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Michigan Shakespeare Festival 2015 — Ready to go! June 15, 2015

Posted by ronannarbor in Detroit, Entertainment, Michigan, Shakespeare, Theatre, Travel.
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Hello fellow Shakespeare lovers! You know me as the owner/reviewer of my blog — A2View.com…but I wear other hats as well…I own and work as a neuropsychologist at BrainTrainers Brain Injury Day Program…I direct (coming up: Bonnie & Clyde for Encore Musical Theatre Company)…I perform (this summer as Mr. Simmons in Memphis the musical at Croswell Opera House)…

But today I am writing as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival.

When I first moved to Michigan from NYC, I came across this small outdoor theatre festival in Jackson, Michigan that performed outstanding Shakespeare productions in the park — and from the first show I saw I was hooked. The Festival has since grown tremendously in scope and nature, has for many years been located indoors in state-of-the-art, air-conditioned, bug-free splendor, and has continued to present remarkable theatre for five weeks every summer.

This year, the Festival is expanding to include three weeks in Canton, MI as well! We know that many of our audience members travel to Jackson from the SE Michigan area, and now we are pleased to be in our own backyard, centrally located in Canton. We don’t ever plan to leave Jackson, but its an exciting expansion into Wayne county which is more convenient for Detroiters and Ann Arborites.

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is a professional Actors Equity Association-LORT theatre festival, featuring all-professional actors, artistic staff, and technicians. Everyone gets paid a living wage — except for us Board Members of course.

Because the Festival maintains high artistic professional standards that result in top quality productions utilizing artists of the highest caliber, it is no wonder that the company is the most award-winning theatre in the state, garnering not only local but national acclaim. Reviews called last season’s productions “Outstanding” (MLive), “You may never again see this play done so well” (Encore Michigan),  “Remarkably relevant” (Examiner), “Four out of Four stars” (Detroit Free Press), and “Exquisite…gorgeous…perfect” (Jackson Citizen Patriot).  BroadwayWorld named last season’s production of Hamlet the Best Shakespearean Production of 2014.

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival has also been named the “Official Shakespeare Festival” by the State of Michigan.

If you have never attended — you should. Its kind of a big deal. Come see why the shows win all those Wilde Awards every year. If you have, then you already know that the festival regularly gets visitors from all over Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Chicago, and Canada…its destination theater year after year.

This July 9- August 16, 2015 the Festival will offer William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and both parts of Henry IV, along with Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals, at both venues — in Jackson and in Canton. Tickets are now on-sale.

Jackson performances are July 9 – 19 at Jackson College in the Boughman Theatre…and Canton performances are July 29 – August 16 at Village Theatre…the complete schedule for every night is at michiganshakespearefestival.com

Tickets are available at all sorts of price points — with special reduced preview performances, and other deals. Group sales are also available.

But as you know, (and this that part of the post where owning your own blog comes in handy once a year), ticket sales make up a very small proportion of the monies required to keep a professional theater company up and running. We depend on our sponsors, theatre patrons, and you to make it all happen summer after summer. We’re not talking outdoor-theatre-in-the-park anymore —- we’re talking something that rivals every other professional Shakespeare Festival company nationwide (and that other big festival in Ontario).

If you can, won’t you please take a moment to remember the Michigan Shakespeare Festival with a donation or sponsorship? It’s easy. Just make out a check to the Michigan Shakespeare Festival and mail it to the address below, or call the phone number, or donate online. There are all sorts of sponsorship packages available — from program ads to sponsoring almost every aspect of the shows and festival itself. What a great way to get your name affiliated with something pretty cool and hip. I’m proud to say that my company BrainTrainers is a sponsor of the Festival as well.

We’ll thank you, we’ll applaud you, we’ll salute you with another season of awesome Shakespeare. And you’ll know that you made the difference.

Thanks in advance — hope to see you at our shows this summer!

Ronald P. Baumanis

MSF Board of Directors, Vice Chair

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival

215 W. Michigan Ave.

Jackson, MI 49201

517-998-3673

www.MichiganShakespeareFestival.com

Paris off the beaten path July 6, 2013

Posted by ronannarbor in Paris, Travel.
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In my many many (dozens) of trips to Paris over the years, I’ve managed to wander around most of the city and surroundings. Friends always marvel at the things I tend to find around town — after someone asked me about that again last night, I thought I’d write an entry on some truly amazing things you will find “off the beaten path” in Paris.

One warning up front — you will want to google the hours of opening for most of these attractions, since they can be irregular.

1. Basilique St-Denis — Not to be missed, the crypt of the basilica is the “cemetery” for almost every French Royal dating back to, well, forever. The upper level has statues and memorials to them, while the crypt contains the mass grave for over 800 royals and their families, and a separate area has Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Louis XVIII. Warning — this is a long 45 minute metro ride making dozens of local stops until you get to St-Denis. Go directly to and from the basilica, as the area is seedy (and has been for over 900 years).

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2. Buttes-Chaumont — a simply stunning park built in what was once an old hillside Paris quarry — bring a picnic, sit on the hillside, and watch humanity pass by. Very few tourists venture here, so it’s a bit of a Parisian secret destination. There’s plenty of follies, a suspended bridge, even a castle in the middle! It will take your breath away.

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3. Cimetiere des Chiens — Just on the northern edge of Pont de Clichy, this is the world’s first pet cemetery. Once on its own island, it is now landlocked. Its not huge, and its filled with wandering feral cats, but its peaceful and beautiful. Headstones range from the heartbreaking (“to my dear cat, my closest friend in life”) to the famous (Rin Tin Tin) to the ridiculous — but its a wonderful place to stroll and relax…and chances are you will be the only person there.

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4. Cimetiere Picpus — here’s one that should be in every single guidebook everywhere, and is basically not listed in any of them, and which Parisians don’t even know exists — just south of Place de la Nation, this is the site of two mass burial graves of over a thousand victims of the guillotine in the French Revolution. A novice in the adjoining nunnery saw tumbrils arrive at night to dump the bodies, and eventually told families of the victims who bought the land and created a beautiful park and burial ground. There’s also a small chapel with the names of all the buried victims engraved. Its a sobering and very quiet place off the beaten path.

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5. Chapelle Expiatoire — while we’re on the subject of the French Revolution, this is a beautiful chapel built in a small park just north of La Madeleine atop the location of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI’s original burial ground after the revolution. Its also a mass burial ground though there are no signs remaining of it far below the structure. Some consider this the most beautiful monument in Paris. Its in a lovely quiet park. Note that the interior with its monuments is only open Fri – Sun and only in the afternoons. You won’t find this in almost any guidebooks, but it has a dedicated local following.

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6. Chateau de Vincennes — On the eastern border of the peripherique, this is a beautifully restored 13th century castle and donjon once used by royalty. It also holds the distinction of being the location that Henry V spent his last days in Paris, and were he was parboiled in the kitchen before his body was transported back to London. You can visit both the restored bedroom where he died of dysentery, and the kitchen itself. Its all surrounded by a (now empty) very deep moat, and you cross a (now stone) drawbridge to enter the complex. To the south is the more recent military barracks that were added in the 1700’s and a chapel with stunning stained glass windows — be sure to climb to the balcony for a great view of things, including close-up shots of gargoyles on the stone columns.

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7. Chartres — skip Versailles and head to medieval Chartres a bit further west — The train stops smack in the middle of town. Start at the gorgeous cathedral with its stained glass, woodwork, and labyrinth on the floor — then head through the park in the back and down the stone steps into the medieval village of Chartres — wander along the Eure river on the rue de la Tannerie, grab lunch at one of the shops along the way and sit by one of the many picture perfect nooks and crannies along the way, and then wander back to the central cathedral area. Chartres also holds the distinction of having very little WWII damage, so what you are seeing here is real, not restored.

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8. Le Pere Lachaise cemetery — this is the biggest and most beautiful of Paris’s cemeteries — and its a virtual village of the dead — with its steep hillsides, cobble-stoned steps, and many many celebs and historical residents of Paris buried here — Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Chopin, Gertrude Stein, Alice B Toklas, Proust, etc…but none more romantic than the dual grave of Abelard and Heloise (and if you don’t know who they are, you should be doing the normal tourist stuff, not the “off the beaten path” touring plan). Be sure to either print up a cemetery map before you leave, or purchase a map at one of the corner newsstands when you get off the bus or Metro. There are no maps inside the cemetery itself and you can be hopelessly lost here for hours without one. One of my favorite areas here is in the south east corner, where monuments are dedicated to the victims of the holocaust.

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9. Memorial de la Shoah — the holocaust memorial and museum. From its creepy entrance, to its creepy conclusion (thousand of photos of children deported) this is a truly stirring memorial and museum to the victims of the holocaust. It really drives it home when looking at the photos, personal belongings, and reading the stories of survivors as well as those who did not survive and recognizing the exact places you have just walked on the street outside — how many people taking the RER from CDG to Paris know that Drancy/La Bourget train station that you pass was the original debarkation point for the trains headed to the death camps — ah, changes the way you look at that now, doesn’t it!….DO NOT miss this and leave plenty of time for contemplation at the eternal flame, or any of the overwhelming displays on the floors above. By the way, once you have visited, you will also become aware of the thousands of plaques on the buildings around Paris (especially the Marais and the eastern side of Paris) that indicate a home from which a Jewish person was sent to a concentration camp.

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10. What have YOU found? Post it with a comment, and have fun exploring Paris away from the tourist crowds…

Goodbye Disaster Transport (Avalanche Run) Cedar Point 2012 July 27, 2012

Posted by ronannarbor in Cedar Point, Entertainment, Travel.
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It’s been a long time coming — and Disaster Transport (nee Avalanche Run) will offer its last toboggan run on Sunday July 29th. The ride is slated for demolition (along with Space Spiral a few weeks later) to make room for next season’s new B&M-manufactured wing coaster.

Built in 1985, Avalanche Run opened with great fanfare along with a handful of the toboggan coasters opening across the country.

Seen here outdoors, it was a fast favorite of fans, despite its low thrill factor, with very long wait times and slow load times. A few years later in 1990, Lake Erie, sand, and the elements were beginning to have their way with the track. Throwing good money after bad (most parks that installed the toboggan coasters removed them within a few years because of the extraordinary  and expensive maintenance required on them vs the low interest/thrill factor) Cedar Point enclosed it in a large warehouse type structure; themed it to outerspace transport gone amok, and Disaster Transport was rebranded.

Known mostly as the coaster you road when it was really hot outside; Cedar Fair did little in the way of maintenance. As lighting and effects wore out, they were simply abandoned. The queue line was shortened to its current lackluster state. Over the years paint, lights, animatronics, and other effects were simply afterthoughts and most current riders don’t even know what it looked like in the early 90’s since most of the effects have been gone for 15 years.

There are plenty of other blogsites that carefully discuss the history and the effects in the ride — so I will leave that to them, and to your Google search.But I will leave this for last, a photo of Disaster Transport taken from the Skyride with Space Spiral in front of it. I had a final ride on Disaster Transport/Avalanche Run yesterday — and for all those many years of lackluster (but fun and air conditioned) rides, I salute you. Goodbye Disaster Transport.

Ride the Paddlewheel at Cedar Point (2012)….No, it’s not what you think… June 19, 2012

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, Travel.
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So, as you most likely know (or if not, here’s the scoop) Cedar Point closed down the Paddlewheel Excursion last year to make way for this year’s Dinosaur’s Alive! animatronic display on Adventure Island (nee Millennium Island)…but that’s not the only Paddlewheel in town at The Point…

One of the ORIGINAL Paddlewheels (from the 70’s) has been retrofitted and makes daily sailings on the hour from the CP Marina (the same pier as Famous Dave’s Restaurant). It provides a tremendous 45 minutes trip out onto Lake Erie, past CP, and back again — and I guarantee you the absolute best views of Cedar Point, from the most unique angle. The boat is freshly painted; it is in remarkably good shape, and it provides a really comfortable ride.

Captain Brian and his assistant Caitlyn make your trip enjoyable and personable, and the cruise sails rain or shine (unless the rain is severe or blowing sideways). Its a remarkably breezy trip on a hot sunny day…and need I mention again the best views of The Point.

The cost is 10.00 per adult, 8.00 if you are a Platinum Pass holder, and children 5 and under are free. You can reserve in advance by calling 1 (419) 627-2334…or you can purchase your ticket at the Marina Office, which is located right next to Famous Daves. You can bring beverages onboard with you.

If you are Cedar Point, it is attraction Number 4 on your map — and it is located just outside the Marina Entrance — Get your hand stamped, just walk across the street and down the pier toward Famous Dave’s and the Paddlewheel is located at the end of the pier.

Please help support this awesome attraction! Cedar Point doesn’t seem to do a very good job of advertising it, and it really is a wonderful way to spend an hour of your day – relaxing and enjoying the Lake as well as the most unique view of the park available from anywhere. I might suggest the sunset cruise for some amazing color.  If you are staying in the resorts, their flyer is inside your Resort Guide Notebook.

These photos were all taken on my cruise the other day. I highly recommend it.

Dancap announces Toronto Musical Theater Tour Season 2012 October 17, 2011

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Broadway Tour, Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals, Travel.
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Dancap announces their 2012 Musical Theater Touring Season in Toronto — Note that Dancap is the up-and-rising direct competitor to Mirvish Productions. Most of its productions are presented at the stellar Centre for the Performing Arts in North York (nee Ford Centre for the Performing Arts).  Dancap is particularly known for its longterm sitdown productions such as Jersey Boys.

American Idiot – Dec 28, 2011 – Jan 15, 2012, Toronto Centre for the Arts

In The Heights – Feb 7 – 19, Toronto Centre for the Arts

West Side Story – May 8 – June 3, Toronto Centre for the Arts

Shrek The Musical – March 20 -April 1, Toronto Centre for the Arts

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – July 3 – 22, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Million Dollar Quartet – July 20-29, Toronto Centre for the Arts

A Christmas Story, the Musical – December 2012, Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

Paris, September 2009 — and Glee!! September 20, 2009

Posted by ronannarbor in Travel.
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Fleeing Ann Arbor for a week to visit beloved Paris, it felt good to have a break where absolutely nothing was planned, just whatever came my way — and lots did; including Disneyland Paris; Versailles; The Louvre; the Musee D’Orsay; restaurants; a day floating down the Seine; some shopping; and other general Parisian-type things. I don’t know which trip this was, but my current passport has 14 admissions to France; I’d have to find my old Passport somewhere to see how many are on there — but I’m venturing this was about my 20th trip to Paris.

Versailles was pretty as a post card the day we went. I stayed with my friend Michele, who had the opportunity to hang out with me all week!…But it was all wonderful to just go from experience to experience as it came. We had lots of coffee on the way; some Berthillion Ice Cream one night, and our favorite pizza a couple nights too.

Being mostly a musical theatre blog, I should probably take a moment to say that the current musical theatre scene in Paris is BLEAK — Elton John’s The Lion King (Le Roi Lion) is back for it’s yearly appearance; and the umpteenth tour of the British Grease is back in town.

All in all, a fantastic get-away…and what a surprise to get home, watch GLEE on the DVR, and find that John Lloyd Young was among the guest stars in the Acafellas (with an addiction to cold medicine!)….And Vocal Adrenaline’s Mercy number was a gem. Despite the fact that almost every single one of the “teens” at this Lima, OH high school is at least 12 years too old for the part, its still the smartest, funniest, and quirkiest show of the season. In a dream world, I’d be watching Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Glee on alternate nights — as it stands, GLEE is the only creative new show of the season. Lets hope it doesn’t get cancelled as fast as PD and ES. “I bust the windows out yer car”…ha! I want to cameo on the show, just like Josh Groban got to do.

And now that I’m back in Ann Arbor, things are back to normal…Let’s see how long the good buzz from this vacation lasts — I give it a week.

By the way, the new Paris photos are at: ronannarbor.smugmug.com/Other/Paris-September-2009