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Call for plays 'Activate: Midwest A New Play Festival' at WMU

Posted: Oct. 1, 2014 at 7:28 a.m.

KALAMAZOO - Western Michigan University's inaugural "Activate: Midwest New Play Festival" is seeking un-produced full-length plays from playwrights living in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana or Wisconsin.

Selected plays will be developed and presented as script-in-hand staged readings during June 2015 as part of a new play festival at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. The Festival will feature readings, workshops and responses from guest playwrights, literary managers and producers. In addition, one of the plays will be selected for a fully-staged workshop production in Chicago during August 2015.

Playwrights selected for the festival will be in residence at the University for one week during June 2015, and will be provided with travel, lodging and per diem.

Western Michigan University is home to award-winning Departments of Theatre and English whose undergraduate, M.F.A. and Ph.D. programs in Playwriting have garnered national attention. WMU's Gwen Frostic Reading Series has brought to campus such noted playwrights as Edward Allen Baker, Lisa Dillman, Rebecca Gilman, Len Jenkin, Carlos Murilla, OyamO and Charles Smith.

Deadline for submission is Dec. 1.


For questions or more information please email


'Page to Stage Series' returns for another season at Macomb Center

"The Gruffalo's Child" is among the shows included in Macomb Center's 2014-15 "Page to Stage Series"

Posted: Sept. 29, 2014 at 7:28 p.m.

CLINTON TOWNSHIP – Literature is brought to life by the Macomb Center for the Performing Art's "Page to Stage Series." Inspiring audiences of all ages since 2009 with such classics as Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451," Shakespeare's "Macbeth" and H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds," along with contemporary favorites such as "The Secret Life of Bees," "The Miracle Worker" and "The Kite Runner," "Page to Stage" offers first rate productions with world class actors.

"The 'Page to Stage Series' allows you to get involved with the books in a way you wouldn't ever be able to," says Sandy Hazelton-Pianko, marketing manager at the Macomb Center. "With pre- and post-show discussions for many of the performances, you gain a new understanding of the works, and new insight and perspectives from the performers themselves. It's not only great opportunity for book clubs and students, but for anyone who enjoys literature."

The 2014-15 "Page to Stage Series" kick's off with Emily Bronte's classic story of all-consuming passion, "Wuthering Heights," presented by the Aquila Theatre on Oct. 19 at 3 p.m. and Oct. 20 at 10 a.m.; ArtsPower's whimsical new musical "Harry the Dirty Dog" by Gene Zion is Nov. 3 at 9:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; Jeannette Wells' unique memoir of survival and resilience "The Glass Castle," performed by Young Audiences New York's Literature to Life, comes to life on Nov. 18 and 19 at 10 a.m.; L.A. Theatre Works presents a live radio play of John Ball's provocative "In the Heat of the Night" on Feb. 22, 2015 at 3 p.m., and follows-up at 10 a.m. Feb. 23 with "And Justice For All: American and the Civil Rights Movement," comparing select scenes from the stage adaptation of "In the Heat of the Night" with historical events from the Civil Rights era.

The series continues with Roseneath Theatre Company's performance of Beatrice Pizano's story of courage, hope and strength, "La Maleta (The Suitcase)," on Feb. 25 at 9:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; Tall Stories Theatre Company presents the pre-school favorite "The Gruffalo's Child" on March 17 at 9:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; F. Scott Fitzgerald's cautionary tale about the American Dream, "The Great Gatsby," takes the stage by the Montana Repertory Theatre on March 26 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; and the finale of the series is the compelling dramatic adaptation of Ann Lehmann Fox's "My Heart in a Suitcase," presented by ArtsPower on April 21 at 9:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

With topics ranging from the whimsical, to racism, to the search for the American Dream, the Macomb Center's "Page to Stage Series" offers a greater understanding of the literature that defines our culture, giving voice to words and inspiring others to find their own voice. Most performances have pre- and post-show interactive discussions, providing a deeper understanding of the works and new insight and perspectives from the performers themselves. Study guides may also be found online at

Purchase tickets in person at the Macomb Center box office Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. and Friday noon - 6 p.m. Tickets and additional information, including a complete season schedule, are available online at or by calling 586-286-2222.

The Macomb Center for the Performing Arts is located on Macomb Community College's Center Campus at 44575 Garfield Road in Clinton Township, Michigan 48038.


Tuesday: Mosaic to host annual meeting

Posted: Sept. 29, 2014 at 7:44 p.m.

DETROIT - Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit will hold its annual meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 30 from 6-8 p.m. Hosted by newly elected board Chair Diane Green, the meeting is open to the public and will include an overview of this season's shows, information on ticket sales and upcoming events. The meeting will include a performance by the Mosaic Singers.

The singers are fresh off their gold and silver medal wins at the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia. There will also be an award ceremony to celebrate the recent accomplishments of the young artists.

Representatives from Mayor Mike Duggan and Congressman Gary Peters offices will present medals and formally recognize the teens.

Afterwards, there will be an opportunity for all to tour the Mosaic facilities, sign up for various volunteer opportunities, make donations, and purchase Mosaic merchandise.

The meeting will be held at 2251 Antietam Ave. Detroit, MI 48207.

To learn more about Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, visit


Rod puppets bring Russian classic to life

Oct. 4-26, 2014

Posted: Sept. 28, 2014 at 3:58 p.m.

DETROIT - "Firebird," a traditional heroic tale, returns to PuppetART beginning Oct. 4.

Based on a folk tale of old Russia, Ivan goes in search of his true love, who has been captured by dark forces. Along the way he rescues a beautiful Firebird caught in a chain beneath a golden apple tree. He also meets Baba Yaga, the traditional Russian witch, who reveals to him that the Firebird he freed is none other than his true love, Vasilisa - and despite her nature, she helps him by showing him the way to the realm of the Black Dragon. His adventure comes to an end when, by using his wit rather than his strength, Ivan triumphs over the Dragon, and, united with his true love, returns to his homeland.

"Firebird" is a lush and elaborate production with rod puppets, created in the tradition of Russian folklore. It is full of vivid and colorful scenery. The first act contrasts the dark and mysterious underworld of the second act, with spellbinding music of Stravinsky's "Firebird" as well as folk songs of old Russia, which transports the audience to an enchanted and magical world - a world of fairy tales.

Performances are at:

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Reservations can be made by calling 313-961-7777.

Also, on Oct. 4, PuppetART will raffle away four general admission tickets to be used for its November show, "Turtle Island." One entry per adult ticket stub purchased that day.

PuppetART is located at the Detroit Puppet Theatre at 25 E. Grand River in Downtown Detroit. For more information, log on to



'Kings of Unionville' Is Tipping Point Theatre's First Original Work – American Theatre (June 5, 2014)

Historic Macomb Theatre is up for sale again – Detroit Free Press (Sept. 28, 2014)

Inner war between good and evil in touring musical -- 'Jekyll & Hyde' coming to Miller Auditorium – Kalamazoo Gazette (Sept. 28, 2014)

New act begins at Historic Howell Theater – Livingston Daily (Sept. 27, 2014)


Artists blur boundaries between artistic disciplines

Kiss & Cry
Power Center
Oct. 10-12, 2014

Posted: Sept. 28, 2014 at 9:20 a.m.

ANN ARBOR - A poetic piece that blurs artistic disciplines, "Kiss & Cry" brings together a diverse group of Belgian artists to create a sweeping, romantic work that explores the question, “Where do people go when they disappear from our life, from our memory?”

Coming to Ann Arbor's Power Center Oct. 10-12, this is the question haunting a woman as she waits alone on the platform of a train station. She thinks of the men she's loved and lost, vanished in the haze of existence. Hands visually portray the main characters with a beautifully engaging sensual presence, moving around miniature sets with absolute precision while a camera crew projects the finger ballet, or "nano-dance," on a large screen. In this blend of film, dance, text and theater, the audience witnesses a film screened and simultaneously made in front of their eyes. A unique event told with tender and poignant eloquence, "Kiss & Cry" is an unforgettable experience.

"Kiss & Cry" is an ambitious show created and supported by a group of artists who blur the boundaries between artistic disciplines, including nano-choreographies, theater and film, to create a different and unique work every day. Created by power couple Michele Anne de Mey (an associate artist at Charleroi Danses) and Jaco Van Dormael (a film writer/director, best known for "Mr. Nobody" starring Diane Kruger and Jared Leto), "Kiss & Cry" has been performed in cities worldwide, including Athens, London, Boston and Seoul, and has been translated into eight languages. The piece has a different resonance wherever it plays; audiences in Chile saw the main character's lost lovers as a metaphor for those who disappeared with Pinochet.

Performances of "Kiss & Cry," presented by the University Musical Society, will take place at:

Tickets begin at $26. Tickets may be purchased online at; by phone at 734-764-2538; in person at the Michigan League (911 North University Avenue); or at the performance venue beginning 90 minutes before performance start time. Box Office hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., closed Sunday.

Power Center is located at 121 Fletcher Street, Ann Arbor.

Related event: Tune In with UMS for a brief pre-performance talk before select Renegade series performances, including this "Kiss & Cry" performance. Just 15 minutes long, each Tune In offers interesting information and provocative questions for thinking about, listening to, and watching the performance. The Renegade series celebrates artistic innovation, experimentation, and discovery. Tune Ins are hosted by Shannon Fitzsimmons, UMS campus engagement specialist and dramaturg, and UMS guest scholar Garrett Schumann and will be joined by occasional special guests. 7:30 p.m. at Michigan League Henderson Room, 3rd Floor.


'Evil Dead' partners with credit union to support anti-bullying program

Posted: Sept. 27, 2014 at 8:03 a.m.

DETROIT - Although celebratory in nature, the fifth anniversary season of "Evil Dead: The Musical" at the City Theatre also serves to bring attention to the issue of bullying. Together with Genisys Credit Union, "Evil Dead The: Musical" is helping to spread the message of anti-bullying in support of the Don't Be A Monster program.

Don't Be a Monster is an anti-bullying program that began in 2012 and is a joint effort between haunted houses and non-profit organizations around the country. Erebus, a four-story haunted attraction in Pontiac, is a proud participant in the program, as anti-bullying efforts are close to the heart of Ed Terebus, co-owner of Erebus.

The program seeks to educate youth about bullying, diversity and inclusiveness while empowering them to stand up for their peers and make positive choices for themselves. The national program will visit local middle schools in Southeast Michigan in October during National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. The presentations include games and discussion.

"Studies show that 28 percent of students in grades six - 12 experience bullying, and that 70.6 percent of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools," said Jackie Buchanan, president and CEO at Genisys Credit Union. "We care about the youth in our community and want to help them understand how name calling, teasing, spreading rumors, leaving people out and other actions can hurt people. We are pleased to support the efforts of Don't Be a Monster."

"Evil Dead: The Musical" fans have the opportunity to donate five dollars to Don't Be a Monster by purchasing tickets online by clicking here using promo code GENYSIS or by showing their Eurbus Haunted Attraction ticket stub at the Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices; limit 8 tickets per purchase now through Saturday, Oct. 15.

Genisys Credit Union members who use the promo code GCU at for advance weekday tickets to Erebus will receive $3 off their ticket and $5 will go to the anti-bullying program.

To donate to Don't Be a Monster directly, visit and click on the tickets link or call Erebus at 248-332-7884. For more information on the Don't Be a Monster campaign, visit

"Evil Dead: The Musical" is playing from Oct. 1-25 at the City Theatre in Downtown Detroit. Based on Sam Raimi's '80s cult classic films, "Evil Dead: The Musical" brings to life the familiar story of a boy and his friends who go on a weekend getaway to an abandoned cabin and then things go terribly awry.

THERE'S MORE: CLICK HERE for complete details regarding "Evil Dead: The Musical" at the City Theatre!


Fall Benefit to honor restoration of Tibbits Opera House

Restoration of Tibbits Opera House: Before and after

Posted: Sept. 27, 2014 at 8:25 a.m.

LANSING - The Michigan Historic Preservation Network has held its Annual Fall Benefit for 20 years in support of its statewide programming. The organization has also taken the occasion to present one or more of its prestigious preservation awards. This year on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 11, on the stage of the Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater, the 2014 Community Award will be accepted on behalf of the Community of Coldwater. The second – the 2014 Leadership Award – is being awarded to the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance. The MHPN invites the public to join the celebration.

The Community of Coldwater will be honored for the stunning reclamation of the Tibbits Opera House. The opulent Second Empire-styled opera house opened in 1882. In the 1930s, every shred of exterior 19th century detailing was destroyed during its conversion into a "modern" Art Deco movie theater. Removal of the Deco facade in the 1960s reduced the building to a characterless box. The Tibbits Opera Foundation and Arts Council, Inc. proposed in 1999 to have the theater fully restored. Funds were raised with wide community support, and facade work was completed in 2013.

The Saugatuck Dunes Coast Alliance will also be honored. Saugatuck's Lake Michigan/Kalamazoo River & Dunes Coastal District is an area of roughly 2,000 acres of relatively undisturbed dune and woodlands that hold a concentration of interconnected sites of historic and ecological significance. Despite the quiet beauty, this site has fostered a long public conversation about the rights of private development and the interests of the public. Championing conservation of the area has been the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance, drawing attention to an issue with a statewide impact.

In addition to the presentation of these two awards, there is much to enjoy during the MHPN's 20th Annual Fall Benefit. The MHPN always chooses a noteworthy historic venue as the evening's backdrop. "Most often we have been in Detroit at such landmark buildings as the Fisher, Grand Army of the Republic, or Guardian," notes Nancy Finegood, MHPN executive director. "But many times, we have traveled to other parts of the state to enjoy the Union Station in Durand, the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, or the Masonic Temple in Ypsilanti. This year, we're delighted to be at the Tibbits."

Christine Delaney, executive director of The Tibbits Opera Foundation and Arts Council, has written that restoration of the building to its original magnificence has had a far-reaching effect on the theater, the community and architectural preservation in general. "People who were not familiar with Tibbits had no way of recognizing its value," Delaney noted. "The restored facade has drawn an increase in theatergoers through a renewed interest in the facility and Tibbits' programs, which in turn positively impacts the local economy."

"We welcome the public to this 20th annual event," states Emily Jarvi, MHPN Fall Benefit manager for the past five years. "It includes strolling dinner fare and dessert, a hosted beer and wine bar, opera house tours, and our popular silent and live auctions including everything from overnights at some of Michigan's best historic hotels and B&Bs to books, football and symphony tickets, and Michigan-themed crafts." But Jarvi emphasizes that this year, the evening includes much more.

Before the doors to the Fall Benefit open, the public is invited to tour the Kerr Building, a great historic building project just footsteps from the Tibbits Opera House. Join owner and developer JMWingard, LLC, Lake Michigan Financial Corporation, and MHPN's Historic Resource Council for 30-minute guided tours of a 19th-century downtown space with new commercial and residential uses. There is no charge for attendees, but they must make a reservation by phoning or e-mailing the MHPN office. A Council member will confirm your timeslot, meeting point, and discuss dress and safety requirements.

As in every community that hosts an MHPN activity," states Janet Kreger, Fall Benefit assistant manager this year, "we fully endorse that you stay the weekend - 'Make It a Coldwater Weekend!' Coldwater is a diverse place with plenty to see and do."

Whether you want to get your pumpkins at a country stand, go antiques shopping or tour a winery, your weekend will fill up quickly. Both the local Comfort Inn & Suites ($60) and Hampton Inn ($80) are offering a 'Tibbits Rate' for those coming in for the event.

The MHPN's 20th Annual Fall Benefit will be Saturday, Oct. 11, from 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater. Register by Friday, Oct. 3 on-line or by printing a registration form at Fall Benefit tickets are $100 per person, or $75 for students and government employees.

Tibbits Opera House is located at 14 South Hanchett Street in Coldwater, MI 49036. The facility is barrier free; some portions visited during the tours are not. City parking is across the street and free. Dress is business attire.

For more information, go to the MHPN website at, call 517-371-8080, or e-mail


Encore LIVE! - The resurrection of 'Evil Dead: The Musical'

David Moan, David Schoen and Phill Harmer on the set of "Evil Dead: The Musical."

Posted: Sept. 25, 2014 at 4:54 p.m.

If it's October, then it must be time for what's become a bloody, but beloved tradition in Southeast Michigan. Yes, "Evil Dead: The Musical" returns to the City Theatre inside Detroit's Hockeytown Cafe beginning Oct. 1 - and Deadites (and other fans) everywhere couldn't be happier!

Produced by The Ringwald Theatre and Olympia Entertainment for the fifth consecutive year, this year's run is helmed by a new director and features many new faces, but one thing remains the same: Theatergoers can expect plenty of laughs and thrills as the 1980s' cult-classic film series comes to life on stage - whether they sit in the splatterzone or not!

Join host Donald V. Calamia as he discusses the show and what theatergoers can expect with director Phill Harmer and actors David Schoen and David Moan.

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

CLICK HERE for other listening and downloading options.

Click here to comment on this podcast

THERE'S MORE: CLICK HERE for for complete details regarding "Evil Dead: The Musical!"



Performance Network's 'Driving Miss Daisy' gets back to play's roots – The Ann Arbor News (Sept. 24, 2014)

Local theater artists and companies earn 5 Wilde Awards – The Ann Arbor News (Sept. 23, 2014)

Purple Rose Theatre scales Sharr White's 'Annapurna' – The Ann Arbor News (Sept. 23, 2014)

Stage musical inspired by Ann Arbor native Davy Rothbart's Found Magazine premieres – The Ann Arbor News (Sept. 22, 2014)

What A Do wins Wilde Award – Battle Creek Enquirer (Sept. 23, 2014)

'Driving Miss Daisy' explores cultural climate change – The Detroit News (Sept. 24, 2014)

Eternal optimist ‘Annie’ returns to Detroit – The Detroit News (Sept. 23, 2014)

Congratulations to the 2014 Wilde Award winners – Detroit Theater Examiner (Sept. 23, 2014)

Michigan Shakespeare's 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and More Top 2014 Wilde Awards; Winners Announced! – Broadway World Detroit (Sept. 23, 2014)

Kalamazoo Improv Festival to invade Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – Kalamazoo Gazette (Sept. 23, 2014)

Williamston Theatre wins national award – Lansing State Journal (Sept. 21, 2014)

Williamston Theatre debuts ‘Gravedigger’ – Lansing State Journal (Sept. 23, 2014)

Believable performance earns Pinckney theater co-owner top award – Livingston Daily (Sept. 24, 2014)


This weekend: Special offers for 'Miss Daisy'

Posted: Sept. 25, 2014 at 8:15 a.m.

ANN ARBOR - For anyone still thinking about attending the opening weekend performances of "Driving Miss Daisy" at Performance Network Theatre, Thursday, Sept. 25 is Pay-What-You-Can, plus a special two-for-one ticket offer is now in place for Saturday, Sept. 27, and Sunday, Sept. 28. Tickets range in price from $25-$41.

"In honor of Rosh Hashana this week, we thought it would be fun to offer a special 'buy one-get one' to anyone who would like to attend this weekend," said Sara Dean, the Network's company manager. "This play offers something for everyone, and its themes are as poignant today as they were in the era the play takes place."

The ever popular "Driving Miss Daisy," directed by 2014 Pulsar Award winner for best director and two-time 2014 Wilde Award winner John Manfredi, will begin its run at the Network on Sept. 25. The project reunites Manfredi and James Bowen last seen together at the Network in the critically acclaimed "K2." Manfredi and Bowen teamed up on an earlier version of "Daisy" almost a decade ago and garnered awards for Best Play, Best Actor, Best Director and the show was named one of the year's top 10 by the Detroit Free Press.

Performances of "Driving Miss Daisy" take place Thursday through Sunday Sept. 25 through Oct. 26. Longtime Detroit sports and entertainment executive Tom Wilson co-produces "Driving Miss Daisy" which will also play a limited engagement at the City Theatre in Detroit starting Oct. 30.

The Network's management would like to take this time to congratulate all of the winners from the 2014 Wilde Awards presented by Encore Michigan. Most notably, praise goes out to John Manfredi who won Best Performance, Actor – Drama for his role in the Network's production of "An Iliad," Sandra Birch who won Best Teamwork along with Manfredi for their partnership in Williamston Theatre's "The Lion in Winter," Maggie Meyer who won Best Performance, Actress – Comedy in the Network's "Venus in Fur," and Joseph Zettelmaier, whose award-winning play "Salvage" will be performed in June 2015 at the Network, who won Best New Script for "The Scullery Maid" performed at The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company.

"I am very thankful to Encore Michigan and to all of the critics who work so hard to review the multitude of theater productions in the state," said Manfredi. "It's a great feeling to have our work celebrated. "An Iliad" and "The Lion in Winter" with Sandy Birch were two exceptional experiences, and I am humbled to be included with all the other nominees. It's doubly exciting to congratulate Maggie Meyer and Joe Zettelmaier for their awards, and I look forward to their future involvement at the Network."

For information on the Network, to donate or to purchase tickets, please go to or call the box office at 734-663-0681.

Performance Network Theatre is located at 120 E. Huron St, Ann Arbor, MI, 48104.


ArtServe Michigan changes name to Creative Many Michigan

Posted: Sept. 24, 2014 at 8:17 a.m.

WIXOM - ArtServe Michigan, the state's leading statewide arts and cultural advocacy organization, announced it has changed its name to Creative Many Michigan, effective immediately.

The change to Creative Many Michigan emphasizes the evolution and inclusivity of the organization's work for arts, culture and creative and design industries in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors and broadens the function of its efforts as an economic development advocate on their behalf. In tandem with the name change, Creative Many Michigan has refined its mission "to develop creative people, creative places and the creative economy for a competitive Michigan."

"As Creative Many Michigan we strengthen our leadership role and accelerate our momentum in advancing the power of Michigan's creative economy and building a more competitive Michigan," said Jennifer Goulet, president and CEO of Creative Many Michigan. "Our new name aligns our identity with the expanding portfolio of our work to better advocate for and serve the arts, culture and creative and design industries."

Under its new identity, the organization remains committed to such initiatives as Creative State Michigan research and reporting, advocacy and public policy leadership, Lawyers for the Creative Economy legal support, professional practice programs for artists and creative practitioners and the sharing of its resources, networks and information.

"Creative Many Michigan embraces the history of ArtServe Michigan's work and achievements with traditional arts communities while allowing the organization to reach out to new creative communities to supplement and further impact its work," added Goulet.

ArtServe Michigan has provided artists, creative practitioners and arts and cultural organizations with knowledge, networks, advocacy and resources to position them for achieving their goals since 2008.

Masco Corporation Foundation provided funding assistance for the name transition. "ArtServe Michigan built its reputation on its ability to emphasize the significant ways arts and culture strengthen the economy and serve our communities," said Melonie Colaianne, president of the MASCO Corporation Foundation. "Now, as Creative Many Michigan, its ability to expand upon this mission will only better support how creativity helps fuel Michigan's resurgence."

About CreativeMany Michigan
Creative Many Michigan, formerly ArtServe Michigan, is a statewide economic development organization focused on the mission to develop creative people, creative places and the creative economy for a competitive Michigan. Creative Many Michigan emphasizes the power of creativity through advocacy/public policy, research/reporting, professional practice programs, strategic communications and networking for the greater good of the arts, culture and creative and design industries. Contact Creative Many Michigan at 248-912-0760 or visit


2014 Wilde Awards remember a wild year in Michigan theater

By Amy J. Parrent

Kathy Mulay, D. Terry Williams, Derek Menchinger and Sharon Williams from Farmers Alley Theatre.

Posted: Sept. 23, 2014 at 1:39 p.m.; updated Sept. 23, 2014 at 2:51 p.m.

The 2013-14 professional theater season was a tempestuous one, an even more unsettled year than usual for the state's theaters. So perhaps it was appropriate that this year's Wilde Awards were the 13th annual edition.

It was the kind of year that elicited a "Holy crap" or "WTF!" from many Michigan theater people - the same thoughts, but in a happy context, from some of this year's award winners. The event, recognizing the best in Michigan professional theater, took place Sept. 22 at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield. The event was sponsored by Pride Source Media Group.

Theater companies as diverse as the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Williamston Theatre, Farmers Alley, Performance Network and Planet Ant were represented by multiple winners. And, appropriately for the crazy year, several categories ended in a tie with co-winners.

Those winners ranged from novices picking up an award for their first pro production to those who've trod the boards a few years.

In all, 28 productions produced or presented by 17 theaters across the state earned an award this year, along with 34 artists. Jackson's Michigan Shakespeare Festival dominated the night with the most wins with four (tied with Farmers Alley Theater of Kalamazoo), three of which were for the top-winning comedy of the season, "The Importance of Being Earnest." And only one artist in the competitive categories walked out with more than one award: John Manfredi.

The evening was hosted by Encore Michigan editor Donald V. Calamia, assisted by some of the nine Encore critics who had reviewed 225 productions at 49 professional theaters. According to Calamia, they had "converged on a super-secret place" to whittle out the list of nominees in 27 categories and vote the winners.

The evening was co-hosted by the wonderful Naz Edwards, also one of the able performers in the evening's musical entertainments, which also included songs from two of the nominated Best Musicals. Music director R. MacKenzie Lewis provided a never-a-wrong-note accompaniment.

The "second act" also moved along, thanks to surprise guest-host Jaime "Wallflower" Moyer, a Detroit native who now lives in Los Angeles.

And as usual, when you get creative people together, the winning reactions ranged from hilarious to emotional.

Julia Marsh took both the Best Performance, Actress - Original One-Act or Solo Performance and the Founders Award for a work about her experience as a transgender person, "Please Give Me Your Money So I Can Buy a Vagina." She thanked friends and family "who've supported me through the whole endeavor."

Mike McGettigan, accepting the Best Original One-Act or Solo Performance

For Planet Ant's "Fast Times at Nazareth High," said, "It's true - a small boy can grow up on a farm, come to Detroit, and have performances at a black box theater where nearly 300 people can see him."

Seth Amadei, accepting for Best Performance, Actor - Comedy for "November" at Planet Ant, was reminded by a friend in the audience to thank his wife, who'd directed him while eight months pregnant. His category co-winner David Blixt ("The Importance of Being Earnest," Michigan Shakespeare Festival), recalled that his wife, recruiting him to replace someone in the cast, had simply instructed him, "Shave your face and be funny."

Alex Gay (Light Design, "Big Bang", Williamston Theatre) was grateful to the theater not firing him, even when he fell off a ladder during his first production.

Sandra Birch, accepting "Best Teamwork" for herself and Manfredi, rejoiced as she grabbed the plaque. "I'm old, that's why I'm like ‘Give it,'" and praised the "kick-ass acting community" of Michigan.

The evening also included light-hearted, definitely non-award awards ("No plaques, no trophies and no free-drink coupons," said Calamia). These featured categories such as "Best Improvised Lighting During Lightning" (honoring memories of a rainy outdoor production which, after a power loss, was illuminated by cell phones and car headlights) and "Some Boots Were Made for Stripping." (The Ringwald Theatre's "Snowgirls." You get the picture.)

A more reflective moment came with Michigan Opera Theatre founder Dr. David DiChiera's tribute to the late critic Michael H. Margolin, whom he praised as both a friend and writer. "He knew everything about a production," said DiChiera. "In reviews, he would tell me what I should do." About one singer whom Margolin found particularly memorable, Margolin had inserted this concise advice: "Bring him back, David."

The night also featured an announcement of promise regarding Encore Michigan's future, details of which will be announced to the public soon. And it ended with a hopeful note that this theater season will be as great as the last, if not so turbulent.

Winners: The 2014 Wilde Awards

Best Comedy
The Importance of Being Earnest
Michigan Shakespeare Festival
Janice L. Blixt, director

Best Drama
Old Wicked Songs
Farmers Alley Theatre
D. Terry Williams, director

Best Musical
Lysistrata Jones
Meadow Brook Theatre
Travis W. Walter, director

Best Opera
Michigan Opera Theatre
Garnett Bruce, director

Best Original One-Act or Solo Performance
Fast Times at Nazareth High
Planet Ant Theatre
Mike McGettigan, director

Best of The Bard - Tie
Michigan Shakespeare Festival
Robert Kauzlaric, director

Romeo and Juliet
Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
Curt L. Tofteland, director

Best Theater for Young Audiences
The Summer Circle
Summer Circle Theatre
Rob Roznowski, director

Best Tour
War Horse
Broadway in Detroit

Best Performance – Opera
Rudy Park
Michigan Opera Theatre

Best Performance – The Bard
Darnell Pierre Benjamin
Romeo and Juliet
Hope Summer Repertory Theatre

Best Performance, Actor – Comedy - Tie
Seth Amadei
Planet Ant Theatre

David Blixt
The Importance of Being Earnest
Michigan Shakespeare Festival

Best Performance, Actor – Drama - Tie
John Manfredi
An Iliad
Performance Network Theatre

Travis Reiff
Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches
The Ringwald Theatre

Best Performance, Actor – Musical
Steve DeBruyne
The Encore Musical Theatre

Best Performance, Actor - Original One-Act or Solo Performance
Jamen Spitzer
Bringing Up Baby New Year
Planet Ant Theatre

Best Performance, Actress – Comedy
Maggie Meyer
Venus in Fur
Performance Network Theatre

Best Performance, Actress – Drama - Tie
Linda Rabin Hammell
Collected Stories
Matrix Theatre Company

Sharon Williams
Collected Stories
Farmers Alley Theatre

Best Performance, Actress – Musical - Tie
Michelle Duffy
Next to Normal
Farmers Alley Theatre

Mahalia Greenway
The Encore Musical Theatre

Best Performance, Actress - Original One-Act or Solo Performance
Julia Marsh
Please Give Me Your Money So I Can Buy a Vagina
The Ringwald Theatre

Best Teamwork - Tie
Sandra Birch and John Manfredi
The Lion in Winter
Williamston Theatre

Dave Davies, Wayne David Parker and Cheryl Turski
Murder at the Howard Johnson's
Tipping Point Theatre

Best Choreography
Genevieve Lally-Knuth
The Tempest
What A Do Theatre

Best Design – Costumes
Suzanne Young
The Importance of Being Earnest
Michigan Shakespeare Festival

Best Design – Lights
Alex Gay
The Big Bang
Williamston Theatre

Best Design – Props
Carson Killmar
Visiting Mr. Green
Matrix Theatre Company

Best Design – Sets
Bartley Bauer
Williamston Theatre

Best Design – Sound or Video
Derek Menchinger
Old Wicked Songs
Farmers Alley Theatre

Best Music Direction
Warren Puffer Jones
The Sound of Music
Arbor Opera Theater

Best New Script
Joseph Zettelmaier
The Scullery Maid
The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Special Awards

Critic’s Choice Award
Dennis Wickline
Dennis Wickline Productions & Broadway Onstage Live Theatre

Critics’ Choice Award
Samantha White
Shakespeare in Detroit

Founders Award for Excellence
Julia Marsh
Please Give Me Your Money So I Can Buy a Vagina

Jim Posante Community Pride Award
Kim Clark and David Fink
The Acorn Theater

The Council Cargle Award for Dedication to the Michigan Theater Community
Bruce E. Millan, Barbara Busby and Dee Andrus
Detroit Repertory Theatre

The 2014 WILDE-r Awards

The Tough Luck Award or The Just Because You Have a Critic In Your Show, It Doesn’t Mean You’ll Get Nominated for Anything Award
Dustin Gardner
Dustin’s After Show
Planet Ant Theatre

The Some Boots Were Made For Stripping Award
Joe Bailey
Snow Girls
The Ringwald Theatre

The Best Improvised Lighting During Lightning Award
The cast and crew
Summer Circle Theatre

The Creepiest Post-Show Prop Award
Michelle Raymond
The Woman in Black
Williamston Theatre

The Best Low Flight Patterns Award
The Cast and Crew
The Tempest
What A Do Theatre

The Best Worst First Award
Rusty Mewha and Rhiannon Ragland
Miles & Ellie
The Purple Rose Theatre Company

The “My Character Would Never” Award
Dave Davies
Murder at the Howard Johnson's
Tipping Point Theatre

The When Life Gives You an Obstructive Support Beam Award
Aral Gribble and Wayne David Parker
Tuna Does Vegas
Williamston Theatre

The Best Real Talk Curtain Speeches Award
Shawn Handlon
Planet Ant Theatre

The It's Little Kids Getting Their Necks Broken, For Heaven's Sake Award
Sara Borsodi, Madison Miller, Jonathan Piggott, Natalie Wilson
Fight choreographers Alec Barbour and David Sterritt
Hilberry Theatre

The Best Rogue Award
Still Carolyn Hayes Harmer


PuppetART comes to Music Hall

Snow Queen
Music Hall
Oct. 5, 2014

Posted: Sept. 23, 2014 at 9:45 a.m.

DETROIT - Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts begins its Family Theatre Series of the 2014-15 season introducing Detroit's own PuppetART: Detroit's Puppet Theater with their own musical rendition of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale, "Snow Queen," on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. in the main hall.

"Snow Queen" is a tale told in seven different stories and focuses on the struggles between good and evil following Gerda and her friend Kai. One of H.C. Andersen's longest, but highly renowned stories, the story of the Snow Queen has been adapted and inspired in many forms and was recently the inspired story of the Walt Disney Animation Studios' film, "Frozen."

PuppetART's "Snow Queen" is its largest production of the year, retold as a musical. The story takes a hometown spin of the classic fairytale, telling the tale of the two friends' experiences of good and evil, as Gerda sets off to rescue Kai from the Snow Queen.

PuppetART was formed by a group of puppeteers and artists that were all trained in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.

Tickets to "Snow Queen" are $20 for adults and $10 for children; a Family Four Pack is available for $30. Tickets are available at the Music Hall Box Office by calling 313-887-8501, or online at

Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts is located at 350 Madison Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226. For more information about Music Hall, log on to


Southgate theater premieres with 'howlingly funny' comedy

Open Book Theatre Co.
Sept. 26 - Oct. 4, 2014

Posted: Sept. 21, 2014 at 3:07 p.m.

SOUTHGATE - Open Book Theatre Company is excited to announce the first play of its inaugural season. "Sylvia," the comedy by A. R. Gurney, will open Sept. 26 and run for six performances.

When Greg brings a stray dog home from the park, his wife Kate is worried. Will Sylvia lead Greg astray, or will they both find their way home? Pet lovers and skeptics alike will recognize the pull between the love/hate dynamics in this comedy, which explores not just the dynamics between a man and man's best friend, but marriage, empty nest syndrome, communication and more.

The show features Krista Schafer Ewbank as Sylvia, Jan Cartwright as Kate, Sean Paraventi as Greg, and Melissa Beckwith as Tom, Phyllis and Leslie. The show is directed by Topher Payne, with lighting by Harley Miah.

Open Book is partnering with local shelter and adoption agencies to showcase animals currently up for adoption and ways to volunteer. A different group will be present at each performance.

Open Book is also encouraging participation in the Open Book Club, designed for lovers of the written word to see a play not just as a performance, but as literature. Dive deeper and discuss character, plot and more with downloadable book club questions available on the website – great for groups that just see the play or go deeper by reading it first! The matinee performance on Sunday, Sept. 28 will be followed by a discussion with the artists, and is a great opportunity for book clubs.

Performance dates are as follows:

Tickets are $20; $15 for students and seniors. Discounted season tickets ($70/$55) are available to see all four shows in the season. For tickets and more information, visit or call 734-288-7753.

Performances will be held at Penelope’s Venue, 12219 Dix Toledo Road, Southgate, MI 48195.



Kerrytown Concert House founder passes the torch after 30 years – The Ann Arbor News (Sept. 19, 2014)

New musical born at U-M, 'Sea Legs,' set to open Off-Broadway – The Ann Arbor News (Sept. 18, 2014)

Detroit playwright drops lawsuit against Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey companies – The Flint Journal (Sept. 19, 2014)


Classic tale opens season at Miller Auditorium

Jekyll & Hyde
Miller Auditorium
Oct. 3-4, 2014

Posted: Sept. 21, 2014 at 8:16 a.m.

KALAMAZOO - The epic struggle between good and evil comes to life on stage in this all new production of the musical phenomenon, "Jekyll & Hyde." Based on the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson and featuring a thrilling score of pop rock hits from multi Grammy and Tony nominated Frank Wildhorn and double Oscar and Grammy-winning Leslie Bricusse, "Jekyll & Hyde" has mesmerized audiences the world over. Don’t miss your chance to see this acclaimed musical on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 3 and 4 at Miller Auditorium.

An evocative tale of two men (one a doctor, passionate and romantic; the other, a terrifying madman) and two women (one, beautiful and trusting; the other, beautiful and trusting only herself), both women are in love with the same man - and both are unaware of his dark secret. Their story unfolds in this gripping musical thriller resplendent with a sumptuous score, including the unforgettable "This Is the Moment," "Someone Like You" and "A New Life."

With a Grammy-nominated score, the 1997 Tony-nominated Broadway production of "Jekyll & Hyde" is the longest-running show in the history of the Plymouth Theater. The show has seen four major tours and over 500 regional productions in the United States and Canada. More than 100 international productions also have been seen in such countries as Germany, Austria, Spain, Hungary, Japan, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia. There have been 32 international recordings of "Jekyll & Hyde" in 28 different languages.

As haunting and unforgettable as ever, "Jekyll & Hyde" is back and coming to Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo. Performances are as follows:

Tickets are available now by calling 269-387-2300 or 800-228-9858, online at or by visiting the Miller Auditorium Ticket Office. Groups of 10 or more can call 269-387-2312 for special discounts.

Miller Auditorium is located on the campus of Western Michigan University.


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