Professional Theater News from Around Town:
Mayor and City Council reaffirm commitment to BoarsHead Theater
LANSING – Mayor Virg Bernero and members of the Lansing City Council recently reaffirmed their strong commitment to the BoarsHead Theater as an anchor arts organization in downtown Lansing. The BoarsHead Theater brings over 30,000 people to downtown Lansing every season and is a centerpiece of cultural tourism in Lansing.
The Mayor proposed and the City Council approved a budget resolution fulfilling an agreement between the City and the BoarsHead dated January 14, 2005 that enabled the BoarsHead to expand its space at the Center for the Arts. The additional space allows the theater to rehearse shows in the same building where the theater itself is located.
Recently, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing announced its intention to sell the building where the BoarsHead Theater is located. While the Arts Council states that the theater will be able to remain in the building through the end of its current lease (December 31, 2007), the impending sale throws the future of the theater in doubt.
“We can’t imagine taking Lansing from good to great without the BoarsHead,” stated Mayor Bernero. “Every great city has a thriving arts environment. The BoarsHead anchors a corner on the gateway boulevard to Lansing, brings people downtown at night who eat in our restaurants and provides jobs in the area. We will do everything within the city’s power to keep it downtown and help it grow. We see the BoarsHead as a cultural treasure that will create more jobs, spur cultural tourism and be a place where other nonprofits can showcase their best and brightest.”
“The BoarsHead has a rich history in Lansing and my fellow council members and I want it to have an even more robust future here,” said Carol Wood, chair of the council’s Ways & Means Committee. “This theater has touched the lives of many and transformed the lives of others. Its education program reaches deep into our schools at a time when the arts are being cut back. It provides educational programs for talented and at-risk students and hands-on training for young theater professionals. The BoarsHead is a vital part of Lansing’s well-being.”
“The people of Lansing built this theater and we will do everything possible to keep it here,” vowed Kristine Thatcher, BoarsHead’s artistic director. “We offer high quality professional theater for all ages in our community. We bring people together, live and in person, to enjoy our downtown and experience great theater. BoarsHead is known around the country as one of the best regional equity theaters in the U.S. Its quality compares to New York and Chicago.”
Stratford Festival News:
New artistic team at the Stratford Festival of Canada
STRATFORD, ONT – Antoni Cimolino, general director of the Stratford Festival of Canada, recently unveiled the next stage of the Festival’s new vision for artistic leadership. The Festival named a team of three Artistic Directors: Marti Maraden, Des McAnuff and Don Shipley. Cimolino will work alongside the team of artistic directors, and they will take on their new roles in time for the 2008 season.
“Marti, Des and Don are superbly qualified to help realize the vision for the Festival,” said Cimolino. “We want to rededicate ourselves to Shakespeare and the classics, open up to diverse influences by reaching out to theater communities across the country and indeed the world, and further showcase the Festival’s vast pool of talent.”
“The Board of Governors is extremely optimistic about the opportunities that this new team presents,” said Board Chair Kelly Meighen. “Antoni has assembled a team with Marti, Des and Don that draws together some of the finest creative minds in the world, and our audiences will be the beneficiaries of this good work in the years to come.”
Marti Maraden is a renowned classical theater director and a champion of Canadian work, with 16 Stratford seasons to her credit. Her production of “The Merchant of Venice” in 1996 at Stratford showcased her deft hand with Shakespeare. She was also entrusted with breathing life into Elliott Hayes’s “Homeward Bound,” which went on to stages across the continent. Maraden recently completed her term as the artistic director of English Theatre at the National Arts Centre (NAC). Strengthening connections with artists and theatres across the country was one of her key accomplishments at the NAC. Maraden was one of the driving forces behind the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, which is the first-ever national festival dedicated to Canadian work. She is an accomplished director of classical and contemporary pieces, having directed at various stages such as CanStage, the Shaw Festival, the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Des McAnuff has won two Tony Awards for Outstanding Direction and two of London’s prestigious Olivier Awards. His Broadway productions have garnered 18 Tonys, including four for his latest work, “Jersey Boys,” which is this year’s winner for Best Musical. Last season, he directed Billy Crystal in the Tony Award winning “700 Sundays.” McAnuff has earned international acclaim for his innovative approach to directing the classics and for his skill and imagination in developing new works. McAnuff last worked in Stratford in 1983, when he directed an inspired production of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” He is currently artistic director at La Jolla Playhouse in California, where he will continue with his current commitments until April 2007 and will then assume a newly created position as director emeritus. McAnuff led the rebirth of La Jolla Playhouse in 1983 and served as its artistic director until 1994. For the next five years, he staged productions in New York, Toronto, Washington, London and Frankfurt, Germany, directed two feature films and produced two more, including Warner Brothers’ classic animated feature “The Iron Giant.” McAnuff then returned to the helm of the Playhouse in 2000. Under his leadership, the Playhouse staged brilliant and audacious productions of classics, new plays and musicals, including 41 world premieres, and has garnered over 300 awards, including the 1993 Tony for America’s Outstanding Regional Theatre. Fully a third of the plays developed at the Playhouse under his leadership have gone on, in one way or another, to stages in New York, across America and around the world.
Don Shipley has been engaged in almost every capacity in the theatrical arena over the course of his career. He was the founding artistic director of the Belfry Theatre in Victoria, B.C., and served as artistic director of The Grand Theatre, the Vancouver Playhouse (Touring Division), Harbourfront Centre and the du Maurier World Stage Festival, the only contemporary English-speaking theatre festival of its kind in North America. During his stay at the du Maurier World Stage Festival, Shipley brought artists from around the world to the Toronto stage. He has also been the national casting director at CBC Drama and has directed at major Canadian theaters, including the Shaw Festival, the National Arts Centre, the Manitoba Theatre Centre and Theatre Calgary. Shipley is currently the artistic director and chief executive officer at the Dublin International Theatre Festival, where he has built upon his reputation for drawing some of the finest talent from all corners of the globe. A child actor at the Stratford Festival, Shipley was also artistic associate under Robin Phillips as well as director of workshops at the Stratford Festival of Canada.
“The Festival will benefit immensely from the wide-ranging experience that Marti, Des and Don bring to us,” said Mr. Cimolino in welcoming the new artistic directors to Stratford. “They have all spent time here in Stratford and they know the repertory system. Together with the diverse influences that have shaped them, they make the perfect artistic leaders to help our actors and artists push beyond their creative boundaries.”
“I’d like to think that just as we inherit the Festival’s rich tradition and accumulated wisdom, we also remember the courage and vision that sparked it all,” said Ms. Maraden. “That we, too, will be pioneers, seeking new frontiers, always striving for excellence as we explore the great classics for our times and in the new works we hope to inspire here at the Festival.”
“I am thrilled to be a part of this prestigious team of artistic directors and look forward to working with them and Antoni to shape policy at the Stratford Festival,” said McAnuff. “I have always held the Festival close to my heart and consider it one of the great cultural resources of North America. Many of the great actors, directors and designers of the past half-century have graced the Festival stages, and we will stand on the shoulders of giants.”
“For my part, I am excited about the theater company that places the artist at the heart of the organization, recognizing that this should be the starting place from which all decisions flow,” said Shipley. “I am also excited about the theater that values vigorous research and development – allowing it to be contemporary and responsive to the times.”
Today’s announcement is part of the restructuring process at the Festival that officially began in April with the appointment of Antoni Cimolino as general director.
The internationally acclaimed Stratford Festival, North America’s largest classical repertory theatre, presents a six-month season in four distinctive venues, encompassing not only the works of Shakespeare and other great authors of the past but also the best in contemporary drama and musical theatre. Located within easy reach of major Canadian and U.S. cities, the Stratford Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from Canada, the United States and abroad.
Community Theater Corner:
Seven Deadly Sins come to life in ‘hair-raising’ detail
BLOOMFIELD HILLS – Antonino Salon and Spa and St. Dunstan’s Theatre Guild of Cranbrook have joined forces to create an original presentation of avant-garde hair designs, which will be featured at Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum’s Serious Moonlight fundraiser, July 15, on the grounds of Cranbrook Art Museum.
The presentation is based on the Seven Deadly Sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. The Seven Deadly Sins, established in early Christianity and later popularized in the writings of Dante, will be vividly brought to life by an unusual group of models. Each model will sport an original hair design representing one of the sins. The hair designs will be crafted from alternative materials, such as fast-food packages to symbolize gluttony. Stylists from Antonino Salon and Spa are creating the hair designs and makeup, with costumes, models and staging provided by St. Dunstan’s Theatre Guild of Cranbrook.
The edgy presentation is inspired by Cranbrook Art Museum’s current exhibition, “When Philip Met Isabella: Philip Treacy’s Hats for Isabella Blow,” a collection of the extraordinary hats created by Irish designer Treacy for Blow, his friend and muse.
“We collaborated with the Museum to develop a presentation which is evocative of Treacy’s imaginative designs,” says Anthony Marsalese, owner of Antonino Salon and Spa and a member of St. Dunstan’s. “We are applying a similar creative approach to finding new ways to think of hair design.”
St. Dunstan’s often collaborates with Cranbrook Art Museum and other institutions at Cranbrook, as part of the non-profit volunteer theater group’s commitment to the larger community.
“These collaborations let us share our creative skills in unique ways,” says Marsalese. “This presentation is highly unconventional, from the materials we’re using to create the hair designs and costume pieces right down to the models we chose to wear them.”
Tickets are still available for Serious Moonlight, which supports the programs of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum. The outdoor gala on July 15 features dancing and entertainment, a strolling supper and a silent auction. Patron tickets, which include a private patron party, are $175 per person. Friend tickets are just $85 each.
For more information, call 248-645-3312 or visit http://www.cranbrookart.edu/moonlight.
Players Guild announces ‘A Season of Discovery and Rediscovery’
DEARBORN – The Players Guild of Dearborn, now in its 79th year, proudly announces a fantastic line-up for the 2006-2007 theater season. With all but one of the shows new to the Players Guild of Dearborn, it’s sure to be an exciting season for casts and patrons alike.
The season opens with the comedy “Sylvia,” by A.R. Gurney. With the suburbs behind him, his kids gone and his job nearing an end, Greg finds his new life in Manhattan to be less than fulfilling. His wife Kate, however, is enjoying their newly found freedom and her job as a public school English teacher. Then one fateful walk in the park, Greg finds Sylvia, a street-smart mixture of Lab and Poodle (played by an actual woman!) who pulls no punches while observing life. She offers Greg the perfect escape from his mid-life frustrations. In a series of hilarious and touching complications, the two women in Greg’s life begin to fight for his attention. Will the winner be Kate, Greg’s best friend, or Sylvia, man’s best friend? “Sylvia opens Sep. 15 and runs through Oct. 1.
Next on the schedule is “Here’s Love,” the joyous musical adaptation of “The Miracle on 34th Street.” Music, lyrics, and book by Meredith Willson, the creative genius behind “The Music Man” lends his musical talent to an American classic. No one thinks anything of the kindly bearded gentleman who becomes a last-minute replacement for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa Claus. But when that same gentleman begins to speak foreign languages to children, to send Macy’s shoppers to Gimbals’, and to tell people he truly is Santa Claus, no one’s life is ever the same! A wonderful testament to the power of imagination, this tuneful family show features such toe-tapping numbers as “Pine Cones and Holly Berries”, “It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas” and “That Man over there is Santa Claus”. The production runs Nov. 10 – Dec. 3.
The New Year kicks off with the all-female-cast comedy, “The Women,” by Clare Boothe Luce. Mary, who prefers to be known as Mrs. Stephen Hanes, thinks she has it all. That is, until her friends “accidentally” reveal that Mr. Hanes has a mistress! Distraught by the news, Mary relies upon her socialite friends to help her through the crisis: the cynical Nancy, the naive Peggy and the wearily sophisticated Sylvia and Edith. By following their well-intentioned but misguided advice, Mary falls from the pinnacle of 1930’s Manhattan society to the depths of personal despair. Only at her lowest does she realize who she truly is and what she truly wants to be is Mrs. Stephen Hanes again! With farcical pacing and amazing one-line zingers, “The Women” is a riotous comedy of manners. The production runs Jan. 12-28, 2007.
The excitement keeps on rolling with the spring drama, “Breaking the Code” by Hugh Whitemore, based on the book “Alan Turing: The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges. How would you treat a man who helped his country and the Allies win World War II? This exceptional, Tony Award nominated drama is about Alan Turing, the man who cracked the complex German Enigma code of World War II. Spanning many periods of his life, we are introduced to those who influenced Alan — his boyhood friend Christopher, understanding mother Sara, colleague Pat Green and mentor Dillwyn Knox. We further see Alan’s heroism and genius as he becomes a founding father of the Information Age. By 1952, Alan Turing is famous once again, but for a much different reason. Upon the report of a robbery, the police find out that Alan committed the “criminal act” of homosexuality. Arrested, tried, and convicted by a British court, Alan is sentenced to physical and mental maltreatment. With a lack of trust for the country he once loved and unable to continue the work he voraciously believed in, Alan concludes his work with one final experiment – a true attempt to separate his psyche from the physical being. Production dates are March 2-18, 2007.
The “Season of Discovery and Rediscovery” concludes with the spring musical “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.” This Pulitzer Prize-winning musical from the authors of “Guys and Dolls” is still one of the most delightfully irreverent, sardonic musicals of all time, having had a recent successful Broadway revival and tour. A satire of big business and all it holds sacred, “How to Succeed” follows the rise of J. Pierrepont Finch, who uses a little handbook to climb the corporate ladder from lowly window washer to high-powered executive, tackling such familiar but potent dangers as: the aggressively compliant “company man”; the boss’ whiny, nepotistic nephew; the office party; backstabbing co-workers; caffeine addiction; sexual harassment and, of course, true love. Guaranteed to appeal to anyone who has ever worked in an office, the show boasts a show-stealing, male antihero star; a smart, practical but equally ambitious female lead; quirky, memorable featured characters; a catchy, witty, bright and brassy score, and a wicked sense of humor that’s still as biting, unforgiving and on target today as originally produced in 1961. Production dates are April 27-May 20, 2007.
The Players Guild of Dearborn Theater is located at 21730 Madison, Dearborn MI (near the corner of Outer Drive & Monroe).
Individual show tickets are also available: $15 for non-musicals and $18 for musicals.
Complete five show season ticket packages are available at a cost of $65 by calling 313-561-TKTS.