Professional Theater News:
Icarus Falling announces cast for world premiere of 'Fatal Error'
LANSING – Icarus Falling is pleased to announce the cast for its upcoming premiere of "Fatal Error" by Kevin L. Knights & jeff croff. "Fatal Error" is scheduled to open Feb. 23 and run Feb. 24, March 2 and 3 at the Creole Gallery, 1218 Turner St. Lansing.
Featured in this world premiere is Kevin Burnham playing the lead of Kent, a man trapped in a chaotic purgatory of cyber connections, air miles and frenzied hamsters. Kevin has appeared on stages throughout Michigan and is currently the artistic director of the Ledges Playhouse in Grand Ledge, Michigan.
Providing the cacophony of voices and a myriad of supporting characters are IF ensemble members, Kevin L. Knights, Jack Dowd, Robin Harris, Allan Ross and Emily Stevens. Joining them are Christine Fisk and Becky Tremble with Kevin Schoen making his IF debut.
"Fatal Error" is the story of Kent as he struggles through "what counts as the weirdest day on record." Kent careens from a cubicle world filled with coworkers obsessed with "Survivor" and "Trading Spaces" to a strip club featuring three women who just recently claimed to be his wife and on to a therapy session where he is bombarded with transcendent discussions of air miles and disconnections. Throw in an interrogation from a sexually frustrated Nazi and a hamster martini and Kent is in for the ride of his life.
Tickets are $10, but first time guests can announce that they are "IF Virgins" and get in for half price.
For more information, call 517-290-4375 or log on to HYPERLINK "http://www.icarusfalling.com"
New play by Ferndale resident tackles race, diversity, multi-ethnicity
DETROIT – Acceptance, unity, discrimination, privilege, ignorance, hope and healing – a new, locally created theatrical production, aptly titled "mixed", tackles these and a varying assortment of other complex issues of diversity and ethnicity.
Written, directed and produced by Ferndale resident and Wayne State University Theatre alumna Jennifer George, "mixed" is a thought-provoking, provocative play dealing with bi-racial identity, discrimination, anti-racism, abandonment and other such universal and time transcending themes. "mixed", which marks George's debut in the role of writer, director and producer of a theatrical production, will premiere in Detroit on Friday, Feb. 23, during Black History Month.
Presented in three acts, "mixed" begins each act with a scene depicting three generations of African-American women in the post Civil War South as they unveil their stories and secrets before the audience. Thereafter, the play alternates between ensemble scenes, which deal with issues of contemporary society, and character monologues. One ensemble scene, called "Daddy," speaks to the father crisis in America, while another titled, "It's Time," calls for social advancement.
George, herself a product of a mixed-ethnicity household, hopes her play will serve as a springboard for creating more dialogue about race and diversity. "It may not address all the issues, but hopefully 'mixed' will prompt people to talk more freely and openly about this important subject," she said.
Born in Granada, Spain to a Chaldean father and a third-generation Polish, Irish, Scottish mother, George, 37, was reared and educated mostly in metro-Detroit. She attended Wayne State University, earning a degree in theater arts, and later returned to Europe where she studied acting, writing and directing at the La Sorbonne, in Paris, France.
George says her own childhood experience – living between divorced parents, being of mixed ethnicity and diverse socio-economic backgrounds, and having experienced different cultures – was the impetus for pursuing this subject. Further fueling her interest were many frank discussions about racism with a diverse circle of friends, and the strong belief that there was a need for a more direct treatment of racism in film and the theater.
Like Playwright and Poet Bertolt Brecht who espoused the philosophy that theater should not merely "represent" the world, but can and should, "change" the world, George hopes her new play, will motivate people to change the way they feel and think.
"I believe we have made great technological advancements in society, but comparatively little advancement socially," said George. "I think that, on the whole, we can be better and do better."
"mixed" runs through March 11 at the Boll Family YMCA Theatre, a 140-seat venue located at 1401 Broadway in downtown Detroit. Shows will be presented every Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m.
Tickets are $25 each and $18 for senior citizens and students.
For ticket information, call the Boll Family YMCA box office at 313-309-9622 or visit HYPERLINK "http://www.ymcametrodetroit.org".
Joseph: a "technicolored" palette of musical styles
CLINTON TWP. – When the curtain rises on "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Feb. 23, audiences will be dazzled not only by the bright, technicolored spectacle, but also by the blending of various musical styles. There will be three performances – Friday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 24 at both 2 and 8 p.m. – at the Macomb Center.
The blockbuster musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice combines pop, country, rock and other styles for a multi-textured palette of sound. Originally written as a 15-minute pop-cantata for a children's choir, this biblical musical has become one of America's favorite shows.
Lloyd Webber's contemporary tunes adapt well to the ancient story of Joseph and his resplendent coat. The free-roaming score parodies French cabaret music as Joseph's brothers urge everyone to "raise your berets to those Canaan days." It also borrows freely from country-western music as the brothers lament that there's "One More Angel in Heaven" and gets into the "island spirit" with a number titled "Benjamin's Calypso." An Elvis-like Pharaoh even gets into the act as he struts and dances like another recognizable "king" while reliving his haunting dreams.
Tickets prices to this musical trip through ancient Egypt range from $40-$50, with discounts available for students, senior citizens and groups of 20 or more.
For additional information call 586-286-2222 or go online at HYPERLINK "http://www.MacombCenter.com".
Carl Rosa Opera's "The Pirates of Penzance" comes to the MCPA
CLINTON TWP. – The Macomb Center for the Performing Arts is pleased to present The Carl Rosa Opera's Internationally Acclaimed Production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Classic "The Pirates of Penzance" on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. The show is part of a four-month tour of the US and Canada by the British-based opera company.
Written in 1879, "The Pirates of Penzance" is one of Gilbert and Sullivan's greatest comic operas. With magnificent send-ups of grand opera, it presents a topsy-turvy plot involving a band of orphaned pirates; a Major General who doesn't know his rifles from his javelins; the flat-footed Cornish Constabulary; a bevy of blushing maidens; and the dashing Frederic.
Elegantly re-creating the original period settings and costumes with exquisite detail, this internationally acclaimed revival of a musical comedy classic sparkles with wit, fine singing and a sensational cast. It's great entertainment for the whole family.
The Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company was established in 1873 and closed in 1960, before it was relaunched in 1998 by Peter Mulloy and Musical Director Wyn Davies as a touring light opera company. The company has built an international reputation for stunning traditional style productions with a fresh approach. The company is currently Britain's only professional touring company dedicated to keeping the heritage of Gilbert & Sullivan alive. It continues to successfully produce high quality touring productions throughout the world, without the aid of sponsorship or funding.
Ticket prices range from $40-$50 with discounts available for students, senior citizens and groups of 20 or more.
For additional information call 586-286-2222 or go online at HYPERLINK "http://www.MacombCenter.com".
Williamston Theatre celebrates first anniversary
WILLIAMSTON – The Williamston Theatre celebrated its first anniversary on Friday, Jan. 12 with a party in the Theatre honoring its donors and volunteers. January 12 marked one year since the Theatre held its first open house.
"We have accomplished so much in a relatively short amount of time, and we wanted to take the opportunity to thank our supporters who have made it all possible," said the Theatre's Development Director Emily Sutton-Smith. "It turned out to be an evening filled with emotion and celebration. This project has been a labor of love, not only for the founding members, but for so many people in this community."
The Theatre recognized its volunteer board members, Alison Alfredson, Terry Braverman, Dawn-Marie Joseph, Pat Munshaw, Robert Wagner, Scott Van Allsburg, Barb Vandenberg, Gloria Van Dusen and Deb Zynda, with Certificates of Appreciation for their service to the organization over the past year. Additional recognition was paid to Volunteer Coordinator Gwen Chirico-Brandon and "Uber-Volunteer" Tim Fox. The Theatre's staff created the "Golden Screwdriver Award," which was presented to Barb and Jim Vandenberg and the True Value Hardware store, and the "Williamston Theatre Angel Award," which was presented to Steve and Deb Zynda. The Board of the Theatre then surprised four founding members of the Theatre with a special plaque of thanks and recognition for their hard work and dedication.
Since opening in early 2006, the Williamston Theatre has been working to renovate its space at 122 South Putnam Street. It mounted three full productions, including a co-production with Meadow Brook Theatre, Michigan's largest professional resident theatre company. The Detroit Free Press citied the Theatre's second production, "Rounding Third," as one of Michigan's Top Ten Shows of 2006. Additionally, the Theatre was the recipient of an Arts Project grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, a unique accomplishment for such a young organization.
With growth in the coming years, the Williamston Theatre sees itself as a source of cultural tourism for the Greater Lansing area. A study by Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit national advocacy group for the arts, says that nonprofit arts leverage significant amounts of event-related spending by their audiences, with an average of $22.87 per person, not including the price of admission. On a national level, this translates to $80.8 billion of valuable revenue for local merchants and their communities. "There's no reason why Williamston can't have a piece of that pie," says Sutton-Smith. "The local businesses have already started feeling the impact of a cultural tourism destination setting up shop downtown. We're proud that our work is giving back to the community that is supporting us."
The Williamston Theatre is a not-for-profit, professional, live theater, located at 122 South Putnam Street in downtown Williamston. Its current production, "Fully Committed," runs through March 25. Performances are on Thursday and Friday evenings at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are priced $15-$22 and are available by calling the Theatre's office at 517-655-7469, Monday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m.
Shows of Special Interest:
Hammertheatre presents workshop presentation of Sky Gilbert's newest play: 'Crack'
HAMLTON, ONTARIO – Hammertheatre presents "Crack," a dark, hilarious and edgy play about all the things that we sometimes don't want to think about – things like addiction, misogyny and sexuality. "Crack" is a gritty Hamilton one-act play about collisions of class, using the subject of addiction to ignite the discussion. A man sits in a Hamilton bar and starts telling us about his addictions. He has three encounters with three different women. In each encounter, the play looks at a different definition of crack. Ultimately, "Crack" will nudge the audience to examine the way issues of class, sexism and homophobia are wrapped up in our notions of addiction – and confront the possibility that many of us may be addicts – only some are just more "respectable" addicts than others.
"Crack" will be presented Saturday, Feb. 24 at 8:30 p.m. at 126 James Street North just above The Factory between Cannon Street and York Boulevard in the heart of downtown Hamilton, Ontario. The production is a Pay-What-You-Can workshop presentation by Hammertheatre, a new Hamilton theater company. Please arrive early, as seating is limited. A portion of the proceeds from this workshop presentation will be donated to The Hamilton Fringe Festival.
Hammertheatre was founded by Sky Gilbert in January 2007. Hammertheatre is devoted to theater research in Hamilton, particularly in plays by Artistic Director Sky Gilbert that deal with issues of gender and sexuality in experimental ways.
From our Hallowed Halls of Learning:
Festival Playhouse at K'zoo College presents Student Playwrighting Festival
KALAMAZOO – Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College is proud to once again feature the new voices of its student playwrights telling brand new stories. The Student Playwrighting Festival will feature "7 by 10," two evenings of fully staged 10-minute plays, and three performances of staged readings of one-act plays. This FREE event will run Feb. 22-25 at the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse at Kalamazoo College.
Each performance (except for Sunday) will have a professional playwright providing feedback to the student playwrights after the show. Opening night brings Gary Garrison, artistic director, producer, full-time faculty member at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and newly named executive director of the Dramatists Guild of America. Mr. Garrison has produced the last 18 Festivals of New Works for NYU, has worked with hundreds of playwrights and has written "Perfect Ten: Writing and Producing the Ten-Minute Play," which is used in the Playwrighting class, taught by Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts Chair and Professor, Ed Menta. An opening night reception will honor Mr. Garrison and the playwrights prior to the performance and will feature Hors d'Oeuvres, a book signing and a chance to chat with the playwrights and Mr. Garrison. Attendees are also welcome to stay after the performance to listen to Mr. Garrison's feedback.
The plays run the gamut in both content and form."7 x10," the seven ten minute plays, are mostly comedies of relationships of people in unusual situations such as:
BET by Emily Harpe, the story of a young woman who has gets a surprise tattoo on a dare;
THE BLOCK by Chrissy Widmayer, the story of a granddaughter's struggle with her grandfather's Alzheimer's;
LE PETITE MALADE by Joan Michelle Miller, about a girl with an injured arm who refuses to tell anyone how it happened;
MRS. BALLEN'S CARDBOARD BOX by Laurel Griffiths, in which a family attempts to hold a memorial service on a boat.
The Staged Readings of six short plays features stories such as:
ENTANGLEMENTS OF A PLEASURABLE LIFE by Alyssa Al-Dookhi, a drama that explores the situation of a contemporary Arab American family;
REINED by Ashley Brenke, brings together four mismatched high school seniors who are sucked together into a major prank against their rival school the weekend before homecoming;
RIGOR MORTIS by Curtis Varouh, presents a college senior who is devoting all of his time to the choreography of a dance about two zombies locked in an eternal waltz;
WHAT BATHROOMS ARE GOOD FOR by Chrissy Widmayer, about a woman who announces to her entire wedding party at her rehearsal dinner that she cheated on her soon-to-be-husband.
Finally, senior Chris Froseth will present his one-man show, AU REVIOR, RENEE, a personal memoir with music of a young man coming to terms with the death of his best friend.
Menta is enthusiastic about this year's festival. "The most beautiful and pure gift we can ever offer to an audience is a work of art that has never been done before. In this case, the brand new stories of our student playwrights make it even more exciting. Part of the mission of our theater program is to help students develop their voices as artists and we've been thrilled with how well we've been able to do that especially through the Playwrighting aspect of our program."
For more information on the Student Playwrighting Festival, call 269-337-7333 or visit http://www.kzoo.edu/theatre.
Stratford Festival News
Stratford Festival mourns the passing of Richard Curnock
STRATFORD, ONTARIO – The Festival mourns the passing of actor Richard Curnock, who died Feb. 6 at Stratford General Hospital. He was 84.
Born in London, England on May 9, 1922, Richard studied for the stage with Italia Conti and made his debut on the English stage at the age of eight. As a 13-year-old he appeared at the London Palladium in "Peter Pan." Curnock was chosen by Ethyl Dickens, granddaughter of the novelist, to play Pip in her adaptation of "Great Expectations."
He spent a season at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, then returned to London where he enjoyed a five-year run with Hermione Gingold in the legendary "Sweet and Low" revues, performing before thousands of American and Canadian soldiers. Other London appearances, in a 20-year career in the West End, include the premiere of "Under Milk Wood" and "Irma La Douce," directed by Peter Brook, and "Oh, What a Lovely War!," which he also appeared in on Broadway.
Curnock joined the Festival in 1970, prior to which he appeared in many theaters throughout North America, including several Broadway and off-Broadway productions and appearances at Tarragon Theatre, The Grand Theatre, Young People's Theatre, Centre Stage, Theatre Plus and the NAC among others. He was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore award for his role in "Quartermaine's Terms" (Theatre Plus) and a Joseph Jefferson Award for best supporting actor in "Twelfth Night" (Goodman Theatre, Chicago). The versatile actor also appeared on television and in films including "Goodbye, Mr. Chips," "The Wars," "Relic Hunter," "Amazon," "TekWar," "Street Legal" and "The Avengers" (1967).
In 22 seasons and 61 productions at Stratford his roles included: La Fleche in "The Miser," Old Shepherd and Archidamus in "The Winter's Tale" (his last season, 1998), Gremio in "The Taming of the Shrew," Pellinore in "Camelot," Sir Jasper in "The Country Wife," Duncan in "Macbeth," Teiresias in "Bacchae," Sir Tunbelly in "The Relapse,'Quince in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Colonel Pickering in "My Fair Lady," Lafew in "All's Well That Ends Well," Antonio in "Much Ado About Nothing," Crabtree in "The School for Scandal," Polonius in "Hamlet" and "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,' Alonso in "The Tempest," Eglamour in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," among many, many other roles.
More recently, Curnock received his Certificate of Achievement for his participation in Therapeutic Touch Level III, from Conestoga College and in January 1998 was initiated into the Second Degree of REIKI. He had been ill for several years and most recently resided at Cedarcroft Nursing Home in Stratford.
Richard leaves behind a daughter in Ohio and a son in Florida. Funeral preparations are not complete, however it is likely there will be a memorial of some kind, possibly in Curnock Hall at the Discovery Centre, later in February or early March.
Martha Henry appointed Stratford Conservatory director
STRATFORD, INTARIO – Stratford Festival of Canada General Director Antoni Cimolino announced recently that Martha Henry has been appointed director of the Festival's Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training.
"If the Stratford Festival is to realize its artistic aspirations, it needs to discover, inspire and develop Canada's most promising young actors. In reaching that goal, this country offers no finer actor, mentor or teacher than Ms. Martha Henry. Her commitment in this new role is a great Valentine present to the Stratford Festival," said Mr. Cimolino.
Cimolino pointed out that Henry has more than four decades of acting and directing experience, not only in Stratford, but also on prominent stages across Canada and internationally. He added, "Martha's acting and directing talent is well documented, but what many people might not know is her ability to nurture young talent. I have worked with Martha for many years and I have witnessed what a great mentor she is. Many young actors in the Stratford company have benefited tremendously from her professional advice and personal support."
Henry said she is excited about helping young performers strengthen their skills in the demands made by the classical text. She said, "Over the course of my career I have learned a lot from some legendary actors. I think it is only fitting, not just for me but all other senior actors that we pass on our knowledge to those who will succeed us."
Henry added that she is very proud of the Conservatory's accomplishments and is looking forward to building on the considerable strengths of the existing program and taking some time to consider developments for the future.
Artistic Directors designate Don Shipley and Marti Maraden, who recently started their cross country audition tour to seek talent for the Stratford company and the Birmingham Conservatory, have been admirers of Henry since their early days at Stratford when her prodigious talent was as much an inspiration to them as it is to the present generation.
A former director of the Festival's Young Company from 1992 to 1993, Maraden will focus on the Conservatory as part of her portfolio in her new role as artistic director. "I was one of the first actors to be taught by Martha. She proved to be an exceptional teacher and an extraordinarily generous mentor," said Maraden.
Shipley added, "The Birmingham Conservatory is one of the finest programs in the world for classical theater training. Ms. Henry's appointment as its director signals a commitment on the part of the new artistic team to the high standards of professionalism it seeks to inspire."
"We have high expectations, as Martha is not only greatly gifted but also somewhat of a national treasure", said Artistic Director Designate Des McAnuff. "Nothing is more important to the future of Stratford than keeping alive the tradition of the rigorous training that leads to the highest level of the actor's craft. The textual approach to verse drama of 'living thought' was invented and pioneered by Stratford luminary Michael Langham. Marti, Don, Antoni and I look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Martha."
Henry will take on her new role in the fall when the next session of the Birmingham Conservatory begins.
David Latham, former Principal of the Conservatory, will assume the role of Director of Theatre Training, and will focus on the training and professional development of our acting company, Conservatory graduates and apprentices. "With his tremendous experience in actor training and program design," said Cimolino, "David possesses a rare skill set that is extremely valuable to this theater and the artists who work here." Mr. Latham will work with the new artistic team to establish a comprehensive development program, including selecting instructors and tailoring the coaching and master classes to suit the full range of our company's needs.
Founded in 1998 by Artistic Director Richard Monette, the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training offers a comprehensive program providing artistic development for promising young Canadian artists. Since its inception, the Birmingham Conservatory has produced 119 graduates, many of whom have gone on to principal roles both at the Festival and on major stages across the country. During the 20 weeks of intensive training, participants work in voice, movement and in-depth interpretation of classical texts. The program traditionally culminates in a presentation of a classical play for an invited audience; however, consideration is being made for enhancing this aspect of the program. The actors are then integrated into the Festival's acting company.
Visit the Stratford Festival website for more information: HYPERLINK "http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/about/marthahenry.cfm"
Community Theater Corner:
'Parallel Lives' at Ann Arbor Civic Theatre
ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor Civic Theatre presents Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy's contemporary comedy, "Parallel Lives, February 16, 17 and 18 at A2CT's Studio Theater at 322 W. Ann St. in Ann Arbor. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Feb. 16 and 17, with a Sunday matinee Feb. 18 at 2 p.m.
"Parallel Lives," directed by Emily Rogers, is a wild, comedic journey through the lives of everyday people, and offers a glimpse into the ongoing battle of the sexes as seen by two Supreme Beings. Originally a two-woman show, director Rogers has expanded the cast to six talented actresses who play dozens of characters–men and women alike. "Although the show was originally written for two women, I decided to be open to casting more actresses if the auditions yielded more talent," says director Emily Rogers. "I was blown away by the range and ability of the six actresses I cast, so expanding the cast was an easy decision."
"Parallel Lives" is the second production of A2CT's new Studio Series, which focuses on new or edgier works performed in an intimate setting. The cast includes Alix Berneis, Erica Dutton, Lexi Harris, Aviva Hersh, Caroline Hippler, and Katherine Hoeg.
"Parallel Lives" contains adult themes and language and is intended for mature audiences.
Tickets are $10 for general admission and $15 for reserved seating.
Tickets are available at the A2CT office at 322 W. Ann St, by calling the office at 734-971-2228 or at the door, subject to availability. Additional information is available by visiting HYPERLINK "http://www.a2ct.org".