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Posted on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 7:57 a.m.

'Bernhardt on Broadway' at WCC, 'A Body of Water' at Mix

By Carla Milarch

With the recent spate of sunny days, 2012 sure feels like it’s off to a great start. One look at the theater calendar for the month of January gives me the same warm fuzzies. Just two weekends in, and the listings are already chock full of lectures, special events and major productions.

Numerous shows are opening this week, and several one-day events include lectures by theatrical greats David Henry Hwang and Robert Wilson, as well as local hero Ralph Williams. There’s even a new theater company making it’s way onto the scene—a hearty “Break a leg” to Threefold Productions on their inaugural show!

With all this good stuff happening in area theaters you may find it hard to spend a night at home. But isn’t that why we live here, after all? Enjoying all the enriching experiences Washtenaw County has to offer is one of its denizens’ favorite pastimes.

Show: Laughter on the Edge of the Abyss: Ralph Williams lecture on humor in Shakespeare’s Tragedies, one-time event, Jan. 12, 10 a.m.
Company: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Type of Company: Lecture Series for ages 50+
Venue/location: Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, 2900 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: All OLLI events are open to anyone over age 50
Description: Ralph Williams, professor emeritus of English language and literature at the University of Michigan, will delineate Shakespeare’s uses of humor within the direst tragedies. He is known for his courses on Shakespeare, the Bible in English, and Primo Levy, and has received numerous awards, including the first Lifetime Golden Apple Teaching Award.
More information on
Fun fact: Professor Williams recently played a lead role in the movie “Answer This!” filmed in Ann Arbor.
For tickets and information:, 734-998-9351

Show: David Henry Hwang lecture, one-time event, Jan. 13, 4 p.m.
Company: Sponsored by the U of M Confucius Institute and the Department of Comparative Literature
Type of Company: Educational
Venue/location: Michigan League, 911 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: The creator of the Tony Award-winning play "M. Butterfly," David Henry Hwang will discuss his new Broadway hit, "Chinglish."
Article from
Fun fact: Hwang won the Tony in 1988. His current show is a comedy about a U.S. businessman trying to secure a lucrative deal in China.
For tickets and information: 734-764-0446. The talk is free and open to the public, with a reception afterward.

Show: "Bernhardt on Broadway," by Carol Dunitz, Jan. 14 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Company: Privately produced
Type of Company: Pre-professional
Venue/location: Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E. Huron River Dr., Ypsilanti
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: A one-woman musical about Sarah Bernhardt, often referred to as the most famous actress who ever lived. Set in the 1890s when the Divine Sarah was at the height of her career, the show is reminiscent of the Golden Age of Musicals. This "no holds barred" exposé profiles the world's first superstar, the daughter of a Jewish courtesan who overcame countless obstacles, formed her own theatre company, and traveled the globe performing to sold out crowds from Russia to Brazil.
Fun fact: Bernhardt initiated celebrity product endorsements and hobnobbed with royalty on a regular basis. She starred in Queen Elizabeth, the first full-length silent film. Film distribution receipts in the United States enabled Adolph Zukor to co-found what is today known as Paramount Pictures.
Preview from
For tickets and information:, 734-864-3244. Hear song excerpts and see video at

Show: Philip Glass & Robert Wilson lecture, one-time event, Jan. 15, 4 p.m.
Company: Penny Stamps Lecture Series
Type of Company: Educational
Venue/Location: Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor
Recommended Ages: 12+
Description: Philip Glass is a New York-based composer of avant-garde music, known for an elaborately structured and repetitive style that has been ironically dubbed as "minimalist." Robert Wilson is an American avant-garde stage director and playwright who is considered one of the world’s foremost vanguard theater artists. Together the two are best known for their collaboration on the four-act opera “Einstein on the Beach”.
Fun Fact: Established with the generous support of alumna Penny W. Stamps, the Speaker Series brings respected emerging and established artists/designers from a broad spectrum of media to conduct public lectures and engage with students, faculty, and the larger U of M and Ann Arbor communities.
For information:, 734-668-8397,

Show: The “It Gets Better” Project Cabaret, one-time event, Jan. 16, 8 p.m.
Company: Students of the UM Musical Theatre Department
Type of Company: Benefit concert
Venue/location: Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. 4th Ave., Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: Growing up isn't easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, leading them to feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens, who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. The “It Gets Better Project” was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach—if they can just get through their teen years. Visit for more information.
Fun fact: “The students of the Musical Theatre department at the University of Michigan want to relay the same message. That it DOES get better. Please join us as we share our love and support for the “It Get’s Better Project” the best way we know how: a night of pop and musical theatre songs. Donations welcome.”
For tickets and information:, 734-769-2999


photo by James Cheek | courtesy of Performance Network

Show: “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton, through Feb. 19
Company: Performance Network Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Equity (SPT)
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 East Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 16+, Contains adult themes and language.
Description: Boys will be boys, but adults will be worse! In this 2009 Tony-winner for Best Play, two couples meet at one of their homes to discuss a playground altercation between their young children. Hostility rumbles just under the surface, as their civilized battle of wits and words devolves into a hilariously chaotic evening, where nothing is safe, not even the furniture. This comedy of (bad) manners will change the way you look at polite conversation. Contains adult themes.
Preview from
Fun fact: In the “it’s a small world after all” category: Phil Powers—Chelsea native, PNT associate artist, and former resident artist at the Purple Rose plays “Alan”—the role Jeff Daniels, Chelsea native and executive director of the Purple Rose, originated on Broadway.
For tickets and information: 734-663-0696,

Show: “A Body of Water” by Lee Blessing, through Jan. 28
Company: Threefold Productions
Type of Company: Pre-professional
Venue/location: Mix Performance Space, 8 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti
Recommended ages: 16+
Description: Lee Blessing's tragic tale of Moss and Avis, a middle-aged couple who wake up one morning in an isolated summerhouse high above a picturesque body of water with a perplexing problem—neither of them can remember who they are. When a young woman named Wren arrives, information starts to flood in. But will it help? Her explanations seem only to make Moss and Avis' world—as well as ours—more terrifying.
Fun fact: Threefold Productions is a new theatre collaborative committed to:
• Creating theater that provokes genuine emotion within its audience.
• Contributing to the thriving artistic community of the Metro-Detroit area.
• Testing the boundaries of the traditional theatrical experience through bold, individual choices in scripts, design elements and performance.
• Providing a platform where both professional artists and emerging talents are able to express and develop a distinct viewpoint.
• The idea that theater is a mercurial art form that continues to evolve long after show has opened.
For tickets and information:



Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

The photo for Performance Network's GOD OF CARNAGE must be one of the worst publicity photos ever. Who's idea was that! And again, self promotion runs rife, the only photo used in the article is of a production at Ms. Milarch's, Performance Network. mmmmm!


Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

I wasn't responding to the photo being in A2 News, merely that it was a bad idea for a publicity photo in the first place.

Bob Needham

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Just FYI, I'm the one who inserts the photos in this column, not Carla.