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Posted on Wed, May 23, 2012 : 7:02 a.m.

'The Odd Couple' at Emergent Arts and 'One Big Mess' at WCC

By Carla Milarch

At a general audition yesterday, an executive from another of Michigan’s well-known professional theaters asked me how it is that Performance Network can do such a wide variety of different plays. Before I could even answer the question, they said “well, of course, it’s Ann Arbor.”

And I didn’t argue with them. One of the great things about Washtenaw County is that it serves as an incubator for a diversity of artistic projects. This week’s offerings are a good example. The aptly named Emergent Arts makes a splash with what is perhaps the most well-known comedy in the American canon—“The Odd Couple”—while a brand new company (or at least one I’ve never heard of), J Amore INC., makes its local debut with “One Big Mess.”

Is seeing a show by a new company a bit of a risk? Sure it is. But it can also be thrilling to see the excitement and energy a group of budding thespians brings to its work. And it comes with the added benefit of possibly being able to say, years from now, “I saw them when.”

Show: “One Big Mess” by Richard "Young Ra" Brown and Alexzandria Brown, one-time event, May 26 at 7 p.m.
Company: J Amore INC.
Type of Company: Pre-professional
Venue/location: WCC’s Morris J. Lawrence Building, 4800 E. Huron River Dr., Ypsilanti
Recommended ages: 16+
Description: Presented by the production company J Amore INC., “Mess” tells the story of a newly married couple. La’raia Gribble plays a naive young woman who struggles with faith, love, and acceptance, while her husband, played by Ian Johnson, tries to have his cake and eat it, too.
More information from
Fun fact: The show features Coco from WJLB’s morning show, as well as Delores Harris; Andrae Ticy; Cory Pritchett-Starr; Prince Ron Todd; Kristina Martin; Carolyn Kelly Rankin; Ian Johnson and Richard “Young Ra” Brown.
For tickets and information: 313-820-2788

Show: “The Odd Couple” by Neil Simon, through May 27
Company: Emergent Arts
Type of Company: Pre-professional
Venue/location: The Arthur Miller Theatre, 1226 Murfin, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 8+
Description: When divorced slob Oscar Madison invites a group of the guys over for cards, he learns that guest Felix Ungar, a neurotic, neat freak newswriter, has just been separated from his wife. When Oscar invites Felix to become his roommate; patterns of their own disastrous marriages begin to appear in their relationship, with hilarious results.
More information
Fun fact: Oscar is played by Jon Elliott, and Felix is played by Steve Elliott, but (oddly) they are not related.
For tickets and information: (734) 985-0875,
Special ticket offer: $10 Preview Wednesday May 23 (all tickets $10)

Show: “White Buffalo” by Don Zolidis, through June 2
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: 14+ (contains some adult language and content)
Description: When Carol Gelling discovers that a buffalo born on her farm is pure white, she thinks it’s nothing more than a curiosity. She soon learns that the birth of the white buffalo fulfills an ancient Sioux prophecy -- the coming of peace on earth and unity of mankind. Almost overnight, her small farm becomes a hotbed of spiritual outpouring -- from Native American pilgrims to the Dalai Lama. When a mysterious businessman offers to buy the calf, Carol must decide whether the white buffalo signals the end of her financial hardships or the beginning of her own spiritual enrichment.
Review from the Jackson Citizen Patriot
Fun fact: White buffalos are very sacred in Native American culture. The Lakota have passed down the legend of the White Buffalo for more than 2,000 years.
For tickets and information: 734-433-7673,

Show: “Red” by John Logan, through June 3
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: For two years from 1956-58, the abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko worked feverishly in his Bowery St. studio on Manhattan's lower East side, on what was at the time the highest paid commission since the Sistine Chapel. A Russian immigrant from humble beginnings, he worked on a series of enormous murals that would adorn that bastion of capitalism - the famous Four Seasons Restaurant in Mies Van der Rohe's Seagram Building. John Logan's Tony-winning play paints a picture of the fiery artist as he works intensely on the paintings, with the help of his apprentice Ken, and struggles with his personal demons to bring forth what would ultimately be his life's greatest achievement.
Review from the Oakland Press
Fun fact: According to the New York Times “A dreamy canvas of three colors — Mark Rothko’s ‘Orange, Red, Yellow,’ from 1961 — shattered all auction records for contemporary art at Christie’s on Tuesday evening, selling for nearly $87 million. It was a stunning moment in an auction that itself brought in the highest total ever in the postwar and contemporary category.”
For tickets and information: 734-663-0681,

Show: “Nunsense,” book and music by Dan Goggin, through June 10
Company: The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Type of Company: Equity Special Appearance Contract
Venue/location: The Encore Musical Theatre Company, 3126 Broad Street, Dexter
Recommended ages: All ages
Description: When the Little Sisters of Hoboken discover that their cook has accidentally poisoned 52 of their fellow sisters, the sisters decide that the best way to raise the needed money for their burial is to put on a variety show, so they take over the school auditorium. Here we meet Reverend Mother Regina, a former circus performer; Sister Mary Hubert, the Mistress of the Novices; a streetwise nun from Brooklyn named Sister Robert Anne; Sister Mary Leo, a novice and wannabe ballerina; and the delightfully wacky Sister Mary Amnesia, a nun who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head. Featuring star turns, tap and ballet dancing, and comic surprises, “Nunsense” has become an international phenomenon with more that 5000 productions worldwide.
Review from
Fun fact: The “Nunsense” idea originated as a line of greeting cards featuring a nun offering clerical quips. These caught on so quickly that the show’s creator Dan Goggin expanded the concept into the cabaret show “The Nunsense Story” which ran for 38 weeks at Manhattan’s Duplex, before expanding into a full-length production.
For tickets and information: 734-268-6200,