Preview: As You Like It, Young Actors Guild

PREVIEW THEATER & DANCE

The Young Actors Guild rehearses their new production of Shakespeare's As You Like It.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows to go see YAG's As You Like It. Pictured above are shots from rehearsals.

All the world's a stage this weekend when The Ann Arbor Young Actors Guild presents one of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies, As You Like It, at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre.

After fleeing the many injustices surrounding her usurping uncle's court, Rosalind (disguised as a boy) and her cousin Celia encounter love, adventure, and a band of outsiders as they travel through the mythological forest of Arden to where her father and his friends live in exile. Much wit and romance abounds between Rosalind, perhaps Shakespeare's most inspiring female character, and Orlando, her beloved, with many quotable assists from the jester Touchstone, the melancholy Jacques, and others.

The themes of the play celebrate the healing power of nature, love, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Recommended for all audiences.


Amy Cantú is a Production Librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library.


Performances are Friday, May 13th and Saturday, May 14th at 7:30 pm, and Saturday, May 14th and Sunday, May 15 2:00 pm, at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. Tickets: $7.00 for students through college; $12.00 for adults; and $15.00 for reserved seats in rows one and two, any age. Tickets available online or at the door.

Preview: The Randy Napoleon Trio, Kerrytown Concert House

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Preview: The Randy Napoleon Trio, Kerrytown Concert House.

Randy Napoleon will perform songs and all that jazz at the Kerrytown Concert House. Photo by Cybelle Codish.

Internationally acclaimed jazz guitarist, composer, and arranger Randy Napoleon will appear at the Kerrytown Concert House on May 15 to play from his new CD Soon, released recently by the Detroit Music Factory. Napoleon, a professor of jazz at Michigan State University, will appear with Rodney Whitaker on bass and Keith Hall on drums.

Washington Post critic Mike Joyce has praised Napoleon’s “exceptionally nimble finger-style [guitar] technique,” and Detroit Free Press critic Mark Stryker cites his “gently, purring tone that makes you lean in close to hear its range of color and articulation.”

A graduate of the U-M School of Music, Theatre and Dance, Napoleon is well-known on the New York jazz scene and has performed and recorded with Freddy Cole, Michael Bublé, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and Benny Green.


Amy Cantú is a Production Librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library.


The Randy Napoleon Trio appears at the Kerrytown Concert House, 415 North Fourth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI, on Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 4 pm. Call 734-769-2999 for more information, or visit the Kerrytown Concert House website to make reservations.

Preview: Disney's Jungle Book Kids, Ann Arbor Civic Theatre Junior

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Preview: Disney's Jungle Book Kids, Ann Arbor Civic Theatre Junior.

Bring only the bear necessities with you to A2CT Junior's production of the Jungle Book Kids.

This coming weekend, Ann Arbor Civic Theatre’s Junior Theatre presents Disney’s Jungle Book Kids. The production is suitable for children ages 4 and up.

In this stage version of the Disney musical - which features many of the familiar characters and songs from the movie – Mowgli, a “man cub,” is befriended by a helpful python and a singing bear as he marches his way through the jungle. Along the way, he helps restore peace among the animals and learns what it means to be human.

"Theater offers such incredible opportunities for kids to learn self-confidence, performance skills and teamwork,” says director Caitlin Rowe. “We love watching the kids grow from auditions to performances; and to do that with the great Rudyard Kipling story and Sherman Brothers music made famous by the Disney movie is a special treat.”


Amy Cantú is a Production Librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library.


Performances are May 13 at 7:30 pm, and May 14 and 15 at 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm at The University of Michigan’s Arthur Miller Theatre, 1226 Murfin Ave, 48109. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and children. Tickets available online, by calling or visiting the A2CT office (734) 971-2228, or at the door of the Arthur Miller Theatre before each performance.

Preview: The Westside Art Hop

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Preview: Westside Art Hop on May 14.

Art by Lisse Williams (top left), Lee Vanderwalker (top right), Kim Ensch (bottom left), and Tim Marsh (bottom right) will be only a hop, skip, and a jump away in May.

It's almost time for the May edition of the Westside Art Hop, a one-day day art walk around the Old West Side of Ann Arbor! This is the 8th iteration of this event, a neighborhood sale of art in homes, studios, porches, and yards, held in May and December.

It's an opportunity to find interesting handmade arts and crafts, while enjoying the neighborhood bordered by Liberty S., 7th St., Pauline St., and Eberwhite Woods. Participating artists specialize in painting, photography, glass, metal and wood sculpture, jewelry, cards, mosaics, and fiber arts.


Sara Wedell is a Production Librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library.


The 8th Westside Art Hop takes place Saturday, May 14, 2016 from 11-5 pm in the Old West Side of Ann Arbor. Free parking is available on the street and at Eberwhite School. Keep an eye out for Art Hop lawn signs to direct you to participating locations.

Preview: New Sketch Comedy Series 'Ypsi Daze' Takes Center Stage

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Preview: Ypsi Daze, Neighborhood Theatre Group.

Ypsi's new sketch comedy crew, pictured above, will perform weekly on Fri-daze.

I absolutely love sketch comedy.

This guilty passion was inherited by my son, Matt, who is still one of MADtv’s biggest fans. In fact, he spent much of his high school career as one of the chief contributors to the Planet MADtv discussion forum.

So, you can imagine how excited we both were this month to learn that, not only will MADtv return to network television, but that Ypsilanti’s Neighborhood Theatre Group is planning a local weekly sketch comedy series to be performed at Dreamland Theater every Friday this May!

Entitled Ypsi Daze, the raw and fast paced show, written and performed by the cast, offers new, original sketches each week. A weekly rolling-sketch filled with characters highlighting the absurdity of theater itself is also part of the comedy mix.

Directed by founder Kristin Anne Danko, the Neighborhood Theatre Group cast features Aaron Dean, Eric Hohnke, Mary Hourani, Chris Jakob, Angela Tomaszycki, Erin Watts, and Christopher Zavac.

I cannot think of a better way to end the work week than with a relaxing evening of comedy! Neighborhood Theatre Group’s decision to offer tickets at affordable prices ($10 general admission, $5 students) is also a welcome feature.


Tim Grimes is manager of Community Relations & Marketing at the Ann Arbor District Library and co-founder of Redbud Productions.


Ypsi Daze will run Fridays in May at Dreamland Theater (26 N. Washington St.) in Downtown Ypsilanti. All shows are at 8 pm. Tickets are available for purchase online. For info on group rates, email NeighborhoodTheatreGroup@gmail.com

Preview: Water Hill Music Fest

MUSIC PREVIEW

Fest-goers in a Water Hill front yard

Fest-goers in a Water Hill front yard.

Spring has sprung! Or at least it’s in the process of springing — blossoms popping amidst the drizzle, sunshine peeking out every day or two. Festifools in April feels like a hopeful end to winter in Ann Arbor, but for the last 5 years, it’s been that first Sunday in May — and with it, Water Hill Music Fest — that has made me feel like the warmer season has truly arrived.

If you live in a nearby neighborhood, you’ve likely stumbled upon this happening, but for those who don’t have an address adjoining the festivities, Water Hill Music Fest is worth a little trip. Whether you’re a grownup flying solo (or with a crew) or a family toting along a babe, Water Hill is a homegrown, low-key music festival that pops up in front yards and porches from Sunset to Miller (N/S) and from the railroad tracks up to Brooks (E/W).

Unlike a lot of the music festivals that get all the attention (think Coachella, etc.), Water Hill has a super DIY ethic and no expensive ticket charges. It celebrates making music for the sheer fun of it — with nine-year-olds getting the same sort of stage as the veterans.

Everyone is in close proximity and variety is the name of the game. There are 70+ musical acts playing throughout the four hours of the Fest. You might catch a renowned pianist at one house, and then skip a few blocks over to see members of an elementary school band. No lie, one of my very favorite acts a few years ago was a gale of teens singing songs about citrus fruit. You just can’t get grown-ups with that kind of unbridled enthusiasm!

While part of the fun is just wandering around and the serendipity of what you might happen upon, here are a few acts that you may want to check out, along with handy links:

CHRIS BUHALIS 2-3pm, 600 block of Cressfield

JIVE COLOSSUS 2-3pm, 1000 block of Fountain

APPLESEED COLLECTIVE 3-4pm, 700 block of Spring

WALEED HOWRANI 3-3:15pm, 700 block of Miner

LITTLE TRAPS 3:15-4pm, 500 block of Hiscock

CORNDADDY 4-4:30pm, 600 block of Hiscock

WYCH ELM 4-5pm, 1200 block of Bydding

ACCIDENTALLY HIP 4:15-5pm, 900 block of Miner

HUMAN SKULL 4:30-5pm, 700 block of Gott

Check out the full lineup for times and locations (by block!) here.

You’ll want to plan on parking outside the neighborhood and walking (or heck, take the bus or bike!) into the neighborhood, as many of the streets really become more for pedestrians than for cars. The terrain is pretty stroller-friendly with the caveat that this ‘hood IS called Water HILL. Still, the sidewalks and crosswalk ramps are generally in fairly good shape.

If you’re still feeling unsure of where to go and what to bring, festival organizers have a few tips, too!


Mariah Cherem is a Production Librarian at AADL and is glad that her neighborhood got its moniker from a music fest (and its water-word streets).


Water Hill Music Fest will be held in Sunday, May 1st, 2-6 pm in the Water Hill neighborhood of Ann Arbor. Since it IS spring, and this is an outdoor festival, it’s good to note that there is a rain date. In the case of inclement weather, the festival may be postposed until the following Sunday, May 8th.

Preview: Totally Awesome Fest

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A few of the BILLIONS of performers at Totally Awesome Fest XII (clockwise from top left): Dear Darkness, Bevlove, Stef Chura, Fangs and Twang, Autumn Wetli, and Annie Palmer.

A few of the BILLIONS of performers at Totally Awesome Fest XII (clockwise from top left): Dear Darkness, Bevlove, Stef Chura, Fangs and Twang, Autumn Wetli, and Annie Palmer.

Every spring in Ypsilanti, a beautiful community event blossoms. For 12 years now, Totally Awesome Festival has marked the true beginning of spring in Ypsilanti. Totally Awesome Festival is an annual celebration of music, arts, fashion, and pancakes.

The event traces its roots back to Totally Awesome House, once located at 724 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor (now demolished), which hosted the Totally Awesome Supper Club in 2004 and 2005, where one could see local and touring acts and dig into with great potluck food. When theTotally Awesome House-mates were told they couldn’t renew their lease, they threw a festival, the first ever Totally Awesome Festival, to celebrate the music and the spirit of the house, one where anything was possible.

The next year, Totally Awesome Festival II was held to commemorate the first festival and it has been going on ever since.

Most often falling on the last weekend of April, and with venues sprinkled among backyards, puppet theaters, riversides, and other dreamy locations, Totally Awesome Festival is a chance to enjoy the great music that happens all around Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and Detroit. It is always free, and open to all ages, and all species. For the 10th Totally Awesome Festival, the festivities ran for a whole week. For the 11th Totally Awesome Festival, events ran for 55 continuous hours. This year, the festival goes international, with some of the acts performing in Bangalore, India.

This year’s lineup of performers looks incredible and includes, Stef Chura (whose new album is coming out soon), Avery F, Bevlove, and Dykehouse. Totally Awesome Festival’s acts features singer/songwriters, punk, freak folk, neo soul, performance art, poetry, and of course, the annual Totally Awesome Take Home Fashion Show, an outpouring of free clothing curated from Ypsilanti Ann Arbor/Detroit fashion icons. Keep an eye on the public Facebook event as the schedule may change slightly.

So bring your family, bring your friends, bring your goldfish, bring anyone who is interested in music and art and community to this exciting annual event that is unlike any other. Take home some memories and take home some fashion and become part of this Ypsilanti ritual!


Shoshannah Ruth Wechter is a librarian living in Ypsilanti, and views Totally Awesome Fest as an annual holiday that is not to be missed.


The 12th annual Totally Awesome Festival kicks off Friday, April 29, 2016, at 12 pm and runs through the evening of Sunday, May 1, 2016, at venues throughout downtown Ypsilanti.

Preview: Midwest Literary Walk Brings Big Names to Chelsea

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This year's Midwest Lit Walk features (clockwise from lower left): Jamaal May, Robin Coste Lewis, Paula McLain, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Christopher Sorrentino.

This year's Midwest Lit Walk features (clockwise from lower left): Jamaal May, Robin Coste Lewis, Paula McLain, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Christopher Sorrentino.

Back for its 8th year, the Midwest Literary Walk showcases nationally-lauded authors and poets at various venues throughout downtown Chelsea. The event will be held on Saturday, April 30 from 1-5 pm and is free to the public.

This year’s exceptional lineup opens with Christopher Sorrentino, author of The Fugitives, former National Book Award Finalist for Fiction, at 1 pm at the Chelsea Depot at 125 Jackson St. Set in Michigan, The Fugitives blends the literary fiction and crime thriller genres. The Los Angeles Times describes it as a “stunning new novel… with exceptional interior monologues animated by deception, double-dealing and a doomed affair…”

At 2 pm, National Book Award “5 Under 35” honoree Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus, will also read at the Chelsea Depot. The hauntingly beautiful Gold Fame Citrus takes place in a future American West ravaged by drought and follows a young couple and mysterious child as they try to make their way to a better life.

The Midwest Literary Walk then moves to the Clocktower Commons at 320 N. Main St. for Robin Coste Lewis (Voyage of the Sable Venus), winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry, and Jamaal May, an American Library Association Notable Book honoree. At 3 pm, the two poets will discuss their art form, interspersed with readings of their work.

At 4 pm, novelist Paula McLain, whose bestsellers include Circling the Sun and The Paris Wife, will take the stage at the Clocktower Commons. McLain’s latest, Circling the Sun, brings to life the fearless and captivating Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who, as Isak Dinesen, wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.

At each reading location, the authors’ books will be available for purchase from Literati Bookstore, and time for book signing is incorporated into all sessions. Additionally, many downtown Chelsea businesses are offering discounts to attendees of the Midwest Literary Walk on the day of the event. Following the final reading, participants are invited to the Chelsea Alehouse at 420 N. Main St. for a casual afterglow.

Tune in to WDET's Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson on 101.9 FM to hear an interview with a different author each Friday between now and the Midwest Literary Walk. The show airs from 9-10 am and re-airs from 7-8 pm.


Community contributor Emily Meloche is an Adult Services Librarian at the Chelsea District Library.


The 8th Annual Midwest Literary Walk will be held on Saturday, April 30 from 1-5 pm at venues throughout downtown Chelsea, and is free to the public. For more information on the 2016 Midwest Literary Walk, the authors, and their works, please visit midwestliterarywalk.org.

Preview: Big Sound Equals Big Fun

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Preview: Big Sound Equals Big Fun.

If jazz is your bag then check out these hip cats, daddy-o.

**Update 4/18/16 - Big Fun has had to cancel their scheduled appearances for this week. They were intended to appear as part of a panel discussion Monday, April 18 at 7 pm at the AADL, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Eclipse Jazz, and the music of Miles Davis as a prelude to the screening of the film Miles Ahead at the Michigan Theater. They were also scheduled to perform at the Necto in a special pre-screening reception on Thursday, April 21 at approximately 6 pm. This piece has been edited to reflect the cancellation of these performances.**

The baby boomer generation discovered jazz in the late sixties primarily because rock bands of the day incorporated elements like horn sections, the Hammond B-3 organ, hand percussion, Eastern Indian instruments, and funky rhythms into popular music.

Miles Davis became the pivot point in the contemporary jazz of the day, conversely influenced by Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and Sly Stone. To reach a wider audience, Davis employed fresh-thinking younger musicians to create groundbreaking jazz fusion music that revolutionized how people thought about jazz; to its detriment for some, but ear opening for many others.

The local band Big Fun is now reintroducing this music to the boomers, and giving young listeners a taste of what this style of jazz still represents. Though a scene in the jazz rock music still very much exists and is technologically evolving, Big Fun stays true to the original concept.

Named after a Miles Davis album of the same name, Big Fun runs the gamut of the music the famed trumpeter created from the late sixties up to the mid-to-late seventies. They are recreating those period pieces from recordings like In A Silent Way, A Tribute To Jack Johnson, the quintessential Bitches Brew, and On The Corner.

Increasing their footprint slowly but surely over the past three years, Big Fun was born out of a concept from music instructors at the University of Michigan who saw a need for this kind of jazz filling a void. Trumpeter Mark Kirschenmann and keyboardist Steven Rush sport plenty of credentials as instructors and performers, but thought it was time to team up and give the public music that influenced their thinking as young players.

Kirschenmann has directed the U-M Creative Arts Orchestra for close to a decade. His electronically driven horn sound employs all the modern laptop, digital pedal, and looped sounds possible, but without losing the soul of his instrument. His style is much more earthy than alien, although deep labyrinth excursions are not beyond his purview. He has also been heard with E3Q featuring his wife, the innovative cellist Katri Ervamaa and percussionist Mike Gould, and with the Jon Hassell-influenced ensemble Electrosonic.

Steven Rush is one of our most ambitious local musical heroes. He directs the Digital Music Program at U-M, leads the band Quartex for Sunday evening worship services at the Canterbury House, and presents various electronic and world music sessions. Deeply into Eastern Indian vocal and percussion, he is equally influenced by Brian Eno, Sun Ra, Robert Ashley, Cecil Taylor, Phillip Glass, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Morton Subotnick, John Coltrane and Blue Gene Tyranny. His personality is as freewheeling as his imagination.

Big Fun has performed at the Canterbury House, appeared during the 2015 Edgefest at the Kerrytown Concert House and recently at Encore Records. They also played the recently renovated Residential College in the famed Keene East Quad Amphitheatre, the building where Kirschenmann teaches regularly. It is also the venue where Eclipse Jazz used to host their legendary “Bright Moments” series of innovative creative improvised concerts.

As a witness to the East Quad performance, it’s easy to say Big Fun pulls no punches regarding the authenticity of the music they are portraying. With healthy doses of improvisation, Kirschenmann and Rush stretch out the music without breaking it. Electric bass guitarist Tim Flood pushes with band with ostinato pulses and a powerful persona that belies his smaller, slight build – he is at the center of driving this locomotive.

Brothers Jeremy and Jonathan Edwards do not so much work in tandem as much as they fulfill crucial roles. Electric guitarist Jonathan has the John McLaughlin sound of the era down to a science. He fills in cracks and enhances the overall sound portrait. Drummer Jeremy can be serene and understated, whip up a whirlwind, play deep pocket grooves or anything in between. Tenor or soprano saxophonist Patrick Booth and hand percussionist Dan Piccolo fill roles held in the Davis bands by David Liebman and Steve Grossman, or ex-Ann Arborite the late Jumma Santos and Badal Roy respectively. Their ethnic underpinnings are as important as Ravi Shankar’s contributions to The Beatles.


Michael G. Nastos is a veteran radio broadcaster, local music journalist, and event promoter/producer. He is on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Jazz Festival, votes in the annual Detroit Music Awards and Down Beat Magazine, NPR Music and El Intruso Critics Polls, and writes monthly for Hot House Magazine in New York City.


Preview: Get Hype: An Evening with Skyline Theatre

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Some of the Skyline Theatre students in Get Hype: An Evening With Skyline Theatre.

Some of the Skyline Theatre students in Get Hype: An Evening With Skyline Theatre. Photo by Lisa Gavan.

This Friday night you can enjoy an evening of entertainment by Monty Python, Shakespeare, Lin Manuel-Miranda, and Lerner and Lowe when Skyline High students present "Get Hype: An Evening with Skyline Theatre."

Selections include songs from “The Pirates of Penzance” and “My Fair Lady” and modern hits like “Avenue Q” and “Hamilton.” In addition to well-known favorites, a few lesser-known gems are featured from shows like “Blood Brothers,” cult classics like “Batboy,” and a scene from a personal favorite of the director called “The Explorers Club.”

“We have 20 students performing throughout the night and each of them get a couple of moments in the spotlight,” said director Brodie H. Brockie. “We have so much talent at Skyline that, unfortunately, sometimes even really talented students never quite get a featured role, but this format gives everyone a chance to shine.”

The cast for “Get Hype” includes Desirae Nelson, Evan Murphy, Jacki Boswell, Theo Billups, Vanessa Noble, Leah Bauer, Peter Dannug, Hayla Alawi, Emily Naud, Sam Waterhouse, Amanda Wilhoit, Isabella Preissle, Cassie Ritter, Emma Gerlinger, Christina Holder, Emily Benedict, Jianmarco Barbeau, Riley O’Brien, Ava Chamberlain, and Kristina Kimball. Student stage managers Ryann Patten and Katier Arnett make sure things are running smoothly behind the scenes.

The event serves as a fundraiser for the Skyline Friends of the Arts to offer scholarships for theatre students hoping to attend the International Thespian Festival this summer at the University of Nebraska.


Amy Cantú is a Production Librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library.


Friday, April 15 at 7:30 pm in the Experimental Theatre at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor. Admission is free, but a $10 donation is suggested.