My Life in the Theater: AN ILIAD

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Oct 312013
 

We saw this last week at the Performance Network Theater in Ann Arbor. The play sold out for its entire run and it was easy to see why. John Manfredi is amazing in a one-man show that tells the story of THE ILIAD, but also makes a case for the history of war-which coincides with the history of mankind.

AN ILIAD was written by Lisa Peterson and David O’Hare, based on the work of Homer, of course. It won a 2012 Obie award.

If it comes your way, you won’t regret seeing it.

My Life in the Theater: A Walk in the Woods

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Apr 042013
 

I saw this play by Lee Blessing twenty years ago at least when it was far more timely than it is now.  It concerns two men, one from the US and one from the USSR negotiating SALT talks in Geneva. Because it focuses solely on that subject rather than on the men or anything else, it seems pretty dated now. It was a decent production at the Quoridian Theater in Bethesda, Maryland. Its original production was in 1986 when this subject was highly relevant.

MY LIFE AT THE THEATER: NEXT TO NORMAL

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Mar 142013
 

NEXT TO NORMAL won the Pulitzer Award for Drama in 2010 despite not being nominated. It is a spectacular musical, unlike any other. It deals with the affect of mental illness on a family-and the difficulty of treating it despite all the pharmaceuticals we have to treat it with. Amazing performances, great set, great play. Loved it.

We saw it at the Meadowbrook Theater in Rochester, Michigan. Yes, local theater is great. Say what you want about Detroit, we do have local theater and plenty of it.

My Life in the Theater: GEM OF THE OCEAN

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Feb 152013
 

August Wilson wrote GEM OF THE OCEAN a year or two before he died. It is part of his cycle of plays about the lives of African-Americans throughout the 20th century and actually is the first in the cycle despite being written near the end of Wilson’s life. It is set 1904 in Pittsburgh and concerns a woman who is a healer and the man who comes to her for healing. The Cyngnet Theater in Old Town (the oldest section of San Diego) put on a very fine production and any faults lay in the somewhat didactic text. My favorites are PIANO LESSON and FENCES. But it is nice to see another piece of the 12-play cycle.

My Life in the Theater: Clybourne Park

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Feb 082013
 

We saw this at the San Diego Repertory Theater last week. It was an outstanding production of a thoughtful, funny, sad, truthful play about racism. Hard to think of a better play in the last five years and the acting by the company here was sublime. Local theater can be such an enriching experience.

MY Life in the Theater: Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood

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Jan 252013
 

We saw this play by Barret O’Brien in 2003 at the Southern New Plays Festival in New Orleans. If we are at a conference, we often seek out plays in the area and this was how we saw this play. Mr. O’Brien seems to be a prominent New Orleans playwright, an interesting phenomena that we have seen locally. A writer will find a local theater eager to perform his plays.

This play was included in the American Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2003. It was the story of husband and wife actors both nominated for Oscars. Sorry that I don’t remember more but I think we enjoyed it.

My Life in the Theater" The Misanthrope

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Jan 112013
 

Saw this one at the Attic Theater in Detroit in 1991. I am sure I have seen it several other times over the years. It endures because its themes endure I guess. Or that’s what is says in the director’s notes. The Attic Theater was such a great resource for Detroit. I am very sad it has never returned.

Lavinia Moyer helmed the Attic 1976-94, through years that saw great promise, artistic success and, finally, financial despair for the nonprofit. The Attic for many years was considered the city of Detroit’s most artistically sound resident theatre, but a fire at its Greektown-area location began years of financial instability that saw the company move to various spaces, including a partially-renovated Strand Theatre in downtown Pontiac, MI (1992-94).
The Attic later limped along artistically and financially at a space in Trapper’s Alley, in Detroit’s Greektown, before presenting sporadically in Pontiac (after being shut out of the Strand by the city of Pontiac).
The Attic Theater Moyer knew — one of beneficient subscribers and promise and donations and returning artists and Equity actors — is gone now. Too bad for us.

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOK LINKS WON’T BE UP UNTIL AROUND 12:00 EST due to my location. 

My Life at the Theater: FAITH HEALER, BRIAN FRIEL

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Jan 032013
 

We saw a terrific production of this play at the Abreacht Theater in Detroit (this is the director, Charles Reynolds). It’s done in a series of four monologues by a faith healer, his wife, his manager, and then him again. The performances were outstanding. I have to say the Irish know how to tell a good story and this one stands out. There are some mysteries here and you can make your own interpretation of events.

My Life in the Theater: A Little Night Music

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Dec 272012
 

Strangely enough this is the first Sondheim production I have seen and we saw it last week at the Performance Network in Ann Arbor. It was terrific. Now I am keen to see more. Music and lyrics by Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler based on a Bergman film SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT.

My Life at the Theater: A Skull In Connemara

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Dec 212012
 

Nice little prologue here courtesy of I don’t know who but thanks.

We saw this at the Abreacht Theater in September, 2012. I am a sucker for Irish plays and this little theater put on a good production. Martin McDonagh is the playwright.  For one week each autumn, Mick Dowd is hired to dissenter the bones in a local cemetery to make room for new arrivals. As the time comes for him to dig up the bones of his dead wife, rumors begin to circulate about her sudden death seven years before. Really nice production.