Audiobook for Broadway Lovers: Better Nate Than Ever

Read by the author (who happens to have been on Broadway himself), Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle offers an insider’s look into the world of Broadway auditions from a kid’s point of view. Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster is tired of being bullied and misunderstood in his hometown so, with the help of his best friend Libby, this Broadway-musical lover concocts a plan to run away to New York City and audition for E.T the Musical (inspired by Steven Spielberg’s E.T., of course). The adventure that follows is both hilarious and heartbreaking, and the narration is spot on through every emotional twist and turn.

The audiobook was a 2014 Odyssey Award Honor, an award given to the best audiobooks for children and teens.

Its sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate! is also available in print.

Pioneer High School Spring Musical: Rent

Theatre Guild at Pioneer High School will present the musical Rent by Jonathan Larson April 25 - May 4. From the AADL website: "A year in the life of a group of friends who love, fight, and laugh together as they face important social issues such as AIDS, homosexuality, drug abuse, and homelessness." More information is
here. The show is not for young children.

Skyline High Spring Show: Moon Over Buffalo

Skyline High School in Ann Arbor will present Ken Ludwig's comedic farce Moon Over Buffalo April 25-27. More information is here. The New York Times had this to say about the stage production: "Ken Ludwig is one of those rare contemporary playwrights who thinks in terms of old-fashioned knockabout farce, and that’s something to be cherished."

Performance Network: Richard III Re-imagined

Performance Network Theatre in downtown Ann Arbor will present a reimagined version of William Shakespeare's classic play Richard III from April 24 - June 1. From the PNT website: "... One of Shakespeare’s most famous histories gets an innovative ... treatment in this boldly re-imagined tale of power, treachery, seduction and fate. Performance Network Associate Artistic Director Carla Milarch stars as Richard, the ruthless and conniving Plantagenet, whose ascent to power is littered with corpses. This revolutionary take on the age-old classic explores the themes and fate of gender, power, and government set in the distant yet ominous future." Ticket information is here. The theater is located in downtown Ann Arbor at 120 E. Huron Street.

Purple Rose Theatre: Spring Comedy Festival

Mark your calendars! Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea is presenting a Spring Comedy Festival: Lovers, Liars & Lunatics, through May 24. Directed by Guy Sanville, this is a collection of world-premiere short comedies looking at the nature of loss, love, revenge, and renewal. New plays by Jeff Daniels and other Purple Rose favorites will be presented. Language and content are geared for adults. For ticket information, click here

Greenhills School Presenting "Into the Woods"

Students at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor will present the musical Into the Woods March 21-23. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim based on the book by James Lapine. In the show, Grimm fairy tales are re-imagined in darkly funny ways. Information on showtimes and tickets is here.

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.

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