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Watching the Detectives (6/9/2010)
Scale the night(mare) (4/28/2010)
White lies (3/24/2010)
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Helping Detroit grow (9/22/2010)
Teenage wasteland (7/28/2010)
Sealed with a kick (7/21/2010)
Every week in this already notable season, theatergoers can see different small or independent shows, often by local playwrights, sometimes in newly opened theaters. And all this before the Detroit Repertory Theatre even embarks upon its landmark 50th season. Notable offerings include:
• Performance Network is midway through a run of Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House, an award-winning romantic comedy centered on a Brazilian cleaning woman who aspires to be a comedian. Stars Aphrodite Nikolovski, Barb Coven and Milica Govich. 120 E. Huron St., Ann Arbor; 734-663-0681; until Oct. 21.
• Downtown Detroit’s Gem Theatre is running Jeff Daniels’ prequel to Escanaba in da Moonlight. Escanaba In Love is a tale of hunting, fishing, love and laughter set at the Soady Deer Camp during World War II, when Albert Soady Jr. courted Big Betty Baloo. 333 Madison Ave., Detroit; 313-963-9800; until Nov. 4.
• Ferndale’s Ringwald Theatre, one of the newest venues, is staging a thoughtful comedy-drama by Lost and Six Feet Under scribe Craig Wright. Recent Tragic Events chronicles a man and woman in New York who decide to keep their blind date made before 9/11. 22742 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-556-8581; until Oct. 8.
• Northville’s new Tipping Point Theatre opened Sept. 6 with Don’t Dress for Dinner, a comedy about a married man’s tryst-gone-bad with a chic mistress. 361 E. Cady St., Northville; 248-347-0003; tippingpointtheatre.org; until Sept. 6-29.
• Using the stages at Windsor’s Mackenzie Hall and Detroit’s Furniture Factory, Breathe Art Theatre will give an award-winning play, The Pillowman, an international local premiere. The tale is dark: Totalitarian authorities interrogate a man and his brother, a writer whose stories are the only clue in a series of bizarre murders. It’s directed by Andrew Huff and features Kevin Young, Patrick Moltane and Joel Mitchell. At Mackenzie Hall (3277 Sandwich St., Windsor) and the Furniture Factory (4126 Third St., Detroit); see breathearttheatre.com for details; runs Sept. 21-Oct. 13. Mature language and content.
• The Zeitgeist Theatre opens a new season Sept. 28 as the official home to the Abreact group, formerly in downtown Detroit’s Boydell Building. Desperate Losers: NSFW (Part One), by award-winning Michael McGettigan, is set in Detroit in the near future, and turns an America teetering toward fascism into big laughs. In fact, if his plays are as prescient as they are amusing, he’s already earned his place in line for the concentration camps. Schultz! At 2661 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-965-9192; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; $10; runs Sept. 28-Oct. 20.
• At Marygrove College, the Theatre Company of the University of Detroit Mercy will mount a production of Tennessee Williams’ classic The Glass Menagerie , as directed by local theater veteran Arthur Beer. At 8425 W. McNichols Rd., inside the Liberal Arts Building, Detroit; 313-927-1545; $15; runs Sept. 28-Oct. 14.
• At Ann Arbor’s Blackbird Theatre, Lynch Travis directs Lydie Breeze Part One: Bulfinch’s Mythology, the beginning of John Guare’s Civil War epic, in which wounded veterans found a utopian society. At 1600 Pauline Blvd., Ann Arbor; 734-332-3848; call for prices; shows at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; runs Sept. 29-Oct. 14.
• Local producers have engaged the Redford Theatre to premiere Not Getting Any Younger, by Vicki Custard of Canton and Curt Culbreth of Detroit. Subject: thirtysomething singlehood, especially the pressure on women to get hitched and reproduce. At 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, and 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29; 1-800-585-3737 for tickets; notgettinganyyounger.net.
More shows open next month, notably, staging The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Oct. 5-Dec. 15) at the Hilberry Theatre (4743 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-577-2972). It’s the Bard at high speed, mixing slapstick, wordplay, flubbed dialogue and broad burlesque. Also next month, there’s a new locally written drama at Planet Ant Theatre (2357 Caniff Ave., Hamtramck; 313-365-4948); Dr. Seward’s Dracula (Oct. 5-Nov. 3) puts one of Bram Stoker’s minor characters front and center. Chelsea’s Purple Rose Theatre (137 Park St, Chelsea; 734-433-7673) will stage The Poetry of Pizza (Oct. 4-Dec. 22), in which a poetry prof falls for a Kurdish refugee and his unconventional pizzas. If that’s too much whimsy, the Jewish Ensemble Theatre (6600 W. Maple, West Bloomfield; 248-788-2900) will stage Old Wicked Songs (Oct. 9-Nov. 4), in which a cranky old vocal coach in Vienna reveals the passion and tragedy beneath the songs he is teaching to a skeptical American student.
We’ve also heard of another space opening up, Studio 601, which hopes to host not just live theater and improv comedy, but music, art and film. At 601 Washington Blvd., Detroit; 248-346-8449.