Performance Network: "Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh"

Put this on your calendar: Performance Network is staging "Marie Antoinette:The Color of Flesh" -- historical fiction -- beginning with previews July 28 and running through Aug. 28. The play by Joel Gross is about an imagined love triangle between Marie Antoinette, her portrait painter, and an aristocrat lover to both. A preview is here.

Author Birthdays: Benét, Robbins, Hinton

July 22nd marks the birthday of authors Stephen Vincent Benét, Tom Robbins, and S. E. Hinton.

Stephen Vincent Benét was an American writer probably best known for his short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster." He also won the Pulitzer for his book-length poems John Brown's Body and Western Star.

Benét also wrote an adaptation of the Roman legend of the Rape of the Sabine Women, which he called "The Sobbin' Women." This short story went on to inspire the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Tom Robbins is an American author who has been called a "psychedelic son of Mark Twain" by Booklist. He is known for his novels Even Cowgirls Get The Blues and Villa Incognito.

Robbins also has a collection of short stories and essays called Wild Ducks Flying Backward. Many critics have praised his non-fiction essays in the work for their humor.

S. E. Hinton is an American writer of children's, young adult, and adult fiction. She is best known for her teen novel The Outsiders, about friendship, gangs, and families (featuring a character whose name is worth Summer Game points), which was published when she was only 16 years old.

Hinton's adult fiction includes the novel Hawkes Harbor, which is about an orphan raised by nuns, who later goes out into the world to seek adventure, eventually finding an evil monster in a place called Hawkes Harbor.

The Winter's Tale at the Arb

Winter's TaleWinter's Tale Enjoy Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" in June at Nichols Arboretum. Starring Leontes, Polixenes, Hermione, Camillo, and Perdita! Directed by Kate Mendeloff, all shows begin at 6:30 pm and the box office opens at 5:30 pm. The performances will be held June 9 - 12, 16 - 19, and 23 - 26. For more information, see the website: mbgna.umich.edu or call 734.647.7600. General Admission: $18. Members: $15. Seniors: $16. Students: $10. If you go soon, you may be able to enjoy the Peonies!

Author Birthdays: Lorca, Scarry, Drabble

June 5th marks the birthday of authors Federico García Lorca, Richard Scarry, and Margaret Drabble.

Federico García Lorca was a Spanish poet and playwright who is believed to have been killed during the Spanish Civil War. Some of his unpublished poems and essays were collected in a volume in 1998, A Season in Granada; the overall theme of the collection is Granada, where Lorca was supposedly killed.

Lorca's works also include: In Search of Duende, which describes theories on dance, music, and bullfights; the play Yerma, which was made into a Spanish language film; and a collection of his letters, which gives a sort of autobiography of his life.

Richard Scarry was an American author and illustrator of children's stories. His most well-known works include those about Busytown, a place inhabited by animals.

Scarry wrote for many ages; we have board books, picture books, and readers. We even have some of his works in Chinese.

Margaret Drabble is an English writer of novels and biographies, as well as some other assorted non-fiction subjects. Of these non-fiction works, AADL has a biography of Angus Wilson (a fellow novelist), and a book on jigsaw puzzles, The Pattern in the Carpet.

Drabble's novels include: The Red Queen, which details the story of a London woman who receives an unpublished memoir of a Korean princess; The Seven Sisters, which Library Journal noted as having "a character who describes herself accurately as having 'much to be ashamed about'"; and The Millstone, set in 1960s London.

Performance Network: "Next Fall" running through July 3

The drama Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts -- a 2010 Tony nominee for best play -- is running at Performance Network Theater in Ann Arbor through July 3. The play was produced on Broadway by Elton John and his partner David Furnish. You can read a preview of the PNT production here and buy tickets here.



Author Birthdays: Chesterton, White, Ehrlich

May 29th marks the birthday of authors G. K. Chesterton, T. H. White, and Paul R. Ehrlich.

G. K. Chesterton was an English author. He wrote mysteries, essays, biographies, and general fiction. His works on Father Brown, a Catholic priest and detective, were even adapted for television in the 70s.

Chesterton also wrote a biography of his friend and "rival" George Bernard Shaw, and the novel The Man Who Was Thursday, which involves seven anarchists in London who give themselves the names of the days of the week.

T. H. White was an English author best known for his Arthurian works The Once and Future King and The Sword in the Stone. The musical Camelot and the Disney film The Sword in the Stone were based on his works.

White also wrote the children's story Mistress Masham's Repose, about an English orphan and her interactions with Lilliputians, a race of people described by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels.

Paul R. Ehrlich is an American writer and biologist, as well as a professor at Stanford University. His works focus on the environment and population growth. His latest book, The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution And The Environment, published in 2008, examines the relationship between the two.

Ehrlich's first big work was The Population Bomb, which discussed overpopulation and its effects on society. His later book, The Population Explosion, considers the topic further, more than 20 years afterward.

Author Birthdays: Baum, Porter, Bulgakov

May 15th marks the birthday of authors L. Frank Baum, Katherine Anne Porter, and Mikhail Bulgakov.

L. Frank Baum was an American children's author most well known for his story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; there were at least 17 total Oz books that Baum wrote.

Baum also wrote short stories about the magical land of Mo. You may be interested in looking up other books by Baum which were actually published under the pseudonyms Edith Van Dyne, Floyd Akers, Schuyler Staunton, John Estes Cooke, Suzanne Metcalf, and Laura Bancroft.

Katherine Anne Porter was an American writer and Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner (for The Collected Stories). She was also nominated numerous times for the Nobel Prize.

Porter's novel Ship of Fools was a best-seller and was made into a film starring Gone with the Wind's Vivien Leigh.

Mikhail Bulgakov was a Russian playwright and novelist. His most well known work was The Master and Margarita, a novel about the Devil visiting Soviet Russia. The book is something of a cult favorite now.

In addition, we have a collection of six of Bulgakov's plays. There is also another of Bulgakov's novels at AADL, Heart of a Dog, which is a strange story about a dog-turned-kind-of-man.

Author Birthdays: Leroux, Jarrell, White

May 6th marks the birthday of authors Gaston Leroux, Randall Jarrell, and Theodore White.

Gaston Leroux was a French author most known for his novel The Phantom of the Opera, which has been made into both a musical and a few films.

Leroux also wrote detective novels, two of which have been translated into English: The Mystery of the Yellow Room and The Perfume of the Lady in Black, which are both part of the series on the character Joseph Rouletabille.

Randall Jarrell was an American writer of poetry, children's books, and essays. We have his Complete Poems here at AADL; his collection The Woman at the Washington Zoo won the National Book Award for poetry is within it.

Among Jarrell's works for children, we have The Animal Family, a Newbery Honor Book, and The Bat-Poet, which was illustrated by Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are).

Theodore H. White was an American historian. His book The Making of the President, 1960 won the Pulitzer for General Nonfiction in 1962. It details the election of JFK, and is the first in a "series" of books about elections.

White's other works include Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon, about the Watergate scandal, and his autobiography, In Search of History: A Personal Adventure.

Author Birthdays: Shakespeare, Marsh, Laxness

April 23rd marks the birthday of authors William Shakespeare, Ngaio Marsh, and Halldor Laxness.

William Shakespeare was and is probably the most well-known English poet and playwright in history. You may know him for writing Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Love's Labour's Lost, and Twelfth Night. Almost all of his plays have been produced on stage, in film, or both.

Shakespeare's lesser known works, though I feel silly saying that at all, may be some of his many histories, like Coriolanus, about a Roman leader; Troilus and Cressida, a story of the Trojan War; Cymbeline, about a legendary British king and his daughter; or The Life and Death of King John, about the famed signer of the Magna Carta.

Ngaio Marsh was a writer from New Zealand who is probably best known for her detective novels. Her name may also be familiar to those who watch the Inspector Alleyn Mysteries, since the show is based on her works about Roderick Alleyn.

Marsh also wrote short stories, which we have collected in Alleyn And Others: The Collected Short Fiction Of Ngaio Marsh. She wrote so many books that I don't know, really, which one to talk about, so I'm going with the best title: Killer Dolphin, an Alleyn mystery set in the Dolphin Theater.

Halldor Laxness was an Icelandic author and Nobel Prize winner. He wrote three rounds of stories that focused on the Icelandic people: Salka Valka, Independent People, and The Light of the World (also called World Light).

Laxness also wrote The Fish Can Sing, called by the publisher "a poignant coming-of-age tale marked with his peculiar blend of light irony and dark humor". It tells the story of an orphan who changes his dream of becoming a fisherman when he meets an Icelandic celebrity.

Sound of Music vs. West Side Story

In the early 1960s, Robert Wise directed two of the most popular and beloved musicals ever to dance across the big screen. In 1961, he and choreographer Jerome Robbins dramatized the Bernstein and Sondheim musical, West Side Story. Wise followed this ten-Oscar-winning smash with the historical von Trapp family saga, The Sound of Music, in 1965. These two films tower among the best in the genre some fifty years later, as the late 1960s and beyond trended toward cinema verite styling and a marked dropoff of the sentimentality of these films.

So which is the better Robert Wise directed musical film: West Side Story or Sound of Music?

If you're in the West Side Story camp, you have the timeless Romeo and Juliet tale, elevated by some of the most brilliantly directed and choreographed dance/fight scenes in film history. But if you're in Sound of Music's corner, you have the filmed-on-location, stunning Austrian backdrop, with enormously talented Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer as leads, and songs like My Favorite Things, whose melody shifts like a sea change amidst the song's parade of images. If anybody asks, I'm voting for the latter.

Revisit your favorite or enjoy either movie for the first time by checking the AADL catalog for holdings at your local library.

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