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By |2006-09-14T09:00:00-04:00September 14th, 2006|Entertainment|

Performance Network Turns 25 – Part 2

Let the party begin!

For Part 1 of this story, please see this week’s edition of Curtain Calls.
Performance Network Theatre is throwing a season-long party to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary, and you’re invited.

The theater’s goal, according to Executive Artistic Director Carla Milarch, is to reach out to every segment of their community base and get them involved in the celebration. “We’re doing events that are geared for younger people, we had a fashion show and we’re doing reunion readings. Our objective is to get more people aware of and connected to the theater.”

That’s a mission most area theaters are pursuing, as traditional ticket buyers are aging – and potential customers ages 49 and below aren’t replacing them in large enough numbers to keep the stage lights lit. “The problem is how do we get them in and help them realize that they’re going to enjoy this, too?” asked David Wolber, the Network’s associate artistic director.

It’s not easy, Milarch admitted. However, the Network recently began offering shows that appeal to the twenty-something crowd in its black box theater, the Mosh Pit, and that’s proven to be successful enough to create a full season of shows there beginning this fall.

Still, it’s a struggle. “A lot of it comes down to programming,” Milarch said.

Anecdotal evidence seems to agree, as young adults seem to avoid shows that appeal to older, more conservative audiences. However, theaters that offer edgier fare or plays that address current themes have seen their efforts pay off.

“We’ve seen the increase happen,” Wolber said. Although the Network’s customer base is somewhat more diverse than other local theaters – an Ann Arbor address certainly helps – the executives have seen a growth in the number of new and younger faces in their audience thanks to its willingness to stage contemporary or controversial plays.

Last year’s summer hit, “Take Me Out” – a play about professional baseball’s first star player to come out of the closet – is the prefect example. Despite winning the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for best play, no other Michigan theater would touch the drama that contains several scenes of full-frontal male nudity. “It exemplifies something I’m very proud of and something that’s built into our mission statement, and something we’re really living up to – and that’s uncompromising leadership,” Milarch said. “I’m proud of the fact that we had the balls to do it. We’re the theater that did “Take Me Out,” “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” and “She Loves Me” in the span of 12 months, and I like that.”

So did local theatergoers and theater critics who honored “Take Me Out” with several major awards this past summer. “It shows what theater can do,” Wolber said.

Other challenges

Attracting a more diverse audience is just one of the problems facing the Network. The economy is another.

“The challenges we face, we face as a state,” Wolber said of Michigan’s stagnant economy. “It’s difficult for us to attract artists and actors from other communities to live and work here, let alone keep the ones who are already here. If we can’t be competitive with Chicago or other cities, it makes it very difficult [for us].”

It’s Michigan’s lack of vision that especially troubles Milarch. “You have to have a vision to realize where the arts fall in your economic plans. There are cities all around the country that recognize that and promote [the arts] so proactively.”

When a community invests in the arts, Milarch noted, the returns are exponential. “Because that’s the kind of mechanism the arts are economically.”

A 2002 study of the nonprofit arts industry by Americans for the Arts concurs. The study revealed that the country’s non-profits arts industry generates $134 billion in economic activity every year, resulting in $24.4 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. Michigan’s share approaches half a billion dollars and $30 million in tax revenues.

Michigan, however, doesn’t seem to understand that – despite the governor’s Cool Cities program. So as arts funding continues to drop and more and more artists leave the state looking for work, a crisis is brewing in the state’s professional theater community. And there are no easy answers on the horizon.

Even the horizon is a problem for the theater community – or more accurately, our geography, Wolber believes. “We’re all so spread out. There is no central theater district. Ann Arbor is a great place to be; it’s always a destination. But you can’t go to dinner in downtown Ann Arbor and then catch a show at Meadow Brook. Or even the Purple Rose.”

It’s the distance between theaters, many executives believe, that keeps people in one community from sampling shows in another – especially when gas prices hit record highs.

Milarch’s biggest challenge, however, is creating a national presence for her theater, something she says will serve both Ann Arbor and the local theater community well in the future. “We’re in a really good position to do that,” she said.

The Anniversary Season

Although silver is what most people associate with a twenty-fifth anniversary, Milarch believes it is the plum.

“I built this season around the talent this year,” the executive artistic director revealed. “Part of it was my love for the artists – trying to give them all the plum roles that are going to give them something to sink their teeth into. A wonderful by-product for our audience is that they’re going to see these people take on these roles that are just roles of a lifetime.”

The season begins previews this week with “The Retreat from Moscow,” a drama with biting humor about a dysfunctional family, that re-teams the dynamic talents of Gillian Eaton and Malcolm Tulip. “It’s got a starring role for Gillian. She plays this wonderfully eccentric widow who is obsessed with poetry. The ending is like a suspense thriller: It’s Gillian with a knife,” teased Milarch.

The season continues Nov. 9 with “The Fantasticks.” The beloved musical about young love and parental guidance has universal appeal, Milarch said. “It’s great for everybody.”

2007 begins with the world premiere of “Language Lessons” by local playwright Joseph Zettelmaier. It’s expected to be the sleeper hit of the year. “His writing has just taken off,” said Wolber, who’s directing the show. “He’s always had a knack for character and an ear for language, but he’s developing a very good facility with structure, and that’s the most difficult thing about playwriting.” The play will star Terry Heck, Mindy Woodhead and Robert L. Smith.

George Bernard Shaw’s classic satire “Candida” opens March 8, directed by John Seibert. It’s important to include the classics in the season, Milarch believes. “I feel it’s important for our modern audiences to see that kind of theater. It’s not a museum piece. Theater is alive; it’s evolving.”

“It’s so much fun to watch,” Wolber added.

Concluding the season will be “Amadeus” (directed by Eaton, with Tulip, Loren Bass, Chris Korte and Aphrodite Nikolovski) and “Dirty Blonde” (directed by Jim Posante and starring Milarch as Mae West).

There’s a sense of excitement in the air at the Network, Milarch said. “It’s going to be one big, long party, and it’s going to be fun. I hope people will take the leap – once you’re here, you’re going to love it. Coming to the theater is not a stuffy, dry, boring thing to do!”

Complete information about Performance Network Theatre’s upcoming season can be obtained by calling the box office at 734-663-0681 or by logging on to

Professional Theater News from Around Town:

‘The Rat Pack Is Back’ – at The Gem

DETROIT – Back by popular demand, Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean return to Detroit in “The Rat Pack is Back” for a limited run at The Gem Theatre beginning Sept. 12.

“The Rat Pack is Back” is a tribute to Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Dean Martin that features a stellar cast of some of the finest performers around the country now performing in Las Vegas. It has been hailed as the next best thing to seeing the Rat Pack themselves. This show is a fast-paced theatrical musical play based on a night at the Sand’s Hotel in Las Vegas, circa 1961. It is not an impersonator show. The characters in this show are portrayed by actors who have taken great care to study the performers they are portraying and recreate them as you might have seen them years ago when they ruled show business from a stage in the Copa Room of the now almost forgotten Sands Hotel. It’s as if you turned back the clock half a century to see some of the greatest performers who ever lived take the stage together to laugh, dance, and sing their way into your hearts.

“The Rat Pack is Back” is produced by Dick Feeney and Sandy Hackett.

Appearing in the Detroit engagement of The Rat Pack is Back will be Les Lankhorse (Frank Sinatra), Kyle Diamond (Sammy Davis, Jr.), Mickey Joseph (Joey Bishop) and Bobby Mayo, Jr. (Dean Martin).

Ticket prices for the Detroit engagement range from $39.50 – $44.50. Group sales (15 or more) and Friends & Family discounts are also available.

For convenient pre-theatre dining, The Century Grille offers theatergoers comfortable dining in an historic and elegant setting inside the Gem & Century Building. The Century Grille serves classic American dishes and offers all-inclusive dining packages.

For tickets, reservations or additional information, please call 313-963-9800 or visit

‘Hello Muddah!’ held over by popular demand

WEST BLOOMFIELD – The Jewish Ensemble Theatre is pleased to announce that the hilarious musical “Hello Muddah! Hello Fadduh! The Allan Sherman Musical” has been held over for three 7:30 p.m. performances: Monday, Sept. 18; Tuesday, Sept. 19; and Wednesday, Sept. 20.

JET performs in the Aaron DeRoy Theatre, 6600 West Maple Rd. (corner of Maple & Drake) in West Bloomfield.

Tickets range from $29 to $39 with discounts for seniors and students.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 248-788-2900.

UMS begins 128th season

ANN ARBOR –Ticket sales for individual performances presented as part the University Musical Society’s 2006/07 season are now available. With appearances by internationally renowned orchestras, chamber musicians, dance and theater troupes, jazz artists and world music and dance ensembles, the UMS season spans the complete spectrum of the performing arts.

The season opens with a performance by Amalia Hernandez’ Ballet Folklorico de Mexico in Hill Auditorium on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m., followed by a rare public performance two days later by jazz pianist and harpist Alice Coltrane, widow of the great saxman John Coltrane, on what would have been John Coltrane’s 80th birthday. Over the next eight months, 70 performances of 46 events will take place in five venues in Ann Arbor: Hill Auditorium, Rackham Auditorium, the Power Center, the Michigan Theater, and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.

The 2006/07 season features a global focus on music and dance from Mexico and the Americas, with a seven-concert series that includes three concerts featuring Mexican artists. In addition, UMS will present the remaining three concerts of the Shostakovich Centennial Festival, featuring the Kirov Orchestra of St. Petersburg and conductor Valery Gergiev, as well as a mini-series focused on violinists. Last season’s piano series is repeated, but with a twist: two classical music recitals (one a debut artist and the other firmly established) and a concert by the 88-year-old jazz pianist Marian McPartland.

Other legendary musicians represented on the season include Gilberto Gil, one of the leaders of the Tropicalia movement along with Caetano Veloso; the return of the Martha Graham Dance Company for the first time since 1995; and the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra, a hot Latin Jazz ensemble put together by the sons of three of the great Latin Jazz artists from the 1950s (Machito, Tito Rodriguez, and Tito Puente). Three composers from the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance are represented, with a UMS co-commission by Michael Daugherty performed by Cuarteto Latinoamericano and guitarist Manuel Barrueco, William Bolcom’s cabaret songs performed by Measha Brueggergosman with Bolcom at the piano, and Bright Sheng’s music-theatre work,”Silver River.”

Tickets are available at the Michigan League Ticket Office (911 North University Avenue). Tickets are also available by calling the UMS Ticket Office at 734-764-2538 (toll-free outside the 734 area code, 800-221-1229). Michigan League Ticket Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Groups of 10 or more receive discounts of 15-25% for most performances and may reserve their seats now. Call the UMS Group Sales Hotline at 734-763-3100.

A free brochure with complete details about each event on the UMS season is available by calling 734-764-2538 or log on to

Detroit Opera House announces 2006/2007 Daimler Chrysler Dance Series

DETROIT – The Detroit Opera House is pleased to announce the details of the 2006/2007 DaimlerChrysler Dance Series. The 10th season of dance at the Detroit Opera House, 2006/2007 will celebrate the diversity of ballet with classic works, contemporary masterpieces and acclaimed companies.

The 2006/2007 Daimler Chrysler Dance Series opens September 28 with the spectacular Royal Winnipeg Ballet presenting “Dracula.” Burned into the public psyche over the last one hundred years, the name Dracula evokes dread and horror, but most of all, fascination. A legend, a classic novel and the subject of countless movies, the story is now brought to life in the first full-length ballet by Mark Godden, one of Canada’s foremost young choreographic talents.

Godden’s “Dracula” is firmly based in the tradition of Bram Stoker’s famous novel, but uses expressive dance and a unique sequence of events to tell the chilling tale of Lucy Westenra, Mina Murray, Jonathan Harker and the, now infamous, Count. The production features exceptional sets and costumes by Paul Daigle and lighting by David Morrison.

Founded in 1939 by Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet holds the dual distinction of being Canada’s premier ballet company and also the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America. The company’s repertoire embraces a wide range of dance styles, and features works by acclaimed choreographers including Jiri Kylian, George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Hans van Manen and Sir Frederick Ashton.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet first toured Canada in 1945, and subsequently launched its first American tour in 1954. In the decades since, the company has performed in South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and every province of Canada. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Andre Lewis the company continues to tour extensively, spending more than 20 weeks on tour annually. 2006 will mark the company’s Detroit Opera House debut.

“Dracula” will haunt the stage of the Detroit Opera House for four performances: Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 29-30 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 1 at 2 p.m.

For 2006, the Detroit Opera House will again usher in the holiday season with the acclaimed Joffrey Ballet’s enchanting “Nutcracker.” One of Detroit’s most beloved holiday traditions, this magical tale will captivate audiences with Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s incredible score, and more than 50 of the world’s finest dancers.

The ballet was created by Robert Joffrey, and includes choreography by Gerald Arpino, artistic director and co-founder of the Chicago-based company. Based on ETA Hoffman’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” published in 1816, the Joffrey Ballet’s production is set in America, on Christmas Eve, 1850, and features elaborate Victorian scenery by Oliver Smith and costumes by John David Ridge. The “Nutcracker” also features puppets by Kermit Love, perhaps best known for his work with Muppet creator Jim Henson. The production will include more than 60 young local dancers, and will be accompanied by the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra. Local high school choirs will also accompany the production and sing Christmas carols at intermission.

The 2006 “Nutcracker” engagement will again feature special family matinee packages including box lunches, face painting, photos with Santa and the Nutcracker, and the Sugar Plum Parade – a special opportunity to meet “Nutcracker” dancers on the stage of the Detroit Opera House.

The Joffrey Ballet” Nutcracker” will enchant Detroit audiences in eight performances: Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 1 at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 3 at noon and 6 p.m.

The Detroit Opera House’s 2007 dance programming will begin Feb. 10 and 11 with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, presenting “The Jacob Lawrence Project.”

The work of Jacob Lawrence, perhaps the greatest African-American painter of the 20th century, has been praised as “full of rhythm, energy, life, color and motion.” It is in the celebration of Lawrence’s work that the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company brings together four of the most exciting choreographers working today. Donald Byrd, Rennie Harris, Reggie Wilson and DCDC Artistic Director Kevin Ward have collaborated to create a ballet with a keen sense of the visual arts. Together, the work of these four visionaries weaves an evening that will move audiences with Lawrence’s humanity and the visual imagery that they have witnessed.

The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company returns to the Detroit Opera House stage just two years after debuting as part of “A Celebration of Contemporary African-American Dance” in Feb. 2005. Founded in 1968 by Jeraldyne Blunden, the company has received international acclaim for both its classical and contemporary works, as well as for its educational and outreach activities, which have brought the art of dance to countless youths. Hailed as one of the leading contemporary dance companies in the nation, DCDC is renowned for maintaining the world’s largest collection of works by African-American choreographers, including Warren Spears, Bill T. Jones, Bebe Miller, Ronald K. Brown and Donald McKayle, among many others.

The Detroit Opera House stage will play canvas to the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s “Jacob Lawrence Project” on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 11 at 2 p.m.

March 15, 2007 will mark the return of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) to the Detroit Opera House, with an exceptional production of “Swan Lake.” A long-standing staple of the ballet repertoire, “Swan Lake” is perhaps the most popular of all classical works. This relatively new production, premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on March 24, 2000, featuring stunning choreography by ABT Artistic Director Kevin Mckenzie, after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanonv. The ballet will feature the breathtaking music of Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky played by the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra, as well as scenic designs by Zack Brown and lighting by Duane Schuler.

The American Ballet Theatre is recognized as one of the great dance companies of the world. Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope and outreach. Recognized as a living national treasure since its founding in 1940, ABT annually tours the United States, performing for more than 600,000 people each year. The company has toured internationally more than 30 times, visiting a total of some 42 countries. ABT was launched by Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith in 1939, and directed by the pair until 1980, when Mikhail Baryshnikov took over as artistic director. In 1990, Jane Hermann and Oliver Smith succeeded Baryshnikov, leading the company until 1992, when former principal dancer Kevin McKenzie was appointed artistic director. Throughout its history, the company has acquired an extraordinary repertoire, ranging from classical works to contemporary masterpieces, and featuring the choreography of many of ballet’s great artists.

Swan Lake will grace the stage of the Detroit Opera House for five performances: March 15 at 7:30 p.m., March 16 at 8 p.m., March 17 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and March 18 at 2 p.m. The March 17 family matinee will feature a special pre-performance visit by Angelina Ballerina.

The final presentation of the Detroit Opera House’s 2006/2007 DaimlerChrysler Dance Series will be a special children’s ballet, “Where the Wild Things Are,” based on the book by Maurice Sendak, and danced by The Grand Rapids Ballet Company. Monsters, mischief and magic abound as Sendak’s classic tale of Max and the wonderful Wild Things he encounters springs to life on the opera house stage. Featuring sets and costumes designed by Maurice Sendak, and choreography by Septime Webre, artistic director of the Washington Ballet, the ballet presents families with a special opportunity to see literature come to life through live theater.

Founded in 1971 as the Grand Rapids Civic Ballet, The Grand Rapids Ballet Company strives to fulfill its mission “to lift the human spirit through the art of dance.” The company, Michigan’s only professional ballet, has grown to encompass 13 full-time dancers, two apprentices and the School of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company which has an enrollment of more than 250 students. Under the artistic direction of Chartel Arthur, the company has toured extensively, expanded its repertoire and presented more than 40 world premieres.

“Where the Wild Things Are” will enchant young and old alike in two performances: March 30 at 11 a.m. and March 31 at 2 p.m.

For complete ticket and schedule information, call the Detroit Opera House at 313-961-3500 or log on to

From Our Hallowed Halls of Learning:

UM-Flint to Stage HOWL: The Life of Allen Ginsberg, an Original Musical

FLINT – The University of Michigan – Flint Department of Theatre and Dance will stage the premiere of “HOWL: The Life of Allen Ginsberg.” The year 1956 was not only the year that Allen Ginsberg first performed “Howl,” but it also marks the founding of UM – Flint. So now in 2006, in both their 50th anniversaries, director Carolyn Gillespie leads the cast through the tortured and tangled relationships that defined the Beat Generation.

Ten years of writing and collaboration bring us the original piece, with book, music and lyrics by Robert W. Barnett (UM-Flint Professor of English) and Philip T. Greenfield (UM-Flint Alumnus and Mott Community College Lecturer of English). The musical follows the life of Allen Ginsberg and the events that lead to the writing and performance of his two hallmark pieces, “America” and “Howl.” A revolving door a complicated relationships introduce the audience to familiar Beat poets Jack Kerouac, Bill Burroughs and Peter Orlovsky. Also recognizable is Allen’s ominous alter ego, Walt Whitman.

A fresh score, touching lyrics and topics like love, insanity and sex make “Howl” and its themes more contemporary than ever. We invite you to experience our version of their story and to draw your own conclusion about the relevance of the Beat Poets today.

“Howl” will be performed on Sept. 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. at the UM-Flint Theatre.

In addition, at 7:15 p.m. on Sept. 23 and following the performance of Sept. 29 there will be Spoken Word performances where local performers will enlighten the audience with a more modern view on the themes of the Beat Generation.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $8 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by contacting the box office at 810-237-6520.

LCC Performing Arts announces 2006-07 theater season

LANSING – LCC Performing Arts welcomes the “new” this season with a new collaboration, a new theater space and a new take on the spring main stage production.

LCC’s fall main stage production, “Adam’s Rib,” is part of a unique new collaboration joining three downtown theaters with the Thomas M. Cooley Law School to a present a play series titled “Stages of the Law.” LCC, BoarsHead Theater and Riverwalk Theatre will each present a legal-themed play with support from Cooley.

Also new this semester is LCC’s Black Box Theatre in the Gannon Building. The Black Box will be home to the Studio Theatre Program, housing classes and serving as the primary performance space for studio classes.

“We are thrilled with our new black box theatre!” said Andy Callis, lead theater faculty. “It’s more intimate than our old one, it has more lighting capabilities, and it’s just all-around a nicer space.”

The theater is 1,666 square feet with a separate 250 square foot control room. The stage is not fixed, permitting a variety of configurations. The theater will seat an audience of 80-100 depending upon the configuration. Created out of renovated space vacated by LCC’s automotive program which moved to West Campus, the Black Box is located in Room 168 in the southeast section of the Gannon Building, with closest access from Grand Avenue.

This season, LCC Theatre is taking a new approach to the final semester of its Studio Theatre Program. Previously, this fourth semester focused on period acting styles culminating in a studio theater production. Now, this semester will focus on advanced contemporary realism and will culminate with a main stage play.

“This change will create a richer experience for our students. They’ll have time to research and really explore their characters and create more nuanced performances,” said Callis. “And by making the fourth semester studio a main stage show, we hope to connect our production with student achievement.”

Students in this class will be cast in the production with auditions for remaining roles open to other LCC students and community actors. Chad Badgero, a member of LCC’s theater faculty and Peppermint Creek Theatre’s artistic director, will teach this premiere class and direct the main stage production. A play will be selected this fall.

For more information, including the complete season schedule, contact LCC’s Performing Arts Production Office, 517-483-1488 or visit News & Events at

Community Theater Corner:

Kalamazoo Civic Theatre to present ’42nd Street’

KALAMAZOO – The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre will present the musical extravaganza, “42nd Street,” Sept. 22 through Oct. 7 in the Civic Auditorium, 329 South Park.

Come and meet those dancing feet! One of the longest running shows in Broadway history, this big, bold razzmatazz musical celebrates the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s 1933 and fresh-faced Peggy Sawyer, just off the bus from Allendale, finds herself cast in the chorus of the latest extravaganza being produced by Broadway legend Julian Marsh. When the star of the show breaks her ankle, Peggy is plucked from the chorus to go on in her place. Can she do it? Will the show close out of town, or will Peggy “go out there a kid and come back a star?” A true “Lullaby of Broadway,” this musical sensation features such Broadway standards as “We’re in the Money,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me” and, of course, the show stopping title number.

Directed by Morrie Enders and musical direction by Aaron Cassette, choreographer Ron Schwinn has set those feet a tappin’. A veteran of 13 Broadway productions, Schwinn has worked with some of the greatest choreographers in the world. And now he’ll be sharing his incredible talents with the amazing cast of “42nd Street.”

Schwinn is a true Broadway “gypsy.” After making his professional debut with the famed St. Louis Municipal Opera, Schwinn first appeared on Broadway in the 1960 revival of “Finian’s Rainbow.” Since then, he has spent over four decades working in professional musical theater. His Broadway credits include “Take Me Along,” “Half a Sixpence,” “No, No, Nanette” and the original productions of “Chicago” and “42nd Street.” Additionally, Schwinn has performed in five national tours and numerous films and television productions.

Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the patriarchs of Broadway dancing gypsies,” Schwinn has worked with many Broadway legends including Bob Fosse, George Abbott, Michael Bennett, Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon.

A student of the American Ballet Theatre School, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo School and Ballet Arts, Schwinn is an accomplished choreographer and director.

The talented cast features Gina Maria Chimner, Kris Allemang, Lori Worden, Sarah McNinch, Ashley Howard, Mary McNinch, Jenny Westervelt, Atis Kleinbergs, Roger W. Burleigh, Lars Haglund, Marcus D. Ringveleski, Tommy Kanger, David Senecal, Antonio Copeland, Adam Carter, Brandon Dowty, Dirk Dunham, Anthony Hamilton, Pedro Clare Martinez, Garry Palmer, Brian Panse, Kyle Waterman, Jarett Woodhouse, Shelagh Brown, Emily Chateau, Jennifer Cinder, Amy Dunham, Sandra Kelpin, Halloran Marnon, Nicole Miller, Heather Smith and Jenny Westervelt. Also featured in the cast are Rachel Wojcik, Chris Brown, Sandy Chirhart, Lauren Taylor, Jenna Wyatt and Courtney Yoder who are appearing for the first time on the Civic stage.

“42nd Street” is sure to be a sell out! Order your tickets today by calling the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre Box Office at 269-343-1313 or visit

Avon Players presents ‘They’re Playing Our Song’

ROCHESTER – Avon Players presents the opening production of its 2006-2007 season, “They’re Playing Our Song,” with book by Neil Simon, music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager. The musical follows the romantic relationship between an established composer and a new lyricist, similar to that of the show’s authors.

The show features Jamie Richards as Vernon Gersch; Tom Shilakes, Daniel Toole and Alex Wolf as Vernon’s Voices; Emily Richards as Sonia Walsk; Beth Landry, Cynthia Pike and Michelle Simasko as Sonia’s Voices.

The director is Debi Schlutow, and the producer is Jean Garringer.

Show dates are Sept. 15-17, 22-24 and 28-30. Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances start at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees 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 $16 and can be reserved by calling 248-608-9077. The theater offers a $14 student/senior discount rate for the Thursday performance and the Sunday matinees.

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