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Posted on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 6:34 a.m.

'The Hollow' at PTD Productions, 'Iolanthe' at UMGASS

By Carla Milarch

Spoiler alert: It’s time for Carla’s annual “support your local theater and give theater gift certificates this holiday season” pitch-slash-rant. Well, why not? Just about every theater I cover is a non-profit organization, does mission-based programming geared toward fulfilling an artistic niche above padding their bottom line, and could really use your support this holiday season.

Think about all the stuff you own. If you’re like me, it’s probably bursting out of every square inch of closet, playroom, attic, and storage bin. This year, I had to spend two days purging all of my son’s toys and old clothes just to make room for the anticipated Christmas gifts! Now, think of a wonderful night out at the theater, spending time laughing and sharing with friends and family. Memories that will last a lifetime, right?

Several weeks ago, I took my son to a children’s theater show at Performance Network about Archimedes, and watching his face light up for a solid hour was irreplaceable in itself. However, it wasn’t until this weekend, while we were swimming in a hotel pool, and he said to me “Mommy, let’s measure our volume” that I fully realized what a memorable and enriching experience I’d given him by taking him to the theater.

So that’s it, that’s the pitch. When you give the gift of theater, you give a whole lot more than a night on the town.

Show: “Cultural Conversations with A Little Night Music”, one-time event, Dec. 9 at 6:30 pm
Company: Performance Network Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12-plus
Description: The annual musical has become a holiday tradition at PNT. But what are the obstacles the production team faces when mounting a large work on a small stage? Musical director R. Mackenzie Lewis, and director Phil Simmons speak about the tricks of the trade of adapting and orchestrating musicals.
More information
Fun Fact: Cultural Conversations is a series of in-depth, on-stage conversations, exploring the nuances of making theater from the artist's perspective. Associate Artistic Director Carla Milarch interviews Michigan's finest actors, directors, and designers to explore the genius behind each production.
For tickets and information:, 734-663-0681

Show: "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare, through Dec. 9
Company: University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance Department of Theatre & Drama
Type of Company: Higher Education
Venue/location: Power Center for the Performing Arts, 121 Fletcher, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12-plus
Description: One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" conjures a mystical existence where chaos, love, obsession, and transformation collide. In the four worlds of the Dream; the privilege of the court, the rebellion and hormonal surge of the lovers, the magical domestic unrest of the fairies and the boundless naive enthusiasm of the rude mechanicals are thoroughly interwoven through Shakespeare’s unparalleled lyrical poetry. Combining epiphanies, malicious tricks, spells, abandonments, betrayals, and reconciliations, "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" leads us on an exhilarating journey through love’s fire.
Preview from
Fun fact: Director Malcolm Tulip used the annual Burning Man Festival as an inspiration for the production.
For tickets and information: 734-764-2538,
Special ticket offer: $5 off per ticket with the promo code PUCK05. Promo available in person, on the phone, or online.

Show: “Iolanthe” by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, through Dec. 9
Company: U-M Gilbert and Sullivan Society (UMGASS)
Type of company: Student-produced
Venue/location: Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, 911 N University, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12-plus
Description: The beautiful fairy Iolanthe, banished from fairyland for the crime of marrying a mortal, is pardoned and returns to earth, but reveals that she has had a son named Strephon. Strephon is a half-fairy half-human Arcadian shepherd, and he is deeply in love with Phyllis, the ward of the Lord Chancellor. Unfortunately, due to his lowly rank (as well as the Chancellor’s own attraction to Phyllis), the Lord Chancellor forbids them to marry. Things start to look up when Strephon asks Iolanthe for help, but soon get out of hand when some peers (along with Phyllis) see him embracing his mother, who looks like a seventeen-year-old girl! This G&S show is full to the brim with dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts, barons, fairies, and (in typical Gilbert and Sullivan fashion), topsy-turvy comedy.
More information
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 Title: “A Christmas Carol” adapted by Jeff Duncan, score by Tom Schnauber, lyrics by Jeff Duncan, through Dec. 9
Company: Wild Swan Theater
Type of Company: Professional, Family-Friendly Theater
Venue/location: Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College, Ypsilanti
Description: "A Christmas Carol" tells the story of the amazing transformation of miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge after he is visited by three spirits the night before Christmas. As the Ghost of Christmas Past leads Scrooge on a midnight journey to people and events from his past, his eyes are opened to the human misery he has been ignoring and sometimes even causing, most especially in the family of his clerk, Bob Cratchit and his son Tiny Tim. Scrooge’s change of heart and his dedication to helping those less fortunate is a happy ending one can savor at any time of the year, but most especially this holiday season.
Fun fact: American Sign Language interpretation for all performances is provided by James Cech, Jamie Fidler, and Michele Tocco.
For tickets and information: 734-995-0530,

Show: “White as Snow, Red as Blood: The Story of Snow White” Adapted by V. Glasgow Koste, through Dec. 9
Company: Eastern Michigan University Theatre
Type of Company: Higher Education
Venue/location: Quirk Theatre, EMU's Ypsilanti campus
Recommended ages: 8-plus
Description: Once upon a time, in a far-away land, there was a beautiful princess with skin as white as snow, hair as black as night, lips as red as blood, and a heart as pure as gold. Her name was Snow White. As good as Snow White was, her stepmother Evilun was equally as bad. Envious and vengeful, Evilun planned to bring an end to Snow White and attempt to threaten her “happily ever after.” In this richly warm and mysterious version of the tale, director Jenny Koppera encourages the magic and depth of Koste’s adaptation of the traditional story.
More information
Fun fact: The most popular version of the fairy tale Snow White is the Brothers Grimm version from Bavaria, which features such elements as the magic mirror, the poisoned apple, the glass coffin, and the seven dwarfs, who were first given individual names in the Broadway play "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1912) and then given different names in Walt Disney's 1937 film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
For tickets and information: 734-487-2282,

Show: "The Hollow" by Agatha Christie; through Dec. 15
Company: PTD Productions
Type of Company: Pre-professional
Venue/location: Riverside Arts Center, 76 N. Huron, Ypsilanti
Recommended ages: 12-plus
Description: Join Sir Henry and Lucy Angkatell for a weekend at The Hollow, their country home. Several friends and relatives will be there, and all covet something or someone they could just about kill for. The trouble is, someone crosses the line! Match wits with Inspector Colquhoun to see who did it, and why. You'll thank Agatha Christie for an exciting evening!
Fun fact: Agatha Christie originally wrote the story as an Hercule Poirot novel, but substituted a Scotland Yard detective when she adapted it for the stage. (It was said that she did not always care for her Poirot character!)
For tickets and information: 734-483-7345,
Special ticket offer: Thursday performances are pay-what-you-can. $4 discount for Haab's diners with receipts from day of show.

Show: “Superior Donuts” by Tracy Letts, through Dec. 15
Company: Purple Rose Theatre Company
Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
Venue/location: Purple Rose Theatre Company, 137 Park Street, Chelsea
Recommended ages: Contains adult language and content
Description: Arthur Przybyszewski has just about given up on everything: a social life, the chance of romance and most of all his family’s long standing Chicago doughnut shop. But when idealistic dreamer, Franco Wicks walks through the door of his vandalized storefront, Arthur realizes through their unlikely friendship that life still has more to offer him. Written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tracy Letts ("August: Osage County") the comedy-drama "Superior Donuts" will make you a believer too.
Review from the Jackson Citizen Patriot
Fun fact: The red velvet cake at the end of the play is made by Annette Bentley of Marie's Morsels. A new cake is used for each performance.
For tickets and information: 734-433-7673 (ROSE),

Show: “Wolf Cry Wolf” by Kevin Kautzman, through Dec. 16
Company: The New Theatre Project
Type of Company: Professional Non-Equity
Venue/location: Mix Performance Space, 130 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
Recommended ages: 18+
Description: “People make believe with each other. It’s how we get through the night.” When Steph returns home to North Dakota for the first time in years and surprises her estranged childhood friend Jane, they descend into their memories and relive the summer Jane told Steph her deepest secret: she knows how turn into a wolf. "Wolf Cry Wolf" looks at the fine line between memory and imagination and at the lies we tell to survive our shadows.
More information
Fun fact: Morphological comparisons between wolves and domestic dogs have narrowed the likely ancestral subspecies of gray wolf to Middle Eastern and South Asian wolves. This is confirmed by genetic studies done in 2010, which point to the Middle East as the source of most of the genetic diversity in the domestic dog and the most likely origin of domestication events
For tickets and information: 734-961-8704,

Show: “Forever Plaid presents: Plaid Tidings” through Dec. 23
Company: The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Type of Company: Professional Equity and Non-Equity
Venue/location: The Encore Musical Theatre Company, 3126 Broad Street, Dexter
Recommended ages: All
Description: The Plaids return to earth again, and with the help of a heavenly Rosemary Clooney, they instill the holiday spirit into the world!
EncoreMichigan article
Fun fact: The Plaids sing 35 tunes throughout the show! That's a lot of harmony!
For tickets and information:, 734-268-6200

Show: “A Little Night Music” music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler, through Dec. 30
Company: Performance Network Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 16-plus
Description: Sondheim's rollicking tour-de-force of love, lies, and liaisons is the winner of six Tony awards and a Grammy, featuring an amazing musical score, including "The Glamorous Life" and "Send in the Clowns." Desiree Armfeldt is an enchanting Swedish actress. While on tour in a country town, she runs into former lover Fredrik, who has brought his young wife to the theater. Reminiscing in Desiree's dressing room, their passion rekindles. The two seek to continue their affair at a gathering for several guests at Fredrik's country home, setting in motion a hilarious and flirtatious weekend for all.
Review from the Detroit Free Press
Fun Fact: "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" (Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major), K. 525, is a 1787 composition for a chamber ensemble by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The German title means "a little serenade," though it is often rendered more literally but less accurately as "a little night music."
For tickets and information:, 734-663-0681