Professional Theater News from Around Town:
Acclaimed playwright to give keynote speech at Michigan Theatre Festival
ROCHESTER – On Friday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m., Allan Knee, the acclaimed playwright of “The Man Who Was Peter Pan” and “Syncopation,” will give a keynote address at Meadow Brook Theatre during the Michigan Theatre Festival.
The Festival runs Wednesday, June 21 through Sunday, June 25 and is open to the public.
The Michigan Theatre Festival is honored to have Allan Knee as a guest speaker. In addition to his address on the theater’s main stage, a staged reading of his play “The Jazz Age” will be presented by Meadow Brook Theatre immediately following his address, and then again at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 27 in the Studio Theatre in Varner Hall.
“We are incredibly excited to be work-shopping Allan Knee’s newest play,” said John Manfredi, managing director of Meadow Brook Theatre. “It is a major accomplishment for our company and an acknowledgment of our work to be trusted with the work of such a significant playwright. Having Allan speak at the festival is a real honor and something the entire theatrical community is looking forward to.”
Allan Knee wrote the book for the Broadway musical “Little Women” (music by Jason Howland,lyrics by Mindi Dickstein), for which he won a Richard Rodgers Music Theater Award. The musical is currently on national tour and was recently performed at The Fisher Theatre in Detroit. The film “Finding Neverland,” starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, is based on his play, “The Man Who Was Peter Pan.” His play “Syncopation” won an American Critics Theatre Award after premiering at the Long Wharf Theater and George Street Playhouse and debuted in Michigan at Meadow Brook Theatre. Among his other works are “Shmulnik’s Waltz” (music by David Shire), “Santa Anita ’42,” “The Jazz Age” and “Sholem Aleichem Lives,” which toured with Theodore Bikel. For young audiences he adapted “Around The World In 80 Days,” which toured nationally. For PBS he wrote the four-part adaptation of “The Scarlet Letter.” Allan is currently working a musical version of “Finding Neverland” for The Weinstein Company; a rock musical about Edgar Allan Poe; and a play about the relationship between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
Allan is a graduate of the Yale Drama School.
The Michigan Theatre Festival consists of 18 staged readings of new plays in addition to the 10th Annual Heartlande Theatre Play-by-Play Marathon. The Festival will take place in three Rochester theatre venues: Meadow Brook Theatre (Main Stage), Oakland University’s Studio Theatre and Lab Theatre, both of which are located in Varner Hall. Hosted by Meadow Brook Theatre, the event will include staged readings, talk-back sessions, a 12-hour short play marathon and a nightly wrap party for festival participants and pass holders.
“Having three venues in close proximity will give us the real festival feeling we’ve never had in the past,” said Mary Rychlewski of Heartlande Theatre Company. “Especially with Play-by-Play as a part of the festival, Rochester will be literally teeming with actors, directors, playwrights and staff from theaters around the state for that whole week. It’s a great opportunity for audiences to gain a real appreciation for the riches of the Michigan Theatre Community as a whole”.
Participating theaters are Abreact Theatre of Detroit, Blackbird Theatre of Ann Arbor, Heartlande Theatre Company of Birmingham, Jewish Ensemble Theatre of West Bloomfield, Meadow Brook Theatre of Rochester, Performance Network of Ann Arbor, Planet Ant Theatre of Hamtramck, Plowshares Theatre Company of Detroit and Williamston Theatre of Williamston.
A complete schedule of events can be found at the Heartlande Theatre Company website at www..
For each individual play and wrap party, a suggested donation of $5 will be gratefully accepted. A Festival Pass, which includes unlimited admission for one person to readings (not including Play-by-Play), wrap parties and panel discussion is $35.
The Heartlande Theatre Company Play-by-Play Marathon is $5 per hour, $30 for a day pass, and $50 for a Marathon pass. Tickets and passes for the Play-by-Play will be sold at the door.
A Festival Sponsor Pass is also available, which includes all benefits of Festival Pass, plus priority seating (reservation required) and a $25 tax deductible contribution to:Heartlande Theatre Company in support of The Michigan Theatre Festival for $75.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Meadow Brook Theatre Box Office at 248-377-3300.
For the Young and Young-at-Heart:
Dance with Dorothy the Dinosaur
EAST LANSING – Dorothy the Dinosaur and all her friends will dance their way into East Lansing at Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall on Tuesday, June 27 for two performances; one at 2 p.m. and the other at 6 p.m.
Everybody knows and loves The Wiggles, but sometimes Greg, Murray, Anthony and Jeff are so busy that they don’t have a chance to visit all their fans. So, The Wiggles are sending their best friends out on the road to entertain the children of America with “Dorothy the Dinosaur’s Dance Party!” The Wiggles themselves have designed, arranged and produced the show as a special treat for their devoted fans, and it is a great new way to experience The Wiggles’ music and entertain your children. Dorothy and her friends are very excited about this new show, and can’t wait to visit your area.
“Dorothy the Dinosaur’s Dance Party!” is a fun-packed all singing, all dancing performance featuring two hosts who will sing all your favorite Wiggles songs, with help from The Wiggles’ best friends, Captain Feathersword, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and of course, Dorothy the Dinosaur. Songs include “Fruit Salad,” “Romp Bomp a Stomp,” and “Hot Potato.”
The Wiggles are the biggest ticket selling musical group in children’s entertainment with tour dates scheduled across the globe (USA, UK, Canada and Australia). In 2005 The Wiggles sold over 3/4 million tickets across the USA including sold out shows in New York’s Madison Square Gardens Theater.
Tickets are $10.50-$26.50. To purchase tickets, call 1-800-WHARTON or 517-432-2000, or log onto http://www.whartoncenter.com.
Avon Players Youth Theater presents ‘Honk Jr!’
ROCHESTER — Avon Players Youth Theater presents “Honk Jr!,” a contemporary musical retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling,” with book and lyrics by Anthony Drewe and music by George Stiles.
The show features Michael Lipphardt as Ugly, Ashley Rozanski as Ida, Andrew Danowski as The Cat, Aaron Pickett as Drake, Kevin Garringer as Greylag, Alex Pass as Bullfrog and Anna Badalamenti as Penny.
The director is Jean Garringer, and the producers are Teri Hoffman and Marilyn Rozanski.
Show dates are June 23-25. Friday and Saturday performances start at 7:30 p.m.; matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday begin at 2 p.m.
Avon Players is located at 1185 Washington Road, one mile east of the intersection of Tienken and Rochester Roads in Rochester Hills.
Tickets for the show are $10 and can be reserved by calling 248-608-9077.
Stratford Festival News:
‘Much Ado About Nothing’ opens at the Stratford Festival
STRATFORD, ONT. – The Stratford Festival of Canada’s production of Shakespeare’s comedy “Much Ado About Nothing,” with Lucy Peacock as Beatrice and Peter Donaldson as Benedick, opened June 3 at the Festival Theatre.
“Much Ado About Nothing” tells a story of the battle of the sexes. Old adversaries Beatrice and Benedick wage their “merry war” of witty insults while Benedick’s friend Claudio is deceived into thinking that his beloved, Hero, has betrayed him. Potential tragedy yields to high comedy, however, as the lexically challenged Constable Dogberry stumbles upon the truth.
“Much Ado About Nothing” plays in repertory until October 22.
Tickets are available at 1-800-567-1600 or through http://www.stratfordfestival.ca.
Community Theater Corner:
‘Said and Meant’ held over at the Whole Art
KALAMAZOO – The Whole Art Theater and Crawlspace Eviction are pleased to announce that due to heavy ticket sales their co -production of Randy Wyatt’s “Said and Meant” will be held over for two additional performances.
The additional performances will be held June 23 and June 24 at 8 p.m. in the theatre’s location at 246 N. Kalamazoo Mall.
Tickets and seating are limited so reservations are suggested by calling 269-345-7529.
Kazoo Civic’s Studio Theatre Project presents ‘Back County Crimes’
KALAMAZOO – The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre Studio Theatre Project will present Lanie Robertson’s “Back County Crimes” Friday, June 23 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, June 24 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, June 25 at 2 p.m. in the Carver Center Studio, 426 South Park Street, Kalamazoo.
The Studio Theatre Project is a ten-week program created to provide a comprehensive forum for the exercise of intellectual and professional ensemble training. Members of the Studio Theatre Ensemble were selected based on auditions and the program began with intensive training under the direction of Randy Wolfe. The production of “Back County Crimes” is a culmination of their efforts.
Similar in structure to “Spoon River Anthology,” this beautiful play of life and death in a small town is woven together by a running commentary by the town’s sole physician of many years. Its poetic sweep and the intrinsic truthfulness of the characters that inhabit the play serve as a rousing affirmation of life with all its mystery and variety.
The Studio Theatre Project features Michael Andres, Jarrett Blackmon, Kelly Dipisa, Will Ellwood, Cori Lynn Hane, Ken Holda, Molly Konzen, Genevieve Laly-Knuth, Jen Lindsay, Michael P. Martin, Matthew Ninke and Gail Snyder.
Directed by Randy Wolfe with stage management by Michelle Lee Robison, “Back County Crimes” also includes volunteers Liz Harkins (Light Board Operator) and Thomas Koehler (Props/Costumes).
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.
For additional information, contact the Civic Box Office at 269-343-1313.