Ann Arbor Theater Vixen: Jenn McKee's Blog

{July 29, 2009}   My “most anticipated shows” list

Sorry for the lapse, you crazy nine or ten people who check in regularly.

Between the News’ closing, my 20th high school reunion (complete with behind-the-scenes drama, thank you very much!), my first days at a new job, and a teething one year old, things have been a little crazy. (Fortunately, only one of these events has involved someone screaming at me for an hour straight. And it wasn’t my reunion.)

There’s some pretty great stuff on the schedule this season, making it hard to narrow it down to 11 most-anticipated shows. Consequently, I’ve done what any reasonable, red-blooded American would do: I fudged a little. But warts and all, here’s my most-anticipated-shows list for 2009-10:

– Almost the entire season of stuff at Performance Network. See? Fudging right out of the gate. But the truth of the matter is that “The Blonde, The Brunette, and the Redhead” looked enticing when it was at Stratford, and I’m looking forward to seeing Suzi Regan take on this one-woman show; “K2” promises to be a suspenseful story in a setting rarely depicted on a stage; “It Came from Mars,” by up-and-coming – or maybe just “arrived,” at this point – local playwright Joe Zettelmaier has a seductively fun premise; and the Tony Award-winning play “The Seafarer” has all the earmarks of a little show that packs a huge punch. Looking forward to them all.

– “Gravity” at the Purple Rose. I loved Michigan playwright David MacGregor’s last play, “Vino Veritas,” and his voice is generally smart and witty, so I can’t wait to see what he does with Sir Isaac Newton.

– “Our Town” face-off between the Purple Rose and the University of Michigan. I know, I know. It’s “Our Town.” How many times have I seen this already? But the Rose’s production will happen not long after U-M mounts its production, so rather than dread it, I’ll look forward to seeing the different choices each production team makes. “Our Town” appears to be this year’s “Doubt” in terms of dueling productions.

– “Love’s Labors Lost,” Shakespeare Globe Theatre, presented by UMS. Perpetual debates aside, the Brits don’t necessarily do the bard better than Americans, but the high quality of theater that UMS brings to town is enough to make me look to this production as a potential season highlight.

– “Death of a Salesman” and “The African Queen is Sinking” at the Blackbird Theater. The Blackbird always has a nice balance of classic work and cutting edge stuff on their schedule, and this year is no different. And since the best production I ever saw there, “The View from the Bridge,” was by Miller, I’m anticipating a similarly arresting “Salesman.” “Queen,” meanwhile, is an original work by Bund about the behind-the-scenes drama of the classic Bogart-Hepburn movie. Sounds like a fabulous time to me!

– Wasserstein’s “Uncommon Women and Others” and two musicals at U-M. Wendy Wasserstein is one of my heroes, so I’m looking forward to “Uncommon,” and U-M’s fantastic musical theater department is sure to wow audiences with “Evita” and “Ragtime.”

– A2CT Musicals. Ann Arbor Civic is staging three musicals (“The Producers,” “Nine,” and “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying”) that I know a bit about but have never seen – and given the company’s penchant for highlighting local, otherwise-hidden talent, I’m anxious to see them all.

– MorrisCo’s “Night of the Iguana.” Being a critic has given me the opportunity to see a great many of Tennessee Williams’ plays performed, but I’ve never seen this one. Hooray for novelty!

– “August: Osage County” at Detroit’s Fisher Theater. OK, you caught me. This is outside of my coverage area – but come on! With its large cast, this every-award-winning play – hailed by many as the best play in recent years – can’t easily be produced by regional theaters, so I’ll be making my way to Motown. It will be hard for the play to live up to my expectations at this point, but here’s hoping.


Heather says:

Jersey Boys…have you seen it? What did you think?

Jenn McKee says:

Haven’t seen it, and I’m curious to, but jukebox musicals always make me a little skeptical. Not that I won’t give it a fair chance, but I’m not pining away for its arrival, either. We’ll see. I’m hoping it will be great, of course. I’m always hoping for that.

Sara says:

Ouch! No mention of Globe Theatre’s Love’s Labour’s Lost or Maly Drama Theater’s Uncle Vanya? 🙂

Jenn McKee says:

Oops – thanks for reminding me to add UMS shows to my calendar, too, Sara!! I’m still getting settled here at, so I need all the reminders I can get just now. LLL will definitely be added to the list. As for “Vanya,” well, I’ll be interested to see the group’s approach, but I must confess to not being a real Chekhov person generally. Maly might win me over nonetheless, of course. It’s happened before.

Renee Tellez says:

I’m looking forward to seeing “Big River” in Canton, at the 8th Wonder Theatre. That was the very first musical and I’ve been in love with musical theater ever since. I don’t get to go as often as I’d like to, but seeing “Wicked” back in December gave me the bug to go again.

Jenn McKee says:

I liked “Wicked” SO much more than I expected to. What a great show! And have fun at “Big River.” Some great folks involved with it, so it looks pretty promising (and I LOVE the number, “Muddy Water,” of course).

Frank Anderson says:

Hey Jenn — Are you going to the Brass Tacks Ensemble’s presentation of “A Park, a Policeman and a Pretty Girl” at the Kerrytown Concert House this weekend? I only ask, of course, because my high school friend Rachel is in it.

Jenn McKee says:

I just wrote up a little something about the show for yesterday, but unfortunately, I won’t be able to see it. Love the premise, though (taking Chaplin’s statement about only needing those three things to make comedy and creating short original works featuring them) – very original…

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