A July celebration of African American art and culture in Kalamazoo's LaCrone Park is part of an ongoing mission to expose West Michigan residents to a culture rich in diversity.

Movement with a Message: DanceSpire offers hope while cutting a rug

Written by Kayla Tucker | Saturday, 01 July 2017 16:17 |

Deavondre Jones just wants to do two things: Dance and inspire others. With DanceSpire, the 23-year-old is doing just that, combining motivational speaking and dance routines to reach high-school and college students around the state.

Review: ‘Buddy’ is a stellar, thrilling portal to the past

Written by Marin Heinritz | Friday, 30 June 2017 10:38 |

Nearly 60 years after Buddy Holly’s tragic plane crash death Don McLean proclaimed “the day the music died” in his pervasive ’70s hit “American Pie,” The Barn Theatre has magnificently brought both Holly and his music back to life in “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.

Review: ‘All in the Timing’ is an intelligent, funny breath of fresh air

Written by Marin Heinritz | Monday, 26 June 2017 10:04 |

In “All in the Timing,” David Ives’ 90-minute collection of six comic sketches, time circles back on itself, language is meaningless, monkeys as would-be Shakespeares overcome the death stare of the blank page, and the entire enterprise of human communication, not to mention the meaning of life and death, are called into question.

Review: Mason Street’s ‘Memphis’ epitomizes the magic of theater

Written by Marin Heinritz | Sunday, 25 June 2017 15:55 |

The word “magic” often gets thrown around in the theatre world, and rightfully so. When the right script and talent come together in the right time and place to positively transfix the right audience, there’s no doubt an extraordinary amount of work; but there’s also an indescribable element of magic. And when all those conditions collide at once it is a rare event indeed.

Review: ‘Working’ lacks relevance despite excellent performances

Written by Marin Heinritz | Friday, 23 June 2017 10:44 |

In 1974, America was post-Watergate; Nixon was out, and the disastrous economy under Carter was yet to come. The Vietnam War was over. Civil Rights had been won in the courts and the legislature, if not in the culture at large. Working class people had a political party that served their interests, and they could earn a living wage and be proud of the lives they could make from their labor.

Review: ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ is ambitious, rich, complex

Written by James Sanford | Saturday, 17 June 2017 13:56 |

There are some peculiar films in Disney’s back-catalog, but one of the most offbeat was the company’s 1996 animated adaptation of Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” 

On Thursday night, the Spectrum Theater was filling up for the opening night of “Hit the Wall” by Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids. Everyone took their seats, the lights still on, cast members chatting in groups around the stage, the band playing music in the background. Without introduction, the lights only dimming slightly, the cast took places and a woman — the character of Carson played by Darius Colquitt — began to sing. The audience was instantly engaged, some even singing along in their seats.

Review: ‘It Shoulda Been You’ is full of adept acting, farcical fun

Written by Marin Heinritz | Sunday, 11 June 2017 15:21 |

It’s clear from the first moments of the opening number, “I Never Wanted This,” the Michigan premiere of Broadway’s 2015 musical wedding farce It Shoulda Been You at Farmers Alley Theatre is atypical. A Rubenesque young woman dressed in a bathrobe and veil reveals in song that she’s Jewish, “32ish,” and never wanted to get married. “All of this for a steady lay?” she sings, presumably regarding the drama of her wedding day.

In Thoroughly Modern Millie, a classic musical tale of rejuvenation and following your dreams is told through Millie Dillmount, a girl-next-door who uproots her rural life to move to The Big Apple in the 1920s.

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