Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
The Fifth Annual Wilde Awards:
Outrageously funny event caps 2005/06 theater season
It truly was ‘One Wilde Night’ August 30 at Detroit’s Historic Gem Theatre when the LGBT and professional theater communities came together for their annual celebration of excellence in the arts, the 2006 Wilde Awards. Approximately 240 people attended the prestigious event, including numerous first-timers who had no idea what to expect.
The evening’s tone was set only moments into the ceremony by Keegan-Michael Key and members of the LA-based improv troupe The 313 who, on a very funny videotaped message, begged people to “Turn off your f**king cell phones.”
And amazingly enough, everyone did, as no cell phones were heard beeping or buzzing during the nearly two-and-a-half hour show.
The hilarity continued with a second video directed and edited by Planet Ant’s Mikey Brown that featured local improvisers Suzie Gouine and Jaime Moyer as they plotted to convince Wilde Awards’ host – and BTL theater critic – Donald V. Calamia to let them co-host the event. Two of the biggest laughs of the evening came from that video: a surprise cameo by Detroit Free Press Theater Critic Martin F. Kohn and Calamia partying Goth-style at Detroit’s notorious City Club.
Additional entertainment included a live musical number created and staged by Michael A. Gravame and The Actors’ Company, a local professional theater troupe. “Salute to the Egregiously Overlooked” spoofed the recycling of “Cats,” “Annie” and “Les Miserables” in to and out of Detroit’s touring houses ad nauseam. Although the skit had the audience rolling with laughter, it was the appearance of ACLU attorney Jay Kaplan as a very haggard Annie that brought the house down.
Alan N. Lichtenstein of the famous Nederlander Theatrical Corporation who had the last laugh, however, when accepting the award for “Favorite Touring Production” – and it took only two syllables and a couple of fingers to make his point: “Ch-ching,” he grinned, explaining why these shows keep coming back to Detroit – and the audience roared.
In all, 23 awards were presented by Calamia, Gouine and Moyer in six “Favorite Production” and 13 “Best Performance” categories. Four “specialty awards” were also presented to members of the LGBT and theater communities for their outstanding contributions.
Not all of the awards were serious, however. Calamia continued a segment he originated last year – The WILDE-r Awards – in which some of the more unusual aspects of the previous theater season were highlighted – chiefly, the cross-dressing that unexpectedly broke out all over the theater community. MaryJo Cuppone was recognized as the “Best Dyke That Wasn’t” for her role as Hector in the Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company’s production of “Nickel and Dimed.” Also earning notice were Andrew Huff – also in “Nickel and Dimed” – and Arthur Beer for his portrayal of Lady Bracknell in the UDM Theatre Company’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest.” The two tied for the “When the Career Tanks, There’s Always Gigi’s” award.
Also noted were the spectacular sets by three local designers: Christopher Carothers (“Pantomime” at the BoarsHead Theater), Bartley H. Bauer (“Guest Artist” at the Purple Rose Theatre) and Valdez (“The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria” at Zeitgeist Theater).
The evening also featured two original music videos from the Wilde Award-nominated “The Bannisters’ Wholesome Family Fun Hour.” Directed by Mikey Brown, “Our Lady of the Neon Sign/Truck Stop Lady” featured Moyer as a helpful waitress at a truck stop, while “Jesus Was A Blues Man” starred Planet Ant’s Rollo as Jesus.
Music during the pre-show social hour was provided by The Tony Lannen Trio, a group of professional high school musicians. Lannen – at age 14 – is currently the youngest member of the local musicians union.
It was midnight when the final stragglers left the courtyard of The Gem Theatre. Some went to the 7 Brothers Bar in Hamtramck to continue their celebration; others went home.
But in the back of SOME people’s mind was this: How can we top this NEXT year?
Professional Theater News from Around Town:
Compiled by Donald V. Calamia
The Abreact announces 2006/07 season
DETROIT – Yes, folks, The Abreact is back, and what a season they have planned for you. Once again the intimate theater will be offering a nice variety to choose from, complete with classic musicals to the absurd to original comedies. The Abreact Performance Space is very proud to announce its sixth season.
The first installment comes from the witty, warped comical mind of Christopher Durang. The show titled “Durang: An Experiment and A Parody” is a series of five short plays written by Durang, arranged and directed by Charles Reynolds to make for a full evening of hilarious theater. The show will once again feature some of Detroit’s finest up and coming young talents, including Peter C. Prouty, Dawn Slaski, Elana Elyce, Sean McGettigan, Kelly Rossi, Phil Bolden, Frank Sawa and Amy Arena. These talented actors will all double and triple up on acting duties to hopefully have you laughing until your head falls off. Opening night is Sept. 15, and the show will run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Oct. 7, with one matinee on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 4p.m.
In the late fall, Aardvark Tim Productions returns to the Abreact Performance Space to take an old school/new school look at the Theater of the Absurd, as they present Harold Pinter’s classic “The Dumb Waiter,” followed by the bold Bo Price piece “The Devil’s Game”. 2005 Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter’s plays are noted for their use of silence, understatement and cryptic small talk. His 1957 play “The Dumb Waiter” is “classic Pinter” and strikes a delicate balance between being hysterically funny and terrifyingly menacing.
Walking a similar line between humor and menace is the 1996 Bo Price play “The Devil’s Game,” which takes its audience on an up close and personal tour of a disturbed mind reaching, and then passing, its breaking point.
“Dumb Waiter/Devil’s Game” opens Nov. 3 and runs Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. through Nov. 25, with one matinee Sunday, Nov. 19 at 4p.m.
In February, The legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, Hell-bent on revenge, takes up with his enterprising neighbor in a delicious plot to slice their way through England’s Upper-Crust. Justice will be served – with a side of humor and bloody thrills. That’s right! Hugh Wheeler and Stephen Sondheim’s smash hit “Sweeney Todd” will grace our stage under the direction of Abreact co-founder Thomas Hoagland, with musical direction falling into the apt hands of Micheal Feidler. “Sweeney” opens Feb. 2, 2007 and runs Friday and Saturday nights at 8p.m. through Feb. 24, with one matinee Sunday, Feb. 18 at 4p.m.
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day comes Conor McPherson’s “Rum and Vodka”. A story about a good, upstanding Irish family man trying to cope with life the only way he’s been taught…with booze! “Rum and Vodka” brings Eric Maher back to our stage in this one man show directed by Charles Reynolds. It opens March 2 and runs Friday and Saturday nights through March 17, with one matinee Sunday, March 11 at 6p.m.
And watch for an Abreact float in Corktown’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade!
And finally: Our last installment is a comedy in two acts from Wilde Award-winning writer/director Mike McGettigan. “Whackjob” brings the story of a woman who is mistakenly committed to an insane asylum by her husband and finds out just how insane the world really is. This comedic extravaganza opens April 20 and runs Friday and Saturday nights at 8p.m. through May 1, with one matinee Sunday, May 6 at 4p.m.
The Abreact is located at 442 E. Lafayette (at the corner of Beaubien St. above the Loco Bar and Grill). Free parking is available in the Greektown Garage with Casino validation.
Complimentary refreshments are provided.
All performances at The Abreact are free of charge! (But donations are extremely and happily accepted!)
Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling Chad Kushuba at 313-247-5270 or online at http://www.theabreact.com
‘Mamaphobia’ premieres in Detroit
ROYAL OAK – “Mamaphobia: The truth about the comedy of motherhood,” a one-woman show written and performed by Peggy Ward, debuts in metro Detroit on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of South Oakland County.
Also performing will be comedian Ben Konstantin, winner of the comedy contest, “Robert Klein and Six Guys from Detroit.”
The event is a benefit for Ashley’s Friends, a Howell, Mich.-based bereavement counseling organization serving the needs of children ages 5 to 18 and the adults who care for them.
“Mamaphobia” played for 17 weeks at the Apollo Theater Studio in Chicago in 2005. In it, Ward takes the audience on a journey, from her pregnancy to thoughts about motherhood – “How hard can it be? We’ll sleep in and watch Oprah everyday” – to hiding the fact that her two-year-old son still uses a baby bottle. This show appeals not just to mothers, but to everyone who ever had a mother.
Ashley’s Friends provides a safe, supportive and comforting environment for children, youth and families who have experienced the death of a loved one and are dealing with grief and loss.
Tickets are $29 and can be purchased by calling 248-219-9604 or on line at http://www.ashleysfriends.org
Theater News from Around America:
World premiere of Williams’ play to be performed at First Annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival
PROVINCETOWN, Md – The First Annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival will premiere an early work of playwright Tennessee Williams’: a play called “The Parade or Approaching the End of a Summer.” The play is autobiographical and depicts the author as openly and comfortably gay, something Williams chose not to express in his stage works until 35 years later in his life. “The Parade” will be performed by Shakespeare on the Cape (SOTC), the company from Minneapolis that has been performing “Romeo and Juliet” and “As You Like It” throughout the Cape this season. “The Parade” will be directed by SOTC’s Co-artistic Director Eric Holm along with Jef Hall-Flavin.
Though Williams changes the names in his play, the characters are based on his life and his loves. The play features Ben Greissmeyer as Don (Williams himself) and Elliot Eustis, co-artistic director of Shakespeare on the Cape, who plays Dick, the love of his life (a role based on the muscle-bound dancer who called himself Kip Kiernan). The most flamboyant character, Miriam, is based on a New Yorker named Ethel Elkovsky who was in love with Williams in Provincetown, to be played by Vanessa Caye Wasche.
Written in 1940, during Williams first time in Provincetown, “The Parade” dramatizes Williams’ season of self-discovery and true love. The play is classically simple: The action takes place in one place, in real time. In “The Parade,” Williams creates a portrait of himself as a young writer ambivalently hopeful and terrified about the future.
The original work was hand-written in Williams’ journal and was lost from 1940 until 1962 when Andreas Brown, now owner of Manhattan’s legendary Gotham Book Mart, was a young man working for Audrey Wood (Williams’ agent), tracking down the playwright’s earlier work. Brown went to see Joe Hazan, who had been Williams’ friend and confidante in Provincetown. When the affair with Kip ended badly, Williams tore out the pages from his notebook and abandoned his script. Hazan gave the pages, which he had rescued twenty years before, to Brown. Brown typed them up and showed them to Williams, who tinkered with them enough to complete the play. For unknown reasons Williams didn’t pursue a production.
The production by Shakespeare on the Cape will be obedient to Williams’ stage directions.
Hall-Flavin, co-director of “The Parade or Approaching the End of Summer,” was the assistant director on Michael Kahn’s premiere of “5 by Tenn” at the Kennedy Center in Washington. D.C. He works also at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and at The Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Festival organizers are scheduling an afternoon performance of “The Parade or Approaching the End of a Summer” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1 at The Art House Theater, 214 Commercial Street, in Provincetown.
Tickets are $35 each and may be purchased by calling 508-487-5921 or by logging on to http://www.twptown.org/tickets.htm.
For more information about the First Annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival, including a full schedule of events, log on to http://www.twptown.org
Applications now being accepted for 2007 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival
ORLANDO, Fla. – Whether you are extreme or conservative, risque or modest, in or out of the box – the oldest Fringe Festival in the United States is looking for you.
The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival encourages anyone and everyone to apply to perform at the sixteenth annual festival in May 2007. Applications, which will be available online beginning Sept. 1, will be accepted through Nov. 1, with early birds receiving a special discount.
So no matter who you are, where you’re from or what your idea of theatre is, the Orlando Fringe Festival is ready for you to submit show ideas and be part of the growing international Fringe Festival movement.
In 2006, the Orlando Fringe festival had its biggest year ever, with increases in numbers across the board. This past festival boasted a 32 percent attendance growth and 48 percent growth in ticket sales, and allotted artists the most monetary awards in the festival’s history – $175,000.
“Next year we want the Fringe to be bigger and better than ever,” said Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival Artistic Producer, Beth Marshall. “We want more applicants from all over the globe, new, creative ideas and unique shows that the Fringe has never seen before.”
The Orlando Fringe Festival – one of more than 20 Fringe Festivals occurring internationally every year – does not jury or censor whatsoever and encourages original submissions in all theater genres and themes. Some of the previous areas explored have been performance art, music, dance, comedy, drama, gay themes, ethnic themes, religious themes, juggling, mime, poetry, multi-media and more.
To apply, visit http://www.orlandofringe.org and download the application. The application fees range between $550 – $1,800 depending on the desired venue and number of shows (seven shows maximum). Any application postmarked by September 15 will receive $150 off the entry fee. Applications postmarked by September 30 will receive $50 off the entry fee.
The festival will be held May 17-28, 2007, and all entries will be chosen by random selection by lottery on Monday, November 20 at 7 p.m. at The Orlando Repertory Theatre. Sixty percent of the performance slots will be held for central Florida-based artists, 20 percent for national artists and 20 percent for international artists.
Although the Orlando Fringe does not censor anything, all performances must be rated: Kids Fringe, Pet Fringe, Family Friendly, General Audience or Mature.
“Oh, and one more thing,” said Marshall. “Just like in high school, no smoking, no fog machines, no firing guns, and no open flame – on stage, that is.”
For continually updated Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival information visit http://www.orlandofringe.org
Community Theater Corner
St. Dunstan’s Theatre Guild celebrates its 75th season
BLOOMFIELD HILLS – This season, St. Dunstan’s Theatre Guild of Cranbrook celebrates its 75th anniversary with an outstanding lineup of shows and special events that are well worth celebrating in their own right.
The non-profit volunteer theater organization kicks off its upcoming season on Sept. 9 with an outrageous, gender-bending entertainment extravaganza, “Evening at La Cage II.” Proceeds from this fabulous evening of fun under the stars in the Cranbrook Greek Theatre will benefit St. Dunstan’s and Variety-The Children’s Charity.
On Sept. 17 from 3 to 6 p.m., St. Dunstan’s hosts its annual Open House to officially usher in the 2006-2007 season. Members of the community are invited to come learn more about one of the area’s finest community theater organizations, which welcomes new members interested in working onstage or behind the scenes – or people looking to form new friendships and connections. The Open House will be held at the theater, located at 400 Lone Pine Road in Bloomfield Hills. For more information on membership or the Open House, contact Sally Garrison at http://248-540-3762.
St. Dunstan’s is also extremely pleased to announce its 2006-2007 season, which opens on Oct. 13 with “The Full Monty” by Terrence McNally by David Yazbek. A bunch of unemployed steelworkers in Buffalo, N.Y. come up with a bold way to make some quick cash after seeing how much their wives enjoy watching male strippers during their “girls’ night out.” This ragged but lovable band of unlikely exhibitionists hilariously learns how to strut their stuff – discovering renewed self-esteem and the power of true friendship along the way.
In November, St. Dunstan’s presents its annual Theatre for Children production. This year’s show is “Hyronomous A. Frog, The Frog Prince” by Edith Wiess. This quirky re-telling of the classic story of a frog who discovers he’s really a prince – and must find a maiden to kiss him if he wants to be a prince again – uses humor to teach the lesson that who you are on the inside is what matters most.
The next main stage production is “Wonder of the World” by David Lindsay-Abaire in Jan. 2007. In this wise and witty comedy, a young woman embarks on a journey of self-discovery that introduces her to a blithely suicidal alcoholic, a pair of bickering private detectives and a strange caper involving a gargantuan jar of peanut butter, all of which pushes her perilously close to the water’s edge at Niagara Falls.
In March 2007, St. Dunstan’s presents “Two by Two” by Richard Rodgers, Peter Stone and Martin Charnin. The building of the ark was only the first of Noah’s many daunting challenges in a journey that wasn’t always smooth sailing. By turns inspirational and hilarious, this charming musical proves that being chosen by God for great things does not necessarily simplify the daily demands made on a 600-year-old father and husband.
“The Yellow Boat” by David Saar is St. Dunstan’s Stage 2 presentation – an intimate, studio-style production. Presented in April 2007, this drama is based on the true story of the author’s young son who contracted HIV through a blood transfusion for hemophilia. Both heartbreaking and uplifting, the story is a glorious affirmation of a child’s life, and the strength and courage of all children.
St. Dunstan’s main stage season concludes with “Amadeus” by Peter Shaffer, which marks the return of St. Dunstan’s traditional June production in the outdoor Cranbrook Greek Theatre. This provocative work tells the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Austrian court composer Antonio Salieri, weaving a confrontation between mediocrity and genius that’s underscored by the glorious music of Mozart.
More information on the upcoming St. Dunstan’s season – including season tickets – is available at 248-737-3587 or http://www.StDunstansTheatre.com
A2CT stages Michigan premiere of ‘The Full Monty’
ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor Civic Theatre presents the Michigan premiere of the new musical “The Full Monty,” Sept. 14-17 at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre.
Directed by A2CT veteran Wendy Sielaff, with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Terrence McNally, “The Full Monty” is the wildly funny Broadway hit based on the popular British movie of the same name. Six out-of-work steel mill employees in Buffalo need a way to find cash – fast. Inspired by their wives’ visit to a strip club, the men decide to stage their own show. When they have trouble selling tickets to their show, they decide to go all the way, and the resulting “Full Monty” packs the house. Filled with catchy tunes and hilarious, “real-to-life” characters, “The Full Monty” is an evening of outrageous fun.
“I’m having the best time directing this show,” director Sielaff said. “These guys are so talented and funny, and they have absolutely no inhibitions! There are a lot of surprises in the show, including a never-been-done-by-Civic set element designed by Mike Sielaff. The audience is in for a great time. They’ll leave the theater wanting to see more – literally!”
Musical direction is under the guidance of John Tartaglia, and choreography is provided by Tawna Dabney.
“The Full Monty’s” talented cast features A2CT regulars Curt Waugh as Jerry, Kevin Stacy as Dave, Leo Babcock as Ethan, Jeff Steinhauer as Harold, Andy Ballnik as Malcol, and newcomer David Velez Felix as Horse. The cast also includes Peter Kentes, Susie Berneis, Kathleen Beardmore, Anne Kiser Gray, Linzi Joy Bokor, Zack Pearlman, Sarah Fuller, Aubrey Donnell, Patrick Persons, Jon Elliott, Torey Berneis, David Rozian, Hank Naasko, Nayan Hajratwala and Tiff Crutchfield.
“The Full Monty” includes adult themes and partial nudity, and is for mature audiences.
Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $24 adults and $21 students and seniors Friday through Sunday, and $15 for all tickets on Thursday.