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Posted on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 7:31 a.m.

'Einstein on the Beach' at UMS, and 'God of Carnage' at Performance Network

By Carla Milarch

It's a very big week for theater in Ann Arbor, with some major productions rolling out, including the Ann Arbor preview leg of a major revival tour of the legendary “Einstein on the Beach, An Opera in Four Acts.” This remount of the five-hour epic by Philip Glass, Robert Wilson and Lucinda Childs, was commissioned in part by the University Musical Society. Possibly the only time this work will be shown in the Midwest, it’s definitely a “don’t miss” for the serious theatergoer.

For those with less time, or the slightly less adventurous, there’s also more traditional fare, including the wickedly hilarious comedy “God of Carnage” at Performance Network, which officially opens on Friday. This Tony award winning stage play was the basis for the Roman Polanski film “Carnage.”

Then there’s the touching family drama “A Stone Carver” by William Mastrosimone, which begins previews at the Purple Rose this week. Starring Artistic Director Guy Sanville and PRTC Resident artist Matt David, this rarely done play will no doubt be a display of powerhouse acting unlike any you’ve seen in a while. Acting students and students of the human condition will want to put this one on their list.

Comedy, opera, drama, children’s theater—there’s literally something for everyone this week!

Show: Producers Talk: The Business of "Einstein on the Beach", one-time event, Jan. 18, 6 p.m.
Company: University Musical Society
Type of Company: Arts Presenter
Venue/Location: U-M Ross School of Business, Wyly Hall (Room W2740) 724 E. University Ann Arbor
Description: At least a decade in the making, the 2012 remount of "Einstein on the Beach" represents a tenacious and remarkable effort on the part of its producing team. Producer Linda Brumbach and Associate Producers Alisa Regas and Kaleb Kilkenny of the Pomegranate Arts production company give their own behind-the-scenes look at what it took to bring such an extraordinary project to life, and why they chose Ann Arbor as the place it all begins.
Fun fact: Pomegranate Arts is an independent production company based in New York City dedicated to the development of “international performing arts projects that are bold, provocative and emotionally charged.”
For tickets and information: 734-764-2538, This event is free and open to the public.

Show: "Saturday Morning Physics: Einstein as a Cultural Figure," one-time event, Jan. 21, 10:30 a.m.
Company: University Musical Society
Type of Company: Arts Presenter
Venue/Location: Rackham Auditorium, 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor
Description: “Einstein on the Beach” composer Philip Glass joins a panel of special guests to ponder the cultural significance of Einstein. Glass is joined by Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist from the California Institute of Technology who has been featured in Wired magazine, The New York Times, and on Comedy Central's “The Colbert Report”; and University of Chicago cosmology scholar Michael Turner, who co-authored The Early Universe. U-M faculty member Fred Adams moderates the discussion.
Fun fact: Overall, the music of “Einstein on the Beach” demonstrates a repeating cycle that constantly delays resolution, using both additive and subtractive formulas. The three main scenes within the opera—"Train", "Trial", and "Field/Spaceship"—allude to Einstein's hypotheses about his theory of relativity and unified field theory. Other themes within the opera allude to nuclear weapons, science, and the AM radio.
For tickets and information: 734-764-2538, This event is free and open to the public.

Show: LaRon Williams, Storyteller, one-time event, Jan. 21 at 1 p.m.
Company: Performance Network Theatre
Type of Company: Children’s Theatre
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 East Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 2+
Description: LaRon Williams combines music, theatre and storytelling to create a non-stop, laugh-out-loud, interactive show that will “wow” parents and children alike. LaRon pulls from a repertoire of hundreds of stories and songs to make each show unique and appropriate for the group and the setting.
More information from
Fun fact: Performance Network’s Saturday Matinee series features a live children’s performance on the main stage once a month, followed by a milk (or juice) and cookie reception.
For tickets and information: 734-663-0696,

Show: “Einstein on the Beach, An Opera in Four Acts” by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson, Jan. 20-22
Company: University Musical Society
Type of Company: Arts Presenter
Venue/location: Power Center for the Performing Arts, 121 Fletcher Street, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: All ages
Description: This rarely performed and revolutionary work defies the rules of conventional opera. Instead of a traditional orchestral arrangement, Glass composed the work for the synthesizers, woodwinds, and voices of the Philip Glass Ensemble. Non-narrative in form, the work uses a series of powerful recurrent images shown in juxtaposition with abstract dance sequences created by American choreographer Lucinda Childs and constructed in the classical principle of theme and variation. The opera consists of four acts that are connected by a series of short scenes or “knee plays.”
Preview from
Fun fact: The performance lasts nearly five hours and has no traditional intermissions; instead, the audience is invited to wander in and out at liberty.
For tickets and information: 734-764-2538,

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 play, the hostess serves Clafoutis, a baked French dessert of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. The clafoutis is then dusted with powdered sugar and served lukewarm. The dish comes from the Limousin region of France and while black cherries are traditional there are numerous variations using other fruits.
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: One of the most prolific living playwrights, Lee Blessing has had over 25 plays produced at theaters around the country and received numerous awards, including nominations for Tony and Olivier awards, and the Pulitzer Prize. Three of his plays have been cited in Time magazine's list of the year's Ten Best. Blessing heads the graduate playwriting program at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.
For tickets and information:

Show: “A Stone Carver” by William Mastrosimone, through March 10
Company: Purple Rose Theatre Company
Type of Company: Equity SPT
Venue/location: Purple Rose Theatre, 137 Park Street, Chelsea 48118
Recommended ages: 13+
Description: “A Stone Carver” tells the story of a retired stonemason who clings to the past, and his son who refuses to look back. When Agostino, a seventh-generation stone carver is evicted from his home to make space for a highway he barricades himself in his house, determined to outlast the bulldozers. In a last-ditch effort to save his father from jail, Agostino’s only son Raff, arrives at the house with his new fiancée. A battle of wills ensues, putting their already-rocky relationship to the test. Can Raff convince his father to move forward before it’s too late?
Preview from
Fun fact: “A Stone Carver” was playwright William Mastrosimone's first play. He wrote the first version of it while he was a student at Rutgers University, under the title "The Understanding." It received a professional production under that title in 1987 at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, and then was subsequently re-written and re-titled "A Stone Carver" nearly 20 years later.
For tickets and information: or 734-433-7673
Special ticket offer: Preview ticket prices are $20-$30



Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

So the Purple Rose is not Professional Equity (SPT), just Equity (SPT)?