American author L. Frank Baum’s children’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” has been adapted practically countless times since its publication in 1900, and for good reason. It’s a timeless allegorical quest tale of self discovery — about trusting what’s real beyond false facades, believing we already possess that which we seek, and realizing that when we know ourselves, we’re always at home, anywhere.
What’s the big deal about Mamma Mia!, the fluffy jukebox musical built upon Swedish disco-pop group ABBA’s hits? With a 14-year run on Broadway and solidly placed in the top-10 longest running shows in both Broadway and West End history, and a movie adaptation with a sequel set to release this year, it’s a show people are downright wild about.
There is perhaps no more perfect musical than “Hairspray,” the multiple Tony Award-winning Broadway hit adapted from the John Waters’ 1988 cult classic film.
People like to describe what Sutton Lee Seymour does as “old school drag,” though the opening night of her two-night engagement at Farmers Alley Theatre this weekend indicates an homage to camp, to Broadway, to Disney princesses from a performer who’s so skilled at singing, dancing, character work, improvisation, and innovative (not to mention lightning-quick changes in) costumes, s/he clearly owns whatever stage s/he inhabits.
At the exact moment when it seems as if not one more thing could possibly go wrong for the second-rate British touring company putting on the ill-fated sex farce “Nothing On,” its director, Lloyd, cries out in exasperation “This play is beyond a director’s hell.”
For many of us in Southwest Michigan, it’s simply not summer until The Barn Theatre in Augusta kicks off its season. And Michigan’s oldest resident summer stock theater’s 72nd season was shot out of a canon Tuesday with “The Civil War,” a wonderfully well-chosen and poignant vehicle for the talent in this year’s company that’s surprisingly relevant.
Broadway Grand Rapids presented opening night of “The King and I” at Devos Performance Hall Tuesday night. The full crowd was laughing and smiling all night at this hilarious musical with an exceptionally talented cast.
Southwest Michigan is host to a variety of wonderful theater — professional light-hearted summer fare, often of the musical variety, and edgy, boundary-pushing new work from small, pop-up new companies abounds. However, it’s rare to find new, deeply relevant work of a professional quality, and to come upon such a production is to realize one’s hunger for it.
Actors’ Theatre’s Living on the Edge playwriting festival is wrapping up this month with a final showcase of the top five scripts, written by local playwrights here in West Michigan. Each play, once fully staged, will last 8-15 minutes and they’re all written under one theme: (un)breakable.
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