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Posted on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:50 a.m.

'Go, Dog. Go!' at EMU, 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' in Saline fun for the whole family

By Carla Milarch

With December upon us, the holiday onslaught has officially begun. Just this last week, we’ve had Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, each designed to get people out (or in) spending their dollars at this critical time for retailers.

I think my personal favorite of the above is Small Business Saturday, and I ask you to consider its application for the whole month of December, not just for local retailers and merchants, but for local arts organizations as well.

Sure, there’s a plethora of overproduced bus and truck tours coming through Detroit for the holidays, but why not give “Donny and Marie - A Broadway Christmas” a pass this year in favor of holiday entertainment that’s Michigan made?

All the shows listed below are home grown, and plenty are world class, with some theaters in the area boasting talent that equals any in the country. No, you won’t see any flying Christmas trees, but you might just have an unforgettable experience that’s full of spirit and heart—and isn’t that really what the holidays are all about?

Theater listings for the week

Show: “BARE: A Pop Opera,” book by Jon Hartmere and Damon Intrabartolo, music by Damon Intrabartolo, lyrics by Jon Hartmere, through Dec. 3
Company: Basement Arts
Type of Company: Student produced
Venue/location: Studio 1, Walgreen Drama Center, 1226 Murfin, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 16+
Description: BARE centers on a group of Catholic high school students who struggle with identity, sexuality, religion and body image as they prepare to graduate from their senior year of high school. While they begin to discover the world around them and prepare to embark on the rest of their lives, it becomes exceedingly clear that the future brings with it unforeseen obstacles. Its vibrant score incorporates music from various contemporary music genres.
Fun fact: “Bare: A Pop Opera” is presented in partnership with the University of Michigan Spectrum Center, which has been serving U of M’s LGBT community for 40 years.
For tickets and information: Admission is free;

Show: “Princess Ida; or, Castle Adamant” music by Arthur Sullivan, libretto by W.S. Gilbert, through Dec. 3
Company: UM Gilbert and Sullivan Society (UMGASS)
Type of Company: Community Theater
Venue/location: Lydia Mendelssohn, 911 N. University Ave. Michigan League, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: Princess Ida is a princess who founds a women's university and teaches that women are superior to men and should rule in their stead. The prince to whom she had been married in infancy sneaks into the university, together with two friends, with the aim of collecting his bride. They disguise themselves as women students but are discovered, and all soon face a literal war between the sexes.
Preview from
Fun fact: The opera satirizes feminism, women’s education and evolution, which were controversial topics in Victorian England. It is the only G&S opera in three acts and the only one with dialogue in blank verse.
For tickets and information: 734-763-3333,

Show: “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” Written and directed by Kara Cardella, through Dec. 4
Company: Saline Area Players
Type of Company: Community Theater
Venue/location: Stone Arch and Events, 117 S. Ann Arbor St., Saline
Recommended ages: 5+
Description: The story is based on the famous song by the same name, and includes favorite characters like Rudolph, Santa and Mrs. Claus, reindeer and elves, plus some new characters. The story highlights the growing years of Rudolph, the reindeer that was born with a shiny nose and later goes on to lead Santa's sleigh. It is a family event filled with humor, a lovely message about celebrating our differences, and familiar music.
Fun fact: Be prepared for some fun audience interaction. In addition, SAP will be supporting Toys for Tots by having a collection box at the play for those who want to donate new toys for kids.
For tickets and information:, 734-429-1480

Show: Fats Waller - Ain't Misbehavin Lecture By James Dapogny With Musical Interludes, one-time event, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
Company: Performance Network and Ann Arbor District Library
Type of Company: Professional Equity (SPT)
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 East Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: Join Performance Network Theatre and the Ann Arbor District Library for a delightful evening that gets to the roots of the famous musical “Ain’t Misbehavin.” This event will feature a lecture by Professor James Dapogny, well-known pianist, recording artist and jazz connoisseur. Professor Dapogny will speak on the early 20th century jazz composer, Thomas “Fats” Waller, whose influential music comprises the 1978 Tony Award-winning musical. The evening will feature performance examples of Fats Waller’s innovative music.
Fun fact: Following the event, join Mr. Dapogny at The Ravens Club, on Main Street, where a reception will be held, featuring complimentary appetizers and a cash bar. The public is invited.
For tickets and information: There is no charge for admission - for more info visit or

Show: “Go, Dog. Go!” based on the book by P.D. Eastman, adapted by Steven Dietz & Allison Gregory, music by Michael Koerner, through December 11
Company: EMU Theatre
Type of Company: Higher Education
Venue/location: Quirk Theatre, Quirk Dramatic Arts Building, intersection of East Circle Drive and Best Hall, EMU’s Ypsilanti Campus
Recommended ages: 5+
Description: Based on the beloved children’s book by P.D. Eastman, this zany musical adaptation is a lively adventure for the young and the young-at-heart! "Go, Dog. Go!" follows the antics of several colorful dogs who behave an awful lot like humans- driving cars, getting jobs, having parties and wearing hats! Audiences will enjoy the high energy of these canine characters riding everything on wheels they can find!
Preview from
Fun fact: Arrive early (30 minutes before show time) to enjoy some additional fun and games in the Quirk lobby.
For tickets and information: 734.487.2282,,

Show: “Fugue” by Audra Lord, through Dec. 18
Company: The New Theatre Project
Type of Company: Professional Non-Equity
Venue/location: Mix Performance Space, 130 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
Recommended ages: 16+
Description: In a bleak, institutional space, James, Julie, Tina and Princess Stephanie recover from a shared tragic event that resulted in the complete loss of their memories. Fugue follows their attempts to remember, to forget, and to piece together their shared and individual identities. Is it better to leave the past behind? Or, to remember, no matter what the cost?
Fun fact: Penned by Detroit playwright Audra Lord (not to be confused with New York poet Audre Lorde) “Fugue” was workshopped locally earlier this year at the Blackbird Theatre, and at Performance Network’s Fireside Festival of New Work.
For tickets and information: Call or text 734-645-9776,

Show: “It's a Wonderful Life - An Original Musical” through Dec. 23
Company: The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Type of Company: Equity Special Appearance Contract
Venue/location: 3126 Broad Street, Dexter MI
Recommended ages: 6+
Description: George Bailey and his bumbling Guardian Angel, Clarence return to The Encore for a second year. Based on the classic holiday film of the same name starring Jimmy Stewart, it takes place in Bedford Falls, New York, 1946. Bailey, who has long considered himself a failure, faces financial ruin and arrest and doubts his own self worth. But, high above Bedford Falls an eternally bumbling Angel, Clarence Oddbody, is sent from Heaven to help George out.
Preview from
Fun fact: The original Capra film was initially considered a box office flop due to high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release. The film's break-even point was $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it didn’t come close to achieving in its initial release.
For tickets and information:, 734-268-6200
Special ticket offer: Thursday night is Industry Night. Tickets for theatre professionals are only $15, cash or check only, available at the door, one hour prior to show time in exchange for a headshot and resume.

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: According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city of Escanaba is the third largest city in the Upper Peninsula, with a population of 12,616. The largest city? Marquette, with a population of 19,661.
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 tolk 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 Encore Michigan
Fun fact: Fats Waller was not only a jazz pianist, but an accomplished organist, who at the age of 14 was playing the organ at Harlem's Lincoln Theater. Waller performed Bach organ pieces for small groups on occasion and his organ music was prominently featured in the David Lynch cult classic “Eraserhead.”
For tickets and information: 734-663-0696,
Special ticket offer: 20 percent off gift certificates available now through Dec. 25