CONFESSIONS OF A CRANKY CRITIC:
‘A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That’
What’s an entertainment writer to do when there’s so much happening this holiday season and so little room to report on all of it?
While Curtain Calls still has a handful shows to review this month, several troupes across the state have other seasonal events planned that also deserve mention. But since space is limited in this weekly column, I decided to return briefly to the “Tidbits” format we used in prior years to give several of them a fair shot at getting your attention.
So here we go:
Dark Cowgirls and Prairie Queens:
Have you ever noticed that most of the stories we’ve been told about the settling of the west involve men? And rarely have we heard anything about the role African-Americans played in our journey west.
So meet “Stagecoach” Mary Fields, a pistol-packing, hard-drinking African-American who needed no one to do her fighting for her. She’s one of six dynamic and exciting historical women you’ll meet in this inspirational, family-friendly production staged by Plowshares Theatre Company’s newly formed Young Company.
Performed during the daytime at the City Theatre, 2301 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Sat.-Sun., through Dec. 31. $10/children, $21/adults. For information: 313-872-0279 or http://www.plowshares.org.
Planet Ant and its Improv Colony present their second annual Holiday Improv Festival and Fundraiser. The event begins Wed., Dec. 13 with five nights of competition by many of the area’s top improvisers and closes with the seventh annual Holiday Blow-Out on Mon., Dec. 18.
“What makes the festival different this year is that all 24 performing guest teams will be competing for the grand prize of performing as the guest team at the Holiday Blow-Out and an all-original late night show which runs in the Ant’s regular season,” Festival Coordinator Dave Davies told Curtain Calls.
Nightly hosts include Jaime Moyer, Laune Bickers, Mark Sobolewski and Pj Jacokes.
Admission each night is only $5; a $20 Festival Pass is also available.
Cans and cash for the needy will be collected at the Holiday Blow-Out. Plus, there will be games for prizes and a visit from Anta Claus!
Performed at Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff, Hamtramck. Wed.-Sun., Dec. 13-17, plus the Blowout on Mon., Dec. 18. For information: 313-365-4948 or http://www.planetant.com.
Judy’s Old Fashioned Christmas:
Popular entertainer Michael Holmes returns as the legendary Judy Garland – and a bevy of her famous friends – in this holiday-themed production filled with song, dance and laughter. Joining Holmes is Lynne Brown Tepper, another favorite West Michigan performer.
Performed at the Bertha Krueger Reid Theatre at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, 400 Culver St., Saugatuck. Sat., Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. $20/reserved seating. For information: 269-857-2399 or http://www.sca.org.
O Christmas Triage:
Ann Arbor’s Improv Inferno celebrates its first Christmas in its new home with an original comedy created and written by the cast of its usual Friday night show, “Citizen Improv.” The cast includes Chris DiAngelo, Anne Faba, John Hartman, Matt Naas, Katie Thomas and Mark Sobolewski.
“We started with nothing,” said director Tim McKendrick, “and we built this show around characters we created. The show is really about the relationships these characters have, and how they are all stuck together in a hospital on Christmas Eve.”
Inferno founder Dan Izzo hopes the show will encourage people to come out and visit them at their new downtown location. “We’re really excited about being able to perform again at Live at PJ’s,” Izzo said. “We’re especially excited to have a brand-new original holiday show to share with the public, as a way to welcome everyone back and show them what we do best.”
Performed at Live at PJ’s, 102 S. First St., Ann Arbor. Friday, Dec. 8, 22, 29 and Jan. 5, plus Sat., Dec. 16. $10. For information: 734-214-7080 or http://www.improvinferno.com.
Marty Bufalini’s It’s A Wonderful Life – The Radio Show:
What happens when a favorite film classic is adapted into a radio play and presented live on stage? Find out when a Detroit-area holiday favorite returns Dec. 17 and 23.
“‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and George Bailey hold a very special place in the hearts of movie lovers,” said radio show buff Marty Bufalini. “A few years ago, I re-wrote the story to play for the ear. Actors double and sometimes triple up on voices. The coordination between the actors, the director and the sound effects technicians is an amazing thing to see, and that, coupled with the story itself, makes for darn good ‘visual’ theatre.”
Presented at Assumption Cultural Center, 21800 Marter Rd., St. Clair Shores. Sun., Dec. 17 & Sat., Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. $14. For information: 586-779-6111.
The Great American Egg Nog Festival II:
The friendly thespians at the Blackbird Theatre had so much holiday fun last year that they’ve decided to make “The Great American Egg Nog Festival” a regular part of their schedule.
This year’s program opens once again with William Myers reprising his role in “The Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris. If you think the Christmas season is a barrel of fun, you’ve never been hired to play an elf at Macy’s. Then stick around for “Santa’s Celebrity Roast,” an original comedy created by the folks at the Blackbird Theatre.
Performed at the Blackbird Theatre, 1600 Pauline, Ann Arbor. Thu.-Sat., through Dec. 9. $18. For information: 734-332-3848 or http://www.blackbirdtheatre.net.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told:
Why is it that everything seems to come in threes?
By now most readers are aware that this very funny comedy just closed this weekend at the Williamston Theatre and re-opens next week at Meadow Brook Theatre. But word’s just leaked that the merry trio of Joey Albright, Aral Gribble and Chris Korte are also heading in a southwesterly direction to bring laughter and good tidings to the tiny town of Tecumseh, MI. (Sorry, Tecumseh, Ontario. Maybe next year.)
What starts out as a scaled-down version of “A Christmas Carol” quickly morphs into a celebration that includes pretty much every popular holiday classic ever produced. The top-notch performances alone are worth the admission price!
Performed at the Tecumseh Civic Auditorium, 400 N. Maumee, Tecumseh. Fri.-Sun., Dec. 15-17. $14. For information: 517-423-6617 or http://www.tecumsehcivic.com.