The Curtain Rises on
a New Arts Season
By Julie Bonner Stevenson
It has the power to rejuvenate our souls and rest
our minds. Autumn brings us nature’s beauty
in brilliant colors and spicy smells. It also brings
another beauty: a new season of the arts to celebrate.
Buy your tickets. Find your seats. Sit back, take
a relaxing breath and enjoy. Here’s what’s
on the program for the area’s 2004-2005 season.
Actors’ Theatre at
A mainstay in local
arts, Actors’ Theatre
productions always manage to impress. The talented
Jeralyn Pinsky directs this season’s moving
opener, “The Exonerated” (Sept. 23-Oct.
2). Richard O’Brien’s original musical “The
Rocky Horror Show” (Dec. 9-18) is certain
to be great fun (reserve tickets early)! The Tony-Award-winning “The
Goat or Who is Sylvia?” (Jan.20-29) by America’s
greatest living playwright Edward Albee will
undoubtedly make for a worthwhile theater-going
Ladies of the Camellias” (March
17-26), will give local theatergoers a chance
mid-winter blahs with a little hilarity, but
when it comes to Actors’ late spring production,
things are hush-hush. Something is coming May
19-28, but all those in the know will say is
slot is being held open for a late-release script
they assure us will exceed our expectations.
Expertise and exceptional quality come to Grand
Rapids through the Broadway Theatre Guild. The
kickoff comes September 21-26 with “Cirque
Dreams,” a colorful extravaganza
filled with acrobats, aerialists and amazing
After the hot performance of “Cirque Dreams,” the
DeVos stage will be transformed into an ice rink
for “Broadway on
Ice” (Nov. 9-14),
a show that brings Broadway performers and international
skaters together to wow spectators.
fans will be first in line for tickets to “The
Producers” (Nov 23-28). Based
on the Academy Award-winning film, this musical
is sure to give theater buffs a giggle. Speaking
of award-winners, don’t miss “Thoroughly
Modern Millie” (April 5-10), a show
that walked away with an armful of Tony awards
Set in the 1920s, the flapper-esque Millie brings
her bobbed hair and knee-revealing hemlines — and
great jazz — to DeVos Hall.
Les Miserables” (May
24-29), the musical based on the 1862 novel by
Victor Hugo, is a staple
for any theater lover’s must-see list.
And don’t be surprised to find yourself
buying the CD after seeing the performance. What
finale could top off a stellar season like this?
How about a special added presentation that features
Tony Award-nominee Cathy Rigby? That’s
right, Rigby will be here, starring in the well-loved
family favorite “Peter
Grand Rapids Ballet Company
“ Caught in a Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Oct.
15-17) opens the GR Ballet Company’s
season, following a record-breaking 55 performances
year. This original production is a blend of
the Shakespearean story with the romantic music
Mendelssohn, sprinkled with the jazz music
of Ed Clifford. A full orchestra and jazz band
the innovative choreography. A local tradition, “The
Nutcracker” is as much a part
of the holidays as candy canes and carols.
Performance dates are
Dec. 3-5 and 10-12; put them in your Palm Pilot
and don’t miss out! You can also add
the spring performance of “Can-Can” (March
18-20). Artistic Director Gordon Peirce Schmidt’s
world premiere celebrates the excitement of
Paris at night, featuring 19th century music.
addition to its DeVos Performance Hall Main
Stage Series, the Dancers’ Theatre
three performances in the intimate venue of
the company’s Studio A: “Another
Part of the Forest” (Nov. 4-7), “In
a Nutshell” (Jan 6-9) and another Schmidt
world premiere in May.
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
Have a penchant for local theater? Grand Rapids
Civic Theatre, Michigan’s largest community
theater, has a season not to be missed. “Cotton
Patch Gospel” (Sept. 16-Oct. 9)
is set to the music of Harry Chapin. “Lilly’s
Purple Plastic Purse” (Oct. 20-24)
is a family show about a mouse with a love
including cowboy boots and a crown.
rings in the holidays with a performance of
the musical “Scrooge!” (Nov. 18-Dec.
18), featuring favorite Dickens characters
Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit
center stage. “You
Can’t Take it With You” (Jan. 6
- Jan. 29) provides an opportunity to sit back
in the plush ambiance of the Civic and laugh
off those winter blahs.
24 - March 19) brings the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim
to Grand Rapids in this tale
of a family chasing an elusive dream. “Blood
Relations” (April 7-23) brings
to mind that childhood ditty, “Lizzie
Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks.” It’s
an excitement-laden performance of a macabre
event etched into America’s history.
too much for the little ones, how about “Harriet
the Spy” (May 12-May 22), the
story of a precocious child who loves to spy
In the mood for a romantic comedy?
Delancy” (June 9-June 25), the
charming story of a grandmother who hires a
a husband for her granddaughter. Will it be
the good-looking author or the pickle vendor?
The Civic Theatre finishes the season
with two family-friendly performances: “Twelve
Dancing Princesses” and “Aladdin
and the Wonderful Lamp.” Running
alternately, they will be performed July 29-August
Grand Rapids Symphony
The Grand Rapids Symphony is dropping names
this season — big ones. Olivia
16) and Leann Rimes (Dec.
21) will bring their sparkle to DeVos Hall
in a season that celebrates
GRS’ 75th anniversary.
The season opens
Night Tour de Force (Sept. 10-11) featuring
violinist Dylana Jenson,
while the Anniversary
Gala Celebration will
feature Grammy-winning soprano Kathleen Battle
The GRS Pops Series opens with impressionist
Rich Little (Sept. 17-19) and continues with
Band Show (Oct. 8-10), followed by the ever-popular
Fifth Third Holiday
Pops (Dec. 17, 18, 19).
The series also includes the outrageously talented
Flying Karamazov Brothers in March and a Cinco
De Mayo Celebration with Mariachi
6, 7, 8) ends the series.
Angela Hewitt Plays and
Conducts Bach” (Nov.
5-6) is part of the GRS Classical Series and
even Mahler will be present, if only in spirit,
Song of the Earth,” (Jan. 28-29).
Opera Grand Rapids puts forth a power-packed
season, starting with a semi-staged version
of Gershwin’s “Porgy
and Bess” (Oct. 29-30). While Gershwin’s
name alone draws crowds, famed performers Alvy
Powell, Roberta Laws and Cedric Cannon will ensure
a memorable event for GR audiences.
Boheme” (Feb. 11-12), Puccini’s
masterpiece of love and loss in the lives of
Bohemian Parisian artists, will be performed
with a twist. “Die
Fledermaus” (April 29-30), the rollicking operetta of Johann
Strauss II, will conclude the OGR season with a mix of charm and silliness.
Cecilia Music Society
The Kaleidoscope Series is packed with “mark your calendar” performances
this season. The Brazilian Guitar Quartet performs its unique guitar techniques
on Oct. 15. Together since childhood, the three lovely ladies who make up the
Eroica Trio (Nov. 13) will perform on piano, violin and cello. They are winners
of the prestigious Naumburg Award (1991) and have received several Grammy nominations.
Pianist Leon Bates (Feb. 19) will perform classical and jazz selections, as well
as a solo version of “Rhapsody in Blue.” On March 5, the annual
Eight Piano Benefit Concert fills the stage of the lovely Royce Auditorium
grand pianos for an evening of great music. GR
Julie Bonner Stevenson is a free-lance writer
who lives in Grand Rapids Magazine.