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Summer Circle 2015: great storytelling for all ages

Article:9665; Posted: May 5, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.

Summer Circle Theatre provides free performances for the mid-Michigan and university community at the space during the month of June with a selection of five plays, including a musical and children’s theatre production. This season’s productions are dedicated to its founders and key supporters of Summer Circle’s past including former Department of heater faculty and administrators Frank C. Rutledge, John Baldwin, Gretel Geist-Rutledge, Dixie Durr and George F. Peters.

Summer Circle performance schedule:

"Mr. Burns, a post electric play" by Anne Washburn, score by Michael Friedman, lyrics by Anne Washburn (Rob Roznowski director/Dave Wendelberger musical director). Play with music. In a post-apocalyptic world an episode of “The Simpsons” could be the answer to humanity. Appropriate for age 12 and up. June 10-13, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.

"The Book of Liz" by David Sedaris and Amy Sedaris (Ann Folino White director). Master storyteller David Sedaris and his comedic genius sister Amy tell the story of cheese ball-maker Liz. Appropriate for age 8 and up. June 17-20, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.

"The American Plan" by Richard Greenberg (Mark Colson director). A 1960s Catskill’s resort is the perfect setting for Lili to tell her “tales” in order to survive her overbearing mother. Appropriate for 13 and up. June 24-27, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.

Late Night: "Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein" (Paige Conway director)

Children’s author Shel Silverstein takes a very adult look at life.

Appropriate for mature audience only. June 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, and 27 following the mainstage show at approximately 10:00 p.m.

Theatre for Young Audiences: The Tail of Peter Rabbit: New play. (Deric McNish director.) Beatrix Potter’s old tale/tail gets a makeover in this new play. Appropriate for all ages. June 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, and 27 at 6:30 p.m.

Performance dates and details are also available at


Tickets on sale Friday May 8 for "Prairie Home Companion" in July at The Wharton

Article: 9666; Posted: May 5, 2015 at 1:00 p.m.

Garrison Keillor will be embarking on what may be his most ambitious tour to date--30 cities in 36 days--a coast-to-coast, sea to shining sea bus tour to celebrate his popular radio show "A Prairie Home Companion’s" 41st anniversary. Tickets to "The America the Beautiful Tour" go on sale Friday, May 8, 2015 and are available at the official source to purchase Wharton Center tickets online,, at the Auto-Owners Insurance Ticket Office, or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.

The show will feature Garrison Keillor and Sarah Jarosz, piano master Richard Dworsky and Fred Newman on sound effects, The Radio Rhubarb Band with Fiddling Richard Kriehn and Chris Siebold, Boy Guitarist, Guy Noir, Private Eye and News from Lake Wobegon, an audience chorale, poetry declamation and other classics from 41 years of radio history.

Garrison Keillor was born in 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota, and began his radio career as a freshman at the University of Minnesota. He went to work for Minnesota Public Radio in 1969, and on July 6, 1974, he hosted the first broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion." Today, some 4 million listeners on more than 600 public radio stations tune in to the show each week. His many books include "Lake Wobegon Days," "The Book of Guys," and "Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny" (Viking), and most recently, "The Keillor Reader" (Viking). He is the host of the daily program "The Writer’s Almanac" and the editor of several anthologies of poetry. In 2006, Keillor played himself in the movie adaptation of his show, a film directed by Robert Altman. In 2007, he opened an independent bookstore, Common Good Books, in St. Paul.


Meshuggah-Nuns! set for sale following MBT production

Article: 9662; Posted: May 4, 2015 at 5:30 x.m.

Meadow Brook Theatre will sell the "Meshuggah-Nuns!" set following the MBT production of the show. The set is modeled after a cruise ship and could be used in many nautical themed applications, and for productions such as "Anything Goes."

"Meshuggah-Nuns!," starring Cindy Williams and Eddie Mekka, runs now - May 17, 2015 at Meadow Brook Theatre. The set will be available immediately following the show's closing on May 17.

The cost is $3500 or best offer. All proceeds will benefit Meadow Brook Theatre, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

"I'd love to see the set go to another theatre or to a school where it can be put to good use," said Dan Goggin, creator of "Meshuggah-Nuns." "It's a fine set, with wonderful craftsmanship!"

Please contact Meadow Brook Theatre production manager, Sarah Warren for details, or to make an offer. Contact via email at or call 248-370-4588.

For additional information on Meadow Brook Theatre, please visit Meadow Brook Theatre is a non-profit, cultural institution serving southeast Michigan for almost 50 years


Meadow Brook's 8th annual children's series starts in October

Article: 9658; Posted: May 2, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.

Meadow Brook Theatre presents another series of children's shows with concerts, classics, magic and more!

The Children's Series will kick off on Saturday, October 24, 2015 with Guy Louis' "Halloween Monster Mash!," back by popular demand! Join (friendly) Dracula for a rockin’ Halloween bash with a cast of happy ghouls and the best costumes this side of Transylvania. This is a family friendly event for all ages. Costumes not required but encouraged! There will be a costume contest!

"We know how busy October can get," said Cheryl Marshall, managing director. "We wanted to get the series on sale now to give families a chance to plan their tickets in advance. Guy Louis always puts on a great show, but this "Halloween Mash" is going to be extra fun and extra special!"

The children's series continues into 2016 with a special Friday production of Patrick Garner’s "History’s Alive," Friday, March 4, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. Garner is presenting "American Tall Tales" and "Aesop’s Fables," a two-tale interactive performance! First, students (up to grade 5) learn an appreciation of history, geography and “How to Tell a Whopper!” Then, it’s all Aesop with some Uncle Remus and a little "Looney Tunes" thrown in for good measure.

The ArtsPower production of "Are You My Mother?," perfect for grades K and up, comes to the Theatre Saturday April 2, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. and 1: p.m. At long last, Baby Bird emerges from her shell and expects to be greeted by her mother’s song. But where is Mother? With the help of Dog, Cat, and Hen, Baby Bird sets out in search of Mother Bird in this colorful musical adventure based on P.D. Eastman’s whimsical and well-loved picture book.

The Theatreworks USA production of "Curious George: The Golden Meatball" will thrill audiences in grades K and up, Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Join the inquisitive, lovable little monkey Curious George, star of books, movies and the award winning PBS television show in this delightful new musical.

"The Lightning Thief," A Theatreworks USA production, brings the hero, Percy Jackson to MBT Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school...again. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of his Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen and Percy is the prime suspect. Adapted from the book "The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan, this show is perfect for grades K-5.

Gordon Russ: "Comedy Magic Show!" brings magic to Rochester Saturday, June 11, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. Hold onto your hats and don’t blink an eye! A master at audience involvement, Gordon and his trusty sidekick, George the Raccoon, have traveled the globe in search of smiles, laughs, and fun. Audiences of all ages are invited to come along with Gordon on his fantastic adventure and see magic the way it was meant to be—for the fun of it! Make your own “PICK ME” sign to increase your chances of becoming a volunteer.

Tickets for the children's series range from $10.00-$15.00, based on date and time, with great discounts for groups of 8 or more! All of the productions in the children's series are approximately 1 hour long.

Meadow Brook Theatre is located on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. For additional information, please visit Meadow Brook Theatre is a non-profit, cultural institution serving southeast Michigan for over 49 years.


Music Hall's Cars & Stars is Friday, June 12

Article: 9657; Posted: May 2, 2015 at 1:00 p.m.

Co-title sponsors Ford Motor Company & Lear Corporation and the Music Hall Board of Trustees will present: "An Evening with Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band 'In Da Moonlight!'" at the Music Hall's s 14th Annual Cars & Stars on Friday, June 12.

Emmy winner, Tony and Golden Globe nominee, Jeff Daniels is an American actor, singer-songwriter, playwright, and lifetime Michigan resident. Jeff Daniels will be joined by his son Ben’s accomplished band--known for its originality, musicianship, and a sound that spans Americana, blues, jazz, and rock for an exceptional evening.

Each year Music Hall creates a one-of-a-kind experience and this year is no exception. Music Hall will be “In Da Moonlight!” This quintessentially Michigan theme is inspired by Mr. Daniels Michigan-inspired stage play, "Escanaba In Da Moonlight." A specially selected group of surprising auction items will be up for bid. VIP guests will also get to experience the after party in one of the most buzzed about night spots in Detroit, 3Fifty Terrace as you party away with a breathtaking backdrop of the Theater District in all its glory.

Cars & Stars is Music Hall’s annual black-tie fundraising gala where funding is raised for the upcoming season’s five education programs. Cars & Stars only happens once a year, so its success is crucial in maintaining and increasing the number of students that the programs reach, currently over 22,000 in the metro Detroit area.

Public tickets are $75, $45 and $25 and are available at Music Hall Box Office at 313 887-8501.

VIP Gala Patron tickets are $600, and include VIP cocktails, dinner and dancing at Music Hall and “An Evening with Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band” on the main stage with an after-party following on the rooftop terrace; also includes complimentary valet parking.

Supporter Patron tickets are $150 and include “An Evening with Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band” on the main stage with an after-party following on the rooftop terrace.

VIP Tickets can be purchased by contacting LaTasha Burnett 313 887-8510 or

Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts is located at 350 Madison Avenue in Detroit. Their website is


A2’s theater scene getting crowded in a good way

by Bridgette Redman

Article: 9651; Posted: May 1, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.

Ann Arbor is soon going to be richer than ever before when it comes to professional theaters.

Two more theaters are getting ready to open their doors and join Performance Network, Penny Seats, and Theatre Nova as theaters producing works in Ann Arbor. Pointless Brewery & Theatre and Kickshaw Theatre will both be opening its doors in the coming months.

“You should go out every weekend,” said Tori Tomali who is one of two founders of Pointless Brewery & Theatre. “You should be going out to see one of these shows that are part of our community. The thought should be ‘What show do you want to see tonight?’ That’s the culture we’re headed into in Ann Arbor.”

She said she doesn’t even like to consider the other theaters as competition as she said they are all riding the same wave.

Lynn Lammers, the artistic director of Kickshaw Theatre, says the theaters are all different enough that there is room for everyone.

“All offer something distinctly different,” Lammers said. “Improv theater goes without saying. They’re doing something totally different. And we’re definitely veering hard away from the kitchen sink play and the parlor room play, from the multi-character one- or two-person shows that the other theaters are doing. They do what they do really well and we’re going to do something really different.”

Pointless Brewery & Theatre

A diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer for Tori Tomali inspired her and her husband, Jason, to pursue what has been a long-time dream for them, knowing that the time would never get better.

“We’ve had this idea for ten years--my husband and I on our very first date said one day we were going to open a theater together,” Tomali said, who is mother to a 6-year-old son and two 4-year-old twin daughters. “We got married and had kids and thought we should wait until they are older. Then in May 2013, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. What it did was draw things into a sharp focus. We had some hard conversations about what we wanted from life and our time together. We decided to make this our priority.”

Now they’ve had a successful Kickstarter campaign in which they raised $52,536 from 522 backers. They’re getting the licenses and permits in place so they can open downtown this summer. They’ll be opening at 2014 Packard Road in a 2,000 square foot space.

“It will have a close community feeling which is what we really want from a theater,” said Tomali. “It will be simple concession style snacks rather than full meals. You can grab a pizza from Little Caesar’s and bring it over.”

The beer will be crafted by Jason Tomali, who has taken up craft brewery.

“It’s hard to make a financially viable theater,” said Tori Tomali. “We saw that what a lot of successful ones had in common is multiple income streams. The spirit of improv and creativity is the same that a lot of craft brewers had--they all have crazy ideas and are trying something new. So, why not combine the craft brew movement with improv? They both have the same spirit--grab a beer and watch a show that makes you laugh. These fit together perfectly.”

The original plan calls for the bar to be open in the afternoons and evenings with live improv shows on Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturdays, during the day, there will be family improv shows geared toward kids and getting them involved. There will also be special music events and classes offered.

And they are extending the improv spirit to the brewery choices.

“We’ll ask people for suggestions of flavors. Do they have a bitter kind of feeling tonight or bubbly? We’ll incorporate those feelings and artistic senses into the beers as well, so the community will be deciding that as well as the stuff that is onstage.”

Kickshaw Theatre

The first time Julia Glander and Lynn Lammers worked together at Williamston Theater, they started talking about doing something that other theaters weren’t. “What about, if instead of concerning ourselves so much with ‘relatability,’ we asked the audience specifically and intentionally to come to the theater with their curiosity,” said Lammers. “That word ‘curiosity’ is really the sort of foundational concept through which all of this blossoms. We want to portray vastly diverse stories.

So, the two turned to different theaters around the country to see what they were doing and drew inspiration from works that they found different from what was being done locally in Michigan.

“We are asking people to engage their curiosity,” said Lammers. “We’re also really interested in our plays looking a little bit different from a lot of what we see from other theaters in Michigan. We are looking for plays that are a little bit wild, that are theatrical, that maybe sometimes involve some level of spectacle. We are borrowing and stealing ideas from some models that are under development at theaters across the country. We’re galvanizing all these ideas and seeing how they fit to Ann Arbor.”

Their philosophy, Lammers says, is one they’re borrowing from the Wooly Mammoth in D.C.—one of connectivity.

“The idea is about connecting with the audience with intentionality. Who is not in the room and why?” said Lammers. “If all the plays look and feel the same and all of our audience looks and feels the same, we’re not really experiencing all that humanity and what the world has to offer us.”

Connectivity also means reaching out to community groups when the connection makes sense. For example, says Lammers, the Mo’Olelo Theater in San Diego partnered with Alzheimer’s advocacy groups when they did a play about Alzheimer’s.

“We’re going to approach some different community groups and populations with intentionality and with an intent for reciprocity,” Lammers said. “We want to offer our work to various communities and say this is something we think will be of interest to you. We think this will have some satisfaction and resonance for you. How can we partner and get you here to see this work? We then create a partnership where Kickshaw Theatre is engaging with them in a way that gives back. We’re looking at really deep levels of engagement.”

As a theater that will operate under an Equity contract, Kickshaw is planning to offer its first show next fall. That show, however, will be announced at their first event, a fundraiser called “Kickshaw presents…a Curious Occasion.”

The fundraising event takes place at Cobblestone Farm, 2781 Packard Road on Monday, May 18. They’ll offer wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres from local restaurants and caterers. Emcee Aral Gribble and other actors will put on a performance revealing the upcoming season and auctioning off some items and experiences that are unique to Kickshaw. Tickets are available at

“We’re going to put on a show,” said Lammers. “It won’t be your average fundraiser. We’re going to give people a taste of the first show we’re going to produce. It is going to be a big bombastic, fun, wild evening full of performances and it is going to be like what we are--a little weird, a little kooky, a little wild.”


MSU Friends of Theatre celebrate new Courtyard stage at June 9 gala

Article: 9649; Posted: May 1, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

The Friends of Theatre at Michigan State University will celebrate the opening of the new Summer Circle Courtyard with a gala event on Tuesday, June 9, at 6 p.m., at Fairchild Theatre and the new Courtyard. The evening’s events will include food and wine, a live auction and raffle and a private performance of the first play in the Summer Circle season, “Mr. Burns, a post-electric play.” The opening of the play the following night will mark the beginning of the 55th season of free summer theatre at MSU.

Tickets for the event are $40 and available online at (click on Buy Tickets to the Friends of Theatre Gala 2015) or by calling 517-355-6691.

Guests will enjoy food from Woody’s Oasis and wine on the Fairchild stage before moving to the Courtyard for dessert, coffee and the play.

Tony Caselli, Artistic Director of Williamston Theatre, will be the evening’s emcee. Among the auction items up for bid will be a stay with breakfast at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, a sculpture by Mark Chatterley, and tickets to regional theatres. Joshua Davis, who appears in the Spring 2015 season of “The Voice” and is a theatre department alum, has donated a “house party” performance where the lucky bidder can invite guests to their home and the singer will perform.

The Summer Circle Courtyard was completed last fall after a significant fundraising effort from MSU Friends of Theatre raising more than $100,000 toward the outdoor stage, located on the courtyard between Fairchild Theatre and Kresge Art Center. The new space will offer patrons an accessible space that should be dryer in damp weather with fewer mosquitoes. While the courtyard provides ample seating, those who choose to bring their own chairs, blankets and picnics will still find plenty of space to do so.

Summer Circle Theatre provides free performances for the mid-Michigan and university community at the space during the month of June with a selection of five plays, including a musical and children’s theatre production. This season’s productions are dedicated to its founders and key supporters of Summer Circle’s past including former Department of heater faculty and administrators Frank C. Rutledge, John Baldwin, Gretel Geist-Rutledge, Dixie Durr and George F. Peters.

Proceeds from the event will help fund student fellowships for the Summer Circle Theatre Company. In addition, event sponsorships are available from $250, with additional credits as “Show Sponsor,” “Actor/Designer/Manager/Technician Named Fellowships” and “Season Sponsor” at levels up to $3,000.

"This is Friends of Theatre’s sixth gala supporting Summer Circle Theatre," says Jacqueline Babcock, president of the organization. "Each year we pick a target area requiring financial support as the focus for our spring event. Helping to ensure free theatre for those who enjoy it and want to expose their children to live theatre is important to those of us who love the arts. By supporting student artists of Summer Circle, we can help the Department of Theatre continue this mission."

"It costs the MSU Department of Theatre more than $2,000 to pay for each Summer Circle performer, designer, manager or technician," says department chairperson Kirk Domer. "In addition, costs are incurred for performance royalties, costumes and set design and even electricity. However, productions are made free to the community. Consequently, we rely on the support of Friends of Theatre and donations from individuals and businesses in the mid-Michigan region so we can sustain this cultural opportunity free for our audiences."

The season of Great Storytelling will open with "Mr. Burns," a play with music, and be followed by David and Amy Sedaris’ “The Book of Liz,” “The American Plan” by Richard Greenberg, a musical version of “The Tail of Peter Rabbit” by Rob Roznowski and Chelle Peterson and “An Adult Evening with Shel Silverstein.” Performance dates and details are available at

Businesses and individuals interested in sponsorship levels for the Friends of Theatre “Celebrate the Stage” gala may contact Joan Mattson at


Detroit's Cabaret 313 presents SNL alum Ana Gasteyer

Article: 9648; Posted: April 30, 2015 at 4:00 p.m.

Cabaret 313 announces the addition of Ana Gasteyer to its 2014-2015 lineup, with a newly scheduled performance on Friday, May 8. She will appear at the intimate Marlene Boll Theatre at the Boll Family YMCA, with her cabaret act entitled "Elegant Songs from a Handsome Woman."

Probably best known for her comedic "Saturday Night Live" characters, Ms. Gasteyer is also an accomplished singer and actress, having played Elphaba on Broadway in "Wicked," and opposite Alan Cumming in "Threepenny Opera," as Mrs. Peachem. She has had numerous television and film roles, including in the programs "Suburgatory," "The Good Wife" and "Law and Order."

Two performances are scheduled. The early show begins 7:00 pm and the later show at 10:00 pm. Doors open forty-five minutes before each performance, with complimentary hors d'oeuvres/desserts and wine/beer. Valet parking is available.

Tickets are priced at $125 for preferred cabaret table seating and at $60 for general seating. A limited number of $25 tickets are available for those 30 and under. To purchase preferred and general seating, visit For more information, and to learn how to obtain "30 and under tickets," please call 313.405.5061.

About Cabaret 313
Cabaret 313 is a non-profit organization born of the vision of Metro Detroiters Sandi Reitelman and Allan Nachman. Started in late 2012, they developed the plan to bring professional cabaret to the city of Detroit. Their vision is to tap into and build on Detroit’s increasing energy and vitality. It is an intimate genre in which the singer shares a story through song and often evokes both laughter and tears, and forges a connection between the artist and listeners. Performances are set in intimate spaces around Detroit.


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