THE MICHIGAN DAILY NEW STUDENT EDITION ARTS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1994
Local stages come alive with classic theater productions*
By MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO
Just because you're 12 hours from the Big Apple
doesn't mean you're not going to find top-notch theater in
Ann Arbor. And even if the only theater you've seen was
your high school's production of "Bye Bye Birdie," the
performance selection and quality in Ann Arbor is guar-
anteed to captivate you.
The University's Department of Theatre and Drama is
by far the most accessible performance venue on campus.
They put on four straight plays in various theaters across
campus. Last season's productions include: "The Heidi
Chronicles," "Major Barbara," "The Butterfingers' An-
gel" and "The Rogues Trial." This year they will begin the
season with an expanded production of Tennessee Will-
iams' "The Glass Menagerie," and follow with
Shakespeare's rollicking "The Merry Wives of Windsor"
and Anton Chekov's "Three Sisters."
The University's Musical Theatre Program, widely
recognized as one of the most prestigious in the nation,
performs two shows per year. They have hosted several
world premieres, including last season's "Quilt: A Musi-
cal Celebration," which lauded AIDS victims and their
families in story and song. This season promises to be a
smash, beginning with the Stephen Sondheim-James
Lapine masterpiece "Sunday in the Park with George"
and following with the song-and-dance extravaganza
If opera is what you crave, look to the School of Music
Opera Theatre's performances. One of their two shows
will be the family classic "Hansel and Gretel," and the
other (to be announced) will likely be just as enchanting.
The Department of Dance puts on one huge production
per year; this year is "Future Dance," which includes a
special tribute to the 100th birthday of dance legend
All University-sponsored shows are performed at one
of three theaters on campus. The Power Center is the
largest, seating 1,350 in its two levels; its cinder-block
walls and large stage make it perfect for large-scale plays
and musicals. The Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre (attached
to the Michigan League) seats around 650 in its two
levels; Mendelssohn is your basic, traditional, comfort-
able old proscenium stage. The smallest venue but most
MUSKET performs one musical each term in the Power
Center - all run, designed and performed by students.
Past productions include "Cabaret," "Evita," "Chess,"
"Anything Goes" and "Fiddler on the Roof." This fall they
present the cult favorite "Little Shop of Horrors."
Off campus but still in Ann Arbor lie some great
productions too. If you like your theater experimental, go
to the Performance Network. In addition to their scattere*
concerts and benefits, the Network showcases many origi-
nal, offbeat and altered productions.
For the more traditional theater-goer, Ann Arbor Civic
Theatre presents more than 10 shows per year. Their
Mainstage shows are done in the Mendelssohn Theatre
right on campus; their Second Stage is about a $6 cab ride
off campus. Their season includes: "South Pacific," "The
Piano Lesson," "The Miracle Worker," "Annie," "Private
Lives," "Love Letters," "Extremities" and (depending on
availability) Wendy Wasserstein's Tony-winning "The
But I see from the glint in your eye that you want the
big stuff - the Broadway blockbusters touring the coun-
try. Other than the occasional sub-par, non-equity tour, no
national tours go through Ann Arbor, simply because
there is no appropriate space. However, many University
students make the 40-minute jaunt to Detroit, where the
The Fisher Theatre and Masonic Temple are the places
to go, where "The Who's TOMMY" and other great
national tours have played. This season "Les Miserableso
and "The Phantom of the Opera" make return visits;
"Miss Saigon" lands at the Masonic in October. Other
national tours include the new Broadway revival of "Damn
Yankees," "The Sisters Rosensweig" and Chita Rivera
reprising her Tony-winning role in 1993's Best Musical,
"Kiss of the Spider Woman."
The Fox Theatre is another popular Detroit house for
national tours. "Cats" always makes a stop every year or
so, and the Fox played host in April to the Broadway-
bound revival of "Grease" starring Rosie O'Donnell.
Smaller regional theaters in and around the Detroit
area put on high-quality productions as well. The Attic
Theatre, with one location in Detroit and one in Pontiac (a
See THEATER, Page 7D
The Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, with its proscenium stage, features a number of University productions.
versatile house is the Trueblood Theatre, located inside
the Frieze Building; the seats in the Trueblood can be
arranged to accommodate just about any performance,
creating a theater in-the-round, a modified thrust stage or
a scaled-down proscenium. The Trueblood seats 200 at its
most simple arrangement.
All of the above University productions play for at
least four performances in one weekend. U Prod offers
students a $6 ticket price, anytime and for any of the
The University isn't the only sponsor of theater on
campus, however. For more obscure, smaller and often
original productions, check out Basement Arts: stu-
dent-run and usually student-directed shows in the
Frieze Building's Arena Theatre (a 40-80 seat black
box). Basement shows are often a little hard to find, but
keep an eye out. They're out there, and often you'll find
some real gems.
The most popular student organization is MUSKET,
under the blanket of the University Activities Center.