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Random thoughts at the end of the year

By | 2006-12-28T09:00:00-05:00 December 28th, 2006|Entertainment|

Happy holidays, dear readers, and welcome to the final edition of Curtain Calls for 2006.
Since next week’s column is our annual look back at the previous year, I thought I’d devote part of this installment to a look forward to what’s in store for theater lovers early in 2007.
But first, a congratulatory note to the ladies who packed a theater longer than any other show in Detroit’s history.

Bye-bye ‘Menopause’
No, the cure for menopause has NOT been found. Rather, Detroit’s longest-running production, “Menopause the Musical,” came to a close Dec. 17 after an astounding 1,025 performances at The Gem and Century Theatres. The musical, which struck a chord with women of all ages, ran for two years and nine months, and shattered every record in Metro Detroit.
Directed by Kathryn Conte, the laugh-filled production featured 25 relyricized tunes from the 1960s and ’70s that poked good-natured fun at “The Change.” It won two Wilde Awards in 2004, for Favorite Local Professional Production – Musical / Musical Revue and Favorite Ensemble Cast in a Local Professional Production.
Two local actresses were with the show right from the beginning in early 2004: Judy Dery (Earth Mother) and Kimberly Vanbiesbrouck (Soap Star). So too was the production’s “Y” chromosome, Stage Manager Dana Gamarra.
The show’s final cast included Linda Boston and Jaqueline Abercrombie.
So congratulations to everyone involved with “Menopause the Musical.” Ya done good, ladies!

Hello ‘Respect’
So what will replace “Menopause” at the Gem and Century Theatres?
How about another female-friendly endeavor, “RESPECT: A Musical Journey.”
The production, which makes its Detroit debut Feb. 7, 2007 at the Historic Gem Theatre, uses Top-40 music to follow the progress of women through the 20th century – from codependence to independence.
It’s too soon to know whether or not this new project will have the same staying power as its predecessor, of course. But if it’s anywhere near the same caliber, it too has the potential to be a major hit.
Call the Gem at 313-963-9800 for details, and check out the Feb. 22 edition of Curtain Calls for a review of “RESPECT: A Musical Journey.”

Support local theater
It’s no secret that Michigan’s professional theaters have been struggling to stay afloat this year.
With an economy that seems to have only bad news and never any good, I’m honestly quite surprised that every single theater has remained open for business. It’s a testament to good management skills and bare bones budgets that we’ve not seen a single closure this year. But with economists predicting no improvement for the state in 2007, will the same be true this time next year?
There’s one way YOU can help.
Although it’s too late to stuff those stockings hanging over the fireplace with theater tickets, there’s NEVER a bad time to support your local theaters.
So why not make an effort to catch a few more shows in 2007 than you did in 2006? And how about inviting a few friends along, too?
Or how about making that last-minute donation you need for this year’s income taxes to your favorite non-profit, tax-exempt theater?
They’ll be glad you did – and so will the state’s economy!

Cutting edge theater in Ferndale
Ferndale will become a bit more fabulous after the New Year when Joe Bailey’s year-old professional theater company, Who Wants Cake?, moves into its permanent home in the town’s booming downtown district.
Called The Ringwald, the 75-seat black box theater on Woodward Ave. promises to showcase cutting edge alternative theater, adventurous original works and bold interpretations of classics.
Although details regarding the opening date haven’t been finalized as of press time, check back with Curtain Calls in a few weeks for all the juicy details.

‘Doubt’ in GR
While it might be true that some of Broadway’s more contemporary dramas never find their way to Detroit, that’s not the case in West Michigan.
Thanks to the Broadway Theatre Guild, John Patrick Shanley’s provocative “Doubt” is coming to Grand Rapids’ DeVos Performance Hall for a short run beginning Jan. 2.
Winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “Doubt” tells the story of a Catholic school principal, Sister Aloysius, who suspects that a young priest is having improper relations with one of the male students. Convinced he’ll be protected by the church hierarchy, she sets out to bring him down herself.
The production stars Cherry Jones, who’s reprising her Tony Award-winning role as Sister Aloysius.
Tickets are $22-$67.
For tickets or further information, call 616-235-6285 or log on to

The demon barber
As I look over the calendar for the next few months, the show I’m looking forward to most is the musical “Sweeney Todd” at The Abreact in Greektown.
Scheduled to open Feb. 2, I haven’t a clue how director Thomas Hoagland is going to squeeze this spectacular Stephen Sondheim musical into The Abreact’s very cool – but not very large – space, but he assures me he’s got it all figured out. (That’s about all I could get out of him recently when we bumped into each other on the streets of downtown Ann Arbor.)
And I’m sure he does.
But with memories of Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury permanently etched in my brain, I can’t wait to see how Detroit’s coolest theater re-imagines this dark and complex tale of murder and meat pies.
Can you?

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