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Posted on Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 6:18 a.m.

'The Animals and Children Took to the Streets' at Performance Network, 'August: Osage County' at U-M

By Carla Milarch

This week is a great example of what we mean when we say that Ann Arbor boasts “World Class Theater.” From a vanguard international company all the way from London, to Michigan-produced theater that rivals Off-Broadway, Ann Arbor audiences have access to theater that is truly some of the best in the world.

Add to that the award-winning production of “Leaving Iowa” and two productions from extremely high-caliber student theater departments, “August: Osage County” and “Wedding Band,” and there’s truly no excuse to stay at home.

Here in Ann Arbor it’s not just college basketball that competes on a national scale. It makes you want to cheer, “It’s great… to be… a Michigan Wolverine!”

Show: “Leaving Iowa” by Tim Clue and Spike Manton, one-time performance, April 13, 8 p.m.
Company: Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.
Type of Company: Community.
Venue/location: Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's Studio Theater, 322 W. Ann St, Ann Arbor.
Recommended ages: 8+
Description: "Leaving Iowa" pays homage to the classic family road trip. Don Browning, a middle-aged writer, returns home to take his deceased father’s ashes back to the family home, as requested. After discovering that the family home has been torn down and replaced with a grocery store, he begins a journey across Iowa searching for a proper resting place for his father. This “father-and-son” road trip shifts from the present to Don’s memories of all the past family road trips which were full of memories—good and bad.
More information
Fun fact: A2CT's excerpt from Leaving Iowa took first place at the state AACTFest competition in Kalamazoo and will advance to the regional competition in Wisconsin. Every actor received awards at the competition, as did the director.
For tickets and information:, 734-971-2228
Special ticket offer: This special performance is free, with donations suggested to cover the costs of taking the excerpt to the regional competition in Wisconsin.

Show: "Let’s Get Weird,” April 13, 7:30 p.m.
Company: Organized by Matthew Altruda and Luna Alexander.
Type of Company: Independent producers.
Venue/location: Live, 102 S. First St. in Ann Arbor.
Recommended ages: 16+
Description: A two-hour, live variety show that features local artists performing theater, music, dance, poetry, stand-up comedy, etc., hosted by (series creator) Matt Altruda and Luna Alexander. April will mark the fourth installment of the five-month series.
Preview article
Fun fact: The show’s name arose in part because of the time LGW co-host and producer Luna Alexander regularly spends in Austin, Texas, where an unofficial slogan is “Keep Austin weird.”
For tickets and information:, 734-623-1443.

Show: “Clutter” by Brian Cox, April 12 and 13.
Company: Around Here Productions.
Type of Company: Pre-professional.
Venue/location: Riverside Arts Center, at 76 N. Huron St. in Ypsilanti
Recommended ages: 16+
Description: A man revisits key points in his life while cleaning out a messy desk, leading him to make a pivotal decision. Presented in a staged reading format, with an audience talkback after each performance.
More information
Fun fact: Cox, who has a background in theater and was also once a reporter for Heritage Media, aimed to build Two Twelve Arts Center’s theater component, collaborating with TTAC director Margie Bovee. This led to the creation of Around Here Productions.
For tickets and information: 734-944-ARTS (2787).

Show: “Circle Mirror Transformation” by Annie Baker, through April 13
Company: Basement Arts
Type of Company: Student Produced
Venue/location: Studio 1 in the Walgreen Drama Center. 1226 Murfin Ave Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 18+
Description: When four lost souls, who enroll in Marty's six-week-long community-center drama class begin to experiment with harmless games, hearts are quietly torn apart, and tiny wars of epic proportions are waged and won. A beautifully crafted diorama, a petri dish in which we see, with hilarious detail and clarity, the antic sadness of a motley quintet.
Fun Fact: The play gets its title from a theatre game, one of the many games played on stage during the show. Created for actors, they reach far beyond the stage in their purpose and goals: focus, creativity, confidence, trust, teamwork, communication, and connection.
For tickets and information: Tickets are free and available on a first-come first-served basis at the door 15 minutes prior to opening.

Show: "Pirates of Penzance," by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, through April 14.
Company: University of Michigan Gilbert & Sullivan Society.
Type of Company: Student produced.
Venue/location: Lydia Mendelssohn Theater, 911 N. University Ave.
Recommended ages: 8+
Description: The well-known Gilbert & Sullivan comic operetta has been a hit from stage to Broadway to the movies and back to the stage. It tells the tale of a young pirate and the secret that prevents him from marrying the girl he loves.
Preview from
Fun fact: The University of Michigan Gilbert & Sullivan Society (UMGASS) was founded in 1947 and is the oldest student-run society nationwide dedicated to performing the operettas of Sir William Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan.
For tickets and information:

Show: "August: Osage County" by Tracy Letts, through April 14.
Company: U-M SMTD Dept. of Theatre & Drama.
Type of Company: Higher Education.
Venue/location: Arthur Miller Theatre, Walgreen Drama Center, 1226 Murfin Ave., Ann Arbor.
Recommended ages: 16+
Description: A far-flung family comes together during a time of trouble. When the patriarch of the Weston family disappears, everyone descends on the familial home in rural Oklahoma. But just as the family comes together in times of need, the reasons that they have moved apart quickly become apparent when they gather. Barbs fly like arrows, painfully striking every family member in a heart-rending but hysterically funny way. Ultimately no one will leave the house unscathed, as unspoken truths and horrifying secrets are exposed in this family where each generation faces its own emotional destruction.
Review from
Fun fact: Winner of the 2008 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Play and the 2008 Pulizter Prize for Drama, August: Osage County was called “...the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years,” by The New York Times.
For tickets and information:

Show: “The Animals and Children Took to the Streets” through April 14.
Company: Performance Network Theatre, presented by UMS.
Type of Company: International Tour.
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor.
Recommended ages: 8+
Description: Part Charles Dickens, part Tim Burton, the Bayou is a feared and loathed part of the city, wherein lies the infamous Bayou Mansions: a sprawling, stinking tenement block where curtain-twitchers and peeping-toms live side by side; where children have gone completely feral; and the wolf is always at the door. When the idealistic Agnes Eaves and her daughter arrive late one night, does it signal hope in this hopeless place, or has the real horror only just begun?
Preview article
Fun Fact: 1927 is the award winning theatre company behind the critically acclaimed shows: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Mixing live music, storytelling and performance with animation 1927 create a strange theatrical experience unlike anything you will have seen before.
For tickets and information: Tickets for this event have been sold out, but ticket cancellations for all performances are being released. 734-764-2538, or

Show: “Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White,” by Alice Childress, through April 14.
Company: Eastern Michigan University Theatre.
Type of Company: Higher Education.
Venue/location: EMU's Sponberg Theatre, Ypsilanti.
Recommended ages: 16+ (mature audiences only).
Description: Against the backdrop of 1918 South Carolina, two people in love yearn to be together as husband and wife but are held apart by society’s mores and laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Unable to escape to the north where they can marry, Julia, an African American seamstress and Herman, a Caucasian baker, are forced to attempt to keep their long-standing love affair a secret. Facing dire consequences from their community, even Herman’s own family, Julia and Herman suffer heartbreak as the world around them threatens to destroy their relationship and everything they hold dear.
Fun fact: Written in the early 1960’s, “Wedding Band…” was first produced at the University of Michigan in 1966. Many professional theatres refused to produce it at the time due to the controversial subject matter.
For tickets and information: 734-487-2282,

Show: “Lend Me a Tenor” by Ken Ludwig, through April 14.
Company: The Encore Musical Theatre Company.
Type of Company: Professional Equity Guest Appearance Contract.
Venue/location: The Encore Musical Theatre Company, 3126 Broad Street, Dexter.
Recommended ages: 14+
Description: It is 1934, and the renowned tenor Tito Merelli is scheduled to sing the lead in Otello. The opera is being produced as a gala fundraiser for the Cleveland Opera Company. Unfortunately, even before the star leaves his hotel room, everything begins to unravel. Chaos ensues with endless cases of mistaken identity, farcical plot twists, innuendos, door slamming, and spit takes! Encore’s first non-musical is filled with music, comedy, and hyjinks.
Review from
Fun fact: In 2006, The Times called playwright Ken Ludwig “the purveyor of light comedy to Middle America. ...There is hardly a regional theatre in America that hasn’t a work of his scheduled.” His work has been performed in over 25 countries throughout the world, with translations into at least 16 languages.
For tickets and information:, 734-268-6200.


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

Show: “33 Variations” by Moises Kaufman, through June 1
Company: The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
Venue/location: The Purple Rose Theatre Company, 137 Park Street, Chelsea
Recommended ages: 16+ (contains adult language and content)
Description: In 19th century Austria, Ludwig van Beethoven works obsessively on a commission he cannot complete. In present day, musicologist Katherine Brandt struggles to solve the mystery behind her professional passion: Beethoven’s oft overlooked “Diabelli Variations”. As she races against time, Katherine not only discovers the true nature of Beethoven’s work, but gains insight into the other mystery in her life: her daughter. Moving between the past and the present, 33 Variations illustrates how the very passions that threaten to overwhelm us can also save us.
Review from
Fun fact: During rehearsals for the show, the cast learned to waltz and minuet.
For tickets and information: 734-433-7673,