Professional Theater News from Around Town:
American Ballet Theatre presents ‘Swan Lake’ at Detroit Opera House
DETROIT – American Ballet Theatre brings the spell-binding “Swan Lake” to the Detroit Opera House for a limited five-performance engagement March 15 (7:30 p.m.), 16 (8 p.m.), 17 (2 and 8 p.m.) and 18 (2 p.m.) 2007. “Swan Lake” is an enduring tale of mistaken identity and love-at-first-sight, and includes the timeless musical score by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky. American Ballet Theatre, the nation’s foremost classical ballet company, last appeared in Detroit at the Opera House in 2002, but the company has not performed “Swan Lake” in Detroit for almost 10 years. This engagement marks the Detroit premiere of “Swan Lake” as staged by American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.
Adding to the ballet magic are special appearances by Angelina Ballerina, a remarkable mouseling who inspires young girls’ love of dance. Encouraging and teaching children that they can achieve their dreams with hard work, courage and character is the premise of the Angelina Ballerina books by Katherine Holabird and children’s TV programs. An American Ballet Theatre partner, Angelina will visit with children and be available for photos from 12:30 – 2: p.m. before each matinee performance of “Swan Lake” on Saturday March 17 and Sunday March 18.
A free master class for intermediate to advanced level ballet dancers will be taught by American Ballet Theatre on Saturday, March 17, at 10 a.m. The master class is open to the public, and will be held at the Detroit Opera House. To register, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The World Premiere of ABT’s current production of “Swan Lake” was given on March 24, 2000 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D. C., choreographed by award-winning choreographer Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa, the “father of classical ballet,” and renowned collaborator and teacher Lee Ivanov. American Ballet Theatre’s production of “Swan Lake” will feature opening night dancers Gillian Murphy as Odette/Odile and Ethan Stiefel in the role of Prince Siegfried. Scenery and costumes are designed by Zack Brown, an Emmy award-winning set and costume designer for many world-renowned dance, opera and theatre companies in the United States. “Swan Lake” also features Duane Schuler as lighting designer.
Tickets for “Swan Lake” at the magnificent Detroit Opera House, March 15-18, range from $28-$100, and are available in at the Detroit Opera House ticket office (1526 Broadway, Detroit), by phone at 313-237-7464 or online at http://www.MichiganOpera.org.
Theater for Young Audiences:
Thebes players solves the case of ‘Humpty Dumpty is Missing’
LOWELL – “Humpty Dumpty is Missing,” an affectionate spoof of the private-eye thrillers of the 1940’s and 50’s, is an exciting, fun-filled way to introduce young audiences to this classic genre. Sammy Scoop is a private investigator in the tradition of his grandfather, Samuel Shovel and his father, Sam Spade. Sammy faces the biggest challenge of his illustrious career with the sudden fall and disappearance of the jolly Humpty Dumpty, who apparently had no enemies. But Sammy and his sidekick, Alice from Dallas, soon come up with a list of suspects who had motive and, perhaps, opportunity.
The production will be held Friday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 17 at 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 18 at 2:30 p.m.; Friday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 24 at 2:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 25 at 2:30 p.m. at Lowell High School Performing Arts Center (Lowell High School), 11700 Vergennes, Lowell.
Tickets are $12; seniors, members and students are $10. Group tickets 10 or more are $8.
For more information and to purchase tickets call or visit the Lowell Area Arts Council at 149 S. Hudson, Lowell; call 616-897-8545 or log on to http://www.lowellartscouncil.org.
Community Theater Corner:
Marshall Civic presents ‘The King and I’
MARSHALL – East meets west in the Marshall Civic Player’s production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s, “The King and I,” a dramatic and uplifting tale of enormous fascination. An English widow and her young son arrive in 1862 Siam to serve as a tutor to the King’s children and wives. Anna and the King grow to understand and eventually respect one another, in a truly unique love story. “They have this kind of contentious relationship that grows into a mutual respect,” said Kathie Boyer, producer of the show. Not only is everything about this musical of and for this very moment – it’s also a story on the clash of cultures (and the possibility of interweaving them) to the power plays between men and women and the lessons of leadership passed on from father to son.
Watching this glorious musical, which debuted on Broadway in 1951, will truly inspire all to really think about different cultures, their customs and how people can work together to create a sense of camaraderie and diplomacy.
The cast and crew, numbering 90-plus including the orchestra, have been working long hours to bring the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s classic to the stage. About 21 of the 50 actors are younger children, playing Prince Chululongkorn, Louis Leonowens, the royal princes and princesses and royal dancers. They appear in roughly half of the scenes and perform songs and dances. “There’s a learning curve, especially for the newcomers and youngsters,” Boyer said. “It’s just a learning experience as far as theater etiquette goes.”
While nearly all of the actors have lines to speak, most of the talking is reserved for Anna and the King, both roles filled by veterans of MCP: Kim Byrens who stars as Anna Leonowens and Alan Elliott who plays the King. “Everybody’s here seven nights a week working very hard to remember blocking and lines, building set pieces, constructing costumes, planning for the next phase, etcetera – etcetera – etcetera,” Boyer said. “It takes an amazing group of people to pull off a show of this size.” And when the curtain rises on the show’s two-weekend run starting March 16, Boyer hopes this enormous ensemble of people will make the show what it is becoming; a beautiful work of art.
Tickets are $15 Adults, $12 Seniors and $8 Students. The show will start at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Performances are at the Franke Center for the Arts located at 214 E. Mansion Street, Marshall, Michigan.
For tickets, call the MCP box office at 269-781-3335. Box office hours are Monday thru Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Forecast calls for powerful ‘Tempest’ to reach A2CT
ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor Civic Theater presents William Shakespeare’s beloved comedy/romance “The Tempest,” March 15-18 at Washtenaw Community College’s Towsley Auditorium. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Music, magic and mystery pervade Shakespeare’s classic tale of romance, reconciliation and redemption set on a remote island filled with strange and wonderful creatures. The Bard of Avon’s last individual contribution to dramatic literature is one of his most eloquent, original and absorbing works.
Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, is presented with an opportunity for revenge when a ship carrying his brother, Antonio, the usurping Duke, passes near the island where he has been stranded for the 12 years since he was deposed. Antonio is in the company of Alonso, King of Naples, who assisted him in setting Prospero and his young daughter, Miranda, adrift in a leaky boat to die. Also aboard the ship is Gonzalo, the noble lord who saved their lives by secretly stocking the boat with supplies and Prospero’s beloved books, and Sebastian, the king’s jealous brother.
Prospero has studied his books well, and the powerful magic he has learned from them allows him to create the tempest that brings his enemies to shore, along with King Alonso’s son, Prince Ferdinand, his drunken butler, Stephano, and the royal jester, Trinculo. There they encounter the nimble spirit Ariel and the beastly servant Caliban. Ferdinand and Miranda fall in love as Prospero, assisted by Ariel, works his magic to bring all parties together for an ultimate encounter in the play’s final scene.
“The Tempest” was written with the lyrics to several songs as a part of the play. Director David Andrews and Emmy award-winning composer Brian Brill have composed and arranged original music for the production.
As a part of A2CT’s new Literature Alive program sponsored by Dykema, Civic is providing free educational programs to area high school and college groups. Activities offered include in-class lectures, group discounts and pre-show discussions with the cast and director. Interested educators should contact Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.
“The Tempest” stars Thom Johnson as Prospero, Brittany Batell as his daughter, Miranda, and Dina Vovsi as the spirit Ariel. King Alonso is portrayed by David Keren, with Mitch Gillett as Antonio, Tom Foley as Sebastian, Jeremy Salvatori as Ferdinand, and Gordon Barnett as Gonzalo. The character of Caliban is played by Brodie H. Brockie, with Sean Sabo as Stephano and David Melcher as Trinculo. Members of the cast who play multiple roles include Jean Leverich, Monique Holmes, Heather Hamilton, David Widmayer, Jurgo Bielawski, Suzy Cameron, Stephanie Redman, Erin Smith and Emmy and Naomi Weinert.
It is directed by award-winning local actor and director David Andrews.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $17 for students and seniors, and $13 for all tickets on Thursday. Student tickets are $10 on Friday.
Tickets are available at the A2CT office at 322 W. Ann St, by calling the office at 734-971-2228, at the door or online at http://www.a2ct.org.
Kazoo Civic is ‘Lost in Yonkers’
KALAMAZOO – The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre will present “Lost in Yonkers,” March 16 through 31 in the Civic Auditorium, 329 South Park.
This Pulitzer-Prize winning play is considered by many to be the pinnacle of playwright Neil Simon’s illustrious career. Set during World War II, Lost in Yonkers follows the plight of two young brothers, sent to live with their domineering grandmother after their mother’s death. Strong as steel and twice as cold, Grandma Kurnitz rules her roost with an iron fist. And caught in her grasp is the boys’ lovely Aunt Bella, who has the mind of a child and the dreams of a woman. But when Uncle Louie, a small-time gangster with plenty of “moxie”, arrives everyone gets a surprising chance at happiness. Filled with laughter, tears, and insight, this voyage of discovery intertwines themes of family, acceptance and survival.
“Lost in Yonkers” features a supremely talented cast and crew, including Artist in Residence Peg Small (Grandma). Local actors include Ben Zylman (Eddie), Lesley Kay Maston (Bella), Nat Zegree (Arty), Robert Weiner (Louie) and Sandra Davis (Gert). Tyler Thornton (Jay) is making his Civic debut.
If you’re relatively new to the Civic, either as a patron or a volunteer you may not recognize the name Peg Small. But, as anyone who’s been around since the early ’80s can tell you, Peg was one of the most highly respected actresses in Kalamazoo. Known for her ability to develop captivating, multi-faceted characters, she was equally comfortable with the classics as she was with contemporary drama. After making her Civic debut in 1950 in “Liliom,” Peg went on to appear in 33 productions including five by Neil Simon. Some of her most memorable productions include “Dylon,” “Private Lives,” “The Gingerbread Lady” and “Do You Turn Somersaults?.” Peg’s final Civic performance was Emily Dickinson in “The Belle of Amherst.”
It came as no surprise to anyone who had seen her perform, when in the early 1980s Peg moved to New York in pursuit of a professional career. And what a career it has been! Peg has worked with some of the most prestigious regional theatres in the country, including the Pittsburgh Light Opera, the Barter Theatre, the Cocoanut Grove Playhouse and the Virginia Stage Company. She starred as Emily Stilson in “Wings” (a role she also played at the Civic) for Missouri Repertory Theatre. Her work in “Eve” at Body Politic in Chicago garnered her a Jeff Award nomination.
Peg’s Off Broadway productions include “The Fiery Furnace,” “Remembrance,” “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “Isn’t it Romantic.” She’s conquered the Broadway stage having performed with Vanessa Redgrave in “Orpheus Descending.” She also understudied the roles of both Martha and Abbey in the Broadway revival of “Arsenic and Old Lace” starring Jean Stapleton and Marion Ross.
In addition to her theatrical credits, Peg has also appeared on television in national commercials as well as in the NBC soap opera “Another World.” Most recently she was seen on the big screen in “Kinsey” starring Liam Neeson.
Peg has worked with some of the most accomplished people in the business including Peter Hall, Julie Harris, Dina Merrill and Tammy Grimes, but still looks back on her days at the Civic with affection and appreciation.
“Lost in Yonkers” plays in the Civic Auditorium, 329 South Park, March 16 through March 31.
For ticket information, call the box office at 269-343-1313 or visit us on line at http://www.kazoocivic.com.