OPINION: Confessions of a Cranky Critic
The New Year brings a Bronx Cheer to a certain theater critic
Little did I suspect on New Year’s Eve – as I was tucked in my bed all by my lonesome reviewing the movie “Breakfast on Pluto” – that only a few nights later I’d wake up underneath those very same covers suffering from a stomach virus that knocked me off my feet for nearly five days. And then – coincidentally – my garbage disposal would die and two pipes under my kitchen sink would simultaneously spring leaks.
When I ring in a New Year, I do it big time!
But those events wreaked havoc on my schedule last week, so I’d like to thank Associate Critic John Quinn for stepping in and reviewing “No Way to Treat a Lady” last Saturday night at Meadow Brook Theatre. It was an evening I’d been looking forward to for quite a while, but alas, it was not meant to be! (If there’s an upside to the story – at least from MY perspective – it’s this: It was John who had to deal with the icy roads that night and not me!)
Next, I’d like to send my regrets to Gillian Eaton and the folks at Performance Network Theatre for missing out on the opening night performance of “Mrs. Shakespeare Dishes the Dirt” last Thursday. Even an enticement of champagne and a delightful evening with Eaton and her excellent work weren’t enough to drag me out of my bed with a 102 degree temperature. Although I was not reviewing the show – it runs only two weeks and closes this weekend – my goal was to compare its original run with Eaton’s revised production, but that will have to wait for another time. In the meantime, I’ve heard – and read – nothing but great things about Mrs. Shakespeare’s latest incarnation, so don’t let the name scare you away! Don’t miss this engaging and highly entertaining one-woman show!
And finally, while I’m still in recovery mode, John Quinn will return to Curtain Calls next week with a review of the Detroit Repertory Theatre’s production of “Going to St. Ives.” I’ll be back beginning the following week with reviews of “Uncoupled” at Improv Inferno, “The Lion King” at East Lansing’s Wharton Center and a host of other upcoming productions!
See you at the theater!
From the News Wires:
Aku Kadogo returns to the Bonstelle to direct Djanet Sears’ ‘Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God’
DETROIT – Aku Kadogo returns to the Bonstelle Theatre to direct “Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God,” a unique stage event that opens Friday, Jan. 20 at the Wayne State University theatre.
Kadogo is a producer, director, choreographer, teacher and traveler whose career continues to present opportunities to produce works that challenge and blur boundaries. Her most recent visit to WSU was to direct “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf” for the department’s Black Theatre Program in 2002.
In October 2004 Kadogo devised a large-scale performance installation with Detroit-born artist Tyree Guyton for the City of Sydney’s Art and About Visual Art Festival. “Singing for that Country” was a collaboration with Guyton, 150 youth from the South Sydney area and the City of Sydney.
She spent 1998 and 1999 traveling to the Central Desert of Australia to research and create “OCHRE & DUST,’ an installation featuring Pitjantjatjara storytellers, commissioned by the Adelaide and Perth International Festivals 2000. This work also traveled to the South Pacific Festival in New Caledonia.
Her performance work includes “frenzy” for the 1998 Cultural Olympic’s A Sea Change Festival, Sydney. In 2002 she was artist in residence at New York University, Gallatin School, where she lectured and performed in her own work, “The Quilt.”
Kadogo’s career has spanned stage, film and television. She settled in Australia after appearing in the original Broadway, Australian and Los Angeles casts of “for colored girls.”
Kadogo has just returned from China staging the Asian touring company of “Rent.” She has been an associate choreographer on “Rent” since 1998.
“Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God” is set in Negro Creek, a once thriving black community in Western Ontario. The story follows Rainey Baldwin-Johnson and her journey through the pain of loss and the discovery that out of death, out of passing, comes life. The play utilizes a living set, made up of the chorus, which, according to the playwright Djanet Sears, becomes an “integral part of the story telling through their illustration of the underlying themes and ideas in the play.”
The cast includes: Madeleine Bien, Sam Brilhart, Falynn Burton, Jasmine Cherry, Alaina Fleming, Henri Franklin, Thomas Harris, Kristina Johnson, Kennikki Jones, Ashley McAllister, Lisa McCormick, Brishen Miller, Antoinette Moore, Damon Moore, Jaazmine Parker, Victoria Weatherspoon, Steve West and Deborah Joy Winans.
The show is stage managed by Andrea Kannon. Designers for the production include Hilberry company member David Court (scenic design), Bonstelle company member Adrienne Brady (lighting design), Bonstelle company members Rahme Rayes and Justine Brock (co-sound designers) and Bonstelle company member Andrea Brown (costume design).
“Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God” opens at the Bonstelle Theatre on Friday, Jan. 20 with performances on Jan. 21, 27, and 28 at 8 p.m. and January 22 and 29 at 2 p.m.
Tickets, which range from $11-$14, can be purchased in advance by calling the Wayne State University Theatre Box Office (located at 4743 Cass Ave. on the corner of Cass and Hancock in Detroit) at 313-577-2960 Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon until 6 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased at the door at the Bonstelle Theatre, located at 3424 Woodward, Detroit, beginning one hour prior to each performance.
For additional information, visit the theatre’s website at http://www.theatre.wayne.edu
Stagecrafters hires new development director as theatre group celebrates its 50th year
ROYAL OAK – The Board of Directors of Stagecrafters, a community theater group located at the historic Baldwin Theatre in downtown Royal Oak, announces the hiring of Rodney Terwilliger as its new development director.
Terwilliger comes to Stagecrafters after serving as managing director of the Chicago youth arts-outreach company, Free Street Programs. While there he oversaw the fund development and day-to-day operations of this nationally recognized theater that serves low-income youth and teens with in-school and after-school programming.
Following a nationwide search, Terwilliger was selected from a host of candidates and brings with him a wealth of experience in fundraising, public relations and audience development work.
Originally from Michigan’s thumb area, the roots of Terwilliger’s theater training began in SE Michigan, where he received a bachelor’s degree in theater from Siena Heights University in Adrian and a master’s in theater/educational drama from Eastern Michigan University. His training afforded him many opportunities to perform professionally as an actor, taking him from Michigan to Oregon, to Chicago, as well as to the Stratford Festival in Canada. His first professional job as an actor was in the national touring program with Prince Street Players, which – at the time – was part of the Detroit Youth Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Since then, Terwilliger’s work has taken him into the realm of arts management and administration, as well as arts education and outreach.
Terwilliger’s experiences in those fields involved positions with other Michigan theatres including, Mason Street Warehouse in Saugatuck; Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids; and Circle Theatre in Grand Rapids, where he oversaw audience development efforts, including the largest school and family presenting series in West Michigan, Circle Presents. His professional credentials also include teaching theater arts and communication and developing programs as a visiting lecturer at Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, Grand Valley State University and Aquinas College.
“Michigan is where my theater roots are, and I am very pleased to be back and especially thrilled to be working for such a well-respected organization like Stagecrafters,” says Terwilliger. “I look forward to engaging the community in new and exciting ways to bring them deeper into the life of Stagecrafters and the Baldwin, especially as we celebrate our 50th year.”
For information about Stagecrafters, call 248-541-8027 or log on to http://www.stagecrafters.org.