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A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On at Croswell’s “Million Dollar Quartet” (Review) May 15, 2016

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Croswell Opera House, Entertainment.
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You’d be hard-pressed not to think that the Broadway tour of Million Dollar Quartet has made a stop in Adrian, MI, because this production, launching the 2016 summer season at Croswell Opera House is that terrific.

Start with the remarkable set by Doug Miller. Upon entering the theater, you’re greeted by his car-part-shop-turned-studio set, and its gorgeous. Then the lights come up and the evening is filled with one remarkable song after another, as four talented gents and one uber-talented lady enact the night in 1956 that four of rock-and-roll’s highest profile stars all gathered at Sun Studios to jam (and later, there’s a real-life photo to prove it, which brings some surprising audience tears).

Jonathan Crayne gets the night rolling as Carl Perkins. Add in Phillip Baugh as Johnny Cash. Don’t leave out John Grieco as Jerry Lee Lewis, and top it off with Lawrence Havelka as Elvis Presley. Along for the ride is Presley’s girlfriend Dyanne (Tatiana Owens). The band is rounded out by Tim Prettyman on bass, and Keith Kemner on drums. Director Eric Parker plays Sam Phillips, Sun Records owner, who serves as narrator for the evening. And for anyone who thinks acting is a glamorous job — take into consideration the remarkable talent involved in not only singing, dancing, and acting your way through a show filled with non-stop songs but to actually play the instruments yourselves live on stage. Yes, its remarkable.

What follow are 23 exciting rock-and-roll songs, and a jam-packed megamix finale that will leave you clapping, cheering, and dancing along. (Literally — Jerry Lee Lewis comes into the audience to make sure you are standing and shakin’).

It is a fine fine night indeed — while some numbers rock a bit more than others — there isn’t a dull moment in the show, and you’ll find yourself fully absorbed in one of those “birth of rock and roll” iconic moments (much like last summer’s Memphis). Watch for Grieco’s spot-on Jerry Lee Lewis back-bending theatrics before evening’s end, Johnny Cash’s sultry bass singing, Elvis’s pre-icon swagger, and Perkins straight-out rock and roll. And you’ll leave the theater having not only been enormously entertained, but also having learned a bit about the whole process of early music making.

Credit also Tiff Crutchfield’s excellent lighting; Dave Rains super work as Music Director, Betsy Lackey’s wonderful costumes, and Joe Gozdowski’s exceptional sound design. Director Eric Parker keeps everything moving swiftly and looking utterly professional from top to bottom. Choreographer Meg McNamee gives everyone character-appropriate moves.

You’ll have your favorites — from singers to songs, but you won’t leave disappointed as Million Dollar Quartet rocks the Croswell Opera House.

My only complaint is the addition of an intermission. This show is written and meant to be performed straight through (it is only 100 minutes long) and in this instance the addition of an intermission is particularly glaring as it breaks the integrity of the show when lights simply go out on stage and come up in the house. Boo.  I hope a similarly egregious intermission does not occur in the intermissionless Drowsy Chaperone later this summer.

Highly Recommended.

Million Dollar Quartet continues at the Croswell Opera House, 129 E Maumee St, Adrian, MI through May 22nd. Tickets: croswell.org or 517-264-SHOW






Croswell Opera House – Million Dollar Quartet May 10, 2016

Posted by ronannarbor in Croswell Opera House.
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One day in December 1956, four up-and-coming musicians met by chance at the Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee.

Their names were Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. All four would go on to shape the face of rock ’n’ roll for an entire generation. And the story of that legendary jam session has been memorialized in a Tony Award-winning musical, “Million Dollar Quartet,” which opens May 13 at the Croswell Opera House in Adrian.

Lawrence Havelka of Chelsea, who was last seen at the Croswell in last summer’s “Big Fish,” plays Elvis. The role of Jerry Lee Lewis will be played by John Grieco, a New York-based actor and singer. Jonathan Crayne of Adrian will play Carl Perkins. And Johnny Cash will be played by Phil Baugh of Fort Collins, Colorado, whose past roles at the Croswell include “Walk the Line,” a musical based on the country singer’s life.

Eric Parker of Chicago, who is directing the show, will also play the role of Sun Records owner Sam Phillips. Tatiana Owens, a Toledo native who now lives in New York and starred in last summer’s production of “Memphis,” will play Elvis’ girlfriend, Dyanne. The singers will be backed by Keith Kemner of Adrian as Fluke, a studio drummer, and Tim Prettyman of Tecumseh as Jay Perkins, a bassist who is also Carl Perkins’ brother.

Rather than impersonate the stars with all of the trademark moves they developed later in life, Parker said the cast of “Million Dollar Quartet” will try to capture the energy and innocence of four young stars at the beginning of their careers.

“This just captures them as young guys — young Southern boys doing what they love to do,” he said. “They’re relatively innocent guys with the first blush of success on them.”

The show takes place in the Sun Records recording studio, and scenic designer Doug Miller has decorated the set to look like a postwar studio built in a converted auto parts store. Costumes by Betsy Lackey will complete the picture, bringing the audience back to the early days of rock ’n’ roll as the cast tears through many of the four stars’ greatest hits.

“Million Dollar Quartet” runs the weekends of May 13-15 and May 20-22, with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 p.m. and Sunday performances at 2:30 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $35 and may be ordered online at croswell.org or by calling 517-264-7469.

The Croswell Opera House is at 129 E. Maumee St. in downtown Adrian. Because the front of the building is under construction, parking behind the theater is recommended.

If you go

  • What: “Million Dollar Quartet”
  • When: May 13-15 and May 20-22, with Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m. and Sunday shows at 2:30 p.m.
  • Where: Croswell Opera House, 129 E. Maumee St., Adrian
  • Tickets: $15 to $35
  • More info: croswell.org

Croswell Opera House announces 2015-2016 Special Events August 31, 2015

Posted by ronannarbor in Croswell Opera House, musical theater, Theatre.
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A tribute to Cole Porter, a Motown-themed concert featuring singer Tatiana Owens, and several children’s events will be included in the Croswell Opera House’s 2015-16 Special Event Season, which begins in September.

Artistic director Jere Righter said the Special Event Season gives the Croswell a chance to put on a diverse mix of shows.

“People know us for our musicals, but we’re also starting to build a real following for our one-night concerts, our children’s events, and of course our plays,” Righter said. “I’m excited about the shows we’re planning. We have shows for all ages and tastes, and that’s a great way to let people know that the Croswell really has something for everyone.”

The Spectacular Saturday Series will return with several daytime events for children and families. Spectacular Saturday events will take place at 11 a.m. Oct. 17, Nov. 7, Dec. 5, Feb. 27 and April 9, with each show preceded by a craft or other activity starting at 10 a.m.

New additions this year will include three staged readings in the Croswell art gallery and a series of casual events, called Croswell After Hours, every Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m., starting Sept. 10.

“The Drawer Boy”: The Special Event Season will kick off with a staged reading of this play by Canadian writer Michael Healey. Set on a farm in Ontario, “The Drawer Boy” tells of the lives of two bachelor farmers from the viewpoint of a young actor from Toronto who visits their farm to interview them. The reading will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, in the Croswell gallery. Tickets are not required, but donations will be accepted.

“The Velveteen Rabbit”: The first installment in the Spectacular Saturday Series, this retelling of the classic children’s story about a toy who wants to be real is presented by Bright Star Touring Theatre. The show is at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, with a craft activity starting at 10 a.m.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”: The 1975 cult film will be screened at midnight Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30 and 31, with a preshow, including costume contest, starting at 11 p.m.

Aysenur Kolivar: The first artist-in-residence for the Arts Midwest World Fest, Turkish folksinger Aysenur Kolivar, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, following a week of workshops and other cultural events throughout Lenawee County.

Disney’s “Frozen”: Back by popular demand, the Croswell will screen the animated hit “Frozen” at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7. Last year’s showing included a photo opportunity with a real live Elsa, and this year her sister Anna will be joining in the fun.

Dueling Pianos: 176 Keys, which last performed at the Croswell in April 2014, will return for a special engagement at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20. A limited number of on-stage seats are available in addition to main floor seating.

“Handel’s Messiah Rocks”: The Croswell’s 2015 Christmas show will be a high-energy, rock-style adaptation of George Frideric Handel’s “The Messiah,” with school and church choirs from around the area being invited to take part in the production. The show will open the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and run for two weekends.

“The Story of the Nutcracker and the Mouse King”: Specially adapted for younger audiences, this reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet will include lyrics and scenes acted out between musical numbers to allow young children to more easily follow the story. Performances will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5; 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11; 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.

“Red, Hot and Cole”: A tribute to the music of Cole Porter, “Red, Hot and Cole” will be the Croswell’s seventh annual all-area high school production. Featuring a talented cast of young people from Lenawee and surrounding counties and with new orchestrations by the Croswell’s Dave Rains, this musical traces Porter’s career from his roots in Indiana to the music halls and soundstages of Broadway and Hollywood. The show will run Jan. 23-24 and Jan. 29-31, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday shows at 2:30 p.m.

“Shrinking Violets and Towering Tiger Lilies”: A staged reading in the Croswell gallery, this show is a collection of seven short plays by Tina Howe about women navigating an array of distressing situations: a doctor’s appointment, a photo shoot, a water aerobics class. The reading will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, in the Croswell gallery. Tickets are not required, but donations will be accepted.

“Spirit of Motown: Tatiana Owens in Concert”: Toledo-born singer-songwriter Tatiana Owens, who starred in this summer’s production of “Memphis,” returns from New York for a special one-weekend engagement, performing Motown and R&B hits from the ’50s, ’60s and beyond, plus a few of her own original songs. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14.

“Jackie Robinson”: Presented by Bright Star Touring Theatre, this show is part of the Spectacular Saturday Series and tells about the life of Jackie Robinson, one of the pioneering athletes who helped integrate professional sports. The show is at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27.

“How I Became a Pirate”: This musical for young audiences, based on the book by Melinda Long, features a band of comical pirates enlisting a boy named Jeremy Jacob to join their crew. Songs include “Green Teeth,” “I’m Really Just a Sensitive Guy” and “Talk Like a Pirate.” Performances will run March 4-6 and March 11-13. The first weekend will have a 6:30 p.m. Friday show and 2:30 shows on Saturday and Sunday, with Saturday’s show being a sensory-friendly production for children with autism or sensory processing issues. The second weekend will have 6:30 p.m. shows Friday and Saturday and a 2:30 p.m. show Sunday. Additional performances for school groups will take place during the school day March 8 and 9.

Backstage Brews: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with unique beer, cider and wines from Michigan and beyond at the Croswell’s second annual craft beer festival, starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 18.

“The Imaginary Invalid”: This three-act comedy by the 17th-century French playwright Molière will be the third installment in the Croswell’s series of staged readings. It will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, in the Croswell gallery. Tickets are not required, but donations will be accepted.

“The Lego Movie”: This 2014 animated adventure will be the final installment in this year’s Spectacular Saturday Series. The movie will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 9, with activities before the movie starting at 10 a.m.

Baladino: The 2015-16 Special Event Series will wrap up with the second of four Arts Midwest World Fest performances. The spring 2016 artists-in-residence will be the Israeli ensemble Baladino. The group will present several workshops and other cultural activities throughout the county, followed by a public performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16.

End-of-season concert: A rock concert on Saturday, April 23, will close out the season and celebrate the upcoming 2016 Summer Broadway Season, with details to be announced.

The schedule for Croswell After Hours events, which will include trivia nights, singalongs and various types of light entertainment, will be posted at croswell.org/afterhours.

Tickets for the Special Event Season will go on sale Sept. 16, except for “Handel’s Messiah Rocks,” which is already on sale.

To buy tickets or for more information about any Croswell production, call 517-264-7469 or go to croswell.org.