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'American Idol' meets 'Saturday Night Live': 'Auditions Tonight'

MANISTEE – Manistee's Little River Casino Resort is gearing up for Valentine's Day with top-notch entertainment, the energetic and fun-filled audience-participatory comedy show, "Auditions Tonight – An Interactive Comedy Direct From Chicago." The show's cast will take the Little River Three Fires Conference Room Stage for two performances – Friday, Feb. 16 and Saturday, Feb. 17 – sure to be a perfect night enjoyed by friends, family, Valentine's Day celebrators, and those in need of an antidote to shake a mid-winter case of cabin-fever.
In the show, the "Auditions Tonight" cast members take theatergoers through the audition process by using audience participation, comedic sketches and improv, based around the concept of casting a yet-to-be-written play. For those who have watched "Whose Line Is It Anyway" and said, "I bet I could do that," here's the opportunity.
This audience-participatory comedy show features Second City Veteran Jeff Rogers (Chicago, Illinois), who created and stars in the show, with some of the Midwest's finest sketch comedy and improvisational performers.
"Auditions Tonight" goes one step further than productions such as "Tony And Tina's Wedding", "Shear Madness" and The Second City by bringing the audience through the entire production process. "'Auditions Tonight' is an extremely unique audience participatory, scripted and improvisational comedy show that gives audience members a chance to be a part of the show," says the show's creator/director/actor, Jeff Rogers. "It is the theatrical hybrid of interactive-theater, improvisational games and comedic vignettes, based around the concept of casting a yet-to-be-written play."
A five-minute version of the play actually occurs on stage at the end of the evening – starring audience members.
Rogers was thrilled with the response from Chicago audiences and, with his business partner, worked diligently with the Little River Casino to schedule the Valentine's Weekend performances. "This show is a real crowd-pleaser and structured in such a way where people may see their friends, neighbors and spouse on stage, as they have never seen them before. Audiences will be impressed by the talent level of those volunteering – we have had everyone on stage, from bank tellers, plumbers, doctors & lawyers, to sports fans, insurance agents, dentists, teachers, soccer moms – and everything in between."
Performances are scheduled for Valentine's Weekend: Fri., Feb. 16 and Sat., Feb. 17. Dinner begins at 6 p.m.; show at 7 p.m. Recommended for ages 18 and over.
Tickets are $35. Senior Citizens 55 & over with a Club 55 Player's Club card will receive $5 off ticket price at the gift Casino shop.
For information or to charge by phone, call the Little River Casino Resort box office at 231-398-3903 or log on to

Do What I Want Productions stages 'Blue Surge' at Blackbird Theatre

ANN ARBOR – Guest company Do What I Want Productions, will premiere its first play, "Blue Surge" by Rebecca Gilman, at the Blackbird Theatre in Ann Arbor beginning Feb. 15.
In this daring and sexy comedy, the lives of two cops and two prostitutes are intertwined and changed forever over the course of one crazy year.
Jake Christensen, fresh off of his professional debut in Purple Rose Theatre's "Escanaba in Love," is Curt, a straight-arrow small-town cop who becomes increasingly consumed with salvaging the life of Sandy (Cameron Watkins), a teenage prostitute he meets in a botched raid on a massage parlor. Curt's slacker partner Doug (Troy Davies) finds himself attracted to another woman at the massage parlor. But it is Curt's relationship with Sandy that puts everything he's worked for – his career, his friendships and his engagement to his upper-class artist fiancee Beth (Kristie Lang) – at risk. But Curt sees a future with Sandy, an escape from his difficult past. As the two of them chase the American Dream, they must learn a skill that is foreign to them both: They must learn to hope. "Blue Surge" is ultimately a story about class struggle, about the sometimes misguided spiritual or moral involvement that can exist between people of differing social standing.
Lynn Lammers directs. Lammers, who is also the founder of Do What I Want Productions, graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in theater, and has trained extensively at the Purple Rose Theatre. She has also directed several productions for the Performance Network's Mosh Pit Theatre.
Show dates are Feb. 15 – 25; showtimes are Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices are "Pay-what-you-can" Thursdays, $18 general admission, $12 seniors and $8 students.
This show is for mature audiences only.
The Blackbird Theatre is located at 1600 Pauline Blvd., near downtown Ann Arbor.
Call 734-332-3848 for ticket information, or visit

Ford Community & Performing Arts Center asks: Are you 'In the Mood'

DEARBORN – The Ford Community & Performing Arts Center will transport audiences to a dazzling era with "In the Mood: A 1940's Musical Revue." This show will bring the 1940s to life with music and dance reminiscent of the decade, enhanced by a variety of special effects. The String of Pearls singers and dancers will pay tribute to some of the best performers of the time, including Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, The Andrews Sisters and Frank Sinatra.
The show will hit the stage Sunday, Feb. 11 at 4 p.m. Tickers range in price from $29-$35.
The Ford Community & Performing Arts Center is located at 15801 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.
Tickets are available by calling 313-943-2354 or online at

'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' sparkles at Stranahan

TOLEDO, Ohio – Get set for a magical rainbow ride through biblical Egypt on the wings of the new National tour of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." Audiences will be dazzled not only by the bright, technicolored spectacle, but also by the blending of various musical styles when Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's first collaboration opens in February for six terrific performances.
The blockbuster musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber (composer of "Cats," "Evita," "The Phantom of the Opera") and Tim Rice ("Aladdin," "The Lion King") combines pop, rock, country and other musical styles for a multi-textured palette of sound.
Originally written as a fifteen minute pop-cantata for a children's choir, this beloved musical has become one of America's favorite shows. Since the first production in 1968, the show, based on the biblical tale of Jacob's son Joseph and his 11 brothers, has proven to be one of the most enduring and endearing shows of all time.
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is on-stage at the Stranahan Theater Feb. 15-18 for six performances.
Single tickets are on sale now and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Stranahan Theater box office or by phone at 419-474-1333 and online at

Comic Opera Guild comes to Canton

CANTON – When the Village Theater in Canton opened around three years ago, the Comic Opera Guild, an Ann Arbor-based theatrical company, was in the midst of beginning a search for a new home for its productions. This February, the Guild will perform its major production of the year, "The Pirates of Penzance," in this new facility.
The Village Theater was chosen because it is a state-of-the-art facility, situated in a growing community. It boasts an excellent staff, a large orchestra pit and a cozy 400 seat house, providing excellent acoustics and sight lines. Not only does it serve the Plymouth/Canton communities, but it is an easy 15 minute drive from Ann Arbor, and is also near Livonia and the western suburbs of Detroit. The Guild hopes to attract people from all parts of Detroit to musical productions in this new facility.
For over 30 years, the Comic Opera Guild has produced operettas and comic operas in Ann Arbor, often subsequently touring them throughout the state of Michigan. When the Ann Arbor theaters began to be unable to meet performance needs, the Guild's board felt that it needed to expand its audience base as well. Live theater is under constant economic pressure, and a large audience base is needed for large-scale productions such as the Guild's. Although it has recently developed a following across the country and abroad for its recordings of the works of Victor Herbert and Jerome Kern, the Guild's purpose cannot be fulfilled without the production of live shows such as this year's "Priates."
The Guild has seldom performed Gilbert and Sullivan, but it was felt that this was the perfect show for an audience unfamiliar with its repertoire. "Pirates" is possibly the most popular of all the G&S shows, even though it is an early work. It has all the ingredients of the best musicals: rollicking action, memorable songs and lots of comedy. It's British humor at its best, and the Guild's cast is versatile in both dialog and vocalism.
Leading the cast as the Major General is Tom Petiet, managing director of the Guild and a veteran of roles in over 20 Gilbert and Sullivan shows. Alissa Rose, singing the role of Mabel, is a spectacular coloratura soprano, ideal for the role's soaring phrases. Greg Wakefield, who has sung leading roles in many of the Guild's recordings, cuts a dashing figure as the Pirate King. Nick Fitzer, as Frederick, is a promising young tenor from EMU, with looks appropriate for the hero of the piece. The role of Ruth, piratical maid of all work, falls to Barbara Scanlon, who has a long theatrical resume, including appearances on Broadway. The Guild has been rehearsing at Madonna University in Livonia, and much of the cast is made up of Madonna students and singers from the area.
The show is directed by Kimerica Parr, who has produced and directed in the Detroit area and her native Canada. Music Director Warren Puffer Jones, who is currently the music director of the Ann Arbor Cantata Singers, will be at the helm of the orchestra.
"The Pirates of Penzance" comes to the Village Theater at Cherry Hill on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, Feb. 17 at. 2 & 8 p.m.
The theater is located at 50400 Cherry Hill Road in Canton.
Tickets are $20.
For tickets or information, call 734-394-5300 or visit

A double Valentine from everyone's favorite couple, Tony n'Tina

GROSSE POINTE – Producers of the ever popular show "Tony n' Tina's Wedding" have announced two shows aimed at lovers and lovers of fun coming up in time for Valentine's Day. Dates are Feb. 9 at Andiamo in Warren and February 17 at MacRay Harbor in Harrison Township.
"Tony n' Tina's Wedding" is an outstanding example of interactive theater in which members of the audience intermingle with the show's performers. After the ceremony, a rousing reception develops, featuring the many crazy members of the Nunzio and Vitale "families." The audience can dance in a conga line behind Aunt Rose, sit with assorted relatives and keep an eye on who is doing what to whom. The result is a high-spirited evening to remember.
"Tony n' Tina's Wedding" retains the distinction of being one of the most popular theatrical productions ever staged in Detroit by the Detroit Actors Guild. It has delighted more than 100,000 wedding goers throughout Southeastern Michigan with close to 500 performances since 1998 at various venues including The Harmonie Club in Detroit and Pontiacs' Baci Abracci.
Tickets are on sale now and are $63 in advance. The evening includes a full, Italian-style dinner, a champagne toast and a piece of the wedding cake. A live band provides music for dancing. Doors open at 7p.m.
Tickets are available by calling the following: For Andiamo's Feb. 9 date, please call 586-268-3200. The restaurant is located at 7096 East Fourteen Mile Road in Warren; for the Feb. 17 engagement at MacRay Harbor, call 586-463-9660 ext 438. MacRay is located at 30675 North River Rd in Harrison Township.

Theater for Young Audiences:
Coming at the BoarsHead: 'Court-Martial at Fort Devens'

LANSING -This February, BoarsHead Theater will produce the Michigan premiere of Jeffrey Sweet's new play, "Court-Martial at Fort Devens." This production is a part of BoarsHead's 'Theater for Young Audiences' family production program.
"Court-Martial at Fort Devens" is based upon real events occurring during World War II. A group of young African-American women enlisted in the military and served their time in basic training. They were promised their commissions in the Army's nursing corps, but what they received instead was something they had never bargained for. The battle they fight is a personal one, as these brave women, who refuse to accept less than they deserve, assist the heroic lawyer who champions their cause with the help of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Amidst his other writing projects, playwright Sweet has spent almost 20 years working on this play. Sweet noted, "Back in the 1980s, I stumbled across a two-paragraph article from a 1945 newspaper that got me hooked on the story. There was an outline that read '4 Colored WACS to be tried for mutiny,' and I wanted to read more and find out what happened. Every time I found out another detail, the story got better, so I kept digging and learning more. The story just got more dramatic and inspiring. Playwrights pray to have the luck of finding stories this good to tell."
Lamont Clegg, education director for BoarsHead Theater and the director of "Court-Martial at Fort Devens," appreciates what Sweet has written, and Clegg's has had a very fulfilling time working on the play. "The research Jeffrey has done is extraordinary," said Clegg. "Jeffrey has been so respectful of the characters in this work. We're getting new script pages daily. He and I are in contact every few days, and he talks with me about these changes. I love having those conversations with him and watching the play grow."
The actors Clegg have also embraced the production. Featured are Tiffany Mitchenor as Ginny Boyd; ensemble members Liz Goodson and Rob Grabowski (both of BoarsHead's Second Company); Markitwia Jackson; Jennifer Kitchen; Kenneth Ray Nelson Jr.; Monica Sanders; and Naomi C. Thomas. "This cast is young and very astute," remarked Clegg. "They are a pleasure to work with. I believe 'Court-Martial' will be an excellent show for Lansing audiences. And, of course, I'm having a blast working with the designers on all the aspects of the show, from the set to the lights to the costumes."
Both the director and the playwright believe they are custodians of the story. "I – we all – must do justice to the real events that inspired this play, Clegg said. "We must be true to the story and the characters and not sensationalize or sentimentalize them. The audience should make their own decision about what these women did. And we have an obligation, as a theater, to tell the story in the best way we can."
Performances will be held at the BoarsHead Theater, located at The Center for the Arts, 425 S. Grand Avenue, in downtown Lansing. Free parking is available.
Public performance dates are Saturdays, Feb. 10, 17 and 24 at 2 p.m.
Tickers are $10/adults and seniors; $7/students

For tickets, call 517-484-7805 to charge by phone, visit the BoarsHead Box Office or log on to


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