Community High School to Present Urinetown: The Musical

Community High School in Ann Arbor will present Urinetown -- a satirical musical from 2001 -- from March 21-23. Here is what Amazon has to say about Urinetown: "Winner of three Tony Awards, including Best Book, Urinetown is a tale of greed, corruption, love, and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold." Admission is $8 for students and staff and $12 for everyone else. More information is here.

Performance Network: Venus in Fur

Performance Netowrk Theatre -- in downtown Ann Arbor at 120 E. Huron -- will show Venus in Fur, a sex comedy by David Ives Feb. 27 - April 6. The Performance Network website describes the play as "A Sexy New Play from Broadway . . . Thomas, a beleaguered playwright/director, is desperate to find an actress to play Vanda, the female lead in his adaptation of the classic sadomasochist tale Venus in Fur. Into the audition room walks a vulgar and distraught actress—oddly enough, named Vanda. Though utterly wrong for the part, Vanda exhibits a strange command of the material. As the two work through the script, the lines between play and reality blur, entering into an increasingly serious battle of submission and domination that only one of them can win." Previews are February 27 – March 6. Opening Night: is March 7. Ticket information is here.

Wild Swan Theater: Under the African Sky

Mark your calendar for Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 1 pm, when Wild Swan Theater presents Under the African Sky in Towsley Auditorium. The other three performances already are sold out. The play is a humorous collection of well- known African tales including Why the Sky is Far Away, The Talking Vegetables and Tug-of-Vine. Performers will use acting, storytelling, and drumming, with instruments including a balaphone, a djembe, and a talking drum. The show is for children age 4 to third grade and there will be plenty of chances for audience participation.

Before Bridgegate, Before SNL, Gilda Radner Was an Ann Arbor Star

Before becoming a founding member of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players on Saturday Night Live, Gilda Radner was making her name as a performer with the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre. Radner was a student at the University of Michigan and already showing her gift for broad comedy.

This week Radner, who died in 1989, was back in the news, in the guise of her most famous comic alter ego Roseanne Roseannadanna. On SNL's Weekend Update, Roseanne would respond to the complaints of a Mr. Richard Feder of Fort Lee, N.J. This week the New York Times writer Matt Flegenheimer wondered what Richard Leder would think about the controversy over the closing of the George Washington Bridge that connects Fort Lee with Manhattan. The closings have ensnared New Jersey governor and presidential hopeful Chris Christie in a scandal.

Mr. Feder is a real person, the brother-in-law of an SNL staff writer. He never wrote letters to Roseanne, but mock complaining letters in his name and Roseanne's withering replies became famous. In one skit quoted in the Times Mr. Feder complained about his attempts to stop smoking, "I gained weight, my face broke out. I'm nauseous, I'm constipated, my feet swell, my sinuses are clogged, I got heartburn, I'm cranky and I have gas. What should I do."

"Mr. Feder, you sound like a real attractive guy," Ms. Roseannadanna said. "You belong in New Jersey."

As it happens, Mr. Feder was caught in the massive traffic jam around the bridge. Radner's brilliance at creating wild and yet endearing characters first came to life here in Ann Arbor.

Performance Network: County Line

Performance Network Theatre in Ann Arbor is showing County Line, by David Wells, January 16 through February 16. Wells also wrote Brill, a recent hit at the theatre. His current play is described on the theatre website as "the whimsical and profound story of 17-year-old Lois’ journey after the arrest of her father. Lois is sentenced to the strict confines of a foster home run by Tanya – a woman who is not your typical guardian and owns the County Line Truck Stop & Travel Center. In this coming of age story, Lois encounters both her first look at the subtle terrors one human can inflict upon another and a lifeline to humanity that will ultimately save her." Click here for ticket information.

Purple Rose: Redwood Curtain

Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea is showing Redwood Curtain, a play by Lanford Wilson January 16 through March 15. From the Purple Rose website: "Geri is a young prodigy searching for her birth father. While visiting her aunt in northern California, Geri meets a homeless veteran, Lyman, who has chosen to hide behind the curtain of the Redwood Forest. Discovering startling similarities between Lyman and her natural father, she decides he is the key to her true heritage. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Talley’s Folly, Book of Days and Rain Dance comes a magical story of family and self-discovery. *Contains mild adult language." Ticket information is here.

Performance Network Theatre: Jerry's Girls

Ann Arbor's Performance Network Theatre is showing Jerry's Girls, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, through Jan. 5. Herman worked on the concept with Larry Alford and Wayne Cilento. From the theatre's webpage: "Fabulous, flamboyant and fun for the whole family, 'Jerry's Girls' is the larger than life musical revue of Jerry Herman. Winner of four Tony Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement of Theatre, Jerry Herman and his music are synonymous with some of Broadway’s biggest hits – Hello Dolly!, La Cage Aux Folles, Mame, Mack and Mabel, Dear World, and more. Complete with large scale production numbers, tap dancing, and a little bit of drag – this is the perfect holiday excursion . . . " Ticket information is here.

Wild Swan Theater: The Firebird

Wild Swan Theater presents The Firebird Nov. 21-24 in Towsley Auditorium in the Morris Lawerence Buildong at Washtenaw Community College. The performance is for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. From the Wild Swan web page: "Young Ivan, Prince of Russia, must outwit one evil character after another in his quest to find the Firebird who has been stealing the Czar’s golden apples. A thrilling version of the classic Russian folktale, Wild Swan’s production features a host of fantastical creatures including the witch Baba Yaga, Nurl the Gnome, and Sistchik the Snake King as well as swirling Russian folk dancing set to a lively balalaika score." Ticket information is here.

Wild Swan Theater: The Ugly Duckling

Wild Swan Theater will present "The Ugly Duckling" Oct. 17-Oct. 19 in the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College. Resident playwright Jeff Duncan has put his own spin on the classic tale by H.C. Andersen. The performance is designed for children in preschool through second grade. More information is here.

Performance Network: "An Iliad"

Performance Network Theatre in downtown Ann Arbor presents "An Iliad" adapted by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson from September 26 through October 27. The Performance Network webpage offers this description of the play: "In this present-day retelling of Homer’s classic, a lone figure appears on an unadorned stage and shares the tragic narrative he is fated to tell for eternity. This epic narrative brings humor, pathos, and excitement to the ancient tale of the Trojan War, colliding it with the contemporary world and creating a wholly captivating theatrical experience." Performance Network is located at 120 East Huron St. and ticket information is here.

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