up performances of The Go Comedy! All Star Showdown are $15 and are on sale now at and at

"Since opening in Ferndale more than six years ago we have been building a tremendous audience with support from all areas in Metro Detroit," states Go Comedy! co-owner Pj Jacokes. "We are really excited to take our anchor show, The All Star Showdown, to downtown Detroit at The Elizabeth Theatre for these special performances and to be a part of the city's tremendous energy and spirit."

Go Comedy!'s signature show continues to be The Go Comedy! All Star Showdown which has played on Friday and Saturday nights for more than six years. Featuring members of Go Comedy! resident company, The All Star Showdown puts two teams of improvisers in an improv competition tailored to challenge their abilities, think on their feet and give audiences a roaring good time. The cast also plays for audience members who take home fabulous prizes when their team wins. It's a night of hilarious laughs and great times! 

On Saturday April 18 and Saturday May 16, Go Comedy! will present two simultaneous performances of its All Star Showdown. At 8:00pm & 10:00pm, performances will take place at Go Comedy! Improv Theater in Ferndale (Tickets: $18) and at The Elizabeth Theatre in Detroit (Tickets: $15). Tickets for all four performances are on sale now at Tickets for the Elizabeth Theatre performances are also available online at

About Go Comedy!

In the fall of 2008 the former Ferndale Secretary of State office was transformed into Go Comedy! Improv Theater - a catalyst for hundreds of original shows, a robust improv academy, and an incubator for innovation, inspiration and integrity. Today, Go Comedy! is home for hundreds of improvisers, at least 30 improv troupes, and a weekly schedule of hilarious award-winning programming that has garnered local and national recognition.

About The Elizabeth Theatre

Located above the popular Park Bar in downtown Detroit, the Elizabeth Theater seats 70 with a bar conveniently located to the right of the stage. The Park Bar and Elzabeth Theatre are located at 20140 Park Ave, Detroit MI 48226. For more information on the Elizabeth Theatre visit

Go Comedy! Improv Theater is located at 261 East Nine Mile Road in Ferndale, MI 48220. For five years, Go Comedy! has offered the finest in improv and sketch comedy, Go U! The Improv Academy training center, road shows, classes and workshops for private parties, corporations and schools. For more information, call (248) 327-0575; visit our website at or e-mail Pj Jacokes at


Michigan Shakespeare Festival's 2015 Season

Article: 9503; Posted: March 27, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival inspires and entertains a diverse audience while further developing an appreciation for professional performances of Shakespeare's works and other classical plays. Michigan Shakespeare Festival's 2015 Season will perform at two locations; their season includes A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry IV, and The Rivals. As the Official Shakespeare Festival of the State of Michigan, the Michigan Shakespeare Festival is dedicated to producing world-class classical plays. Now in preparation its 21st year, they will perform in Jackson's lovely Baughman Theatre, and in 2015 are expanding to Canton's beautiful Village Theatre of Cherry Hill.

Please call each box office for tickets.

July 9 - July 19, 2015
Baughman Theatre - Potter Center - Jackson College
2111 Emmons Road - Jackson MI – 49201
(take the entrance off of Browns Lake Rd.)
Box office – (517) 796-8600

July 29 - August 16, 2015
Village Theatre of Cherry Hill
50400 Cherry Hill Rd - Canton MI – 48188
Box office – (734) 394-5300

A Midsummer Night's Dream
directed by Janice L Blixt
"The course of true love never did run smooth."
In Royal Athens the conventions of tradition, archaic law, and patriarchy rule the Day; in the forest, magic, mystery, and mischief rule the Night. When Athenian lovers flee the power of the Duke, and a bunch of average guys try to use the forest as a place to meet, they all become featured pawns in the skirmishes between the warring courts of the King and the Queen of the Faeries. A Midsummer Night's Dream is a glorious favorite of Shakespeare's canon full of romantic comedy, giddy wit, and enchantment.

Henry IV
adapted and directed by Janice L Blixt
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."
A powerful, commanding father despairs of his errant, unruly eldest son; an heir questions his own fitness for the rank he's been groomed to inherit. Both men question their allegiances, their character, and their life purposes as England falls into civil war. Henry IV is a King troubled by rebellion: of his nobles and his own successor. Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, are being combined by Artistic Director Janice L Blixt into one epic evening of theatre full of battles for family, for fame, and for England.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals
directed by Robert Kauzlaric
'''Tis safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion.''
In Bath, the center of fashion and culture in 1770s England, Lydia Languish want to marry only for love, her mother, the famed Mrs. Malaprop, wants her to marry for status and fortune. Lydia's love, the penniless Ensign Beverly fulfills all of her romantic dreams: or he would if he were actually Ensign Beverly and not the wealthy Captain Jack Absolute. Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1775 comedy of wit and manners, The Rivals, is being brought hilariously to life by MSF artistic associate Robert Kauzlaric.

For more information about the 2015 Michigan Shakespeare Festival, visit the website: or call: 517-998-3673.


Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions Tour Announces Fox Theatre stop on September 11; tickets on sale March 28

Article: 9504; Posted: March 26, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.

DETROIT— The Pokémon Company International and Princeton Entertainment announced today 30 new dates and locations for the official Pokémon live orchestral concert, Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions. After sold out performances in Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh, PA and selling 5,000 tickets in Philadelphia, fans across the country will soon get the opportunity to see Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions, including Detroit with a performance at the Fox Theatre on Friday, September 11 at 8 p.m.

Tickets ($28.50, $39.50, $59.50 and $79.50) go on sale Saturday, March 28 at 10 a.m. 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. For additional information, call (313) 471-6611. More information can be found at

Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions is the must-see video game concert of the year, giving fans and newcomers of all ages the chance to experience the evolution of the Pokémon franchise like never before. Don't miss this amazing opportunity to meet up with friends of all ages to catch, battle and trade Pokémon from your favorite games. All-new orchestral arrangements and carefully timed visuals draw from recent and classic Pokémon video games, including:

The upcoming North America tour includes a first set of dates presented by Live Nation Entertainment in conjunction with Princeton Entertainment. Performances will take place in some of the most prestigious venues in the country, including the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, the Theater at Madison Square Garden, The Chicago Theatre and The Greek Theatre, among others. A European tour is scheduled for spring 2016, with additional venue and location details coming soon.

"Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions is a spectacular showcase of the memorable music that has been a hallmark of the Pokémon franchise for nearly 20 years,” said J.C. Smith, director of Consumer Marketing at The Pokémon Company International. “The concert series serves as a thank you to fans and an invitation to share our passion for Pokémon by reliving some of our fondest memories with the brand. We look forward to seeing fans of all ages enjoying this very special Pokémon orchestral event together.”

The Pokémon Company has released a special Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions video, viewable at the following link:

Visit for more Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions news and information.

Visit, like the official Pokémon Facebook page at and follow @Pokemon on Twitter.


Johnny Gill breaches contract, walks out on Music Hall's James Brown musical

Article: 9499; Posted: March 25, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

Detroit--After signing the contract, and receiving a significant deposit, R & B singer, Johnny Gill abruptly cancelled his contract and walked away from the lead role in I Feel Good Vol. 1, the Music Hall's premiere theatrical presentation of the life of legendary Soul Icon, James Brown for a higher paying concert in Chicago.

The musical tribute was set to open on time, May 7th, 2015, until Mr. Gill found a more lucrative appearance.

The “I Feel Good Vol .1” Producers are seeking a replacement and hope to reschedule the premiere for TBA Fall 2015.

"He simply walked out on his executed contract. He even received our deposit and still decided he can just walk away. It was bad business and the people should know that he really left Music Hall and it's producers and cast, in a lurch." says Music Hall President and Artistic Director, Vince Paul.

Music Hall has teamed with "Feelin' Good Productions" and "Drumline" screenwriter Donald Roberts to bring the The Godfather of Soul's life to the stage with a world premiere, which was scheduled for May 7-10 2015.

Refunds are available at point of purchase.

The Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts
is located at 350 Madison Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226. You can visit their website at or call them at 313-887-8501.


Q&A with new EncoreMichigan owner and editor

David Kiley took ownership and editorial leadership of EncoreMichigan on March 13. He has big plans for the site, and we thought we would share some of those plans with our community and audience, and also let our readers find out more about his background and ideas.

Why did you acquire EncoreMichigan?
I love theatre. And I have a background in journalism, web content, marketing and social media. The opportunity was presented to me, and it was too good to pass up. I am anxious and excited to make EncoreMichigan indispensable to theatergoers and the acting and producing community in Michigan. I believe our industry deserves and needs a media outlet totally devoted to theater, and I believe I have a business model that will work.

Are you a native Michigander?
No. I was born in Westfield, New Jersey, and graduated from Fordham University in New York City. I moved to Michigan in late 1998 for a job, and have lived in Ann Arbor ever since. Michigan is my home, and I expect that to be the case for the rest of my life.

Tell us about where you come from and your family?
I am the youngest of six children. My father was a newspaper editor. He had a great career with the The Stars and Stripes during WW2, and was at the surrender in France in 1945 with Eisenhower. He worked for The New York Herald Tribune in a golden age of newspapers in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Then, he was editor-in-chief of The New York Law Journal. My mother was a homemaker. I grew up in a great suburban town, played baseball, football and basketball. I acted in middle school and high school, and spent a lot of time at church. We were a very religious, Catholic, family with two priests in the family. Today, my wife is a partner in a pre-school. My son is 13 and also acts.

What gave you the theater bug?
Probably being taken to Broadway as a kid. My earliest theater memories are seeing Zero Mostel in “Fiddler” and John Cullum in “Shenandoah.” John Cullum remains a theater hero for me. I was arts editor at Fordham, and was lucky enough to see a lot of shows with free reviewer tickets. It’s worth noting, I took over in that job from Christine Pedi, who became a Broadway actress and is now a host on SiriusXM’s Broadway Channel.

What are your favorite shows?
That’s mighty tough. I love both musicals and straight plays, but here goes in no particular order: “Glengarry Glenn Ross”; “1776”; “Camelot”; “Twelve Angry Men”; “The Odd Couple”; “Death of A Salesman”; “Rent”; “La Boheme”; “The Marriage of Figaro.”

You like opera?
Very much. My sister kind of got me onto it about 10 years ago. I see just about everything at Michigan Opera Theatre, and I attend the Met in New York when I can. Opera touches me in a way that is different than musical theater.

Do you have any peeves about today’s theater?
Definitely. I have old school sensibilities. The trend of letting food and drink into theaters during performances drives me crazy. I am there to experience the performance, not the crinkling bag of chips behind me. I have scolded a few people who were ruining my experience. It was a terrible shift by theaters. I also lament the preponderance of shows on Broadway that seem to be written by marketing departments rather than writers—stage treatments of movies and a never ending stream of jukebox musicals. Encore is going to be a big supporter and booster of original work. Lastly, I have very mixed feelings about the use of face-microphones and body microphones. I was taught to project. Even in small theaters, face microphones have become the norm. Young actors coming up don’t seem to be learning how to project. Why should they, if they are always going to have a mic?

You say you want to make EncoreMichigan indispensable. What can you say about that strategy?
I don’t want to give the whole strategy away for competitive reasons. But I can say a few things. My partner and I have a plan that is going absolutely delight directors, actors, musicians, producers. Anyone touching the business of theater in Michigan is going to be, I predict, a frequent visitor to the site by this fall, even more so than they are now. I know what the community needs and wants. My partner and I are making a bet with our investment that the content will be stuff that the professional community won’t want to be without.

What do you think you are going to offer to theater owners?
Let me say, first, that we are going to cover the Michigan theater industry impartially. But we also have plans to offer tools and services that will educate and help theater owners with their operations and development. My partner and I have a lot of business experience. And we feel like we have a lot to offer theaters to make them better, smarter operators. I also have an advertising background, and I am going to be working a plan to bring state-wide advertising revenue to EncoreMichigan and to the theaters.

Is the staff going to change?
Founder Don Calamia has agreed to stay on as a reviewer and editor-at-large. That is great news for everyone. The roster of reviewers have also agreed to stay on. So, no big changes other than readers will see my byline from now on as well. Over time, I am sure some new bylines will appear.

What are your journalism credentials?
After college, I went to work at CNN, and then I had a succession of reporter and editor jobs at Adweek, USA Today, Businessweek, AOL/HuffingtonPost. The last staff job I had in traditional media was running all of the automotive industry news content at AOL. We had 10 million-14 million unique visitors a month to the content I was in charge of. I led a team of reporters and free-lancers in that job. I have written a couple of books too, and have another one coming out this fall.

How about content for patrons?
We will continue to have comprehensive information, reviews, etc. about theater in Michigan. But I also have a strategy for attracting more theatergoers, and more often, by having a program of incentives for people who love theater. The more theater you go to, the more you are rewarded.

You have been an actor. Are you going to continue with that?
This is a very tough issue for me. Running EncoreMichigan is part of my business now. My day job. Acting has truly fed my soul the last few years. I am in a show right now, playing Jonathan Brewster in “Arsenic and Old Lace” in Ann Arbor. I have also been cast as Cladwell in “Urinetown” this summer. That happened before I acquired Encore. It is a dream role for me. But Encore will take a lot of time and attention. After “Urinetown,” I have a play I am writing and want to produce based on a book that I co-authored with members of my family. I don’t foresee even thinking about auditioning for anything more until 2016. I may take another acting class at The Purple Rose in Chelsea, though. I took one last fall, and it was tremendous.

Do you think it could be a conflict of interest if you are acting and producing, and running Encore?
I understand the question. Encore will cover the production of “Urinetown,” but it will not receive any more coverage than any other play we write about. We will not review that show, but we will carry the review of a third party media outlet, or ask a reviewer not connected with Encore to review it. The same goes for the play I am producing. No more coverage than any other show would get. That is a promise and a commitment.

Is the current site going to be redesigned?
Definitely. It is overdue. We have already begun, and hope to have a new site up by the end of July. The aim is to have it up in time for The Wilde Awards, which we are also going to produce. But that’s all I should say for now. I am not big on talking about what we are going to do. I prefer to announce what we have done and are ready to launch. I am a put-up or shut-up kind of guy. Just stay tuned. I think everyone is going to like what we are doing. And if some people don’t, we will listen and determine if we need to change course.

You have mentioned a partner. Who is that?
We will announce that soon. Some papers are being drawn up. When those are done, we will announce it on the website.


Broadway Grand Rapids announces its 2015-2016 season featuring The Book of Mormon

Article: 9498; Posted: March 25, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

Broadway Grand Rapids is proud to announce the 2015-2016 season.

From the creators of "South Park" and winner of nine Tony Awards, The Book of Mormon will play a limited six-day engagement June 21 thru June 26 at DeVos Performance Hall. The New York Times calls it "the best musical of this century" and Entertainment Weekly says it's "the funniest musical of all time."

And, Cameron Mackintosh's spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's phenomenal musical success, The Phantom of the Opera will come to Grand Rapids for the first time ever! This engagement will also mark the first time a Broadway tour has been presented in Grand Rapids for an extended run. Phantom will be on stage for 16 performances across two weeks.

Newsies, the smash-hit, crowd-pleasing musical from Disney, opens the season in September. Also in the season line-up will be Pippin which will delight audiences with a magical and unforgettable production; and the Riverdance 20th Anniversary World Tour in the spring of 2016.

In addition, Broadway Grand Rapids will present one special event next season. The perfect kick-off to holiday season, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis, will be here for one performance, right after Thanksgiving.

All performances, subscription shows and special events alike will be presented at DeVos Performance Hall in downtown Grand Rapids.


September 22-27, 2015
Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday at 7:30pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm.
They delivered the papers, until they made the headlines...Direct from Broadway comes Newsies, the smash-hit, crowd-pleasing new musical from Disney. Winner of the 2012 Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Choreography, Newsies has audiences and critics alike calling it "A musical worth singing about." (The New York Times) Filled with one heart-pounding number after another, it's a high-energy explosion of song and dance you just don't want to miss.

November 3-8, 2015
Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday at 7:30pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm.
Pippin is back for the first time since it thrilled audiences 40 years ago. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival! With a beloved score by Tony® nominee Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell), Pippin tells the story of a young prince on a death-defying journey to find meaning in his existence. Will he choose a happy but simple life? Or will he risk everything for a singular flash of glory? This captivating new production is directed by Tony® winner Diane Paulus (Hair and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess). It features sizzling choreography in the style of Bob Fosse and breathtaking acrobatics by Les 7 Doigts De La Main, the creative force behind the nationwide sensation, Traces.

Riverdance 20th Anniversary World Tour
April 12-17, 2016
Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday at 7:30pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm.
The international Irish dance phenomenon is back by popular demand in Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour. Drawing on Irish traditions, the combined talents of the performers propel Irish dancing and music into the present day, capturing the imagination of audiences across all ages and cultures in an innovative and exciting blend of dance, music and song. Of all the performances to emerge from Ireland - in rock, music, theatre and film - nothing has carried the energy, the sensuality and the spectacle of Riverdance. Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour is composed by BillWhelan, produced by Moya Doherty and directed by John McColgan, and comes directly to North America from a sold out run across Europe and Asia.

The Phantom of the Opera
May 18-29, 2016
Week 1: Wednesday at 7:30pm; Thursday at 2pm & 7:30pm; Friday at 8:00pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8:00pm; Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm
Week 2: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 7:30pm; Friday at 8:00pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm.
Following an acclaimed sold-out tour of the United Kingdom, Cameron Mackintosh's spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's phenomenal musical success, The Phantom of the Opera, will come to DeVos Performance Hall as part of a brand-new North American Tour. Hailed by critics as "bigger and better than ever before," this production boasts many exciting special effects including the show's legendary chandelier, new scenic and lighting designs, new staging and choreography. The beloved story and thrilling score - with songs like Music of the Night, All I Ask Of You, and Masquerade - will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this Phantom one of the largest productions now on tour.

The Book of Mormon
June 21-26, 2016
Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday 7:30pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm.
The New York Times calls it "The Best Musical of this Century." The Washington Post says, "It is the kind of evening that restores your faith in musicals." And Entertainment Weekly says, "Grade A: the funniest musical of all time." Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" calls it "a crowning achievement. So good it makes me angry." It's The Book of Mormon, the nine-time Tony Award winning Best Musical from the creators of "South Park". Contains explicit language. For more information, please visit


Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
by Chip Davis

November 30, 2015: Monday at 7:30pm.
The Ultimate Holiday Tradition! Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis has been America's favorite holiday tradition for the past 30 years! Grammy Award winner Chip Davis has created a show that features the beloved Christmas music of Mannheim Steamroller along with dazzling multimedia effects performed in an intimate setting. Experience the magic as the spirit of the season comes alive with the signature sound of Mannheim Steamroller. The holiday CDs have become synonymous with Christmas and their albums continue to occupy Billboards Top Seasonal Charts!

For the first time, Broadway Grand Rapids offers two options for season subscription packages. A Five-Show Subscription package which includes: Newsies, Pippin, Riverdance- 20th Anniversary World Tour, The Phantom of the Opera and The Book of Mormon. New this season is a PICK-4 Season package which allows theater goers to choose any 4 shows for a custom package (Mannheim Steamroller Christmas excluded). Both packages offer savings off individual ticket prices and advance ticket purchasing before the general public for all presentations. Broadway GR offers easy payment plans, free lost-ticket replacement, no-fee ticket exchanges, personalized service, exclusive privileges, and the same reserved seats for each show. The 5-show Subscription Series package price ranges from $193 to $446, depending on seating section and performance day and time. 4-show packages start at $166. The 2015-2016 Subscription Series may be renewed or purchased from Broadway Grand Rapids by calling 616-235-6285, in person at 122 Lyon Street NW in downtown Grand Rapids, by mail using the order form which can be downloaded from the BGR website or using the ONLINE ordering system at BGR office hours are 9 to 5 Monday through Thursday, and 9 to 4 on Fridays. The subscription renewal deadline is Friday, May 15, 2015.

Individual Tickets for Newsies and Pippin will go on sale July 27, 2015. Individual tickets for all other shows will go on sale in fall 2015.

To receive exclusive pre-sale offers and discounts on upcoming shows sign up for the BGR Eclub at .


Michigan Opera Theatre announces its 2015-2016 Opera Season

Article: 9496; Posted: March 24, 2015 at 10:30 p.m.

DETROIT - Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) announced today the details of its 2015-16 opera and season, and an upcoming milestone - 20 years of performances in one of the region's cultural landmarks, the Detroit Opera House. The company's 45th opera season includes four main stage productions - La Boheme, Mieczyslaw Weinberg's The Passenger, Macbeth, and The Magic Flute, and an opera in the community, The Tender Land by Aaron Copland, which will be performed in venues to be determined, throughout metro Detroit. The Passenger, a stirring dramatic piece that takes place during and just after the Holocaust, marks the third in MOT's contemporary opera initiative, "Opera of Our Time," following 2014's A View from the Bridge by William Bolcom and 2015's Frida by Robert Xavier Rodriguez.

"This is our 20th anniversary in the Detroit Opera House," said Founder and Artistic Director David DiChiera. "And this season, we're offering marvelous productions with music by some of the world's greatest composers -- Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, and Puccini - performed by some of the world's leading artists. And with The Passenger, I think audiences will be astonished by the power and beauty of an opera that had been suppressed by a totalitarian Soviet regime for more than 40 years. But before that, you'll fall in love all over again with the opera that launched MOT's first season at the Detroit Opera House, La Bohčme. It's really going to be a great year."


Puccini's LA BOHEME
October 17-25, 2015
Performed in Italian with English supertitles
At some point in your life, in everyone's life, we all endure the same trials: love and loss and bliss and heartbreak. That's especially true in Giacomo Puccini's story of Mimi and Rodolfo, a poor, young couple seeking a lovers' paradise among their resilient, struggling friends in the Latin Quarter of Paris. A scintillating, easily-accessible romantic adventure for lovers of any age.
Production highlights: Featuring Nicole Cabell as Mimi, Sean Panikkar as Rodolfo, Rodion Pogossov as Marcello, Marina Costa Jackson as Musetta. Leonardo Vordoni conducts. Cabell last appeared as Violetta in MOT's 2013 production of La Traviata, under Vordoni's baton.

November 14-22, 2015
Performed in German and Polish with English supertitles
In Mieczyslaw Weinberg's opera - only recently discovered after having been suppressed for more than 40 years - a West German diplomat, Walter, and his wife, Liese, are ocean-bound for a new posting in Brazil. Unbeknownst to her husband, Liese once served as an SS officer in Auschwitz. There's another woman on the same cruise ship, a passenger whose mere existence haunts Liese. Guilt and denial, lies and truth, fear and courage, and love - it's all here in an artistic and emotional experience you'll never forget.
Production highlights: Featuring Adrienn Miksch as Marta, Daveda Karanas as Liese, David Danholt as Walter, Anna Gorbachyova as Katya. Steven Mercurio conducts; original stage direction by David Poutney in a production from the Bregenzer Festspiele.

April 16-24, 2016
Performed in Italian with English supertitles
"Double double, toil and trouble/Fire burn and cauldron bubble..." Obsession for power and moving heaven and earth to seize control are not new stories. They play out every day in palaces, town squares, and homes all over the world. In William Shakespeare's classic morality tale about using murder to take the crown of Scotland, retold brilliantly by Giuseppe Verdi, we learn once again to be careful what we wish for.
Production highlights: Featuring Steven Powell as Macbeth, Csilla Boross as Lady Macbeth, Leonardo Capalbo as Macduff, Burak Bilgili as Banquo. Valerio Galli conducts and Bernard Uzan directs.

May 14-22, 2016
Performed in English with English supertitles
A quest for enlightenment and honor...A mystical story about the power of love...A young prince discovers a flute with magic and a girl who will make him whole. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's fantastical and hilarious tale draws you into a world of magic fantasy, complete with a giant serpent, a secret brotherhood, and a lovesick bird catcher.

Dates TBD
Performed in English with English supertitles
Originally commissioned by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II in the 1950s, Aaron Copland crafted this distinctively American tale. Set in the Midwest during the depths of the depression but written during the notorious McCarthy era, this is a story of a farm girl's first love to an itinerant worker and the evil power of gossip and paranoia that seeks to wreck their relationship.

Subscription price range: $87 - $447 four operas; The Tender Land will be an add-on option.
Single ticket price range: $29 - $160; on sale to the general public August 15, 2015.

About Michigan Opera Theatre
Michigan Opera Theatre (Wayne S. Brown, President and CEO; Dr. David DiChiera, Founder and Artistic Director), one of the nation's most vibrant nonprofit arts organizations, is committed to presenting opera and dance of the highest artistic caliber. Founded in 1971, the company's mission is to serve as a major cultural resource to the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit.

Visit the website at Events, dates, and artists subject to change.


Renegade Theatre Festival seeking new plays

Posted: March 21, 2015 at 1:30 p.m.

The Renegade Theatre Festival, held in Lansing, Michigan, is seeking new plays for our annual festival held in August. Going into its eighth year in the festival-rich Old Town district, Renegade is a free, completely volunteer festival that gives theaters and independent producer/writer/directors an opportunity to present works that they might not normally stage. This summer marks the sixth year of the festival featuring new, original works – Renegade N.O.W.!

We will be accepting new, original works that meet the following guidelines:

New Plays #1:
No longer than 90 minutes in length
Never been produced
In any style/genre.=


New Plays #2:
Plays written on the themes of Heroism and/or Courage
That are not longer than 15 minutes in length
That have a cast of no more than three characters
That have never been produced
That are in any style/genre
That can be fully produced using minimal setting/props/costumes

The deadline for new play submissions is May 15th, 2015.

Plays should be sent electronically to:

If you are unable to submit your script via email, you can mail a cd to the following address:
Renegade Theatre Festival
Attn: Paige Dunckel
4065 E. St. Joe Hwy.
Grand Ledge, MI 48837

Please include your name, address, phone and email address with your submission. Playwrights should also include a brief synopsis of their play that can be used in promotional material as well as a short bio. Playwrights whose plays have been selected will be notified by late June.

Selected plays will be seen by as many as 2,000 festival goers as well as professional, community and educational theatre representatives. Highlights from previous festivals have included performances of comedy, drama, musicals, children’s theatre, performance art, readings of new works by local playwrights, spoken word and improvisation. Past participants have included Williamston Theatre, Peppermint Creek Theatre Company, Ruhala Performing Arts Center, Starlight Dinner Theatre, Lansing Community College Theatre, All-of-us Express Children’s Theatre, Mid-Michigan Family Theatre, Saginaw Valley State University, Holt-Dimondale Community Players, Shakespeare on the Grand, Riverwalk Theatre and Michigan State University.

We look forward to reading your new play!

Check out our festival website at:



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