Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Don and Jaime do it again: The 2015 Wilde Awards are in the books!



ANN ARBOR, Mich – It was yet another Wilde night at West Bloomfield’s Berman Center for the Performing Arts, as Michigan’s professional theater community gathered for The 14th Annual Wilde Awards presented by EncoreMichigan.com. Established in 2002, The 2015 Wilde Awards honored the best productions, performances and technical accomplishments of the recently concluded 2014-15 season.

In all, 28 artists and 19 productions produced or presented by 16 theaters across the state earned an award. In a rare feat, no single show, artist or production dominated the awards – something almost unheard of in Wilde Awards history.

“This year’s winners come from all over the state, and they represent theaters both large and small – and one just opened its doors this year,” said co-founder and editor-at-large Donald V. Calamia. “That to me indicates that great work is happening in all our theaters regardless of their sizes, budgets or locations.”

Standing out from the crowd, The Purple Rose Theatre and Michigan Opera Theatre each took home three awards.

“Annapurna” from The Purple Rose Theatre took home the most awards for a single show, winning Best Drama (Guy Sanville, director); Best Design for Sets (Bartley H. Bauer); and Best Design for Props (Danna Segrest.)

The awards were determined by EncoreMichigan.com’s team of professional critics who reviewed 168 productions produced or presented by 49 professional theater companies located in 25 communities across the state. The critics included Calamia, Carolyn Hayes Harmer, (owner and editor-in-chief) David Kiley, Martin F. Kohn, Jenn McKee, Sue Merrell, Amy J. Parrent, Frank Anthony Polito, John Quinn, Bridgette M. Redman, Judith Cookis Rubens and guest critic Jennifer Knightstep.

Representatives from theaters around the state attended the event that began at 6:30 p.m. with a social hour of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres; the awards presentation began at 8 p.m.

Hosted by Calamia and popular actress and improviser Jamie Moyer, the evening mixed entertainment with announcements of the awards.

“This year was especially fun with the return of Jaime as my co-host,” said Calamia. “Her dance card is quite full in Los Angeles these days where she relocated a few years back, and her celebrated comedic genius helped ensure our guests had one ‘Wilde’ night indeed!”

Other top winners were the Michigan Opera Theatre’s “Elektra,” which won Best Opera for Nicholas Muni, director, and Best Performance, Opera, for Christine Goerke. MOT also took home a Best Design -- Costumes for Monika Essen for the opera “Frida.”

Best Comedy went to Beth Torrey, the director of Tipping Point’s “Leaving Iowa.” Best Musical went to Steve DeBruyne, director of “Violet” at The Dio – Dining and Entertainment.

Other theaters that took home two awards were The Dio – Dining and Entertainment (Best Musical and Best Performance Actress in a Musical), Shakespeare in Detroit (Best of the Bard, Best Performance – The Bard), PuppetArt (Best Theatre for Young Audiences, Best Choreography), Williamston Theater (Best Performance Actress – Comedy, Best Teamwork) and The Jewish Ensemble Theatre (Best Performance Actress – Drama, Best New Script).

Special awards went out to Farmers Alley Theatre; the Detroit Improv Collective; Kurt Stamm of Mason Street Warehouse; Bailey Boudreau of Slipstream Theatre Initiative; and Kristine Thatcher, former artistic director of Lansing’s BoarsHead and Stormfield Theatres.

The night also featured an announcement by David Kiley of New Roads Media, the new owner of EncoreMichigan.com and The Wilde Awards, which detailed his many plans for the company. “I love this community,” he told the audience – after which he earned thunderous applause when he pledged to work hard at keeping this vital resource alive and successful for generations to come.

Only shows that are produced or presented by Michigan’s professional theaters and opera companies—both union and non-union—and reviewed by EncoreMichigan.com’s theater critics during the 2014-2015 season were eligible for a 2015 Wilde Awards nomination. Shows had to be performed for four consecutive days or more or over two weekends or more to be eligible for a review.

The 2015 Wilde Awards were sponsored by Detroit Public TV, Pride Source Media Group and Actors’ Equity Association. The Council Cargle Award for Dedication to the Michigan Theatre Community was sponsored by Little Bill’s Trophies.

EncoreMichigan.com is web-based publication established in 2008 that is focused on Michigan's professional theater industry. Designed as a one-stop shop for consumers, industry professionals and others with an interest in the performing arts, EncoreMichigan.com is updated daily and packed with informative interviews, insightful reviews, comprehensive show listings, thoughtful commentary, audition notices, podcasts and much, much more. Original content is created by a dedicated team of veteran freelance journalists and theater professionals. For more information about EncoreMichigan.com, log onto www.encoremichigan.com.


WINNERS: The 2015 Wilde Awards

Best Comedy
Leaving Iowa, Beth Torrey, director; Tipping Point Theatre

Best Drama
Annapurna, Guy Sanville, director; The Purple Rose Theatre Company

Best Musical
Violet, Steve DeBruyne, director; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment

Best Opera
Elektra, Nicholas Muni, director; Michigan Opera Theatre

Best of the Bard
King Lear, Frannie Shepherd-Bates, director; Shakespeare in Detroit

Best Theatre for Young Audiences
Sleeping Beauty, Igor Gozman, director; PuppetART

Best Touring Production
Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell, director; Broadway in Detroit: Fisher Theatre

Best Performance, Actress - Comedy
Emily Sutton-Smith, Miracle on South Division Street; Williamston Theatre

Best Performance, Actress - Drama
Inga R. Wilson, Sugarhill; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Performance, Actress – Musical
Mahalia Greenway, Violet; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment

Best Performance, Actor - Comedy
Brandy Joe Plambeck, Boeing Boeing; Hilberry Theatre

Best Performance, Actor - Drama
Mike McGettigan, Buried Child; The Abreact

Best Performance, Actor – Musical
Sebastian Gerstner, Spamalot; The Encore Musical Theatre Company

Best Performance – Opera
Christine Goerke, Elektra; Michigan Opera Theatre

Best Performance – The Bard
Julia Garlotte, King Lear; Shakespeare in Detroit

Best Performance – Theater for Young Audiences
Sam Carter, The Diary of Anne Frank; Flint Youth Theatre

Best Teamwork
Tony Caselli and John Lepard, The Best Brothers; Williamston Theatre

Best New Script
Linda Ramsay-Detherage, Sugarhill; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Music Direction
Brian E. Buckner, The Ugly Duckling; Wild Swan Theater

Best Choreography
Irina Baranovskaya and Igor Gozman, The Crane Maiden; PuppetART

Best Design – Sound or Video
Tim Culver, Cameron Lake and Lauri Rowe, It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play; Great Escape Stage Company

Best Design - Sets
Bartley H. Bauer, Annapurna; The Purple Rose Theatre Company

Best Design - Props
Danna Segrest, Annapurna; The Purple Rose Theatre Company

Best Design - Lights
Harley Miah, Red; Open Book Theatre Company

Best Design - Costumes
Monika Essen, Frida; Michigan Opera Theatre

SPECIAL AWARDS:

Critics’ Choice Award:
Farmers Alley Theatre

Critic’s Choice Award
Detroit Improv Collective

Founders Award for Excellence
Kurt Stamm, Mason Street Warehouse

Jim Posante Community Pride Award
Bailey Boudreau, Slipstream Theatre Initiative

Council Cargle Award for Dedication to the Michigan Theatre Community
Kristine Thatcher

Monday, August 31, 2015

It's getting close to curtain time...


Haircut?  Check.

Plaques packed and ready for transport? Check.

Last-minute changes to the script?  Check.

Last minute photos for the Power Point presentation sent to Eric? Check!

Tux ready to pick up?  Check.

Munchies and bottles of water in the gym bag? Check.

Car gassed and ready to go (it was almost on empty)? Check.

I'm ready - and that's the only thing in my ability to control at this point. So after lunch, I'll be on my way to The Berman Center for the Performing Arts to co-host The 2015 Wilde Awards!

Will I see you there?

Nominations: The 2015 Wilde Awards

Best Comedy
Around the World in 80 Days, Travis W. Walter, director; Meadow Brook Theatre
Driving Miss Daisy, John Manfredi, director; Performance Network Theatre
The Kiss of the Sun for Pardon, Leah Smith, director; Detroit Repertory Theatre
Leaving Iowa, Beth Torrey, director; Tipping Point Theatre
A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Kate Peckham, director; Tipping Point Theatre

Best Drama
Annapurna, Guy Sanville, director; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Buried Child, Greg Bailey, director; The Abreact
The Glass Menagerie, D. Terry Williams; director, Farmers Alley Theatre
1984, Randy Wolfe, director; What A Do Theatre
Sugarhill, Christopher Bremer, director; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Musical
And the World Goes Round, Stephen Brotebeck, director; Farmers Alley Theatre
Beehive, Kurt Stamm, director; Mason Street Warehouse
The Secret Garden, Kathy Mulay, director; Farmers Alley Theatre
Spamalot, Thalia V. Schramm, director; The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Violet, Steve DeBruyne, director; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment

Best Opera
Elektra, Nicholas Muni, director; Michigan Opera Theatre
Faust, Bernard Uzan, director; Michigan Opera Theatre
Frida, Jose Maria Condemi, director; Michigan Opera Theatre
Madame Butterfly, Bernard Uzan, director; Michigan Opera Theatre
The Merry Widow, Kelly Robinson, director; Michigan Opera Theatre

Best of the Bard
All's Well that Ends Well, The Ensemble, director; Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company
Hamlet, Bailey Boudreau and Steve Xander Carson, directors; Slipstream Theatre Initiative
The Winter's Tale, Bailey Boudreau, director; Slipstream Theatre Initiative
King Lear, Frannie Shepherd-Bates, director; Shakespeare in Detroit
Julius Caesar, Katherine Mayberry, director; Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company

Best Theatre for Young Audiences
The Crane Maiden, Igor Gozman, director; PuppetART
The Diary of Anne Frank, Jeremy Winchester, director; Flint Youth Theatre
Sleeping Beauty, Igor Gozman, director; PuppetART
Treasure Island, Hilary Cohen, director; Wild Swan Theater
Turtle Island, Luda Mikheyenko, director; PuppetART

Best Touring Production
Beauty and the Beast, Rob Roth, director; Miller Auditorium
Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell, director; Broadway in Detroit: Fisher Theatre
Once, John Tiffany, director; Wharton Center for the Performing Arts
Pippin, Diane Paulus, director; Wharton Center for the Performing Arts
Wicked, Joe Mantello, director; Broadway in Detroit: Fisher Theatre

Best Performance, Actress - Comedy
Connie Cowper, Kimberly Akimbo; Open Book Theatre Company
Lydia Hiller, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur; Tipping Point Theatre
Terry Heck, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; Tipping Point Theatre
Nancy-Elizabeth Kammer, Driving Miss Daisy; Performance Network Theatre
Janet Maylie, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; Tipping Point Theatre
Emily Sutton-Smith, Miracle on South Division Street; Williamston Theatre

Best Performance, Actress - Drama
Averi Beck, Anne of Green Gables; What A Do Theatre
Ellen Finch, On Golden Pond; The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Linda Rabin Hammell, The Best of Enemies; UDM Theatre Company
Michelle Mountain, Annapurna; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Sharon Williams, The Glass Menagerie; Farmers Alley Theatre
Inga R. Wilson, Sugarhill; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Performance, Actress – Musical
Mahalia Greenway, Violet; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment
Madison Hertel , The Secret Garden; Farmers Alley Theatre
Denene Mulay Koch , The Secret Garden; Farmers Alley Theatre
Katherine Kujala, Mary Poppins; Riverbank Theatre
Thalia Schramm, Home for the Holidays; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment

Best Performance, Actor - Comedy
Miles Boucher, Boeing Boeing; Hilberry Theatre
James Bowen, Driving Miss Daisy; Performance Network Theatre
Sebastian Gerstner, Buyer & Cellar; Theatre Nova
Todd Hissong, The Kiss of the Sun for Pardon; Detroit Repertory Theatre
Brandy Joe Plambeck, Boeing Boeing; Hilberry Theatre
John Seibert, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; Tipping Point Theatre

Best Performance, Actor - Drama
Joe Dely, 1984; What A Do Theatre
Thomas D. Mahard, On Golden Pond; The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Mike McGettigan, Buried Child; The Abreact
Richard McWilliams, Annapurna; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Phil Powers, The Value of Names; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company
Sineh Wurie, Topdog/Underdog; Ixion

Best Performance, Actor – Musical
Steve DeBruyne, Home for the Holidays; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment
Sebastian Gerstner, Spamalot; The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Keith Kalinowski, Spamalot; The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Jeremy Koch, The Secret Garden; Farmers Alley Theatre
David Moan, Evil Dead: The Musical; Olympia Entertainment: City Theatre & The Ringwald Theatre

Best Performance – Opera
Matt Boehler, Faust; Michigan Opera Theatre
Christine Goerke, Elektra; Michigan Opera Theatre
Jason Graae, The Merry Widow; Michigan Opera Theatre
Amanda Squitieri, The Merry Widow; Michigan Opera Theatre
Russell Thomas, Faust; Michigan Opera Theatre

Best Performance – The Bard
Julia Garlotte, King Lear; Shakespeare in Detroit
Peter Knox, King Lear; Shakespeare in Detroit
Sarah Hawkins Moan, Romeo and Juliet; Hilberry Theatre

Best Performance – Theater for Young Audiences
Liza Bielby, Dreamtigers; PuppetART and The Hinterlands
Sarah Briggs, Beanstalk The Musical; Wild Swan Theater
Sam Carter, The Diary of Anne Frank; Flint Youth Theatre
Nicholas Pobutsky, Snow Queen; PuppetART
Barbara Scanlon, The Ugly Duckling; Wild Swan Theater

Best Teamwork
Tony Caselli and John Lepard, The Best Brothers; Williamston Theatre
Terry Heck and John Seibert, Sirens; Williamston Theatre
Andrew Huff and Wayne David Parker, Stones in His Pockets; Performance Network Theatre
Brandy Joe Plambeck and Michael Phillip Thomas, The 39 Steps; Hilberry Theatre
Madelyn Porter and Greg Trzaskoma, The Best of Enemies; UDM Theatre Company

Best New Script
Jeff Duncan & Brian E. Buckner, The Ugly Duckling; Wild Swan Theater
Jacqueline Frid, Poltergeist; Stark Turn Players
Linda Ramsay-Detherage, Sugarhill; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company
Laura Uzarski, Draw Me Out; Stark Turn Players
Joseph Zettelmaier, The Gravedigger: A Frankenstein Story; Williamston Theatre

Best Music Direction
Daniel Bachelis, Violet; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment
Brian E. Buckner, The Ugly Duckling; Wild Swan Theater
Tyler Driskill, Dracula The Musical; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment
R. Mackenzie Lewis, Spamalot; The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Chris Rayis, Christmas Caroled!; The Encore Musical Theatre Company

Best Choreography
Irina Baranovskaya and Igor Gozman, The Crane Maiden; PuppetART
Matthew Brennan, Spamalot; The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Stephen Brotebeck, And the World Goes Round; Farmers Alley Theatre
Kristi Davis, Christmas Caroled!; The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Jill Dion, Tender Napalm; The Ringwald Theatre

Best Design – Sound or Video
Matthew David Birchmeier, The Glass Menagerie, Farmers Alley Theatre
Tim Culver, Cameron Lake and Lauri Rowe, It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play; Great Escape Stage Company
Quintessa Gallinat, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur; Tipping Point Theatre
Matt Lira, Sugarhill; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company
Will Myers, Sirens; Williamston Theatre

Best Design - Sets
Jeremy Barnett, Once on This Island; Meadow Brook Theatre
Bartley H. Bauer, Annapurna; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Todd Engle, Beehive; Mason Street Warehouse
Monika Essen, Frida; Michigan Opera Theatre
Phill Harmer, Salvage; Performance Network Theatre
Czerton Lim, The Diary of Anne Frank; Flint Youth Theatre
Sarah Pearline, The Way of the World; Hilberry Theatre

Best Design - Props
Anne Donevan, Spamalot; The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Kristen Gribbin and Jen Price Fick; Around the World in 80 Days, Meadow Brook Theatre
Michelle Raymond, Miracle on South Division Street; Williamston Theatre
Danna Segrest, Annapurna; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Diane E. Ulseth, Sugarhill; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Design - Lights
Michael Baumgarten, Madame Butterfly; Michigan Opera Theatre
Heather DeFauw, Romeo and Juliet; Hilberry Theatre
Jeromy Hopgood, The Rainmaker; Tipping Point Theatre
Reid G. Johnson, Luce; Meadow Brook Theatre
Harley Miah, Red; Open Book Theatre Company
Amy M. Schneider, The Way of the World; Hilberry Theatre

Best Design - Costumes
Monika Essen, Frida; Michigan Opera Theatre
Christianne Myers, Steel Magnolias; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Colleen Ryan-Peters, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur; Tipping Point Theatre
Anne Suchyta, The Way of the World; Hilberry Theatre
Suzanne Young, Treasure Island; Wild Swan Theater



Friday, August 28, 2015

Catching the latest 'NewsIsh'

video


It's been quite a long time since I was last at Go Comedy! Improv Theater in fabulous Ferndale, but that's where I found myself last night at 9:30 awaiting the doors to open on its 10 p.m. original show, "NewsIsh."

A mix of TV satires that spoof television news shows, "NewsIsh" is anchored by Tim Kay and Jessica Loria, who catch us up on some of the latest stories covered by the country's broadcast news outlets. And as you might expect, their take on the stories isn't quite what Walter Cronkite would have delivered to his audience when he reigned at CBS News back in the 1960s.

As the show progressed, the anchors were joined by various correspondents, the highlight of which was Tippany Horowitz, played by one of the sharpest comediennes around, Suzie Jacokes. I've always been a big fan of her work - and was thrilled to appear on stage with her as one of my co-hosts of The Wilde Awards for several years - and her performance here was pure delight. (That's her in the brief video above.)

And Tommy Simon had us laughing throughout his segment during which he was advocating the legal use of pot.

Like all original comedies, however, not everything worked as well as planned, particularly the feature story that dragged and felt under-rehearsed.

Scott Myers is the director and floor manager of the show - Suzie had some great interaction with him during her segment - and the technical wizardly by Pete Jacokes (Suzie's husband) is top notch.

The show is planned to run monthly for the next month or two or three (or longer, possibly),  so if you're looking for a fun and cheap Thursday-late-night date, "NewsIsh" will keep you laughing pretty much from start to finish. (Guests, though, will vary from show to show.)

For more information about the Go Comedy! schedule, check out their website by clicking here!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Something 'fishy' at Tipping Point


To say I was stunned when I walked into Tipping Point Theatre last night would be an understatement. (My guest, a designer for Ford, was equally wowed.) Jennifer Maiseloff's impressive set for "Invasive Species" is not only an amazing achievement visually, the environment it creates to bring playwright Joseph Zettelmaier's quirky love story to life is well utilized by director Joseph Albright. My photo doesn't do it justice.

As I took my seat, though, an interesting optical illusion became visible - which was also observed by my guest. It's not easy to describe, but if you look closely at the photo, you'll see a very skinny vertical line rising from the stage between the ice chest and the taller bucket. That's a fishing rod, but from our vantage point, it looked like a seam between two large plates of glass separating the upstage "hill" from the rest of the set. In other words, it looked like there was a somewhat-curved two-part glass wall separating the stage - almost like a diorama you'd find in an exhibit at a museum of natural history. It was only after I spotted the reel that the illusion vanished.

I guess you had to be there - and seated where we were to get the full picture.

The show itself was delightful. Aral Gribble is always the master at creating lovable oddballs, and watching his character of fisherman Earl Hobbs evolve past his hurt and pain - thanks in large part to an ugly fish, I might add - is quite a treat. And never overshadowed by Gribble's powerful presence is Melynee Saunders Warren as DNR Officer Eden Selkirk, who is equally adept at working through her character's emotional ups and downs. (Selkirk's bombastic entrance and first encounter with the ornery Hobbs is priceless. To say they don't get along is my second understatement of the day.)

Equally impressive is Zettelmaier's script. I've been a fan of his work pretty much from the start of his career, and although I've missed a few of his latest works, his growth as a playwright continues to impress me. He's never satisfied with retreading old ground; instead, each play he crafts explores yet another slice of human nature - but with an eye that finds what others would likely miss. (Ordinary people become much more than that in his plays.) Joe has a handful of debuts coming up in the months to come, and I can't wait to check them out.

Unfortunately, "Invasive Species" closes today. So if you can, rush right out and get a ticket. And sit in row H if you can - and see if you too can spot the optical illusion!

Click here to check out Tipping Point Theatre's website: www.tippingpointtheatre.com

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Yes, The Cranky Critic is back!



Yes, after nearly a handful of years and one short-lived rebirth, The Cranky Critic returns. So why the return? And why now?

For starters, I've had quite a few people request the return. And to be honest, there have been a number of things I've wanted to share over the years, but neither Facebook nor EncoreMichigan.com were the appropriate places on which to post them.

Hence - the return of The Cranky Critic.

So what will I be writing about this time around, you may be wondering?

Well, like I did before, I'll share my observations on what's going on in the state's professional theaters - although I'll be doing that not as the editorial director of EncoreMichigan.com, but as someone who's been connected to the industry for almost 40 years.

And because my blog is not an official extension of EncoreMichigan.com, you'll also find references to and postings about theaters that are not included of the site.

What else can you expect? How about some quick postings about shows I saw but didn't review? (I've been told readers of my Facebook page enjoy those posts - and the theaters appreciate them, too. Or at least so far they have, since they've all been positive up till now!) And I plan to introduce a series of reader surveys in the very near future, which hopefully will generate some interesting results that the industry and I can use to expand the market, improve our services, and/or answer some pesky questions that have evaded greater minds than ours over the years.

But most of all I want to stimulate a healthy, fun and open dialogue about Michigan's professional theaters. There's plenty to chat about, and maybe our conversations will help us figure out how to solve the mysteries and problems the industry faces day in and day out. Or maybe we'll just enjoy each other's company for a few minutes every few days or so. Either way is fine with me!


Don

(How do you like the graphic that appears at the top of my blog? It was designed by Kari Helm, a graphic artist I met several years ago at Between The Lines. I've always loved her work - and I'm thrilled she agreed to work with me on this. Thanks, Kari!)

My annual visit to BoxFest

video

It's no secret that one of my favorite events every summer is BoxFest. Created to showcase the work of women directors, several careers have been launched over the many years of the festival, including that of one of the executives smiling at us in this video, Molly McMahon, who has rapidly become of the most insightful young directors in town.

Winking at us is her partner-in-crime, Kelly Rossi. And together, these two women work hard every year to create a safe space for both inexperienced and long-time veteran women directors to practice their craft, try new things, and make connections with other folks in the industry.

To be totally honest, the curtain speeches before each "box" within the event are by themselves worth the price of admission. How can you not love these two dynamos? They're charming, witty, sexy and a whole lot of fun. But more importantly, they - along with their predecessors - deserve the community's thanks for their tireless effort in promoting opportunities for women directors. (Here and elsewhere in the industry, most shows are directed by men, although the numbers are beginning to change.)

Quite honestly, I wish more artistic directors from around the state would attend the festival. Some do, of course. But where else can so many women directors "audition" under one roof in a real-world setting - in front of an audience expecting to see their best work?

Last night's opening was like every other: Several short plays were staged over two "boxes" of time (roughly two hours overall). Several other "boxes will be presented today.

And as also expected, the work of the directors varied in quality and - I suspect - experience. The strongest of the boxes was the second - Box 3 - which featured three plays directed by three women who understood their script and knew how to get the best work out of their actors.

Michelle LeRoy tackled "Forbidden Love," in which a former student of a poetry teacher returns after 10 years to profess her love. Dyan Bailey had plenty of fun with "The Stand In," in which an actress discovers that her unexpected audition partner is a sock puppet. And Megan Wright shows how an intuitive director can turn an otherwise creepy script into a fascinating character study with "Date 16."

Personally, I'd love to see theaters hire all three of these women. And it was especially interesting to see how LeRoy and Wright worked with actor David Moan, who does double duty in the first and third shows. The result was two different and totally believable characterizations - one of which could have been too large and far darker, but was played with perfection.

I only wish I could be there today to see work by Frannie Shepherd-Bates and Yolanda Fleischer, among others - and a script by Kitty Dubin. Maybe NEXT weekend.

My bottom line is this: If you're looking for something fun and engaging to do today or next Friday and Saturday, I encourage you to support this valuable and important project. A full schedule can be found by clicking here, and check out the review of the entire festival later this weekend at EncoreMichigan.com.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Coming soon: The 2015 Wilde Awards

Yes, it's that time again!


Tickets for The 2015 Wilde Awards, which will be held at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield, are now on sale. The evening, which celebrates Michigan professional theater and recognizes the best performances of the 2014-15 season, will feature entertainment from the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit and Michigan actor Eric Gutman, who is touring the U.S. with his one-man show, “From Broadway to Obscurity.”
Established in 2002, The Wilde Awards, will be co-hosted and emceed by Donald V. Calamia and Michigan native and Hollywood actress Jaime Moyer. Calamia is the co-founder of EncoreMichigan.com and The Wilde Awards. Moyer is known for her appearances on “2 Broke Girls,” “Parks & Recreation,” “Jennifer Falls,” and in several short and feature-length films. She is also an alum of The Second City Detroit.
“The 2014-15 season in Michigan was incredibly strong,” said David Kiley, editor and publisher of EncoreMichigan.com. “I am especially excited this year, because it is my first year being involved since acquiring EncoreMichigan last March”
In addition to making award presentations for numerous categories such as Best Musical, Best Drama, Best Actor in a Drama and Best Set Design, EncoreMichigan will preview an all-new website design and plan for serving the professional theater community of Michigan, and announce new award categories for the 2015-16 season.
Advance tickets can be purchased at The Berman website at www.theberman.org. Admission is $22; VIP admission is $47, which includes unlimited bar service.
The Berman Center for the Performing Arts is located at 6600 W. Maple Road, on the campus of the Jewish Community Center at the northwest corner of Maple and Drake Roads in West Bloomfield. Parking is free.
The 2015 Wilde Awards, produced by EncoreMichigan, is generously sponsored by The Berman Center for the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Television; Pride Source Media Group, publisher of Between The Lines, and Actors’ Equity Association.