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Posted on Wed, May 1, 2013 : 7:41 a.m.

'The Mountaintop' at Performance Network, 'Pookie Goes Grenading' at The New Theatre Project

By Carla Milarch

With the weather finally behaving itself, you might think theater offerings would begin slowing down. While that might be true in some other markets and used to be true in Washtenaw, with the exception of university productions, it just isn’t the case any more. Nearly 15 years ago, The Purple Rose began producing professional summer productions, and nearly 10 years ago, Performance Network followed suit. The success of their productions has proven that summer is a viable time for theater.

Since then, numerous summer venues have entered the scene, including The West Park Bandshell, and The Carriage House Theatre, giving theater lovers lots of entertaining options to look forward to in the summer months. In fact, with at least twelve full productions scheduled at theaters between now and September, this summer it’s not just the weather that will be heating up!

Show: “Evita” in Concert by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, through May 4.
Company: The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Type of Company: Professional Equity, Special Appearance contract
Venue/location: The Encore Musical Theatre Company, 3126 Broad Street, Dexter
Recommended ages: 10 +
Description: Another popular Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical, "Evita" is based on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Peron, the second wife of Argentine president in the 1940s Juan Peron. The story follows her early life, rise to power, charity work, and eventual early death.
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Fun fact: This is The Encore's 5th Anniversary celebration of its very first show. Join Artistic Director Dan Cooney as Che, Associate Artistic Director Thalia Schramm as Eva, Chuck Colby of Three Men and a Tenor as Peron, and an ensemble of your favorite Encore performers.
For tickets and information:, 734-268-6200.
Special ticket offer: May 2 at 7 p.m. ($25), May 4 at 3 or 8 p.m. ($25)

Show: “Pookie Goes Grenading” by JC Lee, through May 5
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: Pookie and her teenage gang of high school misfits are determined to make their movie a reality - even if it takes blowing up police stations, burning down their auditorium and kidnapping their guidance counselor to make it happen. Once they become the center of a national terrorist manhunt, there’s no telling how far they’ll go in the name of art.
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Fun fact: JC Lee is a NNPN Playwright in Residence at the Marin Theatre Company and a recent writing fellow at The Playwrights Realm. His plays have been seen, staged and developed throughout the United States and he is currently in development on a television show with Temple Hill Entertainment. JC is a recent graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at The Juilliard School.
For tickets and information:


Photo by Jennifer Pan

Show: “The Mountaintop” by Katori Hall, through June 2
Company: Performance Network Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 16+ (contains adult language and content)
Description: It's April 3, 1968 at Memphis' Lorraine Motel the night before Martin Luther King, Jr. would be assassinated there. In room 306 King prepares his speech for the coming day, as a thunderstorm rages outside. Chain-smoking Pall Malls and thundering to himself "America, you are too ARROGANT!" he is startled by the mysterious Camae, a motel maid who shows up dripping wet on his doorstep. As they strike up a conversation, sharing cigarettes and laughter, King begins to suspect that her purpose there may not be what it seems. This inspiring drama brings one of America's freshest dramatic voices to the Network stage.
Preview from
Fun fact: Opened in 2011, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. The national memorial is America's 395th unit in the national park service. The official address of the monument, 1964 Independence Avenue, S.W., commemorates the year that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.
For tickets and information: 734-663-0681,

Show: “33 Variations” by Moisés 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 Lansing City Pulse
Fun fact: The music writer Donald Tovey called The Diabelli Variations "the greatest set of variations ever written". The pianist Alfred Brendel has described it as "the greatest of all piano works". In his Structural Functions of Harmony, Arnold Schoenberg writes that the Diabelli Variations "in respect of its harmony, deserves to be called the most adventurous work by Beethoven"
For tickets and information: 734-433-7673,