Encore Michigan

Grand Rapids’ “Lake Effect Fringe Festival” returns to Dog Story February 1–March 5

Preview January 24, 2017 Encore Staff

The Lake Effect Fringe Festival kicks off its 5th season of bringing new theater to West Michigan all through the month of February. Performances take place at Dog Story Theater in Grand Rapids.

There is a full calendar of events that are guaranteed to have something for everybody scheduled at the Dog Story Theater, throughout the month of February, right into early March.  Again this year, Dog Story’s popular Comedy Outlet Mondays will continue throughout the Festival (February 6, 13, 20, & 27) at 7:00 pm each Monday night, for the low price of just $5.00 Comedy Outlet Mondays (COM) is an experimental comedy hub in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. From 7:00 pm-8:00 pm, audiences pay $5 to watch a variety of local artists performing brand new comedy from improv, to sketch, to puppets and music and beyond. The second hour opens up the stage for those who wish to watch, or participate in, a free open comedy lab. Here, anyone can try new games, network, and may even be inspired to create an act and return as a performer. COM has become an ongoing circuit of performing, playing, producing, and polishing, all leading back to establishing new artists/art forms in Grand Rapids. It is brought to the community by No Outlet Improv Troupe and Dog Story Theater.

In addition to theatrical performances, there will be a songwriting workshop with Julia Yob on February 11 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm, and a musical writing workshop with Ian Mockerman & Julia Yob on February 12 at 7:00 pm.

Festival schedule highlights:

February 1 and 2, 2017 at 8:00 pm: A performance by Shadblow Theatre, reprising their production of Anatomy of Gray, by Jim Leonard. A coming of age story that is relatable to all. Its themes of community, family, questioning faith, fear of the unknown, acceptance, and love speak to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. The story follows fifteen-year-old June Muldoon, her mother, the colorful townsfolk of Gray, Indiana, and the mysterious doctor who crash lands in the center of the “most boring town in the world.”

February 3, 4 at 8:00 pm, February 5 at 3:00 pm: The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company will present Titus Andronicus. Pigeon Creek Repertory Company member Scott Lange directs Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy with an all-female cast. Roman general Titus Andronicus navigates the “wilderness of tigers” that is the Roman Empire, amid political intrigue and revenge plots. Please note that this production is not recommended for audience members under 13.

February 4 at 3:00 pm and February 5 at 8:00 pm: Joining Pigeon Creek for a weekend of Shakespeare, Bard to Go presents a 60-minute, 6-person production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. A famous Scottish warrior receives a prophecy from three witches that he will become king.  Unwilling to wait for fate to crown him, Macbeth and his wife murder the current king and then struggle to maintain their grip on power. Bard to Go is the touring arm of the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival.

February 8, 9 at 8:00 pm: The Brutal Sea presents Love & Semiotics, a new play written by Kimberly Snyder and directed by Alex Michael Cook. A play about how we create our own reality and what makes up the foundation of what we believe. When a young woman is visited by a novelist’s ghost, she is forced to confront her relationship with reality and herself. This play is not recommended for young viewers due to strong language and mature themes such as suicide and sexual abuse.

February 10 and 11 at 8:00 pm and February 12 at 3:00 pm: The University Wits presents God of Carnage, a dark comedy by Yasmina Reza, directed by Morgan Springsteen. After 11 year old boys Benjamin and Henry get into a fight on the playground, resulting in one child getting hit in the mouth and losing a few teeth, the four parents meet to discuss the unpleasantness calmly and politely. However, as tempers rise and neuroses collide, the night devolves into disturbing and hilarious mayhem.

February 16 and 17 at 8:00 pm: Art by Ellis presents The Bald Soprano, by Eugene Ionesco and directed by Roger Ellis. The classic French farce that launched “Theatre of the Absurd” a half-century ago. The family maid seduces the disappearing Fire Chief in the living room as the Smiths entertain and insult their guests, the Martins, who can’t remember whether or not they actually know each other! Art by Ellis is a West Michigan fine and performing arts organization that has been producing work in Grand Rapids since 1982.

February 18 at 8:00 pm and February 19 at 3:00 pm: The Blue Star Players offer 36 Questions, by area playwright, Cassandra Chance, directed by Ann Celeste Cloyd. In the early 90’s, a team of psychologists attempted to create real love in a laboratory setting – and succeeded. In 36 Questions (or “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness”), two college seniors, Cat and Dan, attempt to replicate the experiment – on themselves.

February 22 at 8:00 pm: Grand Rapids playwright Christopher van Der Ark will present a staged reading of Collage of a Dystopian Midwest: a play by various authors.

February 23 and 24 at 8:00 pm: Midwest Stage Company presents Sexual Perversity in Chicago, by David Mamet, directed by Dennis HenrySet at the height of the free-swinging disco era, Sexual Perversity in Chicago is an hilarious, fast-paced look at sex and relationships. Danny, Joan, Deborah and Bernie are struggling to connect in a brave new world of liberated sexual expression. Recommended for mature audiences.

February 25 at 8:00 pm and February 26 at 3:00 pm: From the Hole in the Wall Theatre Company, T. J. Corbett leads the Commedia Dell’Arte troupe in The Whole Vine Yards. In this tantalizing tale, the diVonstro family vineyard has slowly been going bankrupt over the last three generations, and Modestina, the current head of the estate, is at the end of her financial rope. Not to mention her daughter seems endlessly caught in flights of fancy, and her nosey neighbor keeps inviting himself over with his swashbuckling son.  All seems lost, until a mysterious box is discovered – and inside is what looks like a treasure map.

March 1 and 2 at 8:00 pm: Local playwright Stephen Douglas Wright’s newest, The Ghost of Jimmy Dean, tells the story of Sebastian, a famous actor who goes crazy while playing James Dean in a movie, and locks himself in his mansion. His best friend and lawyer Germaine hires Guinevere, a therapist, to move in and “fix” him.

March 3 and 4 at 8:00 pm and March 5 at 3:00 pm: The husband and wife performance team of Gary E. Mitchell and Mary Beth Quillin will finish off the festival with the West Michigan premiere of Chapatti, by Christian O’Reilly. Romance is a distant memory for two lonely animal-lovers living in Dublin.  When forlorn Dan (Gary E. Mitchell) and his dog Chapatti cross paths with the amiable Betty (Mary Beth Quillin) and her nineteen cats, an unexpected spark begins a warm and gentle story about two people rediscovering the importance of human companionship.

Tickets for all events can be purchased in advance on the Dog Story Theatre’s website: www.dogstorytheater.com, and are $14/adults and $8/students and seniors.  Comedy Outlet Mondays are just $5.

Week of 9/25/2023

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