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You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown – Ann Arbor Musical Theater Works August 18, 2013

Posted by ronannarbor in Ann Arbor, musical theater, Musicals.
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If you have your own blog, you might as well toot your own horn — so here goes:

Ann Arbor Musical Theater Works (my company) presents the musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown on August 29-31st at the Children’s Creative Center Theater Space, 1600 Pauline, Ann Arbor, MI.

Tickets are available online at AnnArborMusicalTheaterWorks.com and are limited so get yours soon, because the theater seats only 100 per performance.

So — when Allison Pearlman posts her Lucy wig, things start to get really exciting:

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Allison Pearlman plays Lucy; Colby Cesaro Spencer plays Snoopy; Hannah Pearlman plays Patty; Matthew Kurzyniec plays Linus; Andrew Buckshaw plays Charlie Brown, and Etan Klein plays Schroeder.

Its performed the way it was written back in 1967 — 6 adults playing the Peanuts characters, with geometric shapes that form set spaces, and with props and costumes filling out the rest in this “story theater” piece. Accompanied by musical director Brian Rose on the piano, its an intimate affair.

The space at 1600 Pauline is superb — three rows of seats arranged around a higher thrust stage; just right for the intimacy the show requires. I directed and choreographed this production to bring as much of it off the main stage and onto the thrust as possible — so that the audience is always “near” the characters.

Over the years, Snoopy has been played by both men and women, and in this production, I chose to go with a female snoopy — it rounds out the cast to three and three, and lends a nice balance to the songs. Since Colby is also a great tapper, it allowed me to play with tap moves in “Suppertime” along with a few other surprises.

The universal themes of Charlie Brown — fitting in, trying your hardest, making friends, stalking boyfriends (okay, maybe not the stalking part) resonate with adult audiences when played by adults in a way that the show does not when it is performed by youngsters. I kid you not, the final “Happiness is…” number brings tears to your eyes. I am not sure exactly why — maybe the adult recognizes the lost youngster within — a time when kids weren’t afraid to sing and dance, play outside, and hold your sister’s hand.

Thursday night’s 7:30 pm performance is a fundraiser with a post-show afterglow auction to benefit the University of Michigan Medical School campaign to create the Timothy R.B. Johnson M.D. Professorship in Global Women’s Health. What better match than to do a family-friendly show to raise funds for a teaching position to teach doctors to take care of women and children in developing countries.  The auction items are amazing, and Susan and Mark Pearlman, and Jennifer Monk-Reising are putting together an awesome post-show event…with auction items that include trips to WDW (with airfare); other trips; UM football items, and many others! A handful of tickets remain to this special Thursday performance.

Friday and Saturday are rapidly selling tickets — moreso on Friday at 8:00 — Saturday’s show has been pushed back to 8:30 to accommodate UM’s football traffic after their late starting game that afternoon. A great day in Ann Arbor! Go to the game — grab dinner downtown, then head to 1600 Pauline for YAGMCB!   Running time of the show without an intermission is 75 minutes.

Hope to see you there. This is the closest thing to a real “off-Broadway” production you are likely to see of this show in Ann Arbor for quite some time.                               AnnArborMusicalTheaterWorks.com

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Jayna Katz and Adam Woolsey create fireworks in The Last 5 Years (Review) July 14, 2012

Posted by ronannarbor in musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
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Those explosions you heard over downtown Jackson the last couple nights have been caused by Jayna Katz and Adam Woolsey blowing the roof off of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra performance space during The Last 5 Years, the Jason Robert Brown two-person musical.

Telling the story of a meeting, a wedding, and a breakup (hers from end to beginning, his from beginning to end), the song-cycle musical is a cult favorite of musical theater folks and a standard repertoire piece across the country. KW Productions/Ann Arbor Musical Theater Works does a spectacular job with their presentation. Performing in the lovely JSO space, the production brings the story to emotional life, backed up by an ever-present orchestra stage center (and they sound superb. Kudos also to sound engineers KJ Rowan and Amanda Mahoney). Conductor/Pianist Lora Knight and her ensemble make beautiful music together.

Artistic director Chip Mezo keeps the affair moving at a swift pace (90 minutes without an intermission) but the true stars of the show are Jayna Katz and Adam Woolsey, who infuse this powder-keg of songs with enough energy to lift the roof. Its hard to review either performance individually  because they are so interdependent on each other — and what they achieve here is spectacular: lilting ballads, bitter drama, and soaring emotion. Jayna has a strong background in musical theater and this performance sends her off to her move to Chicago in spectacular style. Adam has performed locally and in NYC, and was a contestant on American Idol Season 11. Together, they are a force to reckon with, and you should not miss it.

The near-sold out audience leapt to its feet at the conclusion of the show: and if you plan on seeing it, call your reservations in right now…the theater space is small and tickets will surely be gobbled up fast. Word of mouth is spreading like wildfire. Let me put it in print — do not miss this production.

Catch the fireworks two more times: Saturday night July 14th at 8:00, and Sunday the 15th at 3:00. Tickets can be reserved by emailing thelast5years.jso@gmail.com. Tickets are 15.00 at the door. JSO is located at 215 W. Michigan Avenue, downtown Jackson, MI. For you Ann Arborites, thats a short 35 minute drive.