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Posted on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 10:20 a.m.

'Broadway and Tin Pan Alley' events at AADL, 'Lend Me a Tenor' at Encore Musical Theatre

By Carla Milarch

The spring holidays are upon us, and whether you’re finding eggs, the Afikomen, or just your spring coat, it’s a great time to celebrate (hopefully) deliverance from a nasty winter.

Meanwhile, Washtenaw County’s theaters deliver to you a spring feast of theatrical goodness, from a celebration of Broadway from the Ann Arbor District Library, to two new shows in previews at The Purple Rose and Encore Musical Theatre.

No need to go hunting for bargains, either. Three of the events listed below are free, and three are offering special discounts this week. Grab your Easter bonnet, and (hopefully) your spring coat and see some great theater this week!

Show: “America's Music Film & Discussion: Broadway And Tin Pan Alley” one-time event, Wednesday, March 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Company: Ann Arbor District Library
Type of Company: Community event
Venue/location: Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room, 343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 13+
Description: Mark Clague, associate professor of musicology and director of research at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, leads this screening and discussion session on Broadway and Tin Pan Alley Music focusing on the film "Broadway: The American Musical, Episode 2: Syncopated City (1919-1933)." Narrated by Julie Andrews, it features on-camera commentary by historians as well as performers, writers and critics including Stephen Sondheim, Andre de Shields and John Lahr. Broadway during the Jazz Age showcased the sweeping changes transforming American culture: new roles for women; the mixing of social classes in Prohibition-era speakeasies; new creative opportunities for African Americans in jazz clubs and music halls. But the success of the "talkies," which lured musical talent to Hollywood and the collapse of Wall Street in 1929 brought Broadway to its knees and the Jazz Age to a crashing halt.
Fun fact: The Ann Arbor District Library is one of 50 sites nationwide to host this 8-week program series (which this week centers of Broadway). It is a project by the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music. America's Music has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. The AADL series is also co-sponsored by The Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library, Kerrytown Concert House, UMS and WCBN 88.3-FM.
For tickets and information: 734-327-4555,

Show: “America's Music Concert: A Salute To Broadway And Tin Pan Alley” with Barbara Wisse and Mark Kahny, one-time event, March 28 at 8 p.m.
Company: Ann Arbor District Library
Type of Company: Community Event
Venue/location: Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 13+
Description: AADL presents this special concert as part of its series “America's Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway.” This eight-week documentary film/ discussions series focuses on 20th century American popular music and features related concerts performed by some of the area's most prominent musicians. Barbara Wisse's silky voice has been heard on stages throughout West Michigan and she was featured on Circle Theatre's "Tapestry, The Music of Carol King" CD. Pianist Mark Kahny is one of West Michigan's finest keyboard and vocal talents and was recently named West Michigan Jazz Society's 2012 Musician of the Year. With a degree in classical piano performance from the University of Cincinnati's Conservatory of Music, he has toured from Vegas to Chicago with a 9-piece horn band, Kops & Robbers, and throughout the Midwest with the wildly entertaining vocal trio Boogie Woogie Babies.
Fun fact: The Ann Arbor District Library is one of fifty sites nationwide to host this 8-week program series (which this week centers on Broadway). It is a project by the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music.
For tickets and information: 734-327-4555,

Show: "Songs for Survivors" Sunday March 31st at 4 and 7 p.m.
Company: Akip Productions.
Type of Company: Cancer Benefit concert.
Venue/location: Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor.
Recommended ages: 14+
Description: AKip Productions assembles various University of Michigan musical theater students, graduates, professors, and local Ann Arbor artists to celebrate cancer survivorship through music. This concert will be a voice for survivors by spreading awareness, hope, and inspiration. All performers have a connection to survivorship either through personal experience, family, or friends."
More information
Fun fact: Alex was given a 15-30% chance of survival after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma as a senior at U-M. During subsequent treatment at the U-M Medical Center, Kip lost his voice. “Now able to sing again,” he said, “I’m giving the gift back.” Now in complete remission, Kip put together Songs For Survivors.
For tickets and information:
Special ticket offer: Special $5 price for students!

Show: “Gap Yah” by Declan Sheahan, through March 30
Company: Basement Arts
Type of Company: Student Produced
Venue/location: Studio 1 in the Walgreen Drama Center 1226 Murfin, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 18+
Description: “Gap Yah” tells the coming-of-age story of Harold, a quirky but endearing high school senior stuck in a rut after graduation. When his girlfriend Courtney humiliates him with a public breakup, Harold takes off on a gap year to India with his closest friends. What starts off as a trip to prove his worth to Courtney turns into an adventure of epic proportions!
Fun fact: “Gap Yah” is an original student-written play by Declan Sheahan, who is currently an exchange student at U of M. He is from London originally, and the play is partly inspired by true events! This is the world premiere production of his play.
For tickets and information: Tickets are free and available on a first-come first-served basis at the door 15 minutes prior to the start of the show.


photo by Peter Smith Photography | courtesy of the University of Michigan

Show: “Ariadne auf Naxos” by Richard Strausss, through March 31
Company: UM Opera Theatre
Type of Company: Higher Education
Venue/location: Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, in the Michigan League, 911 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: Opera meets Second City in this funny tale of two performance troupes forced to present simultaneously when their patron decides the show must end in time for the evening fireworks. There are plenty of fireworks onstage and off as the two contrasting groups pull together to perform the Greek myth of Ariadne on the isle of Naxos, with a few twists and some real-life love stories thrown into the mix. The opera features an intoxicatingly beautiful score by Strauss.
Preview article from
Fun fact: Originally written in 1912, the opera was revised in 1916. The revised version has been a regular offering in opera houses around the world since that time.
For tickets and information: 734-764-2538 or online at

Show: “Edward the Second” by Jason Sebacher, based on the play by Christopher Marlowe, through March 31
Company: The New Theatre Project
Type of Company: Professional Non-Equity
Venue/location: Mix Performance Space, 130 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
Recommended ages: 18+, Contains violence, strong language, sexual simulations, and nudity.
Description: A party boy, a loser, a pothead, a wastoid, now a king. Edward, not ready for the call of adulthood, crashes in his dad’s basement with his disreputable boyfriend, Pierce. His brother Kent lives under the burden of his beloved father, and his wife Isabel will only put up with it for so long before her ambitions get the best of her. The New Theatre Project’s first history play adaptation exists in the tensions between power and desire, pain and pleasure, and past and present. The classic love story--with its unforgettable, explosive ending--is about the impossibility of young love and the casualties of adulthood.
More information
Fun fact: The Prospect Theatre Company's production of the play, starring Ian McKellen and James Laurenson, caused a sensation when it was broadcast by the BBC during the 1970s. Numerous other productions followed, starring actors such as Simon Russell Beale and Joseph Fiennes. In 1995 a ballet adaptation was created for Stuttgart Ballet.
For tickets and information:

Show: “Good People” by David Lindsay-Abaire, EXTENDED through April 7
Company: Performance Network Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 16+
Description: When you got nothin', you got nothin' to lose - or so it would seem for Margie Walsh, a Dollar Store worker from Boston's Southie district, where this week's paycheck pays last week's bills, and a round of Bingo is a night on the town. Fired from her job and facing eviction, she reaches out in desperation to a high school boyfriend who has made it out, inviting herself to a chic cocktail party in his home. Once there, a series of awkward moments reveals a secret about their past, putting Margie in the driver's seat for the first time. This 2011 Tony nominee is a touching and funny look at America's great economic divide.
Review from the Detroit Free Press
Fun Fact: Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire wrote the book and lyrics for the new musical Shrek the Musical which opened on Broadway in 2009 and in London in 2011.
For tickets and information:, 734-663-0681
Special ticket offer: For the production of “Good People” only, Performance Network is offering 10 pay-what-you-can tickets every Thursday. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis beginning at 10 am each Thursday, and can be reserved by calling the box office.

Show: “Lend Me a Tenor” by Ken Ludwig, through April 14
Name of Company: The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Type of Company: Professional Equity Guest Appearance Contract
Venue/location: The Encore Musical Theatre Company, 3126 Broad Street, Dexter
Recommended ages: 14+
Description: It is 1934, and the renowned tenor Tito Merelli is scheduled to sing the lead in Otello. The opera is being produced as a gala fundraiser for the Cleveland Opera Company. Unfortunately, even before the star leaves his hotel room, everything begins to unravel. Chaos ensues with endless cases of mistaken identity, farcical plot twists, innuendos, door slamming, and spit takes! Encore’s first non-musical is filled with music, comedy, and hijinks.
Preview from
Fun fact: “Lend Me a Tenor” has been translated into 16 languages, and performed in 25 countries.
For tickets and information:, 734-268-6200 Special ticket offer: This Thursday only, all tickets $18! (March 28).

Show: “33 Variations” by Moises Kaufman, through June 1*
Company: The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
Venue/location: The Purple Rose Theatre Company, 137 Park Street, Chelsea
Recommended ages: 16+ Contains adult language and content.
Description: In 19th century Austria, Ludwig van Beethoven works obsessively on a commission he cannot complete. In present day, musicologist Katherine Brandt struggles to solve the mystery behind her professional passion: Beethoven’s oft overlooked “Diabelli Variations”. As she races against time, Katherine not only discovers the true nature of Beethoven’s work, but gains insight into the other mystery in her life: her daughter. Moving between the past and the present, 33 Variations illustrates how the very passions that threaten to overwhelm us can also save us.
Fun fact: Each of the 700 books that appear on the stage were created in the PRTC scene shop by the apprentices and our technical director. For tickets and information: 734-433-7673 or
Special ticket offer: $10 off up to 4 tickets for new reservations with code: SPRING.
*There is no performance on Sunday, March 31.