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Lakeside Shakespeare's 12th Season

Article:9926; Posted: July 4, 2015 at 9:00 p.m.

Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre returns to Benzie County this summer for their 12th season! LST’s summer season begins July 14 with performances of "Cymbeline" and "The Taming of the Shrew."

Ensemble member Scott Cummings directs the beautifully written, rarely produced epic of the Briton King Cymbeline and his brave daughter Imogen, torn from her husband Posthumous by political intrigue and jealousy, their fight to return to one another and the redemption of the King and his country. “'Cymbeline' is about how being truly open and vulnerable can bring out the power of love," said Cummins. "And how the tenderness of that vulnerability can expose the best and the worst in people. Shakespeare uses what we would call an almost fairy tale structure to tell the story of a princess who is denied her new husband by her father the king. Shakespeare contrasts the princess' experiences in the corrupt court, with her encounter of simple men who live in a cave to demonstrate how vulnerability leads to truest, strongest and most lasting forms of love.“

"The Taming of the Shrew" will be directed by ensemble member Christy Arington. Teaming up again after their turns as Benedict and Beatrice in Much Ado, Elizabeth Laidlaw and Scott Cummins lock horns and match wits again as the Kate and Petruchio. Director Arington feels, “In our modern world, the depiction of a man attempting to break a woman’s spirit in an effort to “tame” her has often been construed as sexist and misogynistic. I encourage us to consider a different approach. Jean Rouaud of the Bolshoi Ballet put it well when he wrote, ‘The Taming of the Shrew' can be construed as an encounter between two forces of nature, who recognize one another at last. If they are abrupt, obnoxious, it stems from their solitude; they are fundamentally different from the society they live in, albatrosses among sparrows, and their excesses signal that they have yet to find the one who can measure up to them.”

Both plays will run in repertory (rain or shine) July 16 – 24, with preview performances July 14 & 15. There will be no performance July 20. All performances are at 7pm at Tank Hill in Frankfort, MI, 418 Park Ave. Prior to performances, audience members can look forward to music performed by the company and led by musical director, Noah Simon, as well as picnic basket auctions featuring savories from local restaurants and beverage vendors.

Audiences members are invited to bring low lawn chairs and blankets for seating, picnic dinners, and weather appropriate clothing. Free parking is available along the north side of Park Ave, as well as at St. Anne’s church at the corner of Park and M22. Motorized assistance for those audience members who need it will be provided at the entrance to the Tank Hill space.

In addition to the summer productions, LST offers expanded educational workshops.

Two children’s workshops for ages 5- 8, in two session: Workshop A will take place July 21 – 23 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., with a performance on July 23 at 6:15 p.m' Workshop B for ages 9-11 will run July 22 – 24 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., with a performance on July 24 at 6:15 p.m. The young adult workshop (ages 12 – 14) will take place July 16 – 18 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Oliver Art Center, with a performance on July 18 at 6:15 p.m. All workshops will take place at the performance space on Tank Hill.

Finally, for high school students (ages 14 – 18) is our summer intern program. Interns not only work backstage, learning the ropes of what it takes to make professional stage productions happen, but students also will be working on scenes from with both the adult company and the apprentice company of graduating drama students from Loyola University, providing each participant a deeper opportunity for character study, and culminating in a performance on

the Lakeside Shakespeare stage in front of a full house! Scene studies take place July 19-21 at 2:00 – 4:30 p.m., with the performance July 21 at 6:15 p.m.

For more information about Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre’s 2015 season and educational programs, or to make a donation, please visit

Photo: from "Cymbeline:" Cole Simon as Posthumus and Kelsey Phillips as Imogen


Open Book Theatre Company's summer show and second season

Article:9925; Posted: July 3, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.

On the heals of their Wilde Award nominated first season Open Book Theatre Company is pleased to announce their upcoming productions. Expanding on their initial success, they will offer a family show at a new outdoor amphitheater in Southgate and a 5 show second season. In addition to expanding the season from 4 to 5 productions, each show will be offered 8 times over 3 weekends, instead of the 6 performances over 2 weekends offered their first season. Open Book expects the longer run to attract even larger audiences with more opportunities to come and more time for word of mouth to spread.

Open Book is excited to present a professional production in the still under-construction amphitheater at Market Center Park, near the corner of Eureka and Trenton, where the old Montgomery Ward building once stood. "Wiley and the Hairy Man," by Suzan Zeder, is a spine tingling tale based on an old American folktale. It tells the story of a young boy named Wiley who goes deep into the swamp to conquer his only fear: the mythical Hairy Man. Wiley discovers that his wits are his best weapon in this rollicking and imaginative tale where actors create not only the inhabitants of the swamp, but the swamp itself. Shows will be August 1, 2, 8 and 9th at 2pm, with special ticket prices of $5 for kids and $10 for adults.

In the fall Open Book will be back in residence at Penelope’s Venue, bringing professional theatre to this charming, artsy performance space at 12219 Dix Toledo in Southgate. The theatre will continue its mission to bring to the stage stories that challenge, inspire, and deepen our sense of community.

The season will kick off with Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning "The Shadow Box." When Artistic Director Krista Schafer Ewbank and Associate Director Topher Payne first began talking about working together on a new company they would say “we want to do plays like "The Shadow Box,” and are particularly excited to be bringing this show to the Open Book stage. Topher Payne, who will be directing, said “The Shadow Box reminds me how similar we all our as human beings. In a world where too many things divide us, there is a shared human experience that brings us together.”

Several of the shows are Michigan Premieres, and the season will end with a World Premiere production. “I wanted Calypso's Corner to open someplace filled with energy and the gusto a new play needs. I am beyond thrilled that the first time this play comes to life, it will be with Open Book, a company that is itself just beginning to germinate. It’s hard to let go of these characters who I've come to know so intimately and to let other people's ideas fill them out into actual people, but I trust Krista completely and know she'll take my script and grow it into a play,” said playwright Emily Rosenbaum.

The complete Second Season:

"The Shadow Box" by Michael Cristofer, directed by Topher Alan Payne from Sept. 18 -Oct. 3, 2015.In this compelling Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play, three characters are facing death with the support (more or less) of their family and friends. A beautiful, moving and often funny look at what makes up a life.

"Dead Man's Cell Phone" by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Topher Alan Payne from Nov. 6-21, 2015. An incessantly ringing cell phone in a quiet café. A stranger at the next table who has had enough. And a dead man—with a lot of loose ends. Answering a dead man’s cell phone sends Jean on a comedic odyssey which forces her to confront her own assumptions about morality, redemption, and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world.

"Bauer" directed by Krista Schafer Ewbank Jan. 22-Feb. 6, 2016. Famed painter Rudolf Bauer sketched on scraps while in a Nazi prison, was saved by his lover, Guggenheim curator Hilla Rebay, and had an NYC museum built to house his art… until an incredible act of betrayal stopped him from painting. A shocking and moving story of powerful art and powerful passion.

Michigan premiere "Who Am I This Time? (& Other Conundrums of Love)" by Aaron Posner, adapted from stories by Kurt Vonnegut, directed by Topher Alan Payne March 4-19, 2016. The subject is love, pure and complicated. Three early comic masterpieces by Kurt Vonnegut (Long Walk to Forever, Who am I This Time? and Go Back to Your Precious Wife and Son) are sewn together in the story of a small town in this smart, delightful comedy for the whole family.

World Premiere "Calypso’s Corner" by Emily Rosenbaum, directed by Angie Kane Ferrante May 6-21, 2016. Weaving together the past and present this story of two sisters’ estrangement examines the legacy of violence through multiple generations and the healing power of sharing our stories.

Season tickets are on sale now: $85 for regular admission and $65 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at or call 734 288-7753 for more information. Tickets for "Wiley and the Hairy Man" are not included in the Season Ticket package, but can also be purchased on the website.

Open Book Theatre provides discussion questions for each play perfect for book clubs, extra credit work for students and more. Information can be downloaded from the website, or call the theatre (734 288-7753) for more information.


Harbor Country Opera at The Acorn for highlights concert

Article:9906; Posted: June 30, 2015 at 9:00 p.m.

Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera in one night?

Harbor Country Opera brings its magical touch to two of the most beloved musicals of all time. It all begins at 8:00 p.m. ET on July 10th at the Acorn, with a second show July 11th, at the only theater in the area that can bring you the Phantom music the way it should be done—with the Barton organ! Robert Swan and his opera crew, including Martha Cares, favorite John Concepcion, and new sensation Rumanian tenor Emanuel Caraman as the Phantom, will perform a concert of highlights of the finest music from both these iconic shows.

Harbor Country Opera is a not-for-profit organization that produces classical vocal concerts and operas.

Phantom of the Opera/Les Miserables

Harbor Country Opera
Acorn Theatre, 107 Generations Drive, Three Oaks
Friday and Saturday, July 10 and 11, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.



4th Annual Purple Rose summer BBQ fundraiser August 2

Article:9910; Posted: July 1, 2015 at x:00 p.m.

The Purple Rose Theatre Company's 4th annual Backyard BBQ Fundraiser will be held on Sunday, August 2, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The BBQ will feature a farm-to-table dinner created by Zingerman’s Roadhouse with vegetarian options, cocktails, live music by The Ben Daniels Band and auction activities. The location will be Cornman Farms, located at 8540 Island Lake Road in Dexter, MI, only seven miles from The Purple Rose Theatre.

Proceeds from the event provide operational support for The Purple Rose Theatre’s mission to present more than 300 professional performances annually, sustain development of new work that preserves the legacy of American Theatre, and educational/outreach programs serving diverse communities in the region.

Ticket prices are $75 and $125 per guest. For $75, guests may attend the BBQ cocktails and buffet dinner, auctions and ever-popular Wine & Dine Pull from 3:30 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. For $125, guests enjoy cocktails and BBQ, live/silent auctions, and receive a ticket for the 8:00 p.m. performance of 2AZ by Michael Brian Ogden, including a themed-dessert intermission.

All guests will enjoy a brief overview of the 2015 / 2016 Purple Rose 25th Anniversary season of plays. Auction items will include an exclusive Detroit Lions Training Camp package, as well as autographed LIONS official football and framed jersey. Wine enthusiasts will love Chef Common's deluxe lobster bake/wine/theatre evening for 12, or the CA Wine Country weekend for 4 at LangeTwins Lodi estate. Other travel packages include guided freshwater fishing adventures, a Costa Rica escape, a New York Broadway long weekend, or a Luxury Racing Getaway for 10 at Churchill Downs with Jockey Suite, Winners Circle and stay at Roseheights Estate. Entertainment options include an inclusive Premium Suite for 12 to enjoy Kenny Chesney's concert tour, or Dress Rehearsal tickets and VIP Backstage Tour for the 2016 Tony Awards. The silent auction includes a selection of gift certificates/services, jewelry, memorabilia & more! Updated listings and more information can be found at

Additional sponsorships are still available; for informtation, contact Gerie Greenspan, for detailed benefit packages.

For more information or to reserve tickets, visit; call 734.433.7782 x14, or email

Photo: Sean Carter Photography


OTHER VOICES - NEWS AND PREVIEWS for June 30--July 6, 2015

MSU graduates perform in Michigan Shakespeare Festival (Lansing State Journal: July 4, 2015)

Albom: 'Ernie' keeps young actor working, smiling (Detroit Free Press: July 4, 2015)

City Pulse announces nominees for 11th annual theater awards (Lansing City Pulse: July 1, 2015)

Harper Lee's Beloved Novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird," Comes to the HSRT Stage: Just in time for the sequel! (The Rapidian: June 30, 2015)


Summer workshops at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts

Article:9907; Posted: June 30, 2015 at 9:00 p.m.

For over 30 years the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts has provided access to the arts -- filling the creativity gap with its outstanding summer workshops for students in elementary through high school. Led by clinicians and instructors celebrated for their expertise in drama, flute, clarinet and voice, the Macomb Center has built a reputation for excellence by providing the resources to engage, enhance and extend creative skills.

All workshops are offered at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts on the Center Campus of Macomb Community College. Each workshop includes a free T-shirt and concludes with a performance on stage in front of family and friends.

The Drama Workshop is first in line to kick-off a summer of fun and artistic exploration. From July 20–24 students in grades 1–12 will have the opportunity to learn drama skills from a team of theater professionals. Lou Fazzini, director and founder of All The World’s A Stage, is a specialist in children’s theater. The workshop emphasizes cooperation, concentration, movement and story development, exposing students to basic acting skills in a noncompetitive environment. By exploring the art and music of characters from familiar stories and creating those of their own, participants develop physical, social, and artistic skills through use of theater games, creative movement, improvisation, and pantomime. Limited space is available.

Next on the calendar is the Show Choir Workshop, scheduled August 2-8 for students in grades 7-12. This program is brought together by nationally recognized choreographer and artistic director Andy Haines and music director Harvey Kahl. In this week-long workshop, students have the opportunity to learn about vocal technique, song interpretation and dance from top-rated vocal clinicians and choreographers -- offering a week of song and dance, hard work and camaraderie, culminating in a Broadway-style performance on Macomb Center’s Main Stage.

The Flute Workshop, scheduled August 10 – 14, welcomes serious middle school and high school flutists in grades 6-12. Director Dennis Carter II, winner of the 2009 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Classical Instrumentalist, is also the principal flutist with the Dearborn Symphony, Michigan Philharmonic and Fisher Theater Orchestras. Under his direction students will focus on the importance of proper breathing, embouchure, productive warm up and practice techniques, as well as repertoire and study materials -- giving young flutists information that goes beyond what they learn in band class. Participants are expected to bring their own instruments. The workshop culminates with a recital in the Macomb Center’s Stage II.

This season the Clarinet Workshop is scheduled for August 10-14 for grades 6 -9. Clarinetist Lisa Raschiatore has appeared with the Windsor, Grand Rapids and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, and is a regular performer with the Michigan Philharmonic, Dearborn, West Michigan, and Traverse Symphony Orchestras. She will provide a foundation of clarinet fundamentals presented through discussions, warm-ups, exercises, and a workbook. Some of the topics will include breathing techniques, tone production, articulation, hand position, intonation, reed adjustment, practice techniques, and other related information to enhance the serious clarinetist’s education. Students are expected to bring their own instrument. The week will conclude with a recital in Macomb Center’s Stage II for family and friends.

The Children’s Chorus Workshop, for grades 2-9, runs from August 17 through the 21. The workshop challenges students to reach a level of excellence while developing music skills, building confidence, discipline, self-esteem and an understanding and love of the art of music. Music director Jeffrey Zurkan, named Educator of the Year in Oakland County by the Michigan Association of Middle School Educators, will help young singers develop their music potential through exploration of music theory, technique and sight singing. As a final experience students give a public performance of the songs they learned at the Romeo Peach Festival over Labor Day weekend. The workshop is currently full. As an alternative, consider the year-long Macomb Children’s Chorus programs; for more information visit or call 586.286.2044.

To learn more, or to register for workshops, contact the Education & Enrichment Office at 586.286.2044 or go online at Registration for each workshop remains open until the start of each event, based on availability.

The Macomb Center is located on the Macomb Community College’s Center Campus at Garfield and Hall roads in Clinton Township.

About Macomb Center for the Performing Arts
The Macomb Center for the Performing Arts is a community enrichment program of Macomb Community College dedicated to providing a diverse range of family-oriented cultural enrichment experiences. Hosting more than 100,000 visitors annually, the Macomb Center presents high-quality professional performances, offers educational outreach in the arts, provides a performance venue for community-based arts organizations, and, in partnership with the adjacent Lorenzo Cultural Center, creates unique opportunities for multifaceted cultural programming. More than 25,000 K-12 students annually attend events at the Macomb Center, with 700 participating in arts education programs.

Further details about the Macomb Center and its current season’s lineup are available at

About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College ( is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 48,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.


Michigan Shakespeare Festival expands to Canton

by Bridgette Redman

Article:9905; Posted: June 29, 2015 at 9:00 p.m.

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is growing into its name this year. After 20 years of performing in Jackson, during their 21st year they are expanding to Canton, with shows in both locations.

The Festival began as the Jackson Shakespeare Festival, but soon changed its name to the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. This year marks the second time they’ve expanded beyond Jackson’s borders to reach out to other parts of the state. Back in 2008, the festival spent a week in Grand Rapids.

This year, MSF is opening all three of its shows at Jackson Community College’s Baughman Theater, and then will do a three-week run in Canton at the Village Theatre.

“We started in Jackson and we love Jackson,” said Janice Blixt, the artistic director of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. “We started as the Jackson Shakespeare Festival, but we are the Michigan Shakespeare Festival now and we are well-supported by foundations throughout southeast Michigan. It was in our best interest to see if we could have a little bit of a run in another location.”

The expansion plans came together suddenly and quickly. The Festival’s technical director, Jeromy Hopgood, began working at the Village Theater, and mentioned to the theater’s owners that the Shakespeare Festival was looking to expand. The director, Jennifer Tobin, is a fan, and said the Bard should absolutely come to Canton. It took only two weeks to lock it in.

“We were all connected and they were all excited and we said, we are going to do this,” Blixt said. “We have the shows that will open and run in Jackson—all the preview performances and all our discount shows will be here in Jackson, and then we will reopen the shows in Canton. It was all pretty fast once it started happening.”

This year’s season follows the pattern the Shakespeare Festival has committed to—one well-known Shakespeare play, one lesser-known Shakespeare play and then a non-Shakespeare classic. They’ll be doing "Midsummer Night’s Dream," "Henry IV" (parts one and two combined) and "The Rivals."

All three are shows Blixt expects will play well in both locations—either because it is familiar or because it will draw the Shakespeare aficionados who don’t have the opportunity to see a show like "Henry IV" very often.

Blixt said that technically the move is not a difficult one as the two theaters have nearly the same footprint. “When it comes to things like scenery, we’re not going to have to rebuild anything. The spaces at the Village are a bit shallower (than at the Baughman), but nothing that will affect things much,” she said. “The biggest change for us is that the audience is at a much steeper rise in Jackson. It is a less steep rise in the Village Theater, so you’re not looking down as much. That’s the only major difference. My scenic designer was thrilled.”

Another big difference is the size of the audience base in the two locations.

“There are 160,000 in Jackson and 1.1 million in Wayne County, not counting Detroit, plus Oakland and Macomb counties,” said Blixt. “We love Jackson as we get audience from Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Lansing, and then we get our local audience and that’s terrific for us. Now we’re going to be able to reach out for people who didn’t know we existed.”

The original desire to expand beyond Jackson came from the audience surveys in the programs the Festival organizers process every year. Blixt said they get a 10 to 15 percent return rate on them, and that it gives them a pretty good cross section of who is coming to their shows.

“The people who only see one show say the drive is too far. We try to push people to make a weekend of it, as there are a lot of bed and breakfasts, vineyards and wineries. But for most people in Southeast Michigan, Jackson is not much of a weekend getaway place. We were seeing more and more numbers commenting on the distance, so we started checking around and seeing what our audience bases were.”

The organizers went to the Liberty Festival in Canton last year, and started making contacts and meeting audience members. Now, Blixt says, they’re thrilled to have a home in Jackson that they love and a new site in Canton that is excited to have them.

“Cherry Hill has been so welcoming to us, it’s just been incredible,” Blixt said. “We wouldn’t be doing this in two different venues if the other venue wasn’t crazy to have us.”

For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit


Badly needed: new rules

by David Kiley

Article:9877; Posted: June 23, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

I should have gotten the name of the bartender. My bad. But I want to thank him in print for taking the M&Ms out of the bag I bought from him, and emptying them into a plastic cup before I went in to see “Dogfight” at Farmers Alley.

Even when I have the bag in a theater, I am super-silent about accessing them. No “crinkle-crinkle” of the bag. I have seen this gesture by a concession seller before, but not in a long time. “Brilliant,” I said to the bartender. “I’m loving you right now.”

I don’t know if it’s that my hearing of that which does not belong in the show is super-sensitive, or that people are just less and less and less considerate. But what I can tell you is that the noise is driving me bat-shit in theaters these days.

How many time does someone have to be reminded to silence a phone? Really? Still don’t get it? The last two shows I saw, someone’s phone went off in the middle of the performance. How clever do we have to be in telling people to silence the damn phones?

There are those who call me a curmudgeon. Yes, believe it. But I subscribe to the Patti Lupone school of theater when it comes to patron noise. “I was brought up to think of it as church,” she says. You dress right. You stay respectful of what is going on at the altar (stage). You do NOT bring a bag of crinkly chips to your seat. And if the theater sold you one, they really ought to pour it into a plastic cup like my hero, the bartender, did at Farmers Alley.

Then there were patrons at another show I saw recently. The fellow, a man of a certain age, bellowed to his wife in the first act: “Now, don’t snore!!!” How about an elbow or gentle touch of your hand on her arm? There was the man who I think has adenoid problems sitting behind me at the opera. It was before the performance, and I swear I heard snoring. Nope. He was wide awake, but his condition was such that he was making a snoring sound. Ugh.

Call me crazy, or hyper sensitive, but if it were me, I would either get that situation taken care of, or not go to the theater.

So, inspired by my recent theater trips, and with a nod to Bill Maher, a few “New Rules” suggested:

One: there is no such thing as being too pushy or too creative in getting patrons to turn their phones off.

Two: if you are selling snacks in the lobby, and feel you must allow people to take them in, pour them into cups.

Three: always have cough drops, strong ones, on hand for the people who should have stayed home in bed.

Four: no ice-laden drinks in the theater. People will shake those cups of ice like maracas if you give them half a chance.

Five: patrons….once the overture starts in a show, it’s time to shut up and stop chattering. That’s part of the show, too. And the time to share your spoken comments is at intermission, or after the show, not as a running whisper that I can hear throughout.

Now, on with the show.

[An occasional rant by EncoreMichigan's editor-in-chief.]


The Macomb Center For The Performing Arts announces Its 2015-2016 season

Article:9881; Posted: June 24, 2015 at 9:00 p.m.

Emmy Award-winning comediennes; Grammy Award-winning musicians; a performance group that defies description; and an award-winning master storyteller, are among the highlights of the 2015-2016 season line-up.

Eric Kerchner, the new Director of Cultural Affairs and Community Engagement at the Macomb Center, will announce the new season to Macomb Center donors, giving them a first glimpse of the line-up on Thursday, June 25.

“The 2015-16 season is packed with the first-rate entertainment Macomb Center audiences have come to expect”, said Kerchner. “From comedy to Broadway to a variety of music, dance, and family shows – we’re excited to invite you back to experience the best in entertainment. We can’t wait to begin.”

The season kicks-off with Vicki Lawrence, best known for her co-starring role on "The Carol Burnett Show," and as the sharp-tongued matriarch, Thelma Harper, on the long-running television hit Mama's Family. Vicki and Mama reunite in this all new stage show on Saturday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Whether Kathy Griffin is tearing up stars on the red carpet, making Anderson Cooper blush on CNN’s New Year's Eve, or keeping her fans doubled over with laughter in her stand-up specials and late-night talk show appearances, this two-time Emmy and Grammy Award-winning comedienne has been making audiences around the world laugh for years. Enjoy an evening of her take-no-prisoners comedy on Saturday, November 14 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Back by popular demand for an evening that defies description; surround yourself in an explosion of comedy, music, and technology with the "Blue Man Group" for three phenomenal performances, Tuesday through Thursday, January 26-28, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. With no spoken language, "Blue Man Group" is a show for people of all ages, languages, and cultures.

Master storyteller and award-winning radio host of Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor will take the stage to share anecdotes about growing up in the American Midwest, the people of Lake Wobegon, and "late-life fatherhood" Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. With a wonderful, dry sense of humor Keillor captivates audiences using his unique blend of comedy, class, charisma, and wisdom.

Other highlights of the season include: Frank Ferrante in "An Evening with Groucho," Sunday, November 8; "Flashdance, the Musical" Friday, November 20; "Broadway's Next Hit Musical," an improvised musical comedy, Saturday, January 30, 2016; "Broadway's Saturday Night Fever," Saturday, February 6, 2016.

In addition, the Macomb Center will present its "Page to Stage" series, a theater and literacy program that brings literature to stage. This season the series features eleven performances including L.A. Theatre Works live radio play of Bram Stoker’s "Dracula;" the enchanting tales of Beatrice Potter’s "Peter Rabbit," and explores such topics as bullying in Jennifer Fawcett’s "Out of Bound" and Susanne Gervay’s "I Am Jack." A description of the entire series can be found at:

For a complete list of the Macomb Center’s 2015-2016 season please visit or call 586.286.2222 for a brochure.

Beginning August 10 you can create your own custom entertainment package with the Macomb Center’s Flex Packaging. The more you buy, the more you save. Combine four different shows and save $4 off each regular-price ticket; combine five different shows and save $5 off each regular-price ticket; combine six or more different shows and save $6 off each regular-price ticket. Additional savings are available for seniors (55+), military, students and groups of 10 or more. For more information call 586.286.2222 or visit

Single tickets, to individual shows, go on sale to the public on Tuesday, September 8 at 9 a.m.

About Macomb Center for the Performing Arts
The Macomb Center for the Performing Arts is a community enrichment program of Macomb Community College dedicated to providing a diverse range of family-oriented cultural enrichment experiences. Hosting more than 100,000 visitors annually, the Macomb Center presents high-quality professional performances, offers educational outreach in the arts, provides a performance venue for community-based arts organizations, and, in partnership with the adjacent Lorenzo Cultural Center, creates unique opportunities for multifaceted cultural programming. More than 25,000 K-12 students annually attend events at the Macomb Center, with 700 participating in arts education programs. Further details about the Macomb Center and its current season’s lineup are available at

About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 48,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.


A season of excellence and change: The 2015 Wilde Awards

by Staff

Article:9865; Posted: June 19, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

Theater professionals from across Michigan will gather together Aug. 31 when The 2015 Wilde Awards are presented at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts in the Detroit suburb of West Bloomfield. Presented by, the most comprehensive resource for news and information about the state's professional theater industry, The Wilde Awards were established in 2002 to honor the excellent work produced by Michigan's professional theaters.

“Although I say something similar pretty much every year, this past season was certainly a memorable one – both onstage and behind the scenes,” said Donald V. Calamia, co-founder and editor-at-large of “New theaters popped up, a few established ones kept a very low profile, and quality work was seen on stages all across the state and in theaters large and small. Plus, we got a new owner not long before the end was imminent. So all in all, I’d call this one heck of a successful season!”

Even another extraordinarily cold winter couldn’t squash the enthusiasm and hard work found in our theaters, Calamia noted. “Despite the frigid temperatures and what seemed to be a never-ending tepid economy, patrons still showed up at the box office and our theater artists continued to turn out work of the highest caliber. And that made our jobs quite difficult, as how do you sift through 150-plus performances from across the state – and the work of hundreds of theater artists – to determine which were the best or most memorable of the 2014-15 season? But we did it – and that’s what we’ll be honoring when the community comes together this coming August!”

Now in its 14th year, The Wilde Awards – named in honor of 19th century playwright Oscar Wilde – honors the best productions, performances and technical work produced or presented by professional theaters across the state. Nominations are based on reviews written by's team of professional critics. Only shows produced or presented by Michigan’s professional theaters and opera companies – both union and non-union – and reviewed by’s theater critics during the 2014-15 season were eligible for a 2015 Wilde Awards nomination.

This year’s team of critics included Carolyn Hayes Harmer, (owner and editor-in-chief) David Kiley, Martin F. Kohn, Jenn McKee, Sue Merrell, Amy J. Parrent, Frank Anthony Polito, John Quinn, Bridgette M. Redman, Judith Cookis Rubens and guest critic Jennifer Knightstep."And for only the second time since the inception of The Wilde Awards, I had no horse in the race,” Calamia said. “I reviewed a grand total of one play this past season, and that’s it. But I certainly had a lot of input based on the overall number of shows I saw throughout the season.”

An abbreviated year

This year, the 14th annual Wilde Awards returns to its pre-Labor Day roots after last year’s move to September. The change, Calamia said, is the direct result of feedback received from throughout the community. “Last year, we moved the show to September and changed the review season to August through July, which made sense when we had different owners and a different financial model. What we didn’t fully consider was the timing of the ceremony and how a mid or late September date would be in conflict with so many shows scheduled to open pretty much at the same time. So attendance last year was down considerably. And since our goal is to bring the community together that night and not find ways to prevent them from attending, we listened to the feedback and decided to return the ceremony to its traditional slot.”

What’s also changed – again – is the review season. “For the first 12 years of The Wilde Awards, we based our nominations and awards on shows our critics reviewed from mid-May to mid-May,” Calamia said. “For last year’s awards, when we decided to move the date of the ceremony to September, we also changed the season from August to July, which is pretty close to a traditional theater season. But that caused an interesting dilemma: Because the prior season ended in mid-May and the new season began in August, that meant we had to extend the nominations to include 14 months of shows rather than 12 to make sure we included those produced in the otherwise-orphaned June and July of 2013. And the result was that the summer theaters competed against themselves across two different seasons.”

This year, however, the problem is just the opposite. “For this year’s awards and from this point forward, our review season is June through May,” Calamia said. “But since June and July of 2014 were included with last year’s awards, nominations this year will include the months of August 2014 through May 2015 only – which means the summer theaters that had all of their shows reviewed last year in June or July won’t have any shows considered for an award this year.”

It’s confusing, and not a perfect solution, Calamia, noted. “But it allows us to make a one-time re-adjustment to get us back on track for the future. And what that means is that next year, for the first time in a couple of years, the season will run a full 12 months – and I’m sure it will remain that way for years to come.”

The 2014-15 season

In total,’s team of critics reviewed 168 productions produced or presented by 49 professional theater companies located in 25 communities across the state during the abbreviated 2014-15 season. Shows had to be performed for four consecutive days or more or over two weekends or more to be eligible for a review. And only shows reviewed by could be nominated for a Wilde Award.

Awards this year will be given out in 25 categories, Calamia explained. “And this, too, is a change from past years. One of my personal delights in previous seasons was the sheer scope of creativity that exploded from the improv community and other small or independent producers that resulted in a large slate of very funny original one-act comedies and one-person shows. For a number of reasons, we reviewed far fewer of these shows this past season, and because the field was so uncharacteristically narrow, instead we folded them in for consideration with the standard ‘comedy’ categories. Every year sees some refinement in the categories to adequately reflect the recent season. Our hopes are high that these categories will be reinstated with a full slate of well-deserved accolades in future years.”

A handful of special awards will be presented, as well.

In total, 33 companies statewide received at least one nomination. Leading the pack with 13 is Michigan Opera Theatre (Detroit), followed by The Encore Musical Theatre Company (Dexter) with 10, while Farmers Alley Theatre (Kalamazoo) and Tipping Point Theatre (Northville) each earned nine. “Most of the nominated theaters received multiple accolades,” Calamia said. “Only seven of the total received a single nomination. More impressive, however, is that a handful of nominated theaters were new to the scene, which proves longevity is not necessarily a good indicator of quality.”

Of the 72 nominated shows, no single production leaped to the forefront. The Encore Musical Theatre Company’s “Spamalot” earned the top spot with 6, while “Annapurna” at The Purple Rose Theatre (Chelsea) and “Sugarhill” at The Jewish Ensemble Theatre (West Bloomfield) both received five. And “A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur” at Tipping Point Theatre and “The Secret Garden” at Farmers Alley Theatre each received four nominations. “Only 35 of the 72 productions received two or more nominations, so this year’s slate reflects a very broad spectrum of shows, and it proves there’s something of note to highlight in pretty much every production we see,” Calamia said.

A similar indicator is the number of artists – actors, directors, designers and playwrights – whose work is honored this year. “Of the 128 individuals we’ve nominated, only 12 have two or more nominations,” Calamia said. “I think this helps prove Michigan is blessed with an abundance of highly skilled and talented individuals who live and work here, and we’re thrilled to acknowledge them and their excellent work during the 2014-15 season.”

The 2015 Wilde Awards

The 2015 Wilde Awards, sponsored by Pride Source Media Group, will be held Monday, Aug. 31 at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with an hors d'oeuvre and cocktail reception. The awards show, produced and co-hosted by Calamia with special guest participants, will begin promptly at 8 p.m.; a dessert afterglow will follow. Naz Edwards returns to coordinate the entertainment.

The evening will not only honor the best performances and productions of the 2014-15 professional theater season, it will also serve to formally introduce the community to new owner and editor-in-chief David Kiley, as well as tease attendees with news regarding future plans for the media company. “The raw materials have been here since day one, but has never had the marketing and financial muscle to develop into the dynamic company it was designed to be,” said Kiley. “We have many exciting plans for the near future – including a totally redesigned website we’ll be launching this fall – and we’ll chat about some of them on the night of the awards.”

Admission is $22 per person; VIP admission is $47 per person, which includes unlimited bar service. Drink tickets for all others will be available for purchase on the day of the event.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, June 19 at The Berman's box office, by phone at 248-661-1900, or online at

The Berman Center for the Performing Arts is located at 6600 W. Maple Road, on the campus of the Jewish Community Center at the northwest corner of Maple and Drake Roads in West Bloomfield. Parking is free.

"Our 14th annual celebration of professional theater in Michigan will be a great way to salute the previous season and kick off the next," said Calamia. "And as always, it will truly be 'one Wilde night' to remember!"

THERE'S MORE: CLICK HERE to read the complete list of nominations!


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