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.

Amazon Teen Bestsellers: The Mortal Instruments

Slots 5 through 9 on the current list of Amazon teen bestsellers are books from the The Mortal Instruments series. Not a bad showing for author Cassandra Clare. The popularity of her series may be fueled by the August release of the film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. The book City of Bones, which sounds exotic and exciting, is described on Amazon: "When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died . . ."

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.

Purple Rose: The Vast Difference

The Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea is presenting "The Vast Difference," a comedy by Jeff Daniels from September 19 to December 14.
From the Purple Rose website: "George Noonan is having a mid-life crisis. The father of five girls and a flight attendant for a small Midwestern airline, he is scheduled to have a vasectomy. As he works up the courage to go through with the procedure, George becomes reflective on his struggles with his career, living up to his father's expectations, and the nature of "being a man" in the modern world. Contains mild adult language and themes." The play is directed by Guy Sanville. Tickets may be purchased here.

The Boy Who Could Fly

In 1986, the film The Boy Who Could Fly came out to decent reviews, although it didn’t make much of a splash. But over the years, it has become one of those movies that people remember and want to see again.

Milly and her family move next door to Eric after the recent, tragic suicide of her father. She quickly notices something unusual next door, from something flying by her window to Eric spending lots of time on the roof. Milly becomes intrigued and eventually befriends Eric, who is autistic and lives with his alcoholic uncle. Eric’s parents died in a plane crash, and Eric as been obsessed with flying since the tragedy.

The actors who play Milly and Eric give nuanced and effecting performances. Fred Savage is delightful as a kid whose strategy for coping with his father's death is both grim and comically engaging. The adults in The Boy Who Could Fly add breadth and depth to the story: Bonnie Bedelia as the frazzled mother; Colleen Dewhurst as the understanding Mrs. Sherman; and Fred Gwynne as Uncle Hugo, a loving guardian who is battling his own demons.

Whether Eric can really fly is open to discussion, but this heartwarming and delightful film tells a great story.

Performance Network: My Name is Asher Lev

Performance Network in Ann Arbor is showing My Name is Asher Lev through September 8. The play is by Aaron Posner, adapted from the 1972 novel by Chaim Potok. The story is about a boy growing up in the 1950s in a tight Hasidic community. After he discovers he has strong artistic talent, the boy creates "The Brooklyn Crucifictions," and fears he will bring shame on his family and community. Ticket information is here. Performance Network is located at 120 E. Huron St. in downtown Ann Arbor.

Mud on DVD

Fourteen year old Ellis and his best friend Neckbone enjoy living on the Mississippi River boating and exploring nearby areas. One day they happen upon a boat up in a tree on a deserted island and think it’s the most wonderful hide-out ever. They soon discover that the boat is already inhabited by a man named Mud. And Mud has killed a man to protect his one true love, Juniper, and now he’s being hunted by bounty hunters and is hiding out until he meets up with her again. The boys agree to secretly help him and it brings a world of trouble on the small town that changes the boys forever.

Mud is a timeless adventure story of two boys trying to find their place and do good by the adults in their lives. Ellis yearns for a good example of love between adults and this fuels his desire to reunite Mud and Juniper. Ellis and Neckbone are children on the cusp of becoming men, full of hope and wonder, but half believe they already have the answers to it all.

It’s a beautifully written and thoughtfully directed film that portrays life along the Mississippi. Cast with locals to play the boys, and Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon to play Mud and Juniper, it’s a worthy viewing.

TV Spotlight: Fringe

Fringe gets recommended to fans of science fiction, police procedural dramas, and The X-Files. At first I ignored the recommendations due to the fact that the main actors were also main actors in Dawson’s Creek (Pacey), Lord of the Rings (Denethor), and The Wire (Daniels) and my brain couldn't handle it. Or the comparisons to The X-Files, which I love. Once I got past all that I was deep into the series and couldn’t stop!

Set in Boston, the show follows members of the FBI’s “Fringe Division” who, under the supervision of Homeland Security, investigate unexplained events using “fringe” science and experimentation that usually leads back to the fact that there are parallel universes and many dire consequences to the science behind their possible destruction. The show focuses on agent Olivia Dunham, former psychiatric hospital resident/scientist Dr. Walter Bishop, and Walter’s genius son Peter Bishop.

The early seasons of Fringe were mystery-of-the-week style, while later seasons focused more on the overall mythology that continues through the final 5th season. It’s fun to watch the relationships among the main characters as they evolve—Everything from the father/son relationship between Walter and Peter to Walter’s obsession with licorice and all things sweet. The show is intense and addicting, and you will see things in a different light while watching, because after all there are two of everything.

Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master'

Featuring an all-star cast of Academy Award-winning and -nominated actors Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Laura Dern, The Master is another fascinating film from Paul Thomas Anderson. Anderson’s previous films Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will be Blood have all been well received.

The Master is a striking portrait of drifters and seekers in post-World War II America. It unfolds with the journey of a naval veteran who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future, until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader. Believed by many to be based on the life of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, Anderson has said parts of the story were lifted from early drafts of the script for There Will Be Blood, as well as Navy stories that Jason Robards told him.

If you're drawn to The Master, you may want to check out the bestselling book by Lawrence Wright: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. The book features many interviews, including the infamous one with Paul Haggis featured in the February, 2011, New Yorker article THE APOSTATE Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology.

Encore Musical Theatre: Les Miserables

Encore Musical Theater Company in Dexter is playing the classic Les Miserables through Aug. 18. This non-profit company showcases Broadway performers and local talent. Ticket information is here.

Syndicate content