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Forever Plaid gets Dio Theater off to a terrific start in new home (Review) July 13, 2013

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals.
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What could be better than dinner and a show? And if its a good dinner and a great show, it makes it all the better — and that is what you get from The Dio – Dining and Entertainment this summer with their first production in their new Pinkney-based home, Forever Plaid.

Chef Jarod has prepared a delicious buffet-style dinner which begins serving at 6:30. The Theater itself is in an old opera house, and its beautifully re-designed by owners Steve DeBruyne and Matthew Tomich. As such, it has great acoustics (in fact, they are so good you can’t tell when the actors are using mics and when they are singing live).

This isn’t the first recent local production of Forever Plaid — but it is probably the best. Mostly sung-through (but leaving plenty of time to develop characters for its quartet of male early-1960’s crooners “gone before their time” and returning for one last live show), the intermission-less production zooms by in record time, winding its way through two-dozen tightly harmonized familiar 60’s numbers.

What a cast! Steve DeBruyne, Daniel Clair, Benjamin Dennis, and Thomas Mate create terrific characters on stage, and their vocals are astonishing. Each shows broad range, and director DeBruyne has done marvelous development work for each one — each cast member is different in size, shape, character, facial expressions, and it all combines for a highly entertaining evening. It’ll be hard for you to pick a favorite, as they each have a moment to truly shine.

Cara Manor gives them snappy and tightly choreographed moves that look like they are right out of any real-life 60’s boy-group — don’t underestimate how difficult this material is — and the actors carry it off very well. Shelly Walker’s costume design looks snappy, and Matthew Tomich does super work with the sound and lighting. Eileen Obradovich’s prop design works particularly well in the Ed Sullivan sequence. Mix in two parts musicians (George Cullinan on piano who also has done very good work as Musical Director, and Benjamin Merte on bass) and you have a martini that is well-served shaken or stirred — or in this case a little of both.

A highly entertaining evening out smack dab in the center of Pinkney — for Ann Arborites, thats a 15 minute drive north and a 15 minute drive west, and its a pretty drive. Go. Its fun. Its delicious. And its another great production for this new professional theater company in Livingston County.

Forever Plaid runs through August 3rd. Tickets at: http://www.diotheatre.co or 517-672-6009 or at their box office 135 East Main Street, Pinkney, MI.

Home for the Holidays, Dionysus Theatre, Review December 22, 2012

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
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Looks like Steve DeBruyne and Matthew Tomich have found (at least temporarily) a home for Dionysus Theatre at the Hartland High School auditorium — and its in a small beautiful space with professional amenities that theater companies envy. Its also a short 25 minute drive north of Ann Arbor (half the distance to Croswell for those who head there regularly) and they can use your support.

In a house that holds several hundred, only a handful were in attendance last night for their delightful original musical HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS — think “Bing Crosby Christmas Special” and its about all you need to know about the evening. Its a jolly Christmas-song filled entertaining two hours complete with surprise appearance by He Who Drives A Sleigh.

15 member cast and 5 piece orchestra weave an enchanting holiday spell as they tell their story interspersing on-stage and back-stage antics at a Christmas Eve holiday show. Familiar holiday tunes (some used very effectively here) abound, and there is plenty of great singing, dancing, and all-around fun. Look for a special appearance by “star” Liz Jaffe.

In a uniformly solid cast, Steve DeBruyne, Liz Jaffe, Marlene Inman-Reilly and Sarah Brown are particular standouts, but the entire cast is strong. Steve DeBruyne’s direction is fluid; Brian E. Buckner’s vocal arrangements and band are terrific; and Michelle Marzejon’s choreography fits the bill. There is nice setwork by Phil Harmer, and overall technical touches are very good — much more “ready for prime time” than another local professional theater when they launched a few seasons ago. Also look for one of those special appearances that I covet — Anne Bauman arrives on stage in Act II, sings one song, and calls it a night. My kind of featured role!

But, it appears that Livingston County doesn’t exactly know what to do with a new theater company — so there is lots of education that needs to be done in this community about theater attendance (and behavior inside the theater, which does not include talking, texting, and eating meals). This is a theater that deserves your support — and its only a short drive away from Ann Arbor, and a hop-and-a-skip from points north. Get off at 59, make your first left, and follow the signs to the new High School. But more importantly, help support this new theater company which promises great things. Their next production, the musical 9 to 5 will have better name recognition and hopefully draw from a larger base — but their current holiday offering is a family-friendly holiday treat that goes down easily. Take some time out during this last weekend of their performances and pack up your car and head to Hartland for HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

For tickets, call (517) 672-6009 or buy them online at http://www.diotheatre.com — or just buy your tickets at the door.