Cirque du Soliel's latest offering, called 'Varekai,' features a forest inhabited by enchanted creatures. (Cirque du Soliel)
Relationships — everything from the magical to the dramatic to the humorous — take center stage in plays and musicals this theater season across Metro Detroit.
The Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts kicks off the winter season Sunday afternoon with “Carrie, The Musical,” an adaptation of the 1974 Stephen King novel. The musical, produced in partnership with the Oakland University Department of Theatre and Dance, is a component of Music Hall’s anti-bullying campaign.
“Carrie: The Musical” follows the original story of a troubled telekinetic teenager who is dominated by an oppressive, religious fanatic mother. When Carrie’s classmates humiliate her at the high school prom, it all turns to tragedy.
On Tuesday, “Bullet Catch” hits the the Arthur Miller Theatre in Ann Arbor.
The play is a retelling of the most famous and infamous magic trick in the catalog of magic tricks, where someone shoots a pistol at a magician who then catches the bullet in his teeth.
Michael Kondziolka, University Musical Society director of programming, describes the play as half magic show, half theater.
“It’s an interesting piece theatrically,” he says. “It plays around with your perception and your willingness as an audience member to believe.”
Feb. 19, UMS will stage “The Suit,” by South African playwright Can Thema, and directed by 88-year old Peter Brook. The play, which is performed primarily by South African actors, captures the story of a young black couple living in apartheid South Africa.
Three plays with elements of rebellion and hope are coming to Detroit Repertory Theatre this winter.
Opening Jan. 9, “My Occasion of Sin” is based on events around the 1969 Omaha race riot, involving a black girl, a white girl, a jazz drummer and an accordion player.
“Aside from being about the race riots, it’s a beautiful story,” says development director Leah Smith.
The Rep will offer “Brother of All,” about brotherhood and Cherokee legend, in March, and end the season with “Endangered Species” in May.
Expect a busy season at the Fisher Theatre and Detroit Opera House.
“Detroit loves theater, and we try to bring in a variety of attractions,” says Alan Lichtenstein, executive director of Nederlander Detroit, which produces the Broadway in Detroit shows.
The lineup includes the 2012 Tony Award-winning musical the Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess,” March 4 at the Detroit Opera House.
The Fisher Theatre will stage “Dinosaur Zoo” on March 12 for children young and old, “Heartbeat of Home” on March 8 and “Sister Act” in April.
Ever-popular Cirque du Soliel returns to Joe Louis Arena for six performances starting Feb. 5. This offering, called “Varekai,” features a forest inhabited by enchanted creatures.
“If you love Cirque shows, and everybody seems to, it’s one that they do on a grand scale,” says Tom Wilson, president of Olympia Entertainment.
Tony Award-winning “Bring It On: The Musical” brings cheerleading madness to Olympia Entertainment’s Fox Theatre on April 5 and 6.
The Jewish Ensemble Theatre in West Bloomfield Township opens its season — in partnership with Plowshares Theatre — with the world premiere of “1300 Lafayette East.” The title draws its name from the upscale cooperative high-rise in Detroit’s Lafayette Park.
“We are all excited about this,” says JET artistic director David Magidson. “To be able to host this world premiere and to have it matter to the fabric of two of Detroit’s important communities, and by extension to all of the metro area, is an awesome responsibility.”
The play, written by former Detroiter Brooke Berman, takes place in in 1967 in the new building’s gleaming lobby. A young Jewish housewife is pining for something new and a little bit glamorous and aspiring Motown singer Reena Walkeris is locked out of her apartment while wearing a negligee in the middle of winter. The play asks if these two women, one white and one black, can form a friendship atop this powder keg of a city.
JET’s season is capped off by Jon Robinn Baitz’s “Other Desert Cities,” playing April 23-May 18.
The Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea opens its season Jan. 16 with the familial production “Redwood Curtain,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson.
“It’s a beautiful play about a young woman looking for her father,” says artistic director Guy Sanville.
The season closes there with “The Last Romance” about an older gentleman who finds love for the last time in his life, being staged in June.
Arthur Miller Theatre
1226 Murfin Ann Arbor
(734) 763-3333, ums.org
Feb. 2-12: “Bullet Catch”
3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit
March 12-16: Dinosaur Zoo
March 18-23: “Heartbeat of Home”
April 22-May 4: “Sister Act”
2211 Woodward, Detroit
April 5, 6: “Bring It On: The Musical”
Jewish Ensemble Theatre
6600 W. Maple, West Bloomfield Township
(248) 788-2900, jettheatre.org
Jan. 29-Feb. 23:
“1300 Lafayette East”
March 22: “Cravings”
April 23-May 15:
“Other Desert Cities”
Joe Louis Arena
19 Steve Yzerman Drive, Detroit
Feb. 5-9: Cirque du Soleil “Varekai”
Detroit Opera House
1526 Broadway, Detroit
(313) 237-7464, michiganopera.org
March 4-9: The Gershwins’
“Porgy and Bess”
Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts
350 Madison, Detroit
(313) 887-8500, musichall.org
Jan. 5: “Carrie: The Musical”
121 Fletcher, Ann Arbor
(734) 647-3327, ums.org
Feb. 19: “The Suit”
Purple Rose Theatre
137 Park, Chelsea
Jan. 1-March 15: “Redwood Curtain”
April 3-May 24: Spring Comedy Festival: Lovers, Liars and Lunatics
June 12-Aug. 30:
“The Last Romance”
Andrea Daniel is a freelance reporter.