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Encore LIVE! - Talking creativity (and more) with Marc Evan Jackson (and more) of the Detroit Creativity Project

Beth Hagenlocker, Marc Evan Jackson and Margaret Edwartowski.

Posted: July 24, 2014 at 4 p.m.

It's no secret that Detroit has served as a splendid training ground for young thespians who studied their crafts, got their starts in show biz, and then moved east or west to pursue their dreams. While many leave and never come back - and oftentimes rarely acknowledge their roots - others return time and again to give back to the community that nurtured their talents.

In recent years that's been especially true of Metro Detroit's close-knit improv community, which has seen luminaries such as Larry Joe Campbell, Keegan-Michael Key, Josh and Nyima Funk, and Jaime Moyer head west - only to reappear on local stages from time to time, often for a good cause.

That's also true of Marc Evan Jackson, whose work at the Second City Detroit and the popular improv troupe The 313 has made him a local audience favorite. Ever appreciative of his time in Metro Detroit, Jackson and his wife, Beth Hagenlocker, have created the Detroit Creativity Project, an innovative program designed to empower and inspire young people through the art of improvisation.

To find out more about this unusual project, host Donald V. Calamia met with Jackson, Hagenlocker and local improv legend Margaret Edwartowski who is responsible for implementing the program in her role as director of arts for the Y-Arts division of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit.

Encore LIVE! - it's like radio, but over the internet! A production of EncoreMichigan.com. Produced for EncoreMichigan.com by Barton Bund and Tony Caselli. Theme music by the World Famous Love Machine.

CLICK HERE for other listening and downloading options.

THERE'S MORE: CLICK HERE for more information about the Detroit Creativity Project!

AND EVEN MORE: CLICK HERE for complete information regarding the Detroit Improv Festival!

Click here to comment on this podcast


 

MOT expands main stage outreach in Metro Detroit

Posted: July 24, 2014 at 3:20 p.m.

DETROIT - Michigan Opera Theatre announces two additional venues, the Berman Center for the Performing Arts and Detroit Institute of Arts' Detroit Film Theatre, for performances of its co-production of "Frida" with the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in March 2015.

MOT's "Frida" will open at the Macomb Center March 7-8, followed by performances at The Berman Center on March 21-22 and Detroit Film Theatre on March 28. The opera's run will be in tandem with the DIA's exhibition, "Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit." The project marks MOT's first main stage opera to be performed in all three Metro Detroit counties - Macomb, Oakland and Wayne.

"Community engagement is a principal theme for Michigan Opera Theatre. Through the opera 'Frida,' three new partnerships reflect a new era for artistic collaboration in Southeastern Michigan," said Wayne S. Brown, MOT's president and CEO.

"For some years I have had the desire to produce this opera by Rodriguez, and when I learned that the DIA was mounting an exhibit about Frida and Diego, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to provide the community with a musical dimension to this most fascinating character," said Dr. David DiChiera, MOT's founder and artistic director.

Robert Xavier Rodriguez's "Frida" focuses completely on the tumultuous life of its title character, Frida Kahlo. At the age of 18, Kahlo was on a bus that collided with a trolley car, causing her injuries that would lead to a lifetime of medical procedures and pain, and would inspire her to create some of the most compelling paintings of the 21st century. Kahlo's marriage to famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, the artist who created Detroit Industry for the DIA, was a source of both inspiration and heartache. The opera celebrates Kahlo's vivacious spirit, talent, sexuality, and fragility in scenes filled with wide-ranging music as complex and colorful as Kahlo's artwork.

Full details of the project, including an announcement of community partners, sponsors, casting and production information will be released Aug. 26.


Robert Xavier Rodriguez's Frida

The Macomb Center for the Performing Arts
Saturday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 8 at 2:30 p.m.

The Berman Center for the Performing Arts
Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 22 at 2:30 p.m.

DIA's Detroit Film Theatre
Saturday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m.


 

OTHER VOICES - NEWS & PREVIEWS: July 24, 2014

Meet Ann Arbor's 2 newest theater companies: Spinning Dot Theatre and Pointless Brewery & Theatre – The Ann Arbor News (July 24, 2014)

Mosaic Youth Theatre choir wins gold, silver at world games – The Detroit News (July 22, 2014)

Bringing Shakespeare to Detroit's renaissance – The Detroit News (July 24, 2014)

Getting schooled: Breakout hit Chicago play 'Exit Strategy' comes to Three Oaks theater fest – The Herald Palladium (July 24, 2014)


 

'Gilda's LaughFest' announces 2015 festival dates

Posted: July 24, 2014 at 8:25 a.m.

GRAND RAPIDS – The nation's first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, "Gilda's LaughFest," announced this morning the festival will celebrate its fifth anniversary March 5-15, 2015. Also, announced today are preliminary results of an economic impact study from Grand Valley State University. The study indicates "LaughFest" created a $3.2 million economic impact on the region.

"We are excited as we ramp-up efforts for our fifth year," said Joanne Roehm, festival director. "Last year more than 50,000 individuals purchased tickets to 'LaughFest.' We are happy with the results for 'LaughFest,' but we are extremely pleased to show the economic impact 'LaughFest' has created for Grand Rapids and the region."

"LaughFest," the nation's only 10-day community-wide festival of laughter, attracted 50,000 attendees from across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom during its fourth annual event. The festival features laughter in all its forms, from stand-up comedy and improv to film, music and a variety of seriously funny stuff.

Other highlights from the economic impact study show $1.7 million in new spending occurred in the region, with spending by individuals from outside Grand Rapids increasing 50 percent this year compared to last year. Per-person spending during 2013's 'LaughFest' was $34.48 and increased to $49.97 during the festival's 2014 event, a 45-percent increase. The per-person spending takes into account such items as lodging, meals and transportation costs, which are additional to the costs associated with buying tickets to "LaughFest" shows.

"When LaughFest began in 2011, our goal was to create a festival of laughter for the health of it that would not only raise awareness for the programs of Gilda's Club Grand Rapids, but raise awareness for the West Michigan region," said Wendy Wigger, president of Gilda's Club Grand Rapids. "We are thrilled the numbers presented by the economic impact study show that 'LaughFest' is a primary reason individuals are visiting the region."

For more information about Gilda's Club Grand Rapids, please log on to www.gildasclubgr.org


 

Introducing Performance Network's new 2014-15 season

Posted: July 23, 2014 at 3:22 p.m.; updated July 23, 2014 at 9:25 p.m.

ANN ARBOR - After a short reorganizational hiatus, Performance Network Theatre is back with a new 2014-15 Season. Tickets will go on sale Aug. 4, and all current subscriptions will be honored.

Season subscriptions will be available from $110-$165; single tickets per performance will range in price from $22-$41.

As the theater resumes operation, a new ticketing system is being implemented and phone service resumed. Patrons wishing to purchase season or individual tickets may call 734-663-0681 or visit www.performancenetwork.org beginning Monday, Aug. 4.

For patrons who missed shows because of the suspension of activities, details will be announced soon regarding accommodations.

Performance Network Theatre is located at 120 E. Huron in Downtown Ann Arbor. For more information on Performance Network Theatre, please visit www.facebook.com/pntheatre or email pnet618@gmail.com.


Performance Network 2014-15 Season

Driving Miss Daisy
by Alfred Uhry and directed by John Manfredi
Sept. 25 - Oct. 26
In 1948, the son of an elderly Southern matron hires a chauffeur for his mother, and over the next 25 years the relationship between the matron and the chauffeur blossoms into one of respect and friendship as the civil-rights movement brings changes to the old South. Featuring James Bowen.

This Wonderful Life
by Steve Murray and directed by Tony Caselli
Nov. 18 - Dec. 17: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays only
You know, the movie - that one about George Bailey and Bedford Falls. That 1946 black-and-white film directed by Frank Capra with James Stewart as George Bailey. That quirky Christmas story that's become a classic for so many generations. This story of "This Wonderful Life" is performed by a lone man and played with absolute brilliance by John Lepard.

and

Gift of the Magi
written by Annie Martin with music by Suzi Regan
Nov. 28 - Dec. 21: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays only
This two-person play journeys through both a traditional and contemporary retelling of the classic O. Henry story, "The Gift of the Magi." While the holiday season is a time of abundance, the most important gift we can give and receive is love. A Performance Network world premiere directed by Suzi Regan.

Yellow Man
by Dael Orlandersmith and directed by Lynch Travis
Jan. 15 - Feb. 15, 2015
A 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist for drama, this is a two-person multi-character love story about an African-American woman who dreams of life beyond the confines of her small town Southern upbringing and the light-skinned man whose fate is tragically intertwined with hers.

Stones in His Pockets
by Marie Jones and directed by Suzi Regan
March 5 - April 5
This award-winning comedy features two 30-somethings who meet when working as extras on a big American movie being shot in Ireland. Charlie's video shop in Ballycastle has gone bankrupt, and Jake has returned to Kerry after a futile few years in the U.S. The movie is a wonderful break from worrying about their futures, until the harsh realities of rural life break through. A recent three-time Tony Award nominee, "Stones" won the Irish Times/ESB Irish Theatre Award for Best Production and two Olivier Awards for Best New Comedy and Best Actor.

Salvage
by Joseph Zettelmaier and directed by Joey Albright
April 23 - May 24
The shy owner of a collectibles store in Detroit finds his staid existence turned topsy-turvy when a mysterious women enters his life with valuable items that just should not exist anymore. This is the Michigan Equity premiere of the 2014 Jeff Award Recommended show. This show reunites the winning team of author Zettlemaier and director Albright.

Other Desert Cities
by Jon Robin Baitz
June 11 - July 5
Brooke Wyeth returns home to Palm Springs after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother and her aunt. Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family's history - a wound they don't want reopened. In effect, she draws a line in the sand and dares them all to cross it.


 

Dazzling musical revue celebrates best of Kander & Ebb

The World Goes 'Round
Great Escape Stage Company
July 24 - Aug. 3, 2014

Posted: July 20, 2014 at 2:10 p.m.

MARSHALL - Life - with its glories, indignities, hopes and quiet dreams - is the subject of "The World Goes 'Round," a stunning revue of the beloved songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb opening July 24 at Great Escape Stage Company.

Featuring unforgettable gems from throughout Kander & Ebb's incredible 40-year career in theater, film and television, the work spotlights songs from "Cabaret," "Chicago," "New York, New York," "Funny Lady," "Kiss of the Spiderwoman" and more. Filled with humor, romance, drama, nonstop melody and brassy, insightful lyrics, "The World Goes 'Round" is a thrilling celebration of life and the fighting spirit that keeps us all going.

"The World Goes 'Round" offers a particular challenge to the talented performers at GESC. "In a revue, everything is stripped away and the actors have nothing to hide behind, no exposition or spectacle. It requires so much more from the actors," said Director Timothy Lake. "In addition to working on character, the music itself is an enormous challenge. It's nonstop entertainment, and the assembled cast is going to deliver an exhilarating show."

Some of the beloved musical numbers in "The World Goes 'Round" are "Coffee In A Cardboard Cup," "All That Jazz," "Mr. Cellophane," "Me And My Baby," "Kiss Of The Spider Woman," "Only Love," "Maybe This Time," "Cabaret" and "New York, New York."

The cast includes many local favorites, including Vanessa Banister, Debbie Culver, Alan Elliot, Cameron Lake, Randy Lake, Brittany Lighthall, Tim Nolan, Hope Tolliver, and Kerry Wilson.

Musical direction will be provided by Alan Stulberg, and dances have been choreographed by Terralynn Lake.

Tickets are $15, and reservations can be made by calling the Box Office at 269-781-2700.

The show will play eight performances July 24 - Aug. 3. Thursday through Saturday performances are at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. A limited number of cabaret-table seats will be available at each performance, and audiences are welcome to bring their own drinks to the performance.

Great Escape is a small 501(c)(3) nonprofit theater located at 155 West Michigan Avenue (at the S.E. corner of Eagle Street) in Historic Downtown Marshall, MI. For more information, log on to GreatEscapeStageCompany.com.


 

MSF opens current season, announces the next

Posted: July 21, 2014 at 7:05 a.m.

JACKSON – The Michigan Shakespeare Festival opened its 20th anniversary season July 19 with an acclaimed production of Shakespeare's "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark." The audience rose for a standing ovation for the production directed by MSF artistic director Janice L. Blixt and featuring Shawn Pfautsch as the brilliant and tormented prince.

Earlier in the evening, Blixt announced the addition of Robert Kauzlaric - director of 2011's "Tartuffe," 2012's "Love's Labour's Lost," 2013's "She Stoops to Conquer," and this season's upcoming "Cymbeline" - to the Festival's select group of artistic associates. "It is an honor to join this family of talented and inspiring artists," said Kauzlaric. "For the past four summers, MSF has been such a supportive environment of artistic challenge and growth for me, and I'm delighted to call it one of my homes. Jan and her entire team are making magic happen here, and I'm thrilled to be part of it."

In addition to thanking the Festival's sponsors and supporters, including the Festival underwriting Weatherwax Foundation, Blixt also announced the line-up for the 2015 Season: Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," a new adaptation of a combined "Henry IV, 1 & 2," and Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1775 comedy "The Rivals," to be direct by Kauzlaric. "'Midsummer' is one of Shakespeare's funniest and most beloved comedies, and I can't wait to bring our spirit and style to the production," said Blixt, who is directing the two Shakespeare productions next season. "I've wanted to bring more of the histories to the MSF stage - but they can be off-putting to theatergoers who seem to think they might be more documentary than drama. The 'Henry IV''s are, at their heart, a family drama between a father and son."

The current season's "Hamlet" runs through Aug. 17 at the Baughman Theatre of the Potter Center, 2111 Emmons Rd. Jackson. "The Importance of Being Earnest," currently in previews, opens Saturday, July 26, while "Cymbeline" begins previews July 24 and opens July 27. All three shows run in repertory.

Tickets and more information are available at www.MichiganShakespeareFestival.com.



 

Native Detroiter comes home for world premiere of new play

No Time for the Pain
1515 Broadway
July 25-27, 2014

Posted: July 20, 2014 at 1:45 p.m.

DETROIT - 5 Mo Artists Detroit, in association with Dishing Tea Entertainment, presents a La Troupe des Arts production of "No Time for the Pain," an original theatrical production written by native Detroiter and host of the hit Blog Talk Radio Network show "Dishing Tea with Big Meach" Demetris "Big Meach" Taylor.

Family ties are shattered and destroyed when fraternal twins Danielle and Eric confront one another on the issues of betrayal, infidelity and HIV. "No Time for the Pain" is an intricate journey through life and LGBT culture from an African-American perspective. It gives the audience a chance to take a look and see the similarities between all walks of life, and will promote dialogue as it tackles some of life's pressing issues that most think are only relevant to the LGBT experience, including being on the down low, sexual orientation, gender identity, abandonment, and crisis intervention.

Directed by Susan Storey, "No Time for the Pain" stars Detroit's iconic Fantasya Dior as Veronica Dupree, a "mother of the house" entity who can solve the world's problems, but has conflicts dealing with her own - yet she navigates others through their own private hell.

"No Time for the Pain" is an official Hotter Than July sponsored event and will run during the Black Gay Pride festivities.

"No Time for the Pain" runs July 25-27 at 1515 Broadway in Downtown Detroit. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale now. All seats are $20. For more information and/or to charge tickets by phone, please call 248-688-5178.

THERE'S MORE: CLICK HERE to read "Former Detroit Drag Queen's Play Looks At LGBT Issues Through African-American Lens" in Between The Lines!


 

OTHER VOICES - NEWS & PREVIEWS: July 20, 2014

Shakespeare in Detroit: Fundraising help needed to keep city's free shows alive – Detroit Entertainment News (July 19, 2014)

Performance Network Theatre set to reopen its doors – Detroit Theater Examiner (July 17, 2014)

Did LaughFest's Guinness World Record for wearing sunglasses in the dark set a new milestone? – The Grand Rapids Press (July 18, 2014)

Artistic director returns to Williamston Theatre after bout with serious illness: Tony Caselli on stage in 'Tuesdays with Morrie' reading – Lansing State Journal (July 17, 2014)


 

Open rehearsal and world premiere with AKT Theatre

So Long Until Tomorrow
The AKT Theatre Project
July 25 - Aug. 9, 2014

Posted: July 20, 2014 at 8:58 a.m.

WYANDOTTE - The AKT Theatre Project is opening a rehearsal to an audience as the second offering of a three-part series as the company develops the new play, "So Long Until Tomorrow" by Bradley Michael. The play is directed by Angie Kane Ferrante and will open the first weekend of August.

The process of developing a new play is exciting, and AKT is inviting you to continue to be a part of it! The three-part series began in June with a staged reading of "So Long Until Tomorrow," adapted from the screenplay "So Long... Until Tomorrow," created by Michigan's own Bradley Michael and Josh Samson. The event was a huge success. The audience feedback helped continue the development of the story.

The series will continue with an open rehearsal on Friday, July 25 at 7 p.m. There is constant change and play within a rehearsal, and the company is opening its doors to members of the community to observe a part of process and see how things have evolved since the staged reading. All are welcome to attend; admission is free.

Those who were unable to attend the staged reading are encouraged to join AKT and get a sneak peak of how things progress between rehearsal and performance.

Please RSVP to the open rehearsal by emailing tickets@AKTtheatre.com or calling 734-258-8370.

And then join AKT the following weekend for the world premiere of "So Long Until Tomorrow," opening Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Performances dates and times are as follows:

Admission is $10.

"So Long Until Tomorrow" follows the story of two friends, Miles and Jude, as they find themselves hilariously testing the boundaries of friendship and morality, while trying to help their friend overcome a financial and emotional crisis.

The cast features Stebert Davenport, Krista Schafer Ewbank, Julia Garlotte, Jack Hundley, Mandy Logsdon, Hope Morawa, Jacob Moscynski, Sarah Oravetz and Lisa Youngs.

"So Long Until Tomorrow" is recommended for mature audiences.

All performances will take place at The James R. DeSana Center for Arts and Culture (formerly The Wyandotte Arts Center), 81 Chestnut, Wyandotte, MI 48192.

For more information about The AKT Theatre Project, auditions, current and future productions, ticket information, and show times, call 734-258-8370 or visit www.AKTtheatre.com. Tickets can be reserved by e-mailing tickets@AKTtheatre.com.


 

World premiere asks: Can the best kept secrets keep a family together?

The Kings of Unionville
Tipping Point Theatre
July 24 - Aug. 24, 2014

Posted: July 19, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

NORTHVILLE – Up next at Tipping Point Theatre is the world premiere of "The Kings of Unionville" by TPT producing artistic director James R. Kuhl, a comedy about tradition, values and honor.

Set in a small Michigan town, the once prominent Secret Society of Kings has deteriorated into a basement-dwelling, beer-drinking, card-playing fraternity of friends that is long past its prime. The group has traditionally passed down its secrets from father to son for decades. Following the death of a King, they now must recruit a new member to fill his spot. The best choice is Will, the son of the group's historian, Edward. But before Will can join the secret society, he must perform a long-forgotten ritual - an initiation that has purposefully not been performed by the Kings for many years. Father and son must come together and find common ground, or risk the destruction of both the group history and their own relationships.

"The thing I love about this production is that it examines male relationships and friendships from a fairly unique perspective, says director Brian P. Sage. "We see male relationships explored in buddy comedies, plays and films about sports figures and sports teams, father/son relationships are often explored in some of our heavier dramas, but playwright James R. Kuhl uses a deteriorating small town fraternal organization as the frame for his examination of these types of relationships, and its really fascinating how poignant and universal it is. I recognize these people from my life.

"When you read a simple plot description of 'Kings,' I think you might simply come away expecting to see a buddy comedy, and while the play is extremely funny, it also has deeper resonances," Sage continued. "It has a tremendous amount of heart and digs deep in examining friendships, father-and-son relationships and how the meaning of 'being a man' has changed and continues to change."

"The Kings of Unionville" runs from July 24 through Aug. 24 at Tipping Point Theatre. The curtain rises at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with matinees at 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. A special matinee performance has been added on Wednesday, Aug. 13.

Tipping Point Theatre is located at 361 E. Cady St. in Northville.

Tickets, $29 to $32 for adults and $27 to $30 for students and senior citizens, are available by calling the box office at 248-347-0003.

For more information, log on to www.tippingpointtheatre.com.


 

'Phantom' to make Grand Rapids premiere in 2016

The Phantom of the Opera
Broadway Grand Rapids
May 18-29, 2015

Posted: July 17, 2014 at 12:58 p.m.

GRAND RAPIDS - Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group are delighted to announce that their spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" will make its Grand Rapids premiere at DeVos Performance Hall for 16 performances May 18-29, 2016. With newly reinvented staging and stunning scenic design, this new version of "Phantom" will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this one of the largest productions on tour in North America.

This exciting announcement follows the approval by the Kent County Convention/Arena Authority to upgrade DeVos Performance Hall to allow for this spectacular show. The commissioners voted unanimously to make structural improvements in order to allow shows of this caliber to play on the DeVos Hall stage. "The Phantom of the Opera" will mark the first time Broadway Grand Rapids will have a touring show on stage for two weeks. Commissioners applauded the opportunity to enhance the community's reputation as a destination city. Current Broadway season ticket holders will have first opportunity to secure tickets for this landmark event in the 2015-16 season.

Based on the classic novel "Le Fantome de L'Opera by Gaston Leroux, "The Phantom of the Opera" tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said, "It's wonderful to have a new production of 'Phantom' touring America now that the show has celebrated over 25 years on Broadway. Director Laurence Connor has done an amazing job and this production has received huge critical acclaim in the U.K."

Cameron Mackintosh said, "After a glorious celebration of 25 phenomenal years on Broadway with no end in sight, I'm delighted to be able to bring this dazzling new production of 'Phantom' - which has been phenomenally well-received by both audiences and critics in the U.K this past year - to North America. With an exciting new design and staging, retaining Maria Bjornson's amazing costumes, I am confident North American audiences will fall in love with the 'Phantom' in his new guise - for the first time or all over again."

This new production of "The Phantom of the Opera" is directed by Laurence Connor (the 25th Anniversary production of "Les Misιrables" now on Broadway), with choreography by Scott Ambler, set design by Paul Brown, Tony Award-winning original costume design by Maria Bjφrnson, lighting design by Tony Award-winner Paule Constable, sound design by Mick Potter and musical supervision by John Rigby. The production is overseen by Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh. "The Phantom of the Opera" has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics are by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe) and the book is by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Orchestrations are by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

There are currently seven productions of "The Phantom of the Opera" around the world: the flagship London production (27 years and counting), New York (26 years and counting), Sapporo (Japan, 25 years and counting, in repertory), Budapest (Hungary), Hamburg (Germany), the Asian Pacific Tour and Cameron Mackintosh's spectacular all-new production now on North American Tour. The next international opening will be in Taipei, China in September 2014.

Since its debut, "The Phantom of the Opera" has grossed over $5.6 billion worldwide, with over 65,000 performances that have been seen by 130 million people in 29 countries and 150 cities in 13 languages. The show has won more than 70 major theater awards.

There have been three previous U.S. National Tours of "The Phantom of the Opera" that grossed over $1.5 billion in combined box office sales and played 216 engagements in 77 cities for an unprecedented total of 36 years and over 14,500 performances to 31 million people.

THERE'S MORE: CLICK HERE for complete details regarding Broadway Grand Rapids' recently announced 2014-15 season!



 

City Theatre turns positively pink this November

Pinkalicious The Musical
City Theatre
Nov. 21-23, 2014

Posted: July 17, 2014 at 7:10 p.m.

DETROIT - Based on the popular children's book by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann, "Pinkalicious The Musical" will perform six shows at the City Theatre on Friday, Nov. 21 through Sunday, Nov. 23.

In "Pinkalicious The Musical," Pinkalicious can't stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Her pink indulgence lands her at the doctor's office with Pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe - a dream come true for this pink loving enthusiast. But when her hue goes too far, only Pinkalicious can figure out a way to get out of this predicament.

The one-hour musical, with book and lyrics by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann, and music, lyrics and orchestrations by John Gregor, is directed by Teresa K. Pond with musical direction by Jad Bernardo and original direction by Suzu McConnell-Wood.

Performance schedule:

Tickets ($22 general admission and $15 opening night) go on sale Friday, July 18 at 10 a.m. Tickets may be purchased online at www.OlympiaEntertainment.com, the Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy (without service charge), at all Ticketmaster locations, www.Ticketmaster.com and at the City Theatre box office, located inside Hockeytown Cafe. To charge tickets by phone, call 1-800-745-3000. Groups of 10 or more receive a discount by calling 313-471-3099.



 

Toe-tapping family favorite next at Thunder Bay

Disney's High School Musical
Thunder Bay Theatre
July 23 - Aug. 17, 2014

Posted: July 15, 2014 at 3:58 p.m.

ALPENA - On the heels of a successful four-week run of "Footloose," Thunder Bay Theatre is set to open "Disney's High School Musical," which brings the popular Disney Channel movie to life onstage. Troy, Gabriella and the students of East High must deal with issues of first love, friends and family while balancing their classes and extracurricular activities.

In TBT's production of "High School Musical," the creative team really wanted to focus on the fun and the "whimsy" of this production. "From the start, I knew that if we tried to recreate the movie, we'd be setting ourselves up for failure," said new artistic director Jeffrey Mindock. "Rather, we're trying to find the heart of this musical and make sure that the kids take ownership of the material and hit the stage with as much confidence as possible. If they're not enjoying what they're doing, the audience won't either."

Mark Exline, Thunder Bay Theatre's resident designer, ran with the idea of making this production his own, including an actual, usable basketball hoop and show-specific basketball chandeliers in the house. Exline says, "I feel like it was very important to make this production specific to our community and our space. So often, large musicals are done simply for the name, with no consideration being given to the space or production needs. We are lucky to be working on a musical that adapts so beautifully to our community, our facility and our artistic values."

Mindock is very excited to see how the audiences react to a show with this much energy, and this much hometown flavor. "'High School Musical' is a show that catches you by surprise with its through-line and plot-points. The meat is there if you want to use it, and we've made it a goal of ours to do so."

Emily Senkowsky, a recent graduate of New York University, said about the process, "I wanted to come in with a strong idea of whom my character was ... It's a collaborative process here, finding out what your character would do."

The musical stars Zach Erhardt as Troy Bolton and Mikaela Holmes as Gabriella Montez. The rest of the cast includes Mattie Jo Cowsert (Sharpay), Aidan Cleary (Ryan), Emily Senkowsky (Taylor), Cameron Jones (Chad), Corey Keller (Jack Scott), Zeke Baylor (Christian Ryan), Hannah Matzke (Martha Cox), Ashley Timmerck (Kelsi), Nickie Hilton (Mrs. Darbus), Scott Meier (Coach Bolton), and many more Alpena community youth.

Under the direction of Mindock, Thunder Bay Theatre brought in a record 13 out-of-town professionals this summer to produce two musicals, as well as a few cabaret events sprinkled throughout the summer. "I think it's really important to allow young performers and technicians to grow by giving them a lot of responsibility. It helps them figure things out about themselves both onstage and off."

Working alongside Mindock, who also serves as director, are Mark Exline (technical director, resident designer), Paige Breshears (stage manager), and Colin Marshall (sound designer, assistant stage manager).

Thunder Bay Theatre operates as a non-Equity house. It's mission statement reads: "TBT is a professional theater committed to entertaining its audiences with high quality productions utilizing its resident professional company augmented with community talent".

This summer's core company consists of Paige Breshears (Springfield, Missouri), Aidan Cleary (Santa Rosa, California), Mattie Jo Cowsert (Branson, Missouri), Zach Erhardt (St. Louis Missouri), Mark Exline (Port St. John, Florida), Nickie Hilton who serves as prop mistress (Clarksville, Arkansas), Mikaela Holmes (Niskayuna, New York), Cameron Jones (Phoenix, Arizona), Corey Keller (Newell, West Virginia), Colin Marshall (Alpena, Michigan), Jeffrey Mindock (Allentown, Pennsylvania), Christian Ryan (Lansdale, Pennsylvania), Emily Senkowsky (Arlington, Texas).

For 12 weeks, the core performs in, and builds, every production the theater produces. The community was certainly impressed with "Footloose," but it's also the community that has impressed the core company. "Being here has been so much fun ... I'm with a bunch of talented people who are doing really good theater. I'm enjoying myself and could not be in better weather ... I couldn't be happier," says Jones, a rising junior at the University of Michigan.

Cleary, studying theater at Sarah Lawrence College in New York City, said, "The community here is amazing. A lot of people know each other. They seem so close and connected, where New York is so big and disconnected."

"Alpena really is a hidden gem up here on the coast, and I think once people come, they'll feel the same way about Thunder Bay Theatre. I've traveled all over the country performing, and it was Thunder Bay Theatre that really stuck with me and brought me back," says Mindock with a smile. "The best part about this theater and about this town is that there really is something for the whole family. You've got beaches, restaurants, shopping, and theater. What more could you ask for?"

"Disney's High School Musical" runs July 23 - Aug. 17, Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Adult tickets are $15, youth (18 & under) are $8; active military with ID are $13. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 989-354-2267, or on the TBT website at www.thunderbaytheatre.com.

Follow Thunder Bay Theatre on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Thunder Bay Theatre, located at 400 N. Second Avenue in Alpena, is the only professional, year-round theater in Northeast Michigan.


 

OTHER VOICES - NEWS & PREVIEWS: July 17, 2014

Title of Show: The Real Life Comedy Of Making Musicals – WMUK (July 17, 2014)

Two Muses Theatre Feature – Civic Center TV 15 (June 23, 2014)

Breaking News: Broadway Legend Elaine Stritch Dies at 89 – BroadwayWorld.com (July 17, 2014)

Michigan Shakespeare Festival marks 20 years with 'Hamlet' – The Detroit News (July 16, 2014)

Broadway Grand Rapids to bring 'Phantom of the Opera' to expanded DeVos Hall stage in 2016 – The Grand Rapids Press (July 16, 2014)

Help LaughFest's world record for wearing sunglasses in the dark achieve another milestone – The Grand Rapids Press (July 15, 2014)

Michigan Shakespeare Festival's 20th anniversary season tackling the Bard's best – Jackson Citizen Patriot (July 14, 2014)

Michigan Shakespeare Festival set for 20th season – Lansing State Journal (July 9, 2014)

Woody Guthrie takes the stage: Theater festival to present play about the legendary folk singer – The Herald-Palladium (July 17, 2014)

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival "goes big" for 20th season – Michigan Radio (June 24, 2014)

Hamlet 'to be' headliner at Shakespeare Festival – WKAR (July 16, 2014)


 

The latest: An Ann Arbor theatrical icon carries on

ANN ARBOR - Performance Network Theatre is on its way back to opening its doors after a short reorganizational hiatus. Patrons will soon be able to enjoy the high-quality productions PNT has always delivered, but there is a re-dedication to education and a bold new business approach to meticulously manage the generosity of supporters of the 33-year-old theater.

On Sunday, July 27, PNT will host open houses at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in an effort to help share information in a more personal setting. Patrons are encouraged to attend one of the sessions and hear about the plan directly from the new management team.

Tasked with reopening the theater is long-time performer, director and producer John Manfredi as executive director. Joining him on the much-reduced staff is award-winning theater artist and arts advocate Suzi Regan as artistic director. In addition, for the immediate future, the newly staffed office consists of part time employees, volunteers and interns.

The new financial model concentrates on generating revenue while simultaneously addressing the cash-strapped theater's sizable debt over the course of a three-year span.

"The adverse financial situation at the theater didn't happen over night," Manfredi said. "It's not going to be rectified over night either, but we feel it's imperative to get the Network back up and producing as soon as possible. That's going to take not only more revenue, but our loyal donors' continued faith and support."

There's some heavy lifting ahead just to get the basic needs of operation kick-started, including a new lease agreement already being discussed with Wickfield Properties.

"The artistic quality at the Network has been stellar; it's what has kept it alive through some hard financial times, and we want to get back to doing that work as soon as possible," Manfredi continued. "Our philosophy is to combat the financial difficulty through expansion of programming and services rather than contraction."

The ambitious plan eventually calls for a multi-use facility open 16 hours a day, with over 300 active dates a year. What has been described as a marriage of a for-profit matrix with a nonprofit philosophy includes many co-productions and partnerships with other businesses and organizations such as Williamston Theatre in Williamston.

Williamston Theatre and Performance Network will partner to bring "The Big Bang," the summer musical comedy, from Williamston to Ann Arbor the last two weeks of August. The two organizations have also already agreed to co-produce an exciting TBA world premiere production in their 2015-16 seasons.

"We are asking our patrons and donors to be patient," says Regan. "We will be announcing an entire 2014-15 subscription season soon. We are at work obtaining rights, but already the season includes "Driving Miss Daisy," starring Network favorite James Bowen, and "Salvage," a Joe Zettelmaier piece that was recently Jeff Award Recommended in Chicago. We can also already announce that we'll be bringing (the) critically acclaimed production of "This Wonderful Life" with John Lepard to the Network for a special engagement over the holiday. It's exciting. Our goal is for PNT to be a national destination for arts and culture."

By Aug. 1, the theater hopes to secure the rights and begin selling a subscription season as well as a full slate of educational programming and classes. Those patrons who have already purchased season subscriptions will be contacted as soon as details become available. All season subscriptions will be honored.

Arrangements are being made to accommodate 2013-14 ticket holders who have missed shows due to the suspension of operations. The theater is working on gathering that data and hopes to be able to satisfy those patrons quickly.


 

Matrix Theatre announces eclectic 2014-15 season

Posted: July 17, 2014 at 7:50 a.m.

DETROIT - Matrix Theatre Company's 2014-2015 Mainstage season features a Grand Cyclops of the KKK, an African-American civil rights activist, 20th-century feminism, and a gorilla in a zoo, and that's not all!

The feminist comedy by Gina Gionfriddo, "Rapture, Blister, Burn," opens the season beginning in November, followed by Mark St. Germain's "Best of Enemies," the true story of a southern town in the middle of the desegregation of their public school system. The season ends with the unique story of a woman confronting choices surrounding complications with her pregnancy and the part that a gorilla in the zoo and an elderly woman play in offering her comfort in "Precious Little" by Madeleine George.

"We are really excited about the shows we've chosen for the upcoming season,” said Matrix artistic director Megan Buckley-Ball. "There really is something for everyone, and I'm hopeful that this season's selections will make everyone feel like there's a place for them here at Matrix Theatre Company."

Individual tickets go on sale on Monday, Aug. 18. Prices range from $15 to $20. A Season Ticket Pass may be purchased at a 20-percent discount. Reverse Rush Ticketing price discounts are available if tickets are purchased online. Group rates are available for most shows.

Celebrating 23 years as a non-profit community-based theatre, Matrix Theatre Company is located in southwest Detroit. By using the transformative power of theatre to change lives, build community and foster social justice, Matrix creates everything from scratch, from puppets of all sizes to more than 130 original plays.

For further information on the 2014-2015 season, or to order tickets, go to www.matrixtheatre.org or call 313-967-0599.


2014-15 Mainstage Season: Matrix Theatre Company

Rapture, Blister, Burn
by Gina Gionfriddo
Nov. 14 – Dec. 7
Directed by Lisa Hodge Kander
Can women have it all? After attending graduate school together, Catherine and Gwen make completely different life choices. Catherine achieves success in academia, while Gwen builds a life with a husband and children. Years later they meet and find themselves wanting what the other one has. What ensues is a candid and hilarious, multi-generational debate on 20th century feminism.

Best of Enemies
by Mark St. Germain
Feb. 20 – March 13, 2015
Directed by Kelly Komlen
The true story of a Grand Cyclops of the KKK and an African-American civil rights activist during the battle to desegregate the public school system in Durham, North Carolina in 1971. Are they capable of overcoming their mutual deep-seated loathing for each other to work together towards the best outcome for the children? This is a true historical account of two people poisoned by racial prejudice who are forced to confront the best and worst in themselves with surprising results.

Precious Little
by Madeleine George
June 11 – 28
Directed by Amanda Grace Ewing
Brodie, a gifted linguist and researcher in her 40s, undergoes In Vitro Fertilization, only to learn troubling news about her pregnancy. She reaches out to her girlfriend for support, but is left unfulfilled. She instead finds comfort in two unlikely sources: an elderly speaker of a vanishing language and, of all things, a gorilla in the zoo. This funny, charming, and slightly offbeat play is an in-depth look at the beauty and limits of human language and the ways in which we communicate with one another.

2014-15 Second Stage Season: Matrix Theatre Company

Matrix Theatre Company is proud, once again, to present its Second Stage Series, which kicks off with the very popular "Haunted Theatre," written and performed by the Matrix Teen Company, Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2014. "Cane's Row," an original play collectively written by Matrix Theatre's Writers' Circle, runs Jan. 23 – Feb. 1, 2015. The Matrix Teen Company's Spring Show will be an adaptation of a classic play and runs April 17 – 26. Its yet-to-be-written School of Theatre show, based on the theme Thriving Detroit, will be the culmination of the Detroit Dreaming Project and runs May 29 – 31. A staged reading of the monologue play, "Motherhood Out Loud," is a special Mother's Day treat and runs May 7 – 10. Rounding out the season is another original jazz cabaret performance by songstress Kate Brennan and her musical director, Harvey Reed, on Friday, May 15, 2015.


 

MOT singers bring opera outdoors

Grand Songs of the Stage
Michigan Opera Theatre
July 23, 2014

Posted: July 16, 2014 at 8:01 a.m.

DETROIT - Michigan Opera Theatre will present "Grand Songs of the Stage," a free outdoor performance for Quicken Loans' Summer in the Park series Wednesday, July 23 at 7 p.m. in Detroit's Grand Circus Park. Five artists will perform a sneak preview of MOT's 2014-15 opera season, offering highlights from Gounod's "Faust," Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" and Lehar's "The Merry Widow," and a selection of classic songs from the opera and musical theater canons.

MOT's talented ensemble is comprised of opera artists with local affinity, including soprano Jennifer Rowley, soprano Angela Theis, tenor Blake Bard, and baritone Nicholas Davis, accompanied by Jean Schneider, MOT's resident accompanist.

Rowley received great acclaim for her triumphant debut with the Metropolitan Opera in March as Musetta in "La Boheme." The New York Times raved that she "made a splash ... maneuvering flirtatiously through the crowds and singing with a vibrant, agile voice." She most recently performed on the MOT stage as Donna Anna in the company's 2010 production of "Don Giovanni."

Theis was chosen as a fellow to study under Barbara Bonney at the Universitat Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and was the recipient of both the Audience Choice Award and second prize in the 2013 AIMS Meistersinger Competition. In MOT's 2013 season, she sang the roles of Marzelline in "Fidelio" and High Priestess in "Aida."

Bard has sung in MOT's chorus since 2013. Davis is a second-year master's student studying vocal performance at the University of Michigan; he has performed in several operas with U-M's University Opera.


 

Single tickets to much-anticipated 'Musical' on sale July 18

Motown the Musical
Fisher Theatre
Oct. 21 – Nov. 16, 2014

Posted: July 14, 2014 at 11:50 a.m.

DETROIT - Producers Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris and Berry Gordy, and Broadway In Detroit are proud to announce that single tickets for the Detroit engagement of "Motown the Musical" will go on sale Friday, July 18 at 10 a.m. "Motown the Musical" will play at Detroit's Fisher Theatre, Oct. 21 – Nov. 16.

Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, "Motown the Musical" is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy's journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and so many more.

Featuring more than 40 classic hits such as "My Girl" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Motown the Musical" tells the story behind the hits as Diana, Smokey, Berry and the whole Motown family fight against the odds to create the soundtrack of change in America. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat.

Clifton Oliver and Allison Semmes will star in the leading roles of Berry Gordy and Diana Ross. Portraying groundbreaking Motown artists, Nicholas Christopher will play Smokey Robinson and Jarran Muse will play Marvin Gaye. Leon Outlaw Jr. and Reed L. Shannon will portray Berry Gordy's boyhood counterpart and the roles of young stars Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.

"Motown the Musical" will also feature Erick Buckley, Patrice Covington, Christian Dante White, Jamarice Daughtry, Tamar Davis, Lynorris Evans, Melanie Evans, Devon Goffman, Jennie Harney, Latrisa Harper, Rod Harrelson, Robert Hartwell, Rodney Earl Jackson, Jr., Trisha Jeffrey, Grasan Kingsberry, Elijah Ahmad Lewis, Jarvis Manning, Krisha Marcano, Marq Moss, Rashad Naylor, Chadae Nichol, Ramone Owens, Nicholas Rowe, Jamison Scott, Douglas Storm, Martina Sykes and Galen Williams.

"Motown the Musical" features choreography by Patricia Wilcox ("Blues in the Night") and Warren Adams ("Toy Story"), scenic design by David Korins ("Bring It On: The Musical," "Annie"), costume design by Tony Award nominee ESosa ("The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," "Project Runway"), lighting design by Tony Award winner Natasha Katz ("Once," "Sister Act"), sound design by Tony Award nominee Peter Hylenski ("Rock of Ages," "The Scottsboro Boys"), projection design by Daniel Brodie ("Jekyll and Hyde"), hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe ("Memphis") and casting by Telsey + Company.

"Motown the Musical"'s arrangements and orchestrations are by Grammy and Tony Award nominee Ethan Popp ("Rock of Ages"), who also serves as music supervisor in reproducing the classic "Sound of Young America," with co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Tony Award nominee Bryan Crook ("Smash") and dance arrangements by Zane Mark ("Dirty Rotten Scoundrels").

"Motown the Musical" is produced by Tony Award-winning producer Kevin McCollum ("Rent," "In the Heights," "Avenue Q"), Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Doug Morris, and Motown founder Berry Gordy.

Performance times for "Motown the Musical," appearing Oct. 21 – Nov. 16 at the Fisher Theatre, located at 3011 West Grand Blvd., in Detroit, are:

Tickets for "Motown the Musical," which range from $39 - $95 (includes parking and facility fees), go on sale Friday, July 18 at 10 a.m. at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.broadwayindetroit.com and at the Fisher Theatre box office. Tickets for the Open Captioned performance may be purchased in person at the Fisher Theatre box office or by phone at 313-872-1000, ext. 0. A limited number of premium seats will be available through Ticketmaster and at the box office. For group sales (12 or more) please email groups@broadwayindetroit.com or call 313-871-1132.

Performance schedule, prices and cast are subject to change without notice.

The Broadway In Detroit Series at the Fisher Theatre is sponsored by Chrysler. As part of this sponsorship, the latest and hottest Chrysler vehicles will be on display at the theater.

For more information, please visit www.broadwayindetroit.com.



 

Register now for sixth annual MBT fundraiser

From the 2013 event. Photo: MBT

Posted: July 14, 2014 at 4 p.m.

ROCHESTER - Meadow Brook Theatre is excited to announce its sixth annual Feet for Seats, a 5K fun run/walk on the campus of Oakland University. The event will take place on Sunday, Aug. 17. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. at MBT, with the event scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Afterward, participants will be treated to food, fun, and live entertainment by The Mike Duncan Band and The Peanut Gallery Players.

As a special bonus, participants will be able to order individual tickets to MBT's upcoming season immediately following the walk. Single tickets won't go on sale to the general public until Sept. 8, so participants will be getting priority seating.

This fundraising event has been planned to raise awareness for the professional theater, which has been located on OU's campus since 1966.

"Feet for Seats is an excellent way for the community to come together to support a local cultural attraction, as well as learn more about Meadow Brook Theatre," said Paige Vanzo, event chair. "In addition to being an excellent way to spend day with the whole family, it's a an important fundraiser for our theater, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization."

Feet for Seats registration is now open online and can be found at www.mbtheatre.com under the "Feet for Seats" tab. The cost to participate is $25 in advance or $30 the day of the event. Special student and Oakland University staff discounts are available online as well.

Meadow Brook Theatre is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies on philanthropy to continue producing Broadway-quality entertainment.

Feet for Seats 5K Fun Run/Walk has been recognized as a quality physical activity event by the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness. The Governor's Council endorses local, regional and state events to acknowledge an organization's ability to plan and carry out a quality event that significantly contributes to the health and well being of Michigan residents. Feet for Seats exemplifies this core value and is endorsed by the Governor's Council.

In order to become an endorsed event, an organization must complete an application form for review. Some criteria that is taken into consideration includes providing a positive, safe physical activity experience using qualified officials and benefiting a nonprofit or charitable organization.

"We are honored to have been selected as an endorsed event," said Meadow Brook Theatre artistic director Travis Walter. "Feet for Seats is such an important community event. We thank the Governor's Council for acknowledging our efforts."

Meadow Brook Theatre season tickets are currently available by calling the Meadow Brook Theatre box office at 248-377-3300. Tickets range from $138 - $211 per seat for the six-play season. A special 20-percent subscriber discount is available for "A Christmas Carol" and the Saturday Children's Series for advance ticket purchases for the 2014-2014 season.

Single tickets go on sale Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. Tickets range from $26 - $41 for individual plays.

For additional information on Meadow Brook Theatre, please visit www.mbtheatre.com. Meadow Brook Theatre is a non-profit, cultural institution serving southeast Michigan for over 45 years.


 

With its owner closed, what’s the future of Encore Michigan?

Posted: June 30, 2014 at 12:55 p.m.

So what's a new-fangled internet-based arts-oriented media company supposed to do when its parent organization decides to go out of business? That's the question being discussed at EncoreMichigan.com these days, following the unexpected news that the Michigan Equity Theatre Alliance would close down operations effective July 1.

META, a membership-based non-profit service organization created to promote and advocate for Michigan's unionized professional theaters, was formed in 2010 through a partnership between the Cultural Alliance for Southeast Michigan and the Michigan Non-Profit Association, with funding provided by the Kresge Foundation and the Ford Foundation. It acquired EncoreMichigan.com as an independent affiliate in fall 2012 from Pride Source Media Group. The decision to close META was made at its June 25 board meeting.

"Both META and Pride Source have pledged to assist us in keeping EncoreMichigan.com alive," said co-founder and executive director Donald V. Calamia, who was notified of the closure shortly after the board meeting. "Our conversations so far have led to temporary, stop-gap solutions to keep us fully functioning and funded through at least the end of July. But after that? We haven't a clue."

EncoreMichigan.com is the premier source for free, up-to-the-minute news and information about the state's professional theaters, with original content created by a dedicated team of veteran freelance journalists. Established in 2008, EncoreMichigan.com switched to a membership-funded financial model upon its acquisition by META – which has been a source of contention within the professional theater community ever since.

"While a handful of theaters chose not to become a member, which means they lost their coverage on the site, that was the best way we could come up with to fund the site, given the fact that over the previous few years pretty much every funding source we approached said they loved us, but had no way to fit our uniqueness into their existing programs," Calamia said. "None of them knew what to do with us."

And while the membership model worked – for the most part – Calamia acknowledged it's not a long-term solution. "So that's where we are now – without much time to come up with an answer: What IS the best possible solution? Or is this the universe's way of telling us there's no demand or need for what we do?"

With less than 48 hours since he was informed of the board's decision, Calamia said there are three options currently being looked at. "The first is to find one, two or three major supporters and sponsors to underwrite EncoreMichigan.com, hopefully for the long-term. (The budget is between $30,000 and $50,000 per year.) The second is to find another non-profit to adopt us under a similar plan to which we operated under META. Or if that's not possible, the third – and most time consuming, costly and difficult – is to create a new non-profit for EncoreMichigan.com, complete with a small working board, whose job it would be to fundraise and manage the financial operations of the company."

With that said, however, "We'll listen to any and all suggestions and offers from anyone interested in helping us solve this puzzle."

Despite META's closure, users and members of EncoreMichigan.com will see no difference when they log onto the website throughout the month of July, Calamia said. "The site will still be updated daily, our critics will still be out reviewing shows throughout the state, and the calendar listings will still be current. From all external appearances, it will be business as usual."

But behind the scenes? "It will be a madhouse," he laughed.

And after July 31? "That's unknown territory at this point. But as of right now – barring any unforeseen circumstances, of course – my plan is to keep updating the site daily with press releases and calendar listings through the month of August. Luckily our membership year ends August 31 and we hadn't begun soliciting for the new season. But with no budget to work with, the few commitments we have for August and beyond are on hold for now, and so we ask that our member theaters bear with us as we work through resolving this unexpected situation." Calamia said.

The only exception to the timeline, Calamia noted, pertains to the 13th Annual Wilde Awards, scheduled for Sept. 22 at The Berman Center for Performing Arts in West Bloomfield and sponsored by Pride Source Media Group. "As of right now, that's still on the schedule. Keep watching EncoreMichigan.com for complete details."

Although the road ahead seems bumpy, Calamia is confident that somehow EncoreMichigan.com will remain online and fully serving ALL of the state's professional theaters while continuing to expand its readership. "There's nothing like us out there, and so to lose us would mean a valuable resource would be gone for good. We thank our member theaters, the theater community as a whole, and our readers for their continued support these past six years. And with their help, we can continue to provide a much-needed service for many years to come."

About EncoreMichigan.com
EncoreMichigan.com is a web-based media company focused on Michigan's professional theater industry. Established in 2008, it is the state's premier source for free, up-to-the-minute news and information about this often-ignored segment of the arts community. Designed as a one-stop shop for consumers, industry professionals and others with an interest in the performing arts, EncoreMichigan.com is updated daily and packed with informative interviews, insightful reviews, comprehensive show listings, thoughtful commentary, audition notices, podcasts and much, much more. Original content is created by a dedicated team of veteran freelance journalists and theater professionals. In addition to material created exclusively for EncoreMichigan.com, links are also provided to reviews and stories of interest that appear in other local and national online publications. Together, this makes EncoreMichigan.com the most complete source for professional theater news anywhere in Michigan. EncoreMichigan.com is media partners with CBS Detroit, IXITI, MLive, New Monitor, and Pride Source Media Group.

THERE'S MORE: CLICK HERE for additional information regarding META's closure!


 

Encore LIVE! - Talking creativity (and more) with Marc Evan Jackson (and more) of the Detroit Creativity Project

Beth Hagenlocker, Marc Evan Jackson and Margaret Edwartowski.

Posted: July 24, 2014 at 4 p.m.

It's no secret that Detroit has served as a splendid training ground for young thespians who studied their crafts, got their starts in show biz, and then moved east or west to pursue their dreams. While many leave and never come back - and oftentimes rarely acknowledge their roots - others return time and again to give back to the community that nurtured their talents.

In recent years that's been especially true of Metro Detroit's close-knit improv community, which has seen luminaries such as Larry Joe Campbell, Keegan-Michael Key, Josh and Nyima Funk, and Jaime Moyer head west - only to reappear on local stages from time to time, often for a good cause.

That's also true of Marc Evan Jackson, whose work at the Second City Detroit and the popular improv troupe The 313 has made him a local audience favorite. Ever appreciative of his time in Metro Detroit, Jackson and his wife, Beth Hagenlocker, have created the Detroit Creativity Project, an innovative program designed to empower and inspire young people through the art of improvisation.

To find out more about this unusual project, host Donald V. Calamia met with Jackson, Hagenlocker and local improv legend Margaret Edwartowski who is responsible for implementing the program in her role as director of arts for the Y-Arts division of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit.

Encore LIVE! - it's like radio, but over the internet! A production of EncoreMichigan.com. Produced for EncoreMichigan.com by Barton Bund and Tony Caselli. Theme music by the World Famous Love Machine.

CLICK HERE for other listening and downloading options.

THERE'S MORE: CLICK HERE for more information about the Detroit Creativity Project!

AND EVEN MORE: CLICK HERE for complete information regarding the Detroit Improv Festival!

Click here to comment on this podcast


 

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