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Posted on Wed, May 2, 2012 : 7:56 a.m.

Wild Swan presents 'The Cricket in Times Square' and 'Leaving Iowa' at Ann Arbor Civic

By Carla Milarch

Have you ever gone to the theater and learned something you didn’t know before? Probably all the time! Theater not only offers an entertaining escape, it is a chance to experience different cultures and learn about history.

This week’s offerings will give you insight into an important figure in American art - Mark Rothko, deepen your knowledge of Native American legends, and bring to life two beloved children’s books before your eyes.

So this weekend, why not get out and expand your horizons with a live theater performance? It’s a great way to seek personal enrichment, while experiencing a one-of-a-kind event that you and your family will remember.

Show: “Nate the Great” one-time event, May 6 at 1:30 p.m.
Company: The Michigan Theater
Type of Company: Children’s theater
Venue/Location: Michigan Theater, 603 East Liberty, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: All
Description: Introducing the latest crime-solving detective… Nate the Great! Nate is a master at finding lost things, but he faces his toughest case when asked to help locate his neighbor’s missing painting. Based on Marjorie Weinman Sharmat‘s classic book series, this new musical focuses on the benefits of teamwork and friendship.
More information
Fun fact: Marjorie Weinman Sharmat is an American children's writer who has authored more than 130 books for children and teens. Her books have been translated into several languages and have won awards, such as Book of the Year by the Library of Congress or have become selections by the Literary Guild.
For tickets and information:

Show: “The Cricket in Times Square” adapted by Jeff Duncan from the classic by George Selden, through May 6
Company: Wild Swan Theater
Type of Company: Professional theater for children and families
Venue/location: Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College, Ypsilanti
Recommended ages: Grades K-8
Description: Wild Swan presents the Newbery Award-winning tale of how a gifted cricket saves the Bellini’s newsstand in the subway station under Times Square. Chester, the cricket, arrives at Times Square in the picnic hamper of a family back from a day in the country. Adopted as a pet by Mario, the son of the Bellinis, Chester soon settles into his new home. When an unusual pair of pals, a fast-talking rat and a sophisticated cat, befriends him, Chester’s life takes on big city excitement - until a fire at the newsstand puts the Bellini’s livelihood in jeopardy.
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Fun fact: The score includes swing and big-band era music, composed and selected by Tom Schnauber. Lorrie Gunn plays violin and is joined on the accordion by John Sterbenz. Simultaneous shadow-signing of the performance is provided by Jamie Fidler and Courtney Butcher, American Sign Language interpreters.
For tickets and information: 734-995-0530,

Show: “Leaving Iowa” by Tim Clue and Spike Manton, through May 6
Company: Ann Arbor Civic Theatre
Type of Company: Community
Venue/location: Arthur Miller Theatre, 1226 Murfin Ave, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 10+
Description: An 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.
Preview from
Fun fact: “Leaving Iowa” had its world premiere at Michigan's own Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea!
For tickets and information:, 734-971-2228.

Show:"Mark Rothko And Red" - Background lecture, one-time event, May 8 at 7 p.m.
Company: Performance Network Theatre and the Ann Arbor District Library
Type of Company: Professional Equity
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 East Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 12+
Description: “The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point.” - Mark Rothko. Join Performance Network Theatre and the Ann Arbor District Library for an enlightening evening focusing on Mark Rothko, the famous abstract painter and the subject of the Tony Award-Winning play Red. UM History of Art Department PhD student Grant W. Mandarino leads this fascinating discussion on Rothko’s life and work.
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Fun fact: For two years from 1958-59, Rothko worked feverishly in his studio on Manhattan's Lower East Side, on what was at the time the costliest commission in art history. A Russian immigrant from humble beginnings, he worked to produce 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. What was Rothko’s career before this unprecedented assignment? What was his fate after this commission? What was his legacy? Find out more about this master artist at this informative event.
For tickets and information:, 734-327-4555

Show: “Red” by John Logan, through May 27
Company: Performance Network Theatre
Type of Company: Professional Equity
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 East Huron, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: 16+, Contains adult themes and language.
Description: For two years from 1958-59, 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
Fun fact: Mark Rothko’s 1961 painting "Orange, Red, Yellow” is set to come up for auction at a NYC sale next week, which will also include important works by contemporaries Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. With a presale estimate of up to $45 million, Christie's says it's the most important Rothko to come on the market since 2007, when his "White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)" sold for $72.8 million.
For tickets and information: 734-663-0681,

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
Fun fact: The play was inspired by a true event: the birth of a white buffalo calf in Janesville, Wisconsin (the playwright's hometown) in 1994, but the family story is entirely fictional.
For tickets and information: 734-433-7673,