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Posted on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:36 a.m.

'Light Cavalry' at Comic Opera Guild, 'The Altruists' at Basement Arts

By Carla Milarch

I’m putting all my money on Punxsutawney Phil. Now that the prognosticating Pennsylvanian has promised us an early spring, it almost makes life in a snowdrift seem bearable. Thank goodness there’s also Washtenaw County theater, to help us while away the next six weeks (or fewer).

This week’s listings are world-class, musical and delicious. Crush out on a fine selection of chocolates to support accessibility in children’s theater (seriously, how can you NOT love that?), grab some popcorn and watch a world-class show on the big screen, or put your toe-tapping shoes on and tap along to one of the finest musical scores in American theater history.

With so much to see and do, you might not even notice that it's freezing outside. Don’t worry, you still have plenty of time to dust off your spring wardrobe.

Show: “Chocolate Crush,” Feb. 9, 6:30 p.m.
Company: Wild Swan Theatre
Type of Company: Professional theater for families
Venue/location: Lake Forest Golf Club, 3110 W. Ellsworth Road, Ann Arbor
Description: The area’s premiere Chocolatiers and chefs, including Schakolad Chocolate Factory, Mindo Chocolate, Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory, the Ravens Club, AG Chocolates, and Bab’s Underground Lounge present delectable creations for Wild Swan’s supporters. Savory appetizers from The Grange Kitchen & Bar and What’s Cooking!, beer from Wolverine Brewing Company, and wine and from our best local purveyors will also delight guests. Musical entertainment will be provided by the Royal Garden Trio. Funds raised support Wild Swan’s groundbreaking audience accessibility, scholarship, and outreach programs that ensure that children of all abilities can experience the joy and wonder of Wild Swan Theater.
More information
Fun Fact: Wild Swan offers one of the most comprehensive audience accessibility programs in the nation. American Sign Language interpretation, audio description, and back-stage “touch tours” allow us to provide a full theater experience for patrons who are blind, deaf, mentally, or physically disabled.
For tickets and information:, (734) 995-0530

Show: “The Magistrate” by Arthur Wing Pinero, one-time event, Feb. 10, at 7 pm
Company: The Michigan Theater
Type of Company: High-Definition Broadcast from the National Theatre, London
Venue/location: Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: Academy Award nominee and Tony Award-winner John Lithgow (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Shrek, 3rd Rock from the Sun) takes the title role in Arthur Wing Pinero’s uproarious Victorian farce, directed by Olivier Award-winner Timothy Sheader (Crazy for You and Into the Woods, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London).
Fun fact: In a similar vein to the National Theatre’s smash-hit classic comedies, "She Stoops to Conquer" and "London Assurance," "The Magistrate" is sure to have audiences doubled up with laughter. When amiable magistrate Posket marries Agatha, little does he realise she’s dropped five years from her age - and her son’s. When her deception looks set to be revealed, it sparks a series of hilarious indignities and outrageous mishaps.
For tickets and information: 800-745-3000,

Show: “The Altruists” by Nicky Silver, through Feb. 9
Company: Basement Arts
Type of Company: Student Produced Free Theatre
Venue/location: Studio One, Walgreen Drama Center, 1226 Murfin, Ann Arbor
Recommended Ages: 16+
Description: The Altruists revolves around a dedicated, if disorganized and demented, group of young radicals whose morality is put to the test when Sydney, a shallow, anorexic soap-opera actress, fires a gun into the hulking body of her sleeping boyfriend. Terrified, she looks to her brother, Ronald, the center of this merry band of radicals, for help, and when Sydney pressures him, revealing her vulnerability and her real affection for the first time, Ronald acquiesces, making the ultimate sacrifice, that of his own happiness for the greater good.
Fun Fact: Nicky Silver wrote the new book for the Broadway revival of the Rodgers and Hart musical, The Boys from Syracuse, produced by the Roundabout Theater Company in 2002.
For tickets and Information:


photo courtesy of

Show: “Light Cavalry” by Franz Von Suppe, through February 9
Company: The Comic Opera Guild
Type of Company: Community Opera
Venue/location: Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in Ann Arbor.
Recommended Ages: 12+
Description: This charming operetta tells the story of Wilma, a beautiful young girl found wandering as a child, who has been treated as a cleaning wench by the mayor and his wife, and kept from her lover. When a troop of Hussars comes to town, it turns out that she is the lost daughter of the colonel, who makes it his business to see to it that some comeuppance is delivered, in a very amusing way. preview
Fun Fact: This historic North American premiere of "Light Cavalry" will be the first ever in English, although its famous overture is known worldwide. It will result in the first commercially available CDs and DVDs of this charming operetta. Written in 1866 and performed in 2013 by the Comic Opera Guild, "Light Cavalry" is the first Viennese operetta to incorporate Hungarian themes, which led to the success of later shows such as Strauss' "Gypsy Baron."
For tickets and Information: 734-763-8587,

Show: “Anything Goes” Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter; through Feb. 9
Company: Burns Park Players
Type of Company: Community
Venue/location: Tappan Middle School, 2251 E. Stadium, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: All
Description: Aboard the S.S. American, headed from New York to London, we meet Billy Crocker, a stowaway who has fallen in love with the American debutante and heiress Hope Harcourt. Billy enlists the help of evangelist-turned-nightclub-singer Reno Sweeney and “Public Enemy No. 13” Moonface Martin in trying to win Hope away from her fiancé, the wealthy Englishman Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Exotic disguise, blackmail, and madcap antics ensue.
Review from
Fun fact:
For tickets and information:
Special ticket offer: Patron tickets are also available for $30. They are the best seats in the house and include parking. For patron tickets, please email with “Patron Tickets” in the subject line. Indicate in the body of the email how many patron tickets you would like, and specify which dates.

Show: “Brill” by David Wells, with songs by Frank Allison, through Feb. 10
Company: Performance Network Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: Located at Broadway and 49th Street in Manhattan, the famous Brill Building was once the epicenter of the pop music universe, where a musician could find a publisher, cut a demo, promote the record, and make a deal with radio promoters - all within one building. In this “lyrical” comedy set in 1959, a washed up Big Band songwriter faces the inevitability of rock and roll when a young woman shows up at his office with her guitar, her aspirations, and more than a few secrets. Can this odd couple make beautiful music together - or will their culture clash land one of them out on the streets?
Review from Chelsea Patch
Fun Fact: The origins of the name "Tin Pan Alley" are unclear. The most popular account holds that it was originally a derogatory reference in the New York Herald referring to the sound made by many pianos all playing different tunes being exactly like the banging of many tin pans in an alleyway. With time, this nickname was popularly embraced and many years later it came to describe the U.S. music industry in general.
For tickets and information:, 734-663-0681

Show: “Prince Darling” by Naia Venturi, based on the fairy tale by Andrew Lang, through Feb. 17
Company: Dreamland Theater Puppet Troupe
Type of Company: Pre-professional
Venue/location: Dreamland Theater, 26 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti
Recommended ages: All
Description: A fairy tale in which the title character learns that it’s is nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice. In this marionette show based on the fairy tale by Andrew Lang, Prince Darling, spoiled son of the Good King, is taught a lesson by the fairy of truth. “Prince Darling” plays every Sunday in January.
Fun Fact: Puppetry is a very ancient art form, thought to have originated about 3000 years ago. Some historians claim that they predate actors in theater. There is evidence that they were used in Egypt as early as 2000 BC when string-operated figures of wood were manipulated to perform the action of kneading bread.
For tickets and information: email

Show: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, through March 3
Company: Encore Musical Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Equity Guest Appearance Contract
Venue/location: Encore Musical Theatre, 3126 Broad Street, Dexter
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: The first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice tells the story of a young man named Joseph living in the land of Canaan. His father's favorite son, Joseph is perhaps a little spoiled. While the rest of his brothers are forced to wear sheepskin, he struts around in a fabulous rainbow-colored coat, a gift from his adoring father. The rest of Joseph's brothers aren't too pleased with the situation, and when Joseph goes so far as to tell them of a dream he has had in which their stacks of wheat bow down to his stack of wheat, they decide they have finally had enough.
Preview from
Fun fact: Lasting only fifteen minutes when it was originally presented as a cantata at the Colet Court School in London on March 1, 1968, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was revised five years later by Webber and Rice, expanded to 40 minutes, and presented at the West End. It was expanded again, this time to 90 minutes, before its first New York production at the Boston Academy of Music in 1976. In 1981, the show opened at an East Village theater and ran 77 performances before moving to the Royale on January 27, 1982, where it remained for 747 performances.
For tickets and information: 734-433-7673 or

Show: “The Meaning of Almost Everything” by Jeff Daniels, through March 9
Company: The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
Venue/location: The Purple Rose Theatre, 137 Park Street, Chelsea, MI 48118
Recommended ages: 17+
Description: Step right up and grab a seat for the hilarious and sometimes painful circus that is life! Two men will astound you with their feats of daring and sometimes cowardice as they pratfall their way to the big answers in The Meaning of Almost of Everything. This world premiere comedy questions the nature of our world and the absurdity of it all.
Review from the Jackson Citizen Patriot
Fun fact: Lighting designer Noele Stollmack makes her PRTC debut with this production. Noele is from Wisconsin and has designed lighting for theater and opera all over the world.
For tickets and information: 734-433-7673 or