Tuesday, 29 August 2017 17:07

Performing Arts 2017-2018 Season Preview

Written by  Dana Casadei
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Actors’ Theatre
160 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids
actorstheatregrandrapids.org, (616) 234-3946

Actors’ Theatre will kick off its latest season with The Nether, which takes a deep dive into a virtual wonderland where people can log in and indulge every desire. A young detective finds a disturbing realm within, triggering an interrogation into the darkest corners of the imagination. Following that super light play are two musicals, Passing Strange and If/Then. The former is about a young musician rebelling against his conservative upbringing while the latter follows Elizabeth, a woman looking to restart her life in New York City, where her possibilities are limitless. The season continues with a whale looking to reconnect with his daughter in The Whale, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama The Flick.

The Nether, Oct. 5-8, 12-14

Passing Strange, Nov. 9-12, 16-18

If/Then, Feb. 1-4, 8-10

The Whale, April 19-22, 26-28

The Flick, May 17-20, 24-26

Special Series:

Living on the Edge - Waking Up, dates TBD

A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney, Jan. 19-28


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

First up in October is the Broadway phenomenon Wicked, which takes a look at the Land of Oz through the eyes of someone way more interesting than Dorothy. Next is Les Misérables, which is based on Victor Hugo’s epic novel, and follows, well, a whole bunch of different characters. The holiday season has a performance by Mannheim Steamroller, followed by STOMP in early 2018. Then there are three more musicals to close out the season: Beautiful, the Carole King Musical, about the rise of singer/songwriter Carole King; The Bodyguard, based on the 1992 Whitney Houston film; and the Broadway classic The King and I.

Wicked, Oct. 18-Nov. 5

Les Misérables, Nov. 21-26

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, Dec. 12

STOMP, Jan. 18-20

Beautiful, the Carole King Musical, Feb. 13-18

The Bodyguard, March 6-11

The King and I, June 5-10


Calvin Theatre Company
3201 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids
calvin.edu/academic/cas/ctc,(616) 526-6282

This season, the Calvin Theatre Company’s three productions will focus on love and forgiveness, starting with The Arabian Nights, following the story of Queen Shahrazad. Then comes The Amish Project, which centers on the town of Nickel Mines, Pa. during the aftermath of a school shooting. The company will close its season with Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

The Arabian Nights, Nov. 3-4, 9-11

The Amish Project, Jan. 24-26, Feb. 1-3

Sense and Sensibility, April 13-14, 19-21


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

Farmers Alley starts its 10th season with one of the (in our humble opinion) greatest musicals ever, Gypsy. Get ready for Mama Rose! The theater also is staging a few other musicals, including Honky Tonk Angels, about three gals who dream of stardom; the heartbreaking The Bridges of Madison County, which follows a forbidden love affair between a lonely housewife and a rugged photographer; and The Producers, where two producers try to put on the worst musical in Broadway history.

Gypsy, Oct. 6-22

The Diary of Anne Frank, Nov. 3-19

Honky Tonk Angels, Dec. 1-17

The Christians, Feb. 9-18

It’s Only A Play, March 9-25

Liberace!, April 27-May 13

The Bridges of Madison County, June 8-24

The Producers, July 20-Aug. 5


Festival Playhouse
1200 Academy St., Kalamazoo
reason.kzoo.edu/theatre, (269) 337-7333

This season’s productions explore how families can bring us both joy and pain. First up is the Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home, based on the autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel (yes, this is the woman the Bechdel test is named after). In the spring, Festival Playhouse will perform Intimate Apparel, which follows Esther, an African American seamstress, in her quest to find love at the turn of the 20th century.

Fun Home, Nov. 2-5

The 8th Annual Theatre Kalamazoo New Play Festival, Feb. 2-4

Senior Performance Series, Feb. 15-25

Intimate Apparel, May 17-20


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

Kicking off the season is Waiting To Be Invited, which takes place in the summer of 1964 as four middle-aged black women travel by bus to a “whites only” eating establishment inside a downtown Atlanta department store. Then The Witches of Eastwick, a musical based on the comedy/fantasy movie of the same name, makes its regional debut in October. Following is Arthur Miller’s classic tale The Crucible, the holiday whodunit The Game’s Afoot, and the theater’s annual cabaret show, Next Stop, Broadway!.

Waiting To Be Invited, Sept. 22-Oct. 8

The Witches Of Eastwick, Oct. 6-15

The Crucible, Oct. 27-Nov. 5

The Game’s Afoot, Nov. 10-19

Next Stop, Broadway!, Nov. 30-Dec. 2

Lucky Stiff, Jan. 26-Feb. 11

Angels In America, Feb. 9-18

Fish In The Dark, March 16-25

Jesus Christ Superstar, April 6-15


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

The 2017-2018 season will be a very special one for the ballet company as it marks the last season under the artistic direction of Patricia Barker, who has been with the company for seven years. The first show of the season, From Russia With Love, will showcase selections from a variety of Russian classics. The season also includes classic audience favorites like The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. In May, the company will perform The Happy Prince, & Other Wilde Tales, a world premiere weaving together some of Oscar Wilde’s beloved children’s stories. Other shows include the next two installations in the innovative contemporary dance series MOVEMEDIA and the Junior Company’s performance of The Wizard of Oz.

From Russia With Love, Oct. 6-8, 13

The Nutcracker, Dec. 1-3, 8-10

A Christmas Carol, Dec. 22-23

MOVEMEDIA: Diversity:

MOVEMEDIA I,  Feb. 9-11

MOVEMEDIA II, March 23-25

The Happy Prince, & Other Wilde Tales, May 4-6, 11-12

Junior Company:

The Wizard of Oz, Feb. 23-25, March 2-4

Special Events:

Clara’s Nutcracker Party, Dec. 3

Spring Break for Kids 2017: Mother Goose & Friends, April 2-6


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

In September, the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s 92nd season begins with Calendar Girls, which you can read all about in this very magazine. Up next is the first of this season’s five musicals, Seussical the Musical. Then there’s Annie, the story of everyone’s favorite spunky orphan; My Fair Lady, featuring another spunky lady who makes a bet with an English professor of phonetics; Shrek the Musical, based on the 2001 movie of Shrek and Donkey’s adventure to save Princess Fiona; and the SRTI Youth Musical’s production of School of Rock. The 2017-2018 season will also include All the Way, Akeelah and the Bee and Little Women.

Calendar Girls, Sept. 15-Oct. 1

Seussical the Musical, Oct. 20-29

Annie, Nov. 17-Dec. 17

All the Way, Jan. 12-28

My Fair Lady, Feb. 23-March 18

Akeelah and the Bee, April 20-29

Shrek the Musical, June 1-17

School of Rock (SRTI Youth Musical), July 27-Aug. 4

Little Women (SRTI Youth Play), July 28-Aug. 5


GVSU Fall Arts
Various locations
gvsu.edu/fallarts, (616) 331-2183

This year will mark the 15th anniversary of GVSU’s annual Fall Arts Celebration. The art exhibit featured this year will include a variety of ceramics, rugs, textiles and other everyday objects, collected over 50 years by GVSU professor Jim Goode and his wife, Virginia, during their travels. The annual event also has a performance of one of Mozart’s most beloved compositions; a lecture from author Jeffrey Chang; An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with Jane Hirshfield and Dan Gerber; a performance by Aerial Dance Chicago, one of the world’s first professional aerial dance companies; and a celebration of French Music.

The Timeless Genius of Mozart: The Grand Partita, KV 361, Sept. 11

Afghanistan to Morocco: Journeys of Jim and Virginia Goode, Through Oct. 27

Jeffrey Chang: “We Gon’ Be Alright: Race and Resegregation in Today’s America,” Oct. 9

An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with Jane Hirshfield and Dan Gerber, Oct. 26

Celebrating Originality: Defying Gravity with Aerial Dance Chicago, Nov. 6

Noël, Noël, Joyeux Noël: A Celebration of French Music for the Holiday Season, Dec. 4


GVSU Theatre
290 Lake Superior Hall, Allendale
gvsu.edu/theatre, (616) 331-2300

One of William Shakespeare’s final plays, The Tempest, will be performed at this year’s annual Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival in September. The Bard’s play focuses on magician and former duke Prospero, who has been exiled on an island with his daughter Miranda for years. With help from the magical island’s creatures, Prospero plots revenge on the brother who took the throne from him. GVSU Opera will perform a series of German composer Kurt Weill’s songs in the fall, and Oklahoma! — Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first collaboration — in the winter. Other performances include the musical Cabaret, the Performance Studio Series, and the 1959 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama J.B.

2017 Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival, Sept. 29-Oct. 8

A Kurt Weill Cabaret: Songs for a Changing World, Oct. 20-22

Cabaret, Nov. 16-Dec. 3

Performance Studio Series, Jan. 19-21

Oklahoma!, Feb. 2-11

J.B., March 23-31


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

The Holland Civic Theater begins its 2017-2018 season with Deathtrap, a play that keeps audiences guessing until the final minutes. The Ira Levin thriller follows a down-on-his-luck playwright who might be willing to go to extremes (such as murder) when a student tells him that they have written the perfect suspense play and will bring it to his home that evening. Then there’s Jake’s Women, which is focused on a novelist who deals with his marital crisis by daydreaming about the relationships he has with the women in his life. Rounding out the season are the adorable tail of Stuart Little and the John Patrick comedy The Curious Savage, which is all about Ethel P. Savage, an elderly woman whose husband recently died and left her a whole lot of money.

Deathtrap, Oct. 5-21

Nuncrackers, Nov. 24-30, Dec. 1-9

Jake’s Women, Feb. 1-17

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, April 12-21

Calendar Girls, May 5-12

The Adventures of Stuart Little, July 12-21

The Curious Savage, Aug. 9-18


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

The theater kicks off its latest season with A Happy End. Set in 1932 Berlin, the drama spotlights the Erdmanns, a cosmopolitan Jewish family who struggle to believe they need to leave their beloved home to escape the impending Nazis. Part III of Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy will be performed next, continuing the story of Arnold Beckoff, a Jewish homosexual, drag queen and torch singer living in New York. The final show of the season is Olive and the Bitter Herbs, following an actress whose claim to fame was the iconic “Gimme the Sausage” TV commercials of the ’80s.

A Happy End, Sept. 6-17

Torch Song Trilogy: Act III Widows and Children First!, March 1-11

Olive and the Bitter Herbs, June 14-24


Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
329 S. Park St., Kalamazoo
kazoocivic.com, (269) 343-1313

The Civic is upping the ante by featuring 16 productions between September and May this season. As if that wasn’t enough, 14 productions — except for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth — will be brand new to the Civic. If you’re into big musicals, there’s plenty of those, including The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein, an adaptation of the Mel Brooks film; Disney’s The Little Mermaid; and Elton John’s inspirational hit Billy Elliot the Musical. The season also kicks off a new program, the Carver Center Studio Series — which was designed to develop new, innovative and emotionally compelling works within an intentionally intimate space. The series’ first show will be Radiation: A Month of Sun-Days, which dramatizes Barb Brunetti’s experience through a 33-day radiation protocol for breast cancer.

The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein, Sept. 22-Oct. 8

Radiation: A Month of Sun-Days, Oct. 6-15

Sounds of the 60s, Oct. 13-15

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oct. 20-28

Macbeth, Oct. 21-Nov. 5

Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Nov. 17-Dec. 3

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Jan. 12-27

Rock of Ages, Jan. 26-Feb. 11

Calendar Girls, Feb. 9-24

No Way Out, Feb. 16-25

Red, March 2-17

Seussical JR., March 16-23

Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods, April 6-22

The Good Doctor, April 20-29

Billy Elliot the Musical, May 4-20

Harriet the Spy, May 18-May 26


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

This season, the Miller Auditorium will celebrate 50 years and begin the 2017-2018 season with Dixie’s Tupperware Party, where audiences join Dixie Longate for a Tupperware Party they won’t forget. The fall also includes speaker Immaculée Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide; comedian and The Daily Show host Trevor Noah; the Canadian Brass Christmas; Brain Candy Live!; and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. On top of that, four musicals straight from the Great White Way — Kinky Boots, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, and Disney’s The Lion King — are arriving as part of the Broadway in West Michigan series.

Dixie’s Tupperware Party, Sept. 22-23

Immaculée Ilibagiza, Oct. 19

Kinky Boots, Oct. 20-22

Trevor Noah, Nov. 18

Canadian Brass Christmas, Nov. 25

Brain Candy Live!, Nov. 29

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, Dec. 8

The Wizard of Oz, Jan. 5-7

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live!, Jan. 20

STOMP, Jan. 23

The Sound of Music, Feb. 9-11

CHICAGO, Feb. 28

Disney’s The Lion King, April 4-15

Black Violin, May 4

Jeanne Robertson, May 5


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

Opera Grand Rapids celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with three operas. In October is the Italian grand opera Rigoletto, where the drama unfolds between a conniving court jester and a promiscuous duke, and an innocent daughter caught in their feud. Performed on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day will be I Dream, the inspiring story of the Atlanta preacher and iconic civil rights leader. Last, but certainly not least, is The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart’s quintessential comic opera.

Rigoletto, Oct. 13-14

I Dream, Jan. 15

Collegiate Vocal Competition, April 15

The Marriage of Figaro, May 4-5

Night with the Opera, May 18


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

Guests will be able to relive the first time they listened to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album when Glenn Bulthuis and the Tonedeafs return to the Van Singel Fine Arts Center. The 11-piece band will perform the album in its entirety to celebrate the 50th anniversary, along with an additional 15 Beatles classics. The Beach Boys also get a tribute performance in March with the Sounds of Summer: A Beach Boys Tribute. Other shows this season include Roald Dahl’s musical comedy, Willy Wonka: The Musical, the holiday favorite Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and Million Dollar Quartet, about one of the most epic recording sessions ever.

Glenn Bulthuis and the Tonedeafs, Sept. 16

God’s Music, Oct. 20

Willy Wonka the Musical, Nov. 30-Dec. 2

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Dec. 16

Million Dollar Quartet, March 5

Sounds of Summer: A Beach Boys Tribute, March 24

Cool Jazz, April 27


Wharton Center
750 E. Shaw, East Lansing
whartoncenter.com, (517) 432-2000

Right in the heart of Michigan State’s campus, the Wharton Center brings a great selection of Broadway shows and other events to students and the community. From classic shows (Finding Neverland, The Lion King) to new Broadway gems (Waitress, An American in Paris), Wharton’s 2017-2018 season promises something for everyone.


The Bodyguard, Oct. 17-22

An American in Paris, Nov. 14-19

Finding Neverland, Dec. 12-17

Waitress, Jan. 23-28

On Your Feet!, Feb. 13-18

Something Rotten!, March 13-18

Disney’s The Lion King, July 11-29


Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, Nov. 7

Vienna Boys Choir: Holiday, Nov. 28

Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, Feb. 26


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago , Oct. 10

Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound: After the Curtain, Nov. 1

Moscow Festival Ballet: Cinderella, Jan. 12

Dance Theatre of Harlem, May 2


Squirrel Nut Zippers and Davina & the Vagabonds, Jan. 18

The Birdland All-Stars, Feb. 24

To Ray with Love, April 20


David Sedaris, Nov. 3, 2017

Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band, Nov. 12

Yamato – The Drummers of Japan, Feb. 6

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy: Feb. 8


Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, Jan. 17

Lungs, Feb. 15-18


David Ignatius, Oct. 30

Gina McCarthy, Dec. 4

Lynn Nottage, April 2


Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat, Oct. 28

Dragons Love Tacos...and More!, Jan. 27

Clementine, March 24

Lightwire Theater: Moon Mouse, A Space Odyssey, April 15

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