Monday, October 14, 2019

A Family's Difficult Decision

Kristine Thatcher is an icon in the Lansing theater community.  We’ve watched her grow from a local ingĂ©nue, to a mature actress and theater professional.

So, it is fitting that the Michigan premier of her autobiographical play, “The Safe House” should take place at the newly refurbished Williamston Theatre.

It’s a play that touches the hearts of many people because of the sincere, honest and straightforward way it tackles the difficult issues of families dealing with grandparents with diminishing functions.

Muffitt's Classics

Composer-In-Residence Patrick Harlin

LSO Music Director Timothy Muffitt again showed off his great programming prowess last Friday night. 

He began with an overture and symphony by the classic classicist, Mozart.  Then he built a variation on that classical theme:  The maestro chose music by 20th century Russian composer Prokofiev who wrote a classical symphony for his final assignment in college.

Then he inserted a new work by the LSO’s new composer-in-residence, Patrick Harlin and ended the evening with a suite by 20th century icon Stravinsky, that was inspired by 18th century composer, Pergolesi. 

It was a brilliant and inspired program, and the Stravinsky performance was the whipped cream on this sundae of a concert.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Smooth Feinstein Meets Brassy Rocker

We all remember Michael Feinstein.  He’s the tuxedo-clad charming cabaret guy whose stock and trade is the Great American Songbook. 

He sings the songs in a sweet whisper and tells us everything there is to know about Berlin, Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and all the other great song writers of he 30s and 40s.

But can you make a career of that limited menu over a span of 30+years? Feinstein can. He is constantly evolving from his beginnings, and as an example he is coming to Wharton Center on Saturday for the fourth time with a new Vegas style show with edgy rock singer, Storm Large (yes, it’s her real name – almost). The show is called “Shaken and Stirred”. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Astounding Audra!

On the occasion of their 90th anniversary, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra gave their audience a gift last Saturday night. The gift was singer and actor extraordinaire, Audra McDonald.

It was a festive evening, with the orchestra pretty much selling out the 2500-seat Wharton Center.

Maestro Timothy Muffitt chose two fine works to begin the program: the sparkling “Candide Overture” by Bernstein, and a rollicking new work by Bruce Stark, “Symphonic Dances”. These two pieces did the trick in terms of being energetic, melodic and full of life.  The orchestra had a bit of trouble with the breakneck tempo that Muffitt used with “Candide”, but it all worked out perfectly.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Glicks Pix for Mid-September

Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein

Labor Day is behind us.  Let the fall performances begin!

Lansing arts organizations are in now full swing. As usual, area culture lovers will have a lot to choose from as they peruse their music and theater smorgasbord.

Here’s what I recommend you should make sure is on your calendar in the next two weeks:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Come From Away - a Glorious Expression of Good Spirit

Today is the anniversary of 9/11.

Although the twin towers tumbled down in flames 18 years ago, Americans have not agreed on how to best commemorate this tragic day in history. 

Mid-Michigan audiences will be able to remember the event in a unique and wonderful way tonight.  They will be able to see the hit Broadway show “Come From Away” at Wharton Center (through Sunday, 9/15).  And they will learn that maybe a musical is the perfect way to tell the 9/11 story.

Everything about the show is real.  The amazing story, the music, and the emotion.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Williamston Theater: Two Actors, Lots of Laughs

Williamston Theatre knows how to end their season right.  With a flat-out funny, goofy play whose script keeps throwing curve balls to the audience to keep them laughing and off kilter.

The play is Popcorn Falls by James Hindman which enjoyed a short run off-Broadway in 2018. 

The small town of Popcorn Falls has a big problem.  The beautiful falls which pulled in a huge tourist trade, dried up years ago.  Now the town is fighting bankruptcy.  

Stratford Season: Short Drive - World Class Theater

The biggest challenge when attending the Stratford Festival in Ontario Canada, the world class theater festival a comfortable 3-hour drive from Lansing, is what plays to NOT see.

The choices are difficult.  Stratford offers 12 plays - big and brash musicals, new works, classic theater, Shakespeare (of course), children’s plays, comedies and plenty of standards.  And sometimes the best plays are the ones you’ve never heard of before.

A few days at Stratford is like being at Disneyland for theater lovers: A charming town complete with a river and graceful swans, gourmet restaurants, lovely B&Bs and of course spectacular plays performed in comfortable theaters with stunning production value. I’m always frustrated by hearing about the great shows I missed.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Glix Picks - Early Summer Arts Choices

No, MSU undergrads, the Lansing area does not go to sleep when you leave for the summer.

Actually, the warm months in the mid-Michigan area are quite vibrant in the arts world.  And as an extra bonus many of the outdoor events are for free.

For this edition of Glix Picks I‘ll highlight two current offerings.

Peppermint Creek  has established itself as the theater company that likes to take chances with new and challenging material. For their final show of the season artistic director Chad Badgero chose to open our eyes with a historical play called “Indecent” by Paula Vogel. It opened on Broadway in 2015 and this is its Midwest premier.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wlmstn "New Releases", Almost a Winner

Playwright Joseph Zettelmaier has a special relationship with Williamston Theater.  Zettelmaier’s plays are the kind that Williamston’s patrons enjoy – warm, family -oriented, with gentle and sometimes wacky humor.  Over the years, Williamston has premiered 10 Zettelmaier plays.

The latest, “New Releases,” follows the before mentioned Zettelmaier model.

It opens on a startingly realistic video rental store. Set designer Bartley H. Bauer has all the details right, down to the small letterbox slot to turn in used DVDs.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Hamilton IS a Phenomenon

“Hamilton” stands by itself.

There is nothing like it, not even “In The Heights”, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s earlier, Tony winning, musical.

It’s a bold and audacious show about our founding fathers, mostly Alexander Hamilton, told in the language of today’s hip-hop, rap, and hyper-rhythmic pop music culture.

Everything about “Hamilton” is groundbreaking: the historically accurate narrative of the early days of America, the diverse casting of the actors, the use of rap and hip-hop (although, not for ALL the songs!), the innovative dancing and the resulting massive popularity of the show (4 standing productions and 2 touring companies spanning the US).