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Posted on Wed, Oct 26, 2011 : 7:17 a.m.

Beckett double bill at the Power Center and 'Death of a Salesman' at the Arthur Miller Theatre

By Carla Milarch

Works by two literary giants of the Western canon lead the listings this week—a double bill of Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame” and “Watt,” and Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” Both performances are must-adds to the serious theater-goer’s resume.

These significant playwrights were quite different in style and theme. Arthur Miller (one of the University of Michigan’s famous alums) chronicled stories of the American workingman, and wrote about the socio-political landscape of the 1950s and '60s. Beckett, an Irishman and disciple of James Joyce, embraced absurdism and minimalism while exploring the theme that life is short and brutal.

Of course, if serious literature isn’t your thing, you can always check out some of the lighter fare such as “Evil Dead: the Musical” or “Escanaba in da’ Moonlight"!

Theater listings for the week

Show: Double Bill: “Endgame” and “Watt” by Samuel Beckett, through Oct. 29
Company: The Gate Theatre of Dublin, presented by University Musical Society
Type of Company: Tour
Venue/location: The Power Center, 121 Fletcher Street, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: All
Description: “Endgame” is considered one of Beckett’s most important works — second in popularity only to “Waiting for Godot” — and written in a style associated with the Theater of the Absurd. “Watt,” Beckett’s second published novel in English is characterized by an almost hypnotic use of repetition, extreme deadpan philosophical humor, deliberate misuse of the English language, and rich visual descriptions.
Preview from
Fun fact: “Watt,” was largely written while the author was in hiding in the south of France during World War II.
For tickets and information: 734-764-2538,

Show: “The House of Blue Leaves” by John Guare, one-time event, Oct. 29
Company: University of Michigan Department of Theatre and Drama

Type of Company: Senior Directing Thesis of BFA Directing Candidate, Richard Grasso.
Venue/location: Studio 1 of the Walgreen Drama Center 1226 Murfin, North Campus of University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Recommended ages: 13+

Description: John Guare's play is set in Brooklyn in 1965, on the day Pope Paul VI visited New York City. The dark comedy features nuns, a political bombing, a GI headed for Vietnam, a zookeeper who dreams of making it big in Hollywood as a songwriter, and his wife Bananas, a schizophrenic destined for the institution that provides the play's title.
Fun fact: Paul VI was born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini on September 26, 1897, and reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death in 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it. He fostered improved ecumenical relations with Orthodox and Protestants, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements.
For tickets and information: Free admission. No reservations required.

Show: “The Kitchen” by Arnold Wesker, one-time event, Oct. 30

Company: National Theatre at the Michigan Theater
Type of Company: Delayed cinema broadcast of a live performance
Venue/location: Michigan Theater, 603 East Liberty, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: All
Description: In the kitchen of an enormous West End restaurant in 1950s London, the orders are piling up: a post-war feast of soup, fish, cutlets, omelettes, and fruit flans. Thrown together by their work, chefs, waitresses, and porters from across Europe — English, Irish, German, Jewish — argue and flirt as they race to keep up. In between preparing dishes, Peter, a high-spirited young cook, manages to strike up an affair with married waitress Monique, the whole time dreaming of a better life. But in the all-consuming clamor of the kitchen, nothing is far from the brink of collapse.
Fun fact: Arnold Wesker’s play premiered at the Royal Court in 1959 and has since been performed in over 30 countries. “The Kitchen” puts the workplace center stage in a darkly funny and furious examination of life lived at breakneck speed.
For tickets and information: 734-764-2538,

Show: “Death of a Salesman” through Oct. 30
Company: Ann Arbor Civic Theatre
Type of Company: Community
Venue/location: The Arthur Miller Theatre of the Walgreen Drama Center 1226 Murfin, North Campus of University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Recommended ages: 11+
Description: "Death of a Salesman"’s Willy Loman has spent his entire life "way out there in the blue, riding a smile and a shoestring," proud of his ability to sell anything to anyone and to provide for his family. Now he finds himself down on his luck, unable to comprehend how or why he never achieved the success and fortune he dreamed of. As his life unravels, Willy attempts to examine his past, his strained relationships with his sons, and his failure to live the American Dream.
Preview from
Fun fact: The working title of the play was originally "The Inside of His Head," and Arthur Miller wanted a big head--cracked open—onstage.
For tickets and information:, 734-971-2228.
Special ticket offer: Student tickets are $10 for all performances, including Thursday.

Show: “Evil Dead: The Musical” book and lyrics by George Reinblatt, music by Frank Cipolla and Melissa Morris, through Oct. 30
Company: Dexter Community Players
Type of Company: Community Theater
Venue/Location: Copeland Auditorium, 7714 Ann Arbor St., Dexter Recommended ages: Warning! This show contains strong adult content and language. No one under the age of 16 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.
Description: Based on Sam Raimi's '80s cult classic films, “Evil Dead” tells the tale of five college students who travel to a cabin in the woods where they accidentally unleash an evil force. As musical mayhem descends upon this sleepover in the woods, "camp" takes on a whole new meaning with uproarious song and dance numbers. One of the unique parts of the show is the Splatter Zone, a reserved seating area for fans that want to get up close and personal with the show. For those not interested in encountering copious amounts of blood, non-Splatter Zone seating is available; the mid section, where you might get a bit of blood on you, and the far section, where you should be safe (no guarantees though).
Preview from
Fun Fact: Splatter Zone Survivor T-shirts will be on sale in the lobby for those ready to wear their blood with pride.
For tickets and information:, 734-726-0355

Show: “Escanaba in da Moonlight” by Jeff Daniels, through Dec. 17
Company: Purple Rose Theatre Company
Type of Company: Professional Equity (SPT)
Venue location: Purple Rose Theatre Company, 137 Park Street, Chelsea
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: As the Soady clan gathers at the family deer camp, Reuben Soady is hoping to shed the mantle of "the buckless yooper." But as opening day of deer season approaches, a series of weird occurrences and crazy locals seem to prevent him from bagging his buck. One this is sure, this hunting trip will be one for the Soady history books! Wayne David Parker (Jimmer Negamanee) returns to the role he created.
Review from
Fun Fact: Jeff Daniels is also a singer and a songwriter. He wrote a song inspired by his play "Escanaba in da Moonlight" called "The Ballad of the Buckless Yooper," which is on his album "Grandfather's Hat."
For tickets and information:, 734-433-7673
Special Ticket Offers: K-12 and University educators receive $3 off the regular ticket price for any performance in the 2011-2012 Season. Please provide valid ID (school ID or union card).