U-M’s “One Hit Wonder” delivers with an energetic pop tart


One Hit Wonder

One Hit Wonder's charm isn't from its tried-and-true plot; it's from the cast's energetically delivered pop songs that everybody knows. Photo courtesy U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

As Paul Simon once noted, “It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts.” Sadly, many of them do not have as long and productive a career as Paul Simon. Many of them are “one hit wonders” but their single contribution to the charts linger on.

The University of Michigan Musical Theatre Department is presenting the world premiere of One Hit Wonder, an energetic musical that gives the university students a chance to workshop an original musical that is tailor-made for a young cast and audience on one hand and for a nostalgic older audience with a taste for 1980s-style pop music .

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A Wilde Afterlife: Laura Lee, "Oscar’s Ghost" at AADL


Bookbound open mic

Author Laura Lee dug deep into the mystery that helped shape Oscar Wilde's legacy. She'll discuss and sign Oscar’s Ghost at AADL's downtown branch on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 7 pm.

Oscar Wilde said the truth is rarely pure and never simple. These words apply to many facets of his life, including the feud between Wilde’s lovers Lord Alfred Douglas and Robert Ross. Laura Lee set out to find the truth of what happened between these men after Wilde’s death in her new book, Oscar’s Ghost: The Battle for Oscar Wilde’s Legacy, which she'll discuss at AADL's downtown branch on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Douglas and Ross each blamed the other for Wilde's downfall and early death as well the way the latter handled Wilde’s prison manuscript, De Profundis. Their feud escalated to include stalking, blackmail, witness tampering, prison, and lawsuits.

“When I first got a Kindle, I downloaded and read (Wilde’s) De Profundis," Lee says. "I discovered that this was actually an edited version of the book and that a longer version existed.”

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Active Culture: "INAATE/SE" meditates on Sault Ste. Marie's Ojibway tribe


Adam and Zach Khalil’s INAATE/SE is not a film to view if you’re looking for escapism. INAATE/SE is about the Ojibway community in Sault Ste. Marie and the movie bends and flexes filmmaking conventions and linear storytelling in order to tell about this tribe’s past and present as well as ask questions about its future. This film will make you think about our relationship to time and history, about the stories we tell, and the stories that are silenced.

On Wednesday, Oct. 11, Ypsilanti Experimental Space (YES) screened followed INAATE/SE, followed by a Q&A with Adam Khalil. The day before, Khalil was generous enough to meet me at Henry Ford Museum and spend a portion of his afternoon talking with me about his film and his process, opening himself up to an organic and wide-ranging conversation centered in this work. He allowed us to think together for a moment. We talked about survival, representation, what it meant for him and his brother to create this work and how, in some ways, both the past and the future live within us in the present.

This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Technological Delineation: "Moving Image: Portraiture" at UMMA


Towards An Architect by Hannu Karjalainen at UMMA

Hannu Karjalainen, Towards an Architect, 2010, HD video, edition of 2/5+2AP. Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul. Photo courtesy of Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska and Hannu Karjalainen.

Moving Image: Portraiture at the University of Michigan Museum of Art aims to address portraiture through the lens of contemporary media. As the third and final component of a series drawn from the Borusan Contemporary collection in Istanbul, including Moving Image: Landscape and Moving Image: Performance, each of the three artists included in this small exhibition uses technology to convey complex ideas, not only about the history of portraiture and representation but how technology can change our ideas of what constitutes portraiture.

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To Not Be Me All the Time: Jeffrey Eugenides at the Michigan Union


Jeffrey Eugenides

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides told the Rogel Ballroom crowd, "I’ve never really gotten over being a teenager."

Michigan native Jeffrey Eugenides told the crowd at the Michigan Union's Rogel Ballroom on Sunday that he never set out to be a regionalist. His three novels, The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex, and The Marriage Plot, all revolve around characters from Detroit in their youth. Eugenides said that his time growing up in Detroit still makes up some of his most vivid memories, and that writing about something so innate to himself just “makes my job easier.”

Eugenides was joined by Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus, to discuss his recently published first book of short stories, Fresh Complaint. The collection contains 10 stories, including two that relate to his previous novels. One is an outtake from Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex and another, “Airmail,” is made up of letters written by Mitchell, the main character in The Marriage Plot.

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Crooked Insights: Pod Save America at the Michigan Theater


Pod Save America at the Michigan Theater

Pod Save America pulled no porogressive punches at the Michigan Theater on Friday. Photo by Sherlonya Turner.

I am one of the people who couldn’t get enough of political podcasts during the 2016 presidential election. That is how I found my way to the podcast Keepin’ It 1600, hosted by Washington insiders Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett, and Daniel Pfeiffer.

In January 2017, the hosts of that show started Pod Save America, a show about current United States politics and it impacts on the American people as a part of Crooked Media, their network that now hosts five podcasts and written work from several contributors. Through their work, they hope to inform people from their progressive point of view about the current political landscape while entertaining their audience and inspiring them to become personally involved in the political process.

Based on the crowd outside of the Michigan Theater on Friday, Oct. 6, the Pod Save America team inspired people to leave the comfort of their homes to see the foursome in action.

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Survival in the Straits: Tiya Miles, "The Dawn of Detroit" at Literati


Tiya Miles, Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits

Tiya Miles' The Dawn of Detroit is about the perseverance of enslaved indigenous and African people.

On Monday, Oct. 7, author and University of Michigan professor Tiya Miles visited Literati Bookstore to discuss her new book, The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits. This book is an examination of Detroit’s early days and seeks to discuss an element of the city’s history that isn’t often discussed. Miles’ work aims to locate people of color in Detroit’s history, adding them to a narrative that is often told chiefly as the stories of European settlers.

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Purple Rose Theatre's "God of Carnage" is stuffed with delicious comic chaos


God of Carnage at Purple Rose Theatre; photo by Sean Carter

Left to right: Paul Stroili, Kate Thomsen, and Rusty Mewha star in the Tony Award-winning God of Carnage at Purple Rose Theatre. Photo by Sean Carter.

The only real carnage in God of Carnage happens entirely offstage, but the knock-down, drag-out battle of social mores that takes place more than earns the play its comically dramatic title. Yasmina Reza's 2009 Tony Award-winning play, which runs through Dec. 16 at the Purple Rose Theatre, is 70 minutes of one-act, real-time comic chaos as two married couples attempt to reconcile after their sons get into a playground fight.

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Beautiful Blend: Emerson and Calidore String Quartets at Rackham


Emerson and Calidore String Quartets at Rackham

The legendary Emerson String Quartet (above) was joined by the Calidore String Quartets at Rackham Auditorium for octet performances in addition to their usual foursomes. Photo by Lisa Mazzucco.

Classical music fans clapped in high anticipation as the Emerson String Quartet walked onstage at Rackham Auditorium for its UMS concert on Thursday, Oct. 5. But it wasn't just the four-decade-old Emerson ensemble for which the audience was excited; fans were also eager to hear the Calidore String Quartet, a newer ensemble that hooked up with its mentor group for this concert, including performing as a blended octet.

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All Wrapped Up: Christo at the Michigan Theater


Christo at the Michigan Theater by Adrian Deva

U-M Stamps School of Art & Design hosted mega-famous artist Christo at the Michigan Theater; he told the crowd, "All our projects are totally useless!" Photo by Adrian Deva.

On Thursday evening, world-renowned sculptor Christo, 82, told a huge crowd -- packed into the Michigan Theater to see him -- what might be the best, most succinct courtship story of all time.

Of his longtime partnership with Jeanne-Claude, with whom he collaborated on his massive art installations (and who died in 2009), Christo said, with a shrug, “I was very young, we make love, and we like each other. That’s all.” Moments later, he added, “She was very pretty.”

But Christo -- dressed in dark slacks, a collared white shirt, and a big-pocketed beige jacket that hung off his lean frame -- initially kicked off his Penny Stamps Speaker Series lecture with a few parameters: “I will answer all questions, but I will not talk about politics, religion, and certainly not about other artists. I talk about myself, my work, and anything that I can tell you about my work.”

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