Michigan theater

It’s time for another edition of Theater Talk with David Kiley, editor-in-chief of Encore Michigan. Kiley joined Stateside to preview and review plays opening around Michigan this month.

Cast members for Parallel 45 Theatre's production of "Go, Dog. Go!" rehearse in Traverse City Wednesday night.
Dan Wanschura

Parallel 45 Theatre is about to try something new.

The professional theatre company started in Traverse City seven years ago and typically produces three to four shows throughout the year.

Next year, the company wants to produce more shows, for more people. 

The cast of 'Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play' gathers for a rehearsal earlier this week. The show explores what a society might hold onto after an apocalyptic event.
Dan Wanschura

If there was an apocalypse, what would we hold onto? How about the TV show 'The Simpsons?'

That’s the case in ‘Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play.’

The musical comedy portrays a group of survivors who make it through a global disaster, which has left the world without electricity. 

 


Students at Leland High School rehearse 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood' earlier this week. The musical incorporates audience participation to determine the outcome of the show.
Kim Klein

When Charles Dickens died in 1870, his last novel, 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood,' was unfinished. All we know for certain is that the title character, Edwin Drood, mysteriously disappears.

A musical based on that story assumes Drood has been killed, and the students at Leland High School are performing it over the next two weekends.

For this edition of Theater Talk on Stateside, David Kiley of Encore Michigan joins the show to talk about four productions currently on stage across Michigan. Two are Academy Award-nominated films adapted into musicals (and only one of them is authorized), one is a drama about a single mom's intimate encounter with a U.S. Senator, and another is a Tennessee Williams classic that's making a rare appearance in the state. 

Charles Ross is the creator of the One Man Star Wars Trilogy. He's performed the show thousands of times all over the world. He'll be at the City Opera House in Traverse City, March 10.
onemanstarwars.com

For the past 16 years, actor Charles Ross has been performing his One Man Star Wars Trilogy.

“Every time I think that the show is going to dry up, Star Wars just keeps on putting new things out and making new generations of fans,” he says. 


Two young people kept their love alive throughout World War II with letters – hundreds of them.

Emilio Rodriguez (left) chats with fellow artists in residence during The MITTEN Lab residency.
Dan Wanschura

What’s one of the biggest challenges for emerging artists today?

A lot of them will tell you, it’s about getting their new work noticed. Think about, a playwright for example. Their work has to be compelling enough for a theater company just to notice it.

But even then, it’s not enough to just be compelling. The work has to be so good that the theater decides to take a chance and invest in the production of the show. If the playwright doesn't have much of a track record, it’s a huge gamble for the theater company.


Whether you were a little kid jumping into your pajamas before Mom and Dad loaded up the station wagon, or a teenager looking for a little "privacy" on a date, the drive-in theater could be a pretty magical place.

The very first drive-in opened in New Jersey in 1933. But it sure didn't take long for Michiganders to catch on to drive-ins. They opened up in virtually every corner of the state.

Harry Skrdla channeled his happy boyhood memories of going to the drive-in to come up with a book for the Images of America series. It's called Michigan's Drive-in Theaters.