Face Off Theatre Company is only in its third season as part of Kalamazoo’s Black Arts and Cultural Center, but its unwavering commitment to excellence is clear. By consistently producing powerfully relevant and necessary work that no one else in the region is doing, they’re raising important questions and dialogue about race in America — primarily generated by people of color. And it’s perhaps the only company in the state fully committed to this work.
Cyndi Lauper made famous the notion that “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” in 1983, but in 2013, she convincingly made the argument that it’s actually drag queens who have the most fun with the enormously delightful, multiple Tony-Award winning musical “Kinky Boots,” for which she wrote the score.
Draped with fishnet and spider webs and dressed with ouija boards, skulls, a crystal ball, a chainsaw, a coffin, a skeleton, a lamp made of a human head, a noose, an old radio, and a sarcophagus, the stage of the New Vic Theatre in Kalamazoo embodies the spookiness of the Halloween season and is set to creep folks out in the most festive of ways.
Deborah Cox is a Grammy Award nominee and R&B powerhouse, and a distinguished national touring artist. To put it simply: She’s a pretty big deal. Unfortunately, she’s also a human who gets sick (or at least that’s what the woman seated next to me heard), and wasn’t able to perform during opening night of The Bodyguard: The Musical at Wharton Center in Lansing. Cue the understudy, Jasmin Richardson.
It has been roughly 180 years since Frederic Chopin composed his piano etudes. In proficient hands, these brief musical exercises sound as fresh and poignant as the time when Chopin first created them. On the fingertips of a fearless and imaginative master, they become individual masterpieces in their own right.
The Grand Rapids Ballet’s 2017-2018 season opener, From Russia With Love, offers a soaring sampling of some of the greatest classical dance in the Russian style, and it was performed with a passion and grace that can only be interpreted as coming from the fire of love central to all great artists’ work. The love exchange evident in the Peter Martin Wege Theatre is profound; the loop from tradition to dancer to audience member is infinite and deeply satisfying.
A family simply trying to make ends meet is at the center of “Detroit ‘67,” a drama written by Dominique Morisseau and being performed by Grand Rapids’ Ebony Road Players. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Detroit riots, and the community came out to see a show that strongly reflected the Motown era and, in many ways, eerily mirrored today’s society as well.
“Gypsy” is beloved as the pinnacle of mid-20th century musicals, and despite the increasing distance from the era of vaudeville, remains relevant for its complex female characters and depiction of the tumultuous nature of the mother-daughter relationship, a theme that will never die, as well as its enduring numbers (music by Jule Styne with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), such as “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Let Me Entertain You,” that have become standards.
The night was magical at Civic Theatre as the Grand Rapids theater community came together to celebrate the Grand Awards, a local, annual event that awards outstanding actors and shows in the city.
Visceral Dance Chicago’s company name could be perceived as intending to mean felt in the gut, or instinctive. One can’t help but walk away from a performance feeling the profound sense that this company’s work is all that and more.
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