Performing Arts Preview 2018-2019

Actors’ Theatre
160 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids, (616) 234-3946

The Actors’ Theatre’s 38th season begins with the story of 15-year-old Christopher, a bright young man who has just been accused of killing a neighbor’s dog in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He then goes out to solve the crime himself, leading to the journey of a lifetime. Next up is At the Table, Michael Perlman’s story of six friends and their annual retreat outside the city, where no topic is off-limits. Then, taking place in rural West Virginia circa 1962 is the musical Burnt Part Boys, about brothers who journey to the coal mine that took their father’s life. In the spring is The Wolves, which takes an inside look at nine American girls as they navigate big questions and wage tiny battles told over the course of five soccer games. The 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner and multiple Tony Award nominee Sweat closes the season.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Sept. 13-15, 20-22, 27-29
At the Table, Nov. 8-10, 15-17
Burnt Part Boys, Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 7-9
The Wolves, April 18-20, 25-27
Sweat, May 16-18, 23-25

Special Series: 

Behind the Curtain 2018, May 10
Living on the Edge, TBA


Broadway Grand Rapids
122 Lyon St. NW, Grand Rapids, (616) 235-6285

Get taken away to Neverland in Broadway Grand Rapids’ first show of the new season, Finding Neverland, which follows the relationship between playwright J. M. Barrie and the family that inspired Peter Pan. In November, audiences can hear the story of the legendary Four Seasons in Jersey Boys. After the holiday break, School of Rock arrives, based on the hit Jack Black film of the same name, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Then there’s the Emilio and Gloria Estefan musical, On Your Feet!, followed by the tale of two mismatched Mormon missionaries in the hilarious The Book of Mormon. Closing out the season are the Sara Bareilles musical Waitress and Anastasia, which follows a young woman as she sets out to discover the mystery of her past.

Finding Neverland, Oct. 9-14
Jersey Boys, Nov. 30-Dec. 2
School of Rock, Jan. 8-13
On Your Feet!, Feb. 19-24
The Book of Mormon, March 19-24
Waitress, April 30-May 5
Anastasia, June 25-30


Calvin Theatre Company
3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, (616) 526-6282

First up is Precious Bane, adapted for the stage by Meryl Friedman. Set in the rural 18th century, the story focuses on Prudence Sarn, who becomes marked as a witch. Her brother, Gideon, convinces her no one will love her and intendures her to his property. Then, a traveling weaver shows up and Prue’s life gets much more interesting. Rebecca Gilman’s powerful play, Spinning into Butter, is up next and takes place at Belmont College, a small New England school rocked by acts of racism. Last is the Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray.

Precious Bane, Nov. 2-10
Spinning into Butter, Jan. 31-Feb. 2
Hairspray, April 5-13


Farmers Alley Theatre Kalamazoo
221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo, (269) 343-2727

As usual, Farmers Alley Theatre’s latest season has some singing, some dancing and lots of emotion. Starting in September is Beyond the Rainbow, a musical tribute to one of the greats, Judy Garland. Then there’s A Doll’s House, Part Two, a standalone sequel that takes place years after Henrik Ibsen’s original masterwork. The theater continues its holiday cabaret tradition with The Marvelous Wonderettes: Dream On in December, before the 2005 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner for best play, Doubt, A Parable, takes the stage in February. Last come the musicals Fun Home, about one woman’s deep dive into her past in order to tell the story of her father, and Avenue Q, a comedy full of foul-mouthed puppets.

Beyond The Rainbow: The Judy Garland Musical, Sept. 28-Oct. 14
A Doll’s House, Part Two, Nov. 2-18
The Marvelous Wonderettes: Dream On, Dec. 7-30
Doubt, A Parable, Feb. 8-24
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, March 15-31
Fun Home, June 7-23
Avenue Q, July 19-Aug. 4


Festival Playhouse, Kalamazoo College
1200 Academy St., Kalamazoo, (269) 337-7333

Kalamazoo College’s 55th season begins with the Senior Performance Series. Following that is It Can’t Happen Here, a play about freedom of the press in the face of a tyrannical government, written in 1936. The season continues in the winter with the 9th Annual Theatre Kalamazoo New Play Festival, and Student Body, Frank Winters’ play about students’ responses to an assault on their college campus. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is the season’s last production.

Senior Performance Series, Oct. 18-21
It Can't Happen Here, Nov. 1-4
The 9th Annual Theatre Kalamazoo New Play Festival, Winter
Senior Performance Series, Feb. 14-17
Student Body, Feb. 21-24
Twelfth Night, May 16-19


Gilmore Theatre/WMU Theatre
1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, (269) 387-3227

John Cariani’s Almost, Maine is comprised of nine short plays exploring love and loss. In November, WMU Theatre will mark the return of New York City-based drag queen and WMU alum Sutton Lee Seymour in The Lady in Question. The Charles Busch play follows Gertrude Garnet, a world-renowned concert pianist visiting Bavaria in 1940, who goes on an epic adventure with an American college professor trying to save his mom from the Nazis. Ending the season is the musical Guys and Dolls, in which a gambler attempts to woo a Salvation Army worker for a bet. This season also includes Shakespeare in Love, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the annual showcase Next Stop, Broadway!, and Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.

Almost, Maine, Sept. 21-Oct. 7
Shakespeare in Love, Oct. 6-14
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Oct. 26-Nov. 4
The Lady in Question, Nov. 9-18
Next Stop, Broadway!, Nov. 29-Dec. 1
The Wolves, Jan. 25-Feb. 10
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,
Feb. 8-17
The Dancing Granny, March 8-17
Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, March 22-April 7
Guys and Dolls, April 5-14


Grand Rapids Ballet Company's "Alice in Wonderland." Photo by Eric Bouwens.

Grand Rapids Ballet Company
341 Ellsworth Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, (616) 454-4771

Five shows comprise the 2018-2019 season for the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. The season’s opener, Wild Sweet Love, has four works in one performance, featuring Allegro Brilliante by George Balanchine and music by Tchaikovsky. The evening also includes the first piece created specifically for the Grand Rapids Ballet by new Artistic Director James Sofranko. As the season goes on, you’ll find modern dance in Movemedia alongside classics like The Nutcracker and Alice in Wonderland.

Wild Sweet Love, Oct. 18-21
The Nutcracker, Dec. 14-23
Movemedia: Handmade, Feb. 8-10
Extremely Close, April 12-14
Alice in Wonderland, May 3-11


Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
30 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, (616) 222-6650

Truvy’s beauty parlor is full of amazing hair-dos and even better gossip in Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias. Taking place in small-town Louisiana, the play focuses on a group of women who bond at the parlor following the marriage and motherhood of one of the customer's daughters. Next up is Number The Stars, written from the perspective of a child, taking viewers on the journey of a Jewish family’s flight to safety during the Holocaust. The new year brings with it a bunch of musicals, like Mamma Mia!, James And The Giant Peach, Newsies and All Shook Up. For those not into singing and dancing, there’s the murder mystery And Then There Were None, in which 10 strangers arrive on an island and are all marked for murder. Alice in Wonderland ends the season.

Steel Magnolias, Sept. 7-23
Number The Stars, Oct. 12-21
The Little Mermaid, Nov. 16-Dec. 16
And Then There Were None, Jan. 11-27
Mamma Mia!, Feb. 22-March 17
James And The Giant Peach,
April 26-May 5
Newsies, May 31-June 23
All Shook Up, July 26-Aug. 4
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, July 27-Aug. 3


GVSU Fall Arts, (616) 331-2183

This year, the Fall Arts Celebration has a wide variety of offerings, including an art exhibit, Mars: Astronomy and Culture, bringing together photographs, drawings, movie posters, book covers, and video projections of the red planet. The annual event also has a performance by the Tesla Quartet, who will play Tchaikovsky’s musical triumph; a lecture by William Deresiewicz, expanding on the viral essay he wrote for The Atlantic; an evening of poetry with Ada Limón and Carl Phillips; a celebration of African dance choreographed by Kariamu Welsh; and a concert that will showcase 18 of the most traditional carols and music from composers such as Handel, Bizet, and Bach.

Mars: Astronomy and Culture,
Aug. 24-Oct. 31
An Italian Journey: Tesla Quartet Performs Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence,
Sept. 17
William Deresiewicz, Ph.D.: What is Art in the 21st Century?, Oct. 1
An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with Ada Limón and Carl Phillips, Oct. 18
Kariamu and Company: Traditions — A Celebration of African Dance, Nov. 12
Celebrating Holiday Splendor: Craig Jessop Conducts The Many Moods of Christmas, Dec. 3


GVSU Theatre
290 Lake Superior Hall, (616) 331-2300

This season, GVSU Theatre is celebrating its 47th season in new facilities, the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts. William Shakespeare’s King Lear is up first — as part of the 25th Shakespeare Silver Coronation anniversary — and follows the title character as he descends into madness. Next up is Monica Flory’s adaptation of The Jungle Book, centering on Mowgli, a boy who is raised with wolves but then learns he’s actually a human. The season also has Wonderful Town, the Leonard Bernstein musical about two sisters who arrive in New York in the 1930s; Yasmina Reza’s tour-de-force God of Carnage; and a series of special events.

King Lear, Sept. 28-Oct. 7
Jungle Book, Nov. 9-18
Masquerade: A Baroque Extravaganza, Nov. 9-11
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Jan. 17-20
Actor's Nightmare, Jan. 17-20
God of Carnage, Feb. 21-24
Wonderful Town, Feb. 8-17
The Imaginary Invalid, March 28-April 7


Holland Civic Theater
50 W. 9th St., Holland, (616) 396-2021

Get ready to relive any time of your life when you were awkward thanks to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which begins performances in October and stars several super awkward youngsters as they compete in the regional spelling bee (this is actually a musical comedy, just to be clear). The holiday season will bring the production of the musical A Christmas Story, centering on nine-year-old Ralphie Parker, who just really wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Other shows for the season include the mystery Night Watch and James and the Giant Peach.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Oct. 4-20
A Christmas Story, Nov. 23-Dec. 8
Night Watch, Jan. 24-Feb. 9
Footlight Festival, Feb. 21-March 2
The Sunshine Boys, Tulip Time Shows,
April 25-May 18
James and the Giant Peach, July 11-20
The Mouse That Roared, Aug. 8-17


Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids
160 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids, (616) 234-3595

Continuing their tradition of presenting quality theater productions with Jewish themes, Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids will put on three shows this year. The season begins with Tom Dudzick’s Miracle On South Division Street, a play about Ruth Nowak, who discovers a family secret and decides to write a play about it. Before it goes to New York though, she wants her family’s blessing, and calls a meeting at her mother’s house. Naturally, it gets intense. March will feature the dark comedy Bad Jews, with Church and State coming in June.

Miracle On South Division Street,
Oct. 10-21
Bad Jews, Feb. 28-March 10
Church and State, June 13-23


Kalamazoo's Civic Theatre
329 S. Park St., Kalamazoo, (269) 343-1313

For its 90th season, the Kalamazoo Civic is putting on 15 productions, seven of which are Southwest Michigan premieres. There are big, showy musicals, such as the season’s first show, Hello Dolly!, last performed on the Civic’s stage in 1973. Other musicals this season include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with the flying car and all; Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical, about the title character’s life from Midwestern childhood to legendary Hollywood star; the captivating legend of romance Once On This Island; and War Paint, which closed on Broadway last fall and focuses on the rivalry between cosmetic industry titans Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein. There are also a load of comedies this season, like The Compleat Wrks Of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), and some dramas, such as The Father.

Hello Dolly!, Sept. 21-Oct. 7
Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Oct. 5-14
In Song: 1928-2018, Oct. 26-28
The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane, Nov. 9-17
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Nov. 23-Dec. 9
Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical, Jan. 11-27
The Compleat Wrks Of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), Jan. 25-Feb. 9
The Father, Feb. 8-17
Once On This Island, Feb, 22-March 10
Madagascar JR, March 8-15
Ripcord, March 22-31
Psycho Beach Party, April 5-14
Harvey, April 19-28
War Paint, May 3-19
Pippi Longstocking, May 17-25


Miller Auditorium
2200 Auditorium Dr., Kalamazoo, (269) 387-2300

As in previous seasons, the Miller Auditorium’s lineup features a wide variety, such as this year’s first production, iLuminate, bringing viewers a story told through different dance styles, all using the power of light. This season also includes performances from Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, multiple ballets and four Broadway musicals.

iLuminate, Sept. 29
Under the Streetlamp, Sept. 30
The Choir of Man, Oct. 17
The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation—Live!, Oct. 20
Monty Python's Spamalot, Nov. 9-11
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, Nov. 28
Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, Dec. 5
Cirque Dreams Holidaze, Dec. 21-23
American Girl Live, Jan. 5
Rock of Ages, Jan. 16
Russian National Ballet: Sleeping Beauty, Jan. 20
The Phantom of the Opera, Feb. 6-17
DIAVOLO, Feb. 27
The Chieftains, March 1
Beautiful, March 19-24
RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles: The Best of Abbey Road, April 5


Muskegon Civic Theatre
425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon, (231) 722-3852

Disenchanted! follows Snow White and her group of disenchanted princesses in this musical, giving a new take on the princesses we think we know, showing audiences what actually happened after they got their “happily ever after.” Keeping in line with animated films turned into musicals is Aladdin Jr. and Shrek, both of which are coming to the Muskegon Civic this season. In between the musicals will be Becky's New Car, The Old Settler and Women of Lockerbie.

Disenchanted!, Sept. 14-29
Aladdin Jr., Oct. 20-21
Becky's New Car, Nov. 16-Dec. 2
The Old Settler, Jan. 18-26
Women of Lockerbie, Feb. 15-March 2
Shrek, May 2-5

Opera Grand Rapids
1320 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, (616) 451-2741

The Magic Flute begins the season with the final beloved masterpiece of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The opera will be performed in English and in the style of “singspiel,” which includes both singing and spoken dialogue. The 1791 opera tells the story of the Queen of the Night, who persuades Prince Tamino to rescue her daughter from captivity under the high priest Sarastro. Then, based on Dumas’ The Lady with the Camellias, La Traviata is playing in June, telling the heartbreaking true story of Parisian courtesan Marie Duplessis.

The Magic Flute, Oct. 26-27
La Traviata, June 14-15


Queer Theatre Kalamazoo
315 W. Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, (269) 929-6781

There are six shows on the list for QTK’s latest season, including two festivals, the Theatre Kalamazoo New Play Festival and the Shorts Play Festival. First is the full version of Shawntai Brown’s eLLe, which was previewed at the 2018 Shorts Play Festival. The season also includes a reading of Angel of the People Mover, a story told through the lens of a black trans woman and her mother; PS Lorio’s Of MASQUERADE and RHYMES; and Step Three, which examines faith and sobriety.

eLLe, Nov. 8-11
Angel of the People Mover, Jan. 17-20
Theatre Kalamazoo New Play Festival, Feb. 8-9
Step Three, June 6-9
QTK Shorts Play Festival, June 20-23


Van Singel Fine Arts Center
8500 Burlingame Ave. SW, Byron Center, (616) 878-6800

Glenn Bulthuis — one of the Van Singel Fine Arts Center’s favorite guests — is kicking off the theater’s 20th anniversary season with a Swing Night. Then, considered the ultimate tribute show, Piano Man will showcase the works of legendary musicians Sir Elton John and Billy Joel in October. Next up is Church Basement Ladies: Rise Up, O Men, a musical comedy following the men of East Cornucopia Lutheran Church.

Swing Night, Oct. 6
Piano Men, Nov. 29
Church Basement Ladies, March 26
Cool Jazz, April 26


Wharton Center for Performing Arts: Jessica Lang Dance. Courtesy Photo

Wharton Center for Performing Arts
750 E. Shaw Ln., East Lansing, (517) 353-1982

The beginning of the Wharton Center’s season will rock, literally, with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical School of Rock. Other Broadway touring productions coming to the Wharton Stage include the Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies; Broadway classic Fiddler on the Roof; the new Broadway musical Anastasia; Miss Saigon, by the creators of Les Misérables; and a little Broadway show you just might have heard of, Hamilton.

School of Rock, Sept. 18-23
One Good Day, Sept. 22-23
Love Never Dies, Oct. 9-14
The Miller Plays, Oct. 12-21
Momix, Oct. 21
Men On Boats, Nov. 9-18
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical, Nov. 16
Fiddler on the Roof, Dec. 4-9
Rosie Revere, Engineer; Iggy Peck, Architect; and Ada Twist, Scientist,
Dec. 8-9
Anastasia, Jan. 15-20
Jessica Lang Dance, Jan. 24
The Magic School Bus, Jan. 26
The One and Only Ivan, Feb. 2
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!,
Feb. 15-24
Promethea in Prison, Feb. 27
Miss Saigon, March 12-17
A Wrinkle in Time, March 15-24
I and You, March 22
The Other Mozart, March 27
The Bacchae, April 12-21
Junie B. Jones, April 27-28
Hamilton, May 14-June 2