Curtain Calls ONLINE: Professional Theater News from Around Town

By |2006-11-30T09:00:00-05:00November 30th, 2006|Uncategorized|

Plowshares Theatre Company brings the Wild West to stage

DETROIT Ñ ÒDark Cowgirls and Prairie Queens,Ó a two-act play with mesmerizing musical scores, comedic Southern language and captivating dance routines, is now underway at The City Theater.

ÒThis play is a great blend of excitement and the compelling history of black women in the American West,Ó said Gary Anderson, producing artistic director and co-founder of the Plowshares Theatre Company. ÒWe hope that beyond entertaining our audiences, we can also give our young people a fun dose of history.Ó

The play brilliantly illustrates how six black women influenced the spirit and development of the American West with their strong will power and determination to make their dreams come true. The story is designed to dazzle children, but its story will entertain the whole family.

ÒThe cast members are sure to captivate the audienceÕs attention,Ó Anderson said. ÒThe idea is to leave them thirsting for more little known fun facts about African-American history.Ó

The play is written by Linda Parris-Bailey, who serves as the executive/artistic director and primary writer-in-residence for the Carpetbag Theatre Ensemble in Knoxville, TN. ÒDark Cowgirls and Prairie QueensÓ has gone on a national tour, and has received rave reviews by The New York Times. Parris-BaileyÕs other works include ÒCric? Crac?,Ó ÒCe Nitran SaculÓ and ÒNothinÕ Nice.Ó

Anderson co-founded Plowshares Theatre Company in March 1989. Under his leadership, the Company has grown to be the sixth largest African-American theater company in the nation.

ÒDark Cowgirls and Prairie QueensÓ and runs through Dec. 31. A school matinee is scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 7 at 10:30 a.m. Show times are Saturday, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday 3 p.m.

The City Theatre is located at 2301 Woodward Ave. in downtown Detroit.

For ticket information, please call the box office at 313-872-0279 or visit

Returning resident designer Tim Stapleton will participate in BoarsHead Forum

LANSING — Former BoarsHead resident designer Tim Stapleton has returned to design the set for the theaterÕs December show, ÒHoliday Memories.Ó Artistic Director Kristine Thatcher and ÒHoliday MemoriesÓ Director Richard Thomsen, who both worked with Stapleton while he was resident designer in the early 1980s, were ecstatic that he found time in his busy schedule in Portland, Oregon to work on this BoarsHead show. Stapleton was thrilled to be invited to design and was very taken with the story of ÒHoliday MemoriesÓ by Truman Capote (with stage adaptation by Russell Vandenbroucke).

The play is a compilation of two of CapoteÕs acclaimed short stories: ÒThe Thanksgiving VisitorÓ and ÒChristmas Memories.Ó Truman, reflecting on his childhood, recalls the holidays spent with his beloved Aunt Sook, who raised him.

Thatcher asked Stapleton if he would be open to talking with the Lansing community about his work on the production. Stapleton accepted the offer. So on Saturday, Dec. 9 Stapleton will be the guest speaker in a free Forum entitled, ÒFrom page to stage — creating ÔHoliday Memories.ÕÓ

In speaking about his research on the play, Stapleton said, ÒIt is the designerÕs responsibility to engage the audience in a way that is evocative and supports the story. Since ÔHoliday MemoriesÕ is narrative and unfolds as an older Truman paints a picture of the memory of his childhood, it is the designerÕs role here to ask the question, ÔWhat do memories look like?ÕÓ

You wonÕt want to miss this BoarsHead Forum, ÒFrom page to stage — creating ÔHoliday Memories,ÕÓ with Tim Stapleton and the BoarsHead design team on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. (prior to the evening production.) This Forum is free of charge, and will last approximately 45 minutes, with 35 minutes of discussion followed by a Q & A session.

For information on the Forum, please call Katie Doyle, at 517-484-7800, ext.101.

For information on tickets for ÒHoliday Memories,Ó please call the BoarsHead Box Office at 517-484 -7805.

MosaicÕs young artists spread holiday cheer

DETROIT — Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit shares its gift of performance as they give back to the Detroit community on Dec. 2. At daybreak over 100 of MosaicÕs young artists will gather in their bright red t-shirts as they head out for the 14th Annual Perform-A-Thon, sponsored by the DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund. These talented young people will perform at more than 70 homeless and domestic abuse shelters, nursing homes, juvenile detention centers, hospitals, hospices and other facilities in just 12 hours.

MosaicÕs Perform-A-Thon event has been a part of the organization since it was founded in 1992. Not only are these young artists trained to be exceptional performers, but they are also taught to take their responsibilities as community citizens seriously. ÒThis day of service brings some much needed joy to the lives of those we perform for,Ó said Artistic Director Ken Anderson, Òand it also changes our young artists, opening their eyes to those members of the community that need their help.Ó

MosaicÕs songs and skits bring smiles to the faces of those who need some holiday spirit, and sometimes tears of joy. Arielle Bennett, 16, remembers one experience with an elderly woman at a nursing home during last yearÕs Perform-A-Thon. ÒShe came over to us and started to cry as she told us how she loved to hear people sing. She hadnÕt heard anyone sing for her in a long time because she had to stay in the nursing home. We all started to cry with her and hug her. She smiled at us and waved as we left. I hope we get to see her again this year.Ó

Perform-A-Thon will continue until late into the evening when all 100 young artists return to Mosaic to share their experiences. Bennett believes that the day is about more than performing for those less fortunate; itÕs about Òtouching someoneÕs spirit and giving them hope.Ó

Gem Theatre gets a little ÔRespectÕ

DETROIT – Following in the footsteps of Detroit’s longest-running show, ÒMenopause The Musical,Ó the Historic Gem Theatre is set to open the spirit-lifting, empowering and exuberant musical production, ÒRespect: A Musical Journey,Ó Feb. 15 with preview performances Feb. 7-14. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m.

ÒRespect: A Musical JourneyÓ is a high-energy, historical and hysterical look at women’s changes from 1900 to today as illustrated by popular song, portrayed by a narrator and three breathtakingly talented singers. It is a lively and engaging look at music’s depiction of women, as they go from codependence to independence, from “Someone to Watch Over Me” to “I Will Survive” and beyond.

Vanderbilt professor Dr. Dorothy Marcic created the show based on her book, ÒRESPECT: Women and Popular Music,Ó in which she analyzed all Top-40 female song lyrics since 1900. The musical combines excerpts from 60 popular songs with women’s own stories about finding dreams, lost love, relationship issues, entering the workforce, gaining independence and more. It’s not just a story worth telling, it’s a must-see and must-hear journey of women through music.

To bring the Detroit production to life, the Gem Theatre has hired three-time Tony Award-winner Hinton Battle as director/choreographer. In addition to winning three Tony Awards for best actor (ÒSophisticated Ladies,Ó ÒThe Tap Dance Kid,Ó ÒMiss SaigonÓ) and originating the role of The Scarecrow in ÒThe Wiz,Ó Battle most recently co-starred in ÒDreamgirlsÓ with Eddie Murphy, choreographed an episode of the hit television show ÒDancing With The Stars,Ó choreographed the hip-hop duo Outkast in the movie ÒIdlewildÓ and co-directed ÒEvil Dead The MusicalÓ now playing at New World Stages New York.

The Detroit version of ÒRespect: A Musical JourneyÓ is being produced locally by the Gem Theatre & Jenkay LLC. The show includes a four-member cast, band, original arrangements, set design and costumes.

Tickets ($39.50 with half-price previews February 7,8,& 9) go on sale Friday, December 1 at 10 a.m. for performances through April 1. They are available by calling 313-963-9800, in person at the Gem Theatre box office and all Ticketmaster locations.

Show times are Wednesday – Saturday at 8 p.m., Thursday afternoons at 2 p.m., Saturday afternoons at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 2 & 5:30 p.m.

Group Discounts (15 or more) and dining packages at the Century Grille & Elwood Bar & Grill restaurants are also available.

The Historic Gem & Century Theatres and Century Grille are the gems in the heart of Detroit’s entertainment district, offering theater packages, dinner, lunch, breakfast, wedding packages, special events, boxed lunches, tours and more.

For more information, call 313-963-9800 or visit online at

Free musical theater event at Oakland University

ROCHESTER — Musical theater students studying at Oakland University’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance will show off what they’ve learned during concerts held at noon and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

This semester’s study has focused on dance, and students have worked with a variety of faculty and student choreographers, dancing to music from ÒCats,Ó ÒWest Side Story,Ó ÒA Chorus LineÓ and ÒJesus Christ Superstar,Ó among others.

Both shows will be held at Varner Studio Theatre and are free and open to the public.

Varner Hall is located on OU’s West campus, off of Pioneer Drive.

For tickets to Music, Theatre and Dance productions, call the Varner Box Office, 248-370-3013, Tuesday-Friday, 3-9 p.m. or one hour before performances.

For information or directions, call 248-370-2030 or visit on-line at

Theater for Young Audiences & Families:

Party with Dorothy the Dinosaur

DETROIT – ItÕs the first national tour of ÒDorothy The DinosaurÕs Dance Party!Ó Dorothy and her friends will dance their way into Detroit at the Fisher Theater on December 8 and 9.

Everybody knows and loves The Wiggles, but sometimes Greg, Murray, Anthony and Jeff are so busy that they donÕt have a chance to visit all their fans. So, The Wiggles are sending their best friends out on the road to entertain the children of America with ÒDorothy The DinosaurÕs Dance Party.Ó The Wiggles themselves have designed, arranged and produced ÒDorothy The DinosaurÕs Dance PartyÓ as a special treat for their devoted fans, and it is a great new way to experience The WigglesÕ music and entertain your children. Dorothy and her friends are very excited about this new show, and canÕt wait to visit Detroit.

ÒDorothy The DinosaurÕs Dance PartyÓ is a fun-packed all singing, all dancing performance featuring two hosts who will sing live all your favorite Wiggles songs, with help from The WigglesÕ best friends, Captain Feathersword, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and of course, Dorothy the Dinosaur. Songs include “Fruit Salad,” “Romp Bomp a Stomp,” and “Hot Potato.”

The Wiggles are the biggest ticket selling musical group in childrenÕs entertainment with tour dates scheduled across the globe (USA, UK, Canada and Australia). Playhouse Disney is airing ÒThe WigglesÓ three times a day Monday-Friday and twice daily on weekends. In 2005 The Wiggles sold over 3/4 million tickets across the USA, including sold out shows in New YorkÕs Madison Square Gardens Theater. For more information about ÒDorothy The DinosaurÕs Dance Party,Ó please visit

Performance times for ÒDorothy The DinosaurÕs Dance Party,Ó appearing December 8 & 9 at the Fisher Theatre, located at 3011 W. Grand Blvd., in Detroit, are as follows: Friday, December 8 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Saturday, December 9 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Ticket prices for the Detroit engagement of ÒDorothy The DinosaurÕs Dance PartyÓ range from $19-$26 and are available through Ticketmaster and the Fisher Theatre box office. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 248-645-6666, online at or at

For group sales please call 313-871-1132.

For additional information, call 313-872-1000 or visit

Community Theater Corner:

Kazoo Civic adds performances to ÔThe Sound of MusicÕ

KALAMAZOO — In an effort to meet the overwhelming demand for tickets, the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre has added four more performances to the scheduled run of its production of the family favorite ÒThe Sound of Music.Ó Originally scheduled to play in the Civic Auditorium through Dec. 9, ÒThe Sound of MusicÓ has been extended through Dec. 17. The added performance schedule is as follows: Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m.

According to Ben Zylman, director of marketing and development, the added performances were a result of an unusually strong demand for tickets. ÒRarely is there a need to add four performances to the scheduled run of a production before the show opens. Needless to say, we are very pleased with the response to ÔThe Sound of MusicÕÓ he said.

Set against the backdrop of the Austrian Alps, this immortal musical has touched the hearts of audiences around the world. The delightful and inspiring story unfolds as Maria, a high-spirited postulant is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven unruly children of a stern naval Captain. ItÕs only a matter of time before her warmth and generosity of spirit captivate the children and melt Captain von TrappÕs crusty exterior. The beautiful score, which includes ÒEdelweiss,Ó ÒClimb Every MountainÓ and ÒMy Favorite Things,Ó has made the final collaboration between Rodgers and Hammerstein one of the worldÕs most beloved musicals. The hills of Kalamazoo will be alive with the sound of this family favorite just in time for the holidays.

Tickets for ÒThe Sound of MusicÓ are selling briskly and may be ordered by calling the Civic Box Office at 269—343—1313 or by visiting the Civic website at

MarleyÕs redeemed at Buckham Alley

FLINT — Christmas: ItÕs the most wonderful time of the year, and ÒA Christmas CarolÓ is the most wonderful Christmas tale of all. Buckham Alley Theater announces its bi-annual salute to this holiday classic with a stirring adaptation of the original Charles Dickens masterpiece, ÒA Christmas Carol – MarleyÕs Redemption.Ó

Playing over the first three weekends in December, this Christmas Carol has all of the time tested characters: Tiny Tim, the Cratchits, all of the Ghosts of Christmas, Scrooge, Marley and the little goose boy, too! What makes this version special is that we see Marley orchestrate ScroogeÕs entire nightmare of memories in hopes that he too might make it out of purgatory. What was always a warm and uplifting ending, as Scrooge decides to join the human race, is even more pleasing as Marley is rewarded for his ethereal acts.

Of course it wouldnÕt be a Buckham show without the Buckham regulars. Playing Scrooge this year will be fan favorite J.R. Nunley. Director Jon R. Coggins, who also penned the adaptation, will reprise the role of Marley. Patrick Naughton will play Cratchit, with Mary Bontumasi-Coggins trying a meatier role as Mrs. Cratchit. The ghosts will be handled by Heather Smith as Christmas Past and Adam Powell of Fenton as Christmas Present. There are always plenty of children in the show, with Gabe Garcia playing Tiny Tim.

This is truly a family affair, as director Coggins is joined by his two children: Matt, as a young Scrooge, and Becky, as Fan, ScroogeÕs sister. ÒI also have my nephew Aaron Kolb in the cast as Peter CratchitÓ, said Coggins, Òand of course my wife as Mrs. CratchitÓ There is also a young tech crew headed by Ryan Petty as the stage manager.

In keeping with the family theme, BAT has decided to start the shows at 7 p.m. for night shows and 2 p.m. for matinees.

Additionally, each show will be preceded by a short Christmas Concert by the showÕs many children to help get everyone in the mood for this always warm hearted, happily ended Christmas institution.

General admission is $10; tickets for students seniors and members are $8.

Call 810-239-4477 to leave a voice message or 810-238-ARTS for credit card purchases.

World premiere of Ô17 Reasons I Hate PeopleÕ opens late night at Whole Art

KALAMAZOO — The Whole Art Theatre proudly announces the world premiere of the play Ò17 Reasons I Hate PeopleÓ by Trevor Stefanick, current member of The Whole ArtÕs resident company. Why 17 Reasons? Because we have to stop somewhere! Come join us as we share all of the reasons that humanity rubs us the wrong way. As the holidays inspire road rage, present stealing and credit card fraud, let it all out and enjoy the bitterness as we discover Ò17 Reason I Hate People.Ó

Production dates for the hilarious comedy are Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 8 — 16 at11 p.m.

Tickets are only $5, which includes complementary donuts and coffee!

For more information, call 269-345-7529.

Shakespeare classic gets unique spin at LCC

LANSING — Lansing Community College Performing Arts Department presents ÒMerchant of VeniceÓ by William Shakespeare, directed by Mary Job, Friday Dec. 8 and Saturday Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. in LCCÕs Black Box. The space is located in Room 169 of the southeast wing of the Gannon Building.

LCC TheatreÕs Third Semester Shakespeare StudioÕs retelling of ShakespeareÕs popular play of love and revenge has all the classic elements: a charming young man in need of money, bitter business rivals engaged in a deadly game and a resourceful young womanÕs desire to prove her worth. This time however, the business rivals are a pair of ambitious and determined business women in a city of overachieving, powerful women. Will love and respect win out over ambition and revenge?

For information, call the LCC Performing Arts production office at 517-483-1488.

Traditional folk tale retold as a fun-filled family musical

ROYAL OAK — Whoever thought that rats could be so funny and charming! Stagecrafters Youth Theatre does just that in its upcoming production of ÒPied Piper — The Musical,Ó running Dec. 7 through 10 at the Baldwin Theatre, 415 S. Lafayette in downtown Royal Oak.

Those rats are taking over the village of Hamelin, and nobody, including the greedy mayor (Mitch Aiello), knows what to do. Even Duchess Dingaling (Mackenzie MacDormott) is at her wit’s end. Rattytatty, the pest control officer (Jack McLaskey), admits defeat. Just when things can’t get any worse, who should turn up but an odd young fellow who calls himself the Pied Piper (Anna Marck). The town agrees to pay a fee for the Pied Piper to get rid of the pests, so he disposes of the cheese nibblers, as promised. However, the townsfolk now claim they are too poor to pay! In retaliation, the Pied Piper leads the children from the town and hides them within a magic mountain. The townsfolk quickly realize the error of their ways and search for the mysterious musician. The slap-happy characters range from Old Widow Whiskers (Kelly Derin) to a silly Dancing Tutor (Michelle Alwardt), who creates a new dance called “Doing the Rat.”

Director David Sigler was compelled to direct the show because of his love for the story when he heard it as a child. Sigler has gathered many youth from the metro area to portray the rats and children. ÒI love the rats, but keeping 26 youths focused is sometimes a challenge,Ó jokes Sigler.

Sigler has been with Stagecrafters many years and has also directed several adult productions. SiglerÕs passion for theater reveals itself in his attention to detail, whether it is a childÕs facial expression or how the rats meander through the audience. ÒDonÕt bring any cheese to the show because you never know where a rat may show up!Ó quips Sigler. Theatre-goers will enjoy the clever costuming, charming sets and memorable songs that will have you humming even as you make your way out of the theater.

This show is recommended for ages 3 and older.

Show dates and times are as follows: Thursday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 9 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 10 at 1 p.m.

The 11 a.m. performance on Sat., Dec. 9 will be an ASL Interpreted Performance for the Deaf. Deaf theatergoers are encouraged to make their reservations for not only the show but also for ÒBackstage Pass,Ó a pre-show tour of what goes on behind the curtain. An interpreter will be provided for the tour. There is no cost for the tour, but reservations are required. Deaf patrons may contact Stagecrafters via email ([email protected]) or use the Michigan Relay Center.

Tickets for all shows are $6 youth and $9 adult; all seats are reserved. Visa/MasterCard are accepted.

For tickets or information, call 248-541-6430.

ÔInspecting CarolÕ opens at Whole Art

KALAMAZOO – The Whole Art Theater proudly welcomes ÒInspecting CarolÓ by Daniel Sullivan at The Whole Art Theatre in the Epic Theatre, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall. The production opens Dec. 1 and runs Friday and Saturday evenings through Dec. 16 at 8 p.m.

A man walks into a small Midwestern theater to audition. However, he is so naive that he is suspected of being a government informer for the National Endowment for the Arts. Everyone caters to the bewildered wannabe actor and he is given a role in the current production of ÒA Christmas Carol.Ó Everything goes wrong in this brilliant spoof filled with wonderful characters, madcap antics and tongue-in-cheek humor. If you loved ÒMrs. Bob CratchitÕs Wild Christmas Binge,Ó youÕll love ÒInspecting Carol.Ó

Directed by Cathie Weir, the production features Will Brolle, Angie Gundrum, Tara Sytsma, Dann Sytsma, Trevor Stefanick, Karen Blaisure, John Thierwechter, Lou Price, Anthony Hamilton, Robert Davidson, Christian T. Parker and Jessica Vitkin.

Tickets for ÒInspecting CarolÓ are $20 general admission, $14 for seniors and $10 for students.

For reservations or more information call 269-345-7529.

Kazoo Civic partners with Toys for Tots

KALAMAZOO — The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre is hoping to make the holiday season a little brighter for area children by partnering with Toys for Tots. The Civic Auditorium, located at 329 South Park Street, will be a Toys for Tots drop-off site during the run of ÒThe Sound of Music,Ó which plays in the Auditorium through Dec. 10.

According to the managing director of the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Kristen Chesak, ÒOur collaboration with the U.S. Marine Corps provides us with another opportunity to give back to the community.Ó

Those bringing new, unwrapped toys to the Civic Auditorium business office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday or to any performance of ÒThe Sound of MusicÓ will be thanked with a coupon for a complimentary childÕs admission to an upcoming production. ÒWe believe that every child deserves joy and a sense of celebration during the holidaysÓ said Chesak, Òand your gift of a toy can be turned into a gift for another child; the gift of theater.Ó

For more information contact the Civic Business Office at 269-343—2280.

About the Author: