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The Cost of Joy: "A New Brain" is odd, lovable, and filled with ear candy

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 12:00pm by christopherporter

A New Brain

“Sometimes joy has a terrible cost" is a quintessential lyric in William Finn’s autobiographical musical, A New Brain.

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Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Yeomen of the Guard" casts a darker shadow for light comic opera

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 9:00am by christopherporter

UMGASS's Yeoman of the Guard

Photo courtesy of UMGASS.

Comic operas usually live up their genre name: lively songs, light humor, and endings filled with satisfied characters.

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U-M brings diversity to Steinbeck’s "Grapes of Wrath"

Mon, 11/25/2019 - 11:15am by christopherporter

Grapes of Wrath book cover

Excerpt of the book cover for the first edition of The Grapes of Wrath, 1939.

John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is a great American classic.

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Encore Theatre ably explores "The Secret Garden" despite the play's storytelling woes

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 12:30pm by christopherporter

The Encore Theatre's poster for The Secret Garden

Generally, when we’re suffering and in pain, we know the cause.

But when it comes to identifying what will heal us -- let alone knowing whether healing is even possible -- that’s another matter entirely.

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Theatre Nova fund-raiser showcases a stripped-down version of Sondheim’s "Follies"

Tue, 11/12/2019 - 9:27am by christopherporter

Theatre Nova's Follies

Photos by Sean Carter Photography

Theatre Nova has chosen, appropriately, a showbiz musical as a fund-raiser for the innovative professional theater that specializes in new plays and new playwrights.

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Joseph Zettelmaier's "Dr. Seward’s Dracula" is a creepy, clever prequel to Bram Stokers' vampire legend

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 9:45am by christopherporter

Dr. Seward's Dracula

Allyson Miko as the Emily the ghost and Jeffrey Shawn Miller as the unstable Dr. Seward in The Penny Seats Theatre Company's production of Dr. Seward's Dracula.

Near the end of Joseph Zettelmaier’s play Dr. Seward’s Dracula -- now being staged by The Penny Seats Theatre Company, at Ann Arbor’s Stone Chalet Inn -- a character observes, “People need their monsters.”

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The atmospheric dance troupe Sankai Juku transfixed the Power Center with haunting movement

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 10:00am by christopherporter

Sankai Juku performing Meguri

There’s an image I’ve been having a hard time getting out of my head ever since the performance of Sankai Juku’s Meguri: Teeming Sea, Tranquil Land at the Power Center last weekend:

Four dancers in an eerie semi-darkness -- bald, torsos nude, bodies covered in white dust -- stand together in a circle. They stay fixed to the floor, seemingly rooted to the spot, as their bodies turn around in a unified, slow-motion gesture. Their feet rotate in place as their limbs twist together, until legs spiral around one another and the spine and neck swivel to bring the ghostly visages directly before the audience. On the faces, there is an open-mouthed image of silent, inexpressible anguish, a sort of inaudible scream whose riveting force stops your breath. For a moment, before the contorted and gnarled bodies reverse direction and rotate back, you have unshakable certainty that this is the face of a body in pain.

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Michigan Made: Theatre Nova’s Playwrights Festival puts the spotlight on new works for the stage

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 7:45pm by christopherporter

Theatre Nova's yellow barn building

Theatre Nova's yellow-barn home. Photo courtesy of Theatre Nova.

Part two of Theatre Nova’s semi-annual Michigan Playwrights Festival has an added evening that gives more opportunities to shine the spotlight on new playwrights. In addition to staged readings of four full length plays, the festival will set aside an evening for the presentation of six 10-minute plays.

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Locked-Up With Laughter: A2 Civic Theatre’s "My Three Angels" is a sharp family comedy

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 12:00pm by christopherporter

My Three Angels

L-R: Dillon Roseen, Theo Polley, Jim Sullivan, and Ellen Finch in Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's My Three Angels. Photo by Lisa Gavan | Gavan Photo.

When Barbara Mackey King proposed directing My Three Angels for this season at Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, she had two goals in mind. One was for actors and the other for audiences.

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U-M’s take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s "The Pirates of Penzance" zips along in swashbuckling style

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 10:36am by christopherporter

U-M's Pirates of Penzance

It is the very model of a modern musical comedy.

The University of Michigan Department of Music’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ever-popular The Pirates of Penzance moves along faster than the celebrated major-general’s patter song. The tiny Lydia Mendelssohn stage is alive with color, movement, and music.