On Stages: 'Antony and Cleopatra' at two different venues; and more
QUESTION: What exactly is a Mosh Pit? And what does that have to do with Antony and Cleopatra anyway?
ANSWER: Proof that with a gallon of black paint, some drapes, four lighting instruments and some chairs, you can transform almost any space into a theater. Performance Network’s rehearsal hall, when not in use getting a show ready, is no exception. Dubbed the Mosh Pit, the space bills itself as “the real cutting edge” and features a combination of guest companies and avant-garde offerings.
It’s apropos then, that the company inhabiting that space is the Brass Tacks Ensemble, a company dedicated to paring down theater to its core essence, without too many distracting production elements. Because at its essence, theater is really just about people, in a room, performing for one another, isn’t it?
Show: “Antony and Cleopatra” by William Shakespeare, through Saturday, August 11
Company: Brass Tacks Ensemble
Type of Company: Pre-professional
Venue/location: Performance Network “Mosh Pit”, 120 East Huron, Ann Arbor, Aug. 7; Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave., Aug. 9-11.
Recommended Ages: 12+
Description: In the wake of Julius Caesar's death and the defeat of his assassins, the world is divided between Octavius, Caesar's heir, and Marc Antony, Caesar's trusted friend. Passion and history collide as the flagrant romance between Antony and the Egyptian queen Cleopatra threatens to topple the already fragile power structure. Brass Tacks Ensemble presents this sweeping, tragic and oftentimes humorous drama about two rulers whose love was too large for this small world.
Fun Fact: The name Brass Tacks is emblematic of the organization's desire to strip things down to their essence, or to "get down to brass tacks." Cast members rotate relative to productions, and all ensemble members share a vision of theatre as a reflection of life. The group puts an emphasis on the abilities of its actors, keeping production and technical aspects as unobtrusive as possible.
For tickets and information: Aug. 7: www.performancenetwork.org/, 734-663-0681; Aug. 9-11: www.kerrytownconcerthouse.com
Show: “She Loves Me” Book by Joe Masteroff, Music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, through August 11
Company: The Penny Seats Theatre Company
Type of Company: Pre-Professional
Venue/location: West Park band shell, Seventh Ave., between Huron and Miller, Ann Arbor
Recommended ages: All ages
Description: The beloved 1963 Broadway musical written by a trio of the genre's best composers. It tells the story of two workplace rivals who spend their days bickering and their nights falling in love as secret pen pals, while their quirky coworkers deal with a spate of other problems. The show is based on the play "Parfumerie," by Miklos Laszlo, which was also adapted cinematically three times: "The Shop Around the Corner," with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan; "In the Good Old Summertime," with Judy Garland and Van Johnson; and "You've Got Mail," with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Fun fact: Brent Stansfield, who plays Penny Seats’ Sipos, writes about his return to the stage as an adult in week’s AnnArbor.com.
For tickets and information: www.pennyseats.org or 1-800-838-3006
Special ticket offer: Find the Penny Seats ad in the Observer and get $1 off every ticket! Picnic meals are also available for pre-order via their website, and their catering partner, What's Cooking Ann Arbor. Picnicking begins at 5:30 p.m., 90 minutes before show time.
Show: “Fiddler on the Roof” music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, book by Joseph Stein, through August 12
Company: The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Type of Company: Equity Special Appearance and non-Equity
Venue/location: The Encore Musical Theatre Company, 3126 Broad Street, Dexter
Recommended ages: All
Description: In the village of Anatevka, Tevye, a poor dairyman, tries to instill in his five daughters the traditions of his tight-knit Jewish community in the face of changing social mores and the growing anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia. Rich in historical and ethnic detail, the beloved show has touched audiences around the world with its humor, warmth, and honesty.
Encore Michigan review
Fun fact: Samuel Joel “Zero” Mostel was an American actor of stage and screen, best known for his portrayal of comic characters such as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," Pseudolus on stage and on screen in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," and Max Bialystock in the original film version of "The Producers."
For tickets and information: www.theencoretheatre.org, 734-268-6200
Show: "Burn This” by Lanford Wilson, through September 2
Type of Company: Professional Equity (SPT)
Recommended ages: 16+, contains adult language and content
Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 East Huron, Ann Arbor
Description: This explosive play, set in 1986 Manhattan, captures the recklessness of that decade. Pale, a coke-snorting, Jersey restaurant manager, and Anna, an up and coming choreographer, meet when her roommate Robbie, Pale's brother, dies. As the passions ignite, Pale's intense and troubled personality emerges. Menacing, profane, dangerous and yet oddly sensitive, Pale is both terrifying and fascinating. When Anna retreats into her work, he pursues her relentlessly, setting off an inferno of rage and desire that threatens to consume them both.
Preview from AnnArbor.com
Fun fact: Pulitzer Prized Dramatist, 3-Time Tony Nominee, Winner of the New York Drama Critic’s Circle Award, electee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and inductee into the Theatre Hall of Fame, Lanford Wilson wrote plays heavily based in realism. Known for contrast, he blended his hard-eyed view of the world with elegant, poetic language.
For tickets and information: www.performancenetwork.org/, 734-663-0681
Show: “On Golden Pond”, by Ernest Thompson, through September 1
Company: Purple Rose Theatre Company
Type of Company: Professional Equity (SPT)
Venue/location: 137 Park Street, Chelsea
Recommended ages: 13+ (some mature language)
Description: This charming love story follows Ethel and Norman Thayer as they return to their summer home in Maine. Their respite is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of their estranged daughter, her fiancÃ©, and his teenage son. Over the course of the summer, an unlikely friendship develops between Norman and the boy, which sparks a renewed zest for life in the Thayer family. In the twilight years of marriage, Ethel and Norman rediscover the joy and romance of everyday living.
Review from the Jackson Citizen Patriot
Fun fact: There is over 1,000 feet of cable hanging above the stage for the lighting instruments used in this production.
For tickets and information: 734-433-7673 or www.purplerosetheatre.org