Ann Arbor Theater Vixen: Jenn McKee's Blog

{July 7, 2009}   News now, news coming…

I’ll soon be making an announcement that might alter the direction of this just-launched blog, so stay tuned during the next few days for that.

In the meantime, note that Performance Network, at 120 E. Huron St. in Ann Arbor, just announced an extension of its current production, Jeffrey Hatcher’s “A Picasso,” adding four performances: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, July 16-18, and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 19. Though I had minor quibbles with Hatcher’s script, Manfredi’s take on Picasso is enthralling.

Also, on Sunday, July 12 at 3:30 p.m., there’s a special behind-the-scenes event for “A Picasso.” Network artistic director David Wolber, and “Picasso” actors Manfredi and Emily Sutton-Smith, will offer their insights about the play; and although the talk will follow a matinee performance, the talkback event is open to the public.


In Purple Rose Theatre news, the Chelsea-based company just made a preliminary announcement about its upcoming 2009-2010 professional season, which includes: “Escanaba,” a world premiere by Jeff Daniels, which runs Sept. 17-December 19; “Gravity,” a world premiere by David MacGregor, running Feb. 11-March 27; and Thornton Wilder’s classic “Our Town,” April 15-May 29. (And while it’s unofficial at this point, Rose artistic director Guy Sanville has strongly hinted that the summer show will be “Boeing Boeing,” the French farce that just had a strong, Tony Award-winning revival on Broadway. Looks like fun!)


The Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, meanwhile, is kicking off the staged concert readings of the two scripts that won the company’s “Playing Around” playwriting contest. Savannah Hagen’s “Great In-Expectations” runs Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. In the play, Wilber Riemens, a middle-aged man whose life has been uneventful, contemplates what he will do with the last few weeks of his life.  “Not Then, Not Now,” by Michael Kramer, runs July 17-18 at 8 p.m. The play tells the story of Dennis, a married man who uses the internet to contact an old high school girlfriend. There will be a talk-back with the audience after the Friday performances of each show, with U-M playwriting professor OyamO leading the discussions. All performances take place at 322 W. Ann St., and tickets are $10-$15. To order advance tickets, call 734-971-2228 or visit

8th Wonder Theatre – a new professional theater company founded by three EMU faculty members – is opening its first show, “Video Games: A Rock Opera,” at the Village Theater, 50400 Cherry Hill Rd. in Canton, this week. 

Telling the story of two brothers who enter the world of video games through a portal in their living room, the show’s music was written by EMU lecturer and music director R. Mackenzie Lewis, and its book is by Stu Rase. (I saw this show in its first incarnation at EMU, and I enjoyed myself immensely. The show has likely evolved since then, but hopefully, its creators have maintained its sense of irresistibly campy fun.) Showtimes are Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.; July 12 at 2 p.m.; July 16 at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.; July 17 at 8 p.m.; and July 18 at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets cost $13-$17 (July 16’s 10 a.m. “super-saver” show only costs a $5 donation); to reserve seats, call 734-394-5460 or visit / villagetheater. For more info, visit


Lastly, with the release of a new Harry Potter film upon us, I thought it only appropriate to note this: in April, Basement Arts, a nonprofit, student-run theater company at U-M, staged five free performances, over the course of three nights, of a parody show called “HP: The Musical,” telling the story of a certain, um, young wizard who shall not be named. The show’s songs were written by the show’s star, Darren Criss, and A. J. Holmes, and the book was written by Nick Lang and Brian Holden. Though the entire show was previously available on YouTube, the videos have been temporarily taken down (presumably for legal reasons). Even so, you can visit to learn more about the show; and my guess is that somewhere, video – like the truth – is out there.


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