Backyard Dreaming: Penny Seats' "Peter and the Starcatcher"

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Penny Seats, Peter and the Starcatcher

Rarely has an Ann Arbor stage been so uniquely suited to a play as West Park is to [http://www.pennyseats.org/event/3cbf2877a81f697ff58c582459a1f678|Peter and the Starcatcher], Rick Elice’s Tony-winning prequel to Peter Pan, based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

West Park, which serves as the summer home of [https://www.facebook.com/pennyseats|The Penny Seats Theatre Company], is versatile and adaptable to a wide variety of theatrical experiences. When I saw Peter and the Starcatcher last weekend, a friend turned to me at intermission and said, “This set looks like it would if I were a kid playing pirates and make-believe out in my backyard.” And it does. Many of the imaginatively used props consist of mismatched, cobbled-together items like grocery shopping carts, kitchen timers, a plastic pineapple, coconut shells, and more.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #647

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Denver's [http://www.tatteredcover.com/|Tattered Cover Bookstore] alum and winner of the [http://delsolpress.org/dsp-fictionprizewinners.htm|Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize], [a:Sullivan, Matthew, 1970-|Matthew Sullivan] has been named [https://www.goodreads.com/interviews/show/1260.Matthew_J_Sullivan|Goodreads Debut Author of the Month], and [b:1509940|Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore], an [http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781501116841?aff=BooklistOnline|Indie Next Pick]. What's not to love -- a suicide in a bookstore, a 20-year-old triple-murder cold case, and a survivor who turns to clues hidden in books to solve the mystery.

American Music: Brazilian pianist André Mehmari dazzles in Kerrytown

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André Mehmari

André Mehmari.

As he introduced each piece during his July 16 performance at Kerrytown Concert House, [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/362940|André Mehmari] tended to position himself between the small audience and the jet black bulk of the concert piano behind him on stage. Standing in a manner that was at once relaxed and poised, the 40-year-old Brazilian pianist and composer would sometimes lightly rest a hand on the edge of the instrument’s body as he spoke, engaging with his audience in a manner befitting the intimate space of the venue.

“I think that it’s very important to play this music, to tell the story of Brazilian music,” he explained. Mehmari -- who appeared at Kerrytown Concert House nearly a year prior -- brought with him an exciting collection of repertoire, music infused with influences of jazz, ragtime, classical, and all manner of Brazilian and Latin American music.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #646

REVIEW WRITTEN WORD FABULOUS FICTION FIRSTS


[http://www.worldfantasy.org/awards/winners/|World Fantasy Award–winner] [a:Goss, Theodora|Theodora Goss's] debut [b:1509874|The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter *] is reworked from an earlier short story, bringing her "Gothic-inflected fantasies roaring into the steampunk era." (Publishers Weekly)

Mary [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_Case_of_Dr_Jekyll_and_Mr_Hyde#Dr_…|Jekyll], alone and penniless after her mother's death, found among her mother's ledger monthly payment to the Magdalen Society for the upkeep of "Hyde". Curious and eager to claim the reward for the capture of Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, Mary enlisted the help of [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes_and_Dr._Watson|Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson], who were somewhat distracted in consulting for [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inspector_Lestrade|Inspector Lestrade] in a series of gruesome murders of [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitechapel_murders|Whitechapel prostitutes].

UMMA's "Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors -- Part II: Abstraction" makes the private public

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Hans Hofmann, St. Francis

Left: Hans Hofmann, St. Francis, 1952, oil on canvas. Right: Artist unrecorded, Kota peoples, Mahongwe group, Gabon or Republic of Congo, Reliquary figure, late 19th century, brass, copper wire, wood.

University of Michigan Museum of Art’s recently opened [http://umma.umich.edu/exhibitions/2017/victors-for-art-michigan-s-alumn…|Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors -- Part II: Abstraction] is the second show in a two-part series that began in February with [http://umma.umich.edu/exhibitions/2017/victors-for-art-michigan-s-alumn…|Part I: Figuration]. The exhibition includes a wide range of art, from an Amish quilt by an unknown maker to modern and contemporary works by influential artists such as Pablo Picasso, Christo, Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, Barbara Kruger, Jasper Johns, John Baldessari, and many more.

As the title suggests, the show consists of a diverse range of works collected by University of Michigan alumni. The contributors come from 70 years of graduating classes, displaying the long-standing, continuing impact of university alumni collectors on the global art world. UMMA states that the show “offers an unprecedented opportunity to view art that may have never been publicly displayed otherwise -- and most certainly, not all together.”

Ann Arbor in Concert’s "Spring Awakening" was lovely and heartbreaking

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Ira Glass

Spring Awakening rehearsal photos by John McCarthy.

For a few moments during Ann Arbor in Concert’s production of Spring Awakening on Saturday night at the Power Center, all the heightened hormonal chaos, longing, joy, freedom, and frustration of adolescence was on resplendent display.

The number, which I’ll politely refer to “Totally F-ed,” arrives late in the Tony-winning stage musical, and in the words of Rohit Gopal (who played Moritz) during the talkback, “It’s a banger.” The entire cast embodies revolt through song, and at one point Christopher Campbell’s deft choreography clearly dictates that each performer “rock out on your own as the spirit moves you.”

And boy, does the overall effect work.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #645

REVIEW WRITTEN WORD FABULOUS FICTION FIRSTS


[b:1508244|The Reminders *], a debut novel by writer, singer-songwriter, and actor [a:Emmich, Val|Val Emmich] ([b:http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1495682|Vinyl] and [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/search/series/%22Ugly%2BBetty%2B%2528Televi…|Ugly Betty]) is the unlikely friendship between a gifted child who remembers everything and a grieving man who is trying to forget.

The 10-year-old Joan Lennon Scully (named after her father's favorite songwriter) has HSAM: highly superior autobiographical memory. While she can recall every minute detail of her life, she is frustrated that everyone else forgets, even the most important things and people in their lives. She thinks winning a local songwriting contest might make her unforgettable.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #644

REVIEW WRITTEN WORD FABULOUS FICTION FIRSTS


Michigan author [a:Dionne, Karen|Karen Dionne's] hardcover debut [b:1509939|The Marsh King's Daughter *] transports her readers to the wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula where a woman must risk everything she has and use every skill she learned to hunt down the dangerous criminal who taught her everything she knew - her father.

When Helena Pelletier heard on the news that the notorious murderer/kidnapper known as "The Marsh King" has killed two guards and escaped from [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquette_Branch_Prison|Marquette] maximum security prison, she knew she could no longer outrun her past.

Dholing Out the Jams: Red Baraat at Ann Arbor Summer Festival

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Red Baraat

Red Baraat had Ann Arbor dancing (and applauding its soundchecks). Photo by Sairah Husain.

[http://www.redbaraat.com|Red Baraat] set Rackham outdoor stage ablaze on Saturday night. The eight-piece, Brooklyn-based band's melodious mix of Bhangra dhol beats and big-band brass had the approximately 300-person crowd at Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Top of the Park throwing their hands up and shrugging their shoulders in high-energy Bhangra form.

For those unfamiliar with Bhangra, the dance moves are commonly described as being like a "light bulb twist." Though I cringe a bit at that cliche, Red Baraat leader Sunny Jain used this very description to encourage audience members to dance to his electrifying dhol drumming.

Kickshaw mounts a first-rate production of "Really"

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Really, Kickshaw Theatre

Girlfriend (Shaunie Lewis) helps Mother (Pamela Bierly Jusino) try to capture the moment in Kickshaw's staging of Really.

There's a standard announcement before [http://www.kickshawtheatre.org/next|Kickshaw Theatre]’s production of [http://www.aoiagency.com/jackie-sibblies-drury|Jackie Sibblies Drury]’s [https://hyperallergic.com/286057/camera-obscura-jackie-sibblies-drurys-…|Really]: Director Lynn Lammers reminds spectators to turn off phones and that “the taking of photographs is strictly forbidden” by the actor’s union. Before she can finish, a young photographer appears, camera in hand. Click.

But no rules have been broken. The photo won’t be developed. Calvin, the photographer, is dead.

That doesn’t mean he’s out of the picture. Calvin is at the center, the only character who has a name. Mother and Girlfriend may have outlived him, but they are defined by their relationships to him. Mother is visiting Girlfriend, a photographer who has invited her for a photo shoot.