on stages: 'Red, White and Tuna' at PTD Productions, 'Macbeth' at Shakespeare West
It’s summertime at last. Time to pack up your picnic and head out to the park. Of course, for Washtenaw theater lovers that picnic may be a pre-show meal before a twilight performance of one of Shakespeare’s plays.
This week both “Macbeth” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor” grace outdoor stages. If you’ve never experienced a Shakespeare production outdoors, I highly recommend it. Something about seeing the immortal words of the world's greatest playwright staged in bucolic environs just makes you feel one with a higher power.
Both of these productions promise to incorporate innovative staging, using their natural settings to optimal effect. So whether comedy or tragedy is what you crave, Shakespeare in the park is where it’s at!
Show: “The Play's the Thing” features works from Ron Riekki, Sophia Blumenthal, Matt Martello, Connie Bennett, Janet Pound, Stacey Lane, Madelena Forte, and Eric Bloch and Amy Milligan. Through June 17
Company: Ann Arbor Civic Theatre
Type of Company: Community
Venue/location: A2CT's Studio Theater, 322 West Ann St, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 10+
Description: A collaboration between playwrights and audience members where playwrights hear their works read and the audience gives feedback. Each performance features a different type of play. On Friday, June 15 at 8 p.m., “Show Me Your Shorts” is a series of 10-minute plays featuring Abe Lincoln, Vincent Van Gogh, and Persephone along with fictional characters mixing dark comedy, romance, and absurdist fantasy. Saturday, June 16 at 8 p.m., “One is the Loneliest Number” is a series of one-act plays exploring the relationship between man and machine from two different perspectives - cyber romance and cyber dystopia. The Sunday, June 17 2 p.m. matinee, “I Can’t Believe I Read the Whole Thing,” features a full-length play that pokes fun at familiar fairy tales in an adult-oriented way.
Fun fact: Entries for The Play's the Thing came from as far away as Oregon and Israel!
For tickets and information: 734-971-2228, a2ct.org
Photo courtesy of P.T.D. Productions
Company: PTD Productions
Type of Company: Pre-professional
Venue/location: Riverside Arts Center, 76 N. Huron St., Ypsilanti
Description: “Red, White and Tuna” is the third installment of the popular Tuna saga. It is a riotous, fast-paced romp through the lives, loves, politics and gossip of the off-kilter residents of Tuna, the third smallest town in Texas. Williams, Sears and Howard bring back many of their quirky but loveable characters and even introduce some new ones in this rollicking comic farce. All 20 of the show's characters are brought to life by two actors as the inhabitants of Tuna prepare for a wedding, a birth, a high school reunion, a pageant and the return of R.R. Snavely, who just may have been abducted by aliens!
Fun fact: PTD productions has already produced the first two plays in the “Greater Tuna” series.
For tickets and information: 734-483-7345, www.showtix4u.com.
Special ticket offer: Pay what you can Thurs, $4 off ticket with Haab's dinner receipt
Show: “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by William Shakespeare through June 24
Company: Shakespeare in the Arb, 1610 Washington Hts., Ann Arbor
Type of Company: Higher Education and Community production
Venue/location: Nichols Arboretum - an environmental staging in the Prairie area, but buy tickets at the Peony Garden entrance on Washington Heights
Recommended ages: 6+
Description: Sir John Falstaff is short of money, as always, and comes up with a scheme to replenish his purse by wooing two prosperous married Windsor wives, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. He sends them both the same love letter and the ladies, who are friends, decide to revenge themselves on him for his audacity. The comedy comes from the playful plotting of the wives, and Falstaff’s vanity that keeps him coming back for more abuse.
Review from AnnArbor.com
Fun fact: Featuring the fat knight Sir John Falstaff “Merry Wives” is Shakespeare's only play to deal exclusively with contemporary Elizabethan era English middle class life.
For tickets and information: No tickets are sold in advance. Come to the Peony Garden entrance on Washington Heights and line up for tickets before 5 pm on performance nights.
Special ticket offer: Members of Matthaei Botanical Gardens Nichols Arboretum receive a discount.
Show: “In the Next Room, or the vibrator play” by Sarah Ruhl, through July
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: Upon the dawn of electricity, the aptly named Dr. Givings invests in a buzz worthy new instrument used to treat female patients' “Hysteria.” As the number of blushing patients swells, the good doctor's curious wife breaks into his office to try the device for herself, unleashing an entirely new type of energy deep within. This stimulating comedy, which pulses with love, desire, and abundant laughs, was a 2010 Tony nominee for Best Play.
Preview from AnnArbor.com
Fun fact: The play by MacArthur “genius” award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl, was inspired in part by the book “The Technology of Orgasm,” by Rachel P. Maines.
For tickets and information: 734-663-0681, www.performancenetwork.org/
Show: “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, through June 25
Company: The Blackbird Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Non-Equity
Venue/location: West Park bandshell, Seventh Ave., between Huron and Miller, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 16+
Description: The dark tale of a military leader who—when confronted with a prophecy (from three witches) about becoming king—commits regicide, claims the crown, and is subsequently haunted (along with his ambitious wife) by his crimes.
Preview from AnnArbor.com
Fun fact: Ever hear a theater person refer to “The Scottish Play?” The euphemism refers to the Macbeth’s Scottish setting and is used in place of the title when speaking inside a theater. According to theatrical superstition, saying the name Macbeth inside a theater will cause disaster. A variation of the superstition also forbids direct quotation of the play (except during rehearsals) while inside a theater.
For tickets and information: 734-332-3848, www.blackbirdtheatre.org
Show: “La Boheme” by Giacomo Puccini, through June 17
Company: Arbor Opera Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Non-Equity
Venue/location: Lydia Mendelssohn Theater, 911 N University Ave, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: Few operas continually captivate audiences like Puccini’s “La BohÃ¨me,” the famous opera that inspired the popular musical “Rent.” From its lush, romantic score to its endearing characters, this colorful tale of idealistic artists makes an indelible impression. Set in 1840’s Paris, La BohÃ¨me portrays the challenges of living life on the edge, particularly for MimÃ¬ and Rodolfo, whose initial passion is stifled by their impoverished existence.
Fun fact: Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La BohÃ¨me, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the western repertoire. Many popular Puccini arias, such as "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi and "Nessun dorma" from Turandot, have become part of popular culture.
For tickets and information: 734-763-8587, www.arboropera.com/tickets.html