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Posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 7:40 a.m.

'Escanaba in da Moonlight' and 'Ain't Misbehavin'' ring in the New Year

By Carla Milarch

The last of the holiday theater comes to a close this weekend, with just two shows on the boards in Washtenaw County to wrap up 2011. But what shows they are! The Purple Rose’s “Escanaba in da Moonlight” is the legendary show that started a cult following, that started a franchise, that started a movie, and that has returned for another hurrah at the theater where it was born.

And then there’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’”—the 1978 Tony-winning musical that has audiences on their feet practically every night at Performance Network Theatre. The show has now topped last year’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” as the most popular show in PNT history.

Both shows have performances on New Year’s Eve, with tickets available as of this writing. “Escanaba”’s curtain time is at 8 p.m., while “Ain’t Misbehavin’” features a 9 p.m. curtain time, with a special New Year’s Eve party immediately following the performance. This jumpin’ jivin’ show even has a show on New Year’s day, to close out its successful run.

So if you’re not into spending New Year’s Eve in a crowded bar, why not ring in 2012 like a true sophisticate—with a deluxe night out at the theater!


photo by Sean Carter | courtesy of the Purple Rose Theatre Co.

Show: “Escanaba in da Moonlight” by Jeff Daniels, through Dec. 31
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: The 8pm show on Saturday, Dec. 31 will be the 102nd
performance of this production of “Escanaba in da Moonlight.”
For tickets and information:, 734-433-7673.

Show: “Ain’t Misbehavin’: the Fats Waller Musical Show” by Richard Maltby Jr. and Murray Horwitz, through Jan. 1
Company: Performance Network Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Equity (SPT)
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 East Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12 +
Description: The prodigious comic and musical soul of 1930s Harlem lives on in this rollicking, finger-snapping revue that is still considered one of Broadway's best. The inimitable Thomas "Fats" Waller rose to fame during the Golden Age of the Cotton Club, honky tonk dives, rent parties and that jumpin' new beat, Swing. “Ain’t Misbehavin’” evokes the delightful humor and infectious energy of this American era.
Review from the Detroit Free Press
Fun fact: “Ain’t Misbehavin’” is now officially the highest attended show in Performance Network history, having just passed last year’s smash hit “The Drowsy Chaperone” at the box office this week.
For tickets and information: 734-663-0696,
New Year’s Eve performance: Curtain time for the New Year’s Eve performance will be 9 p.m. $75 per person includes the performance, all you can eat hors d’ouevres, wine and beer after the show and a champagne toast at midnight.


Jill Pritts

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

Hi there, Escanaba has been sold out for weeks, so suggesting this as a New Year's alternative isn't very helpful. Although I always like seeing plugs for the local theater.