Krisha Marcano (Florence Ballard), Allison Semmes (Diana Ross) and Trisha Jeffrey (Mary Wilson) in "Motown The Musical," coming to Detroit's Fisher Theatre Oct. 21-Nov. 16. Photo: Joan Marcus

It's Curtain Time For Theaters & Theatergoers Alike

2014 Fall Theater Season Promises Plenty Of Entertainment For All Ages

By Donald V. Calamia

Applause will soon be busting out all over Southeast Michigan, as area theater groups are about to raise their curtains on what promises to be an exciting 2014-15 season.

Theaters large and small - from community theaters to Broadway touring houses - have turned on the lights, fired up their box offices, and are ready to open their doors with their first shows of the season.

And what a season it promises to be!

Fans of classic plays and musicals are in for a treat this fall as many long-time favorites return to the stage. The fun begins Sept. 12-Oct. 5 when Stagecrafters brings "My Fair Lady," the musical adventures of Eliza Doolittle, to the Baldwin Theatre. Not to be outdone, the darkly comedic tale of two spinsters with a taste for murder comes to life Sept. 26-Oct. 18 when Farmington Players tells the tale of "Arsenic and Old Lace." The Fisher Theatre also joins the fun Sept. 26-Oct. 4 when everyone's favorite orphan returns in a completely made-over production of "Annie" - which is a great show to introduce the young ones in your life to the excitement of live theater. If Depression-era romantic comedies are your cup of tea, Tipping Point Theatre stages the rarely produced classic "The Rainmaker" Nov. 13-Dec. 14. And you'll find out "what the simple folk do" when "Camelot," the ancient tale of King Arthur and Lady Guinevere, marches in to the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 1-2.

But what about for the women in your life, you may be wondering? The Fisher Theatre has the answer to that as well, with the return of two audience-pleasers: "Menopause The Musical," which was once the reigning queen of Detroit theater after a long run at Detroit's Gem Theatre (Oct. 14-16); and the ABBA-filled "Mamma Mia! (Oct. 17-19). Not to be outdone, the City Theatre inside Hockeytown Cafe will see the return of "Girls Night: The Musical," a "feel-good comedy" (with karaoke) about girlfriends for girlfriends (Nov. 6).

For a bloody good time, however, don't miss out on what has become a fall tradition in Downtown Detroit: The cult classic "Evil Dead: The Musical," which returns to the City Theatre - splatter seats and all - for another delightfully terrorizing run Oct. 1-25.

The other side of the spectrum is another annual must-see tradition: Meadow Brook Theatre's "A Christmas Carol" returns Nov. 14 -Dec. 21, and a better Christmas present will be hard to find!

If more-recent classics are more to your liking, the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre opens its season Sept. 11-14 with the green ogre loved by young and old alike, "Shrek." And laughs galore are promised in the delightful spoof by Monty Python, "Spamalot," thanks to The Encore Musical Theatre Company Sept. 18-Oct. 12.

Theatergoers who prefer stories with a little more meat and substance to them will find the pickings a bit slim this fall. But never fear: The Ringwald Theatre is presenting the complete "Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes." Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama comes in two halves: "Part One: Millennium Approaches" will be the second show produced, running Sept. 12-27; "Part Two: Perestroika" hits the stage Sept. 5-29, and the two will run in repertory. And the newly rejuvenated Performance Network Theatre brings back noted local actor James Bowen in "Driving Miss Daisy" - first in Ann Arbor Sept. 25-Oct. 26, and later at the City Theatre Oct. 31-Nov. 2.

It's not a theater season without a visit from The Bard - and Shakespeare's popularity continues this fall with productions of "Romeo and Juliet" at the Hilberry Theatre Oct. 24-Dec. 13 and "Twelfth Night" courtesy of Ann Arbor Civic Theatre Oct. 30-Nov. 2.

But if you simply like to laugh or enjoy new works, theatergoers will have plenty of options, beginning with the bittersweet comedy "Annapurna," which makes its Midwest debut at The Purple Rose Theater Sept. 18-Dec. 20. The next day (Sept. 19-Oct. 4) sees the Hilberry Theatre open its season with the classic farce, "Boeing Boeing." Then Nov. 6-Dec. 28, the state's longest-running Equity theater, the Detroit Repertory Theatre, continues nurturing brand new plays with the world premiere of "Buzz." And fans of local playwright Joseph Zettelmaier will have to travel to Williamston Theatre Sept. 25-Nov. 2 for the premiere of his latest script, "The Gravedigger: A Frankenstein Story."

There's plenty more, of course - including Michigan Opera Theatre's fall productions of "Elektra" (Oct. 18-26) and "Madame Butterfly" (Nov. 15-23).

And what is likely the most anxiously awaited show of the fall season, you ask? "Motown The Musical," of course, which comes home to the city where it all began, playing the Fisher Theatre Oct. 21-Nov. 16.

The bottom line is this: Although it's one of the world's best-kept secrets, Southeast Michigan is blessed with one of the most vibrant theater communities anywhere in the country - and that means theatergoers of all ages and tastes have plenty of choices for high-quality and affordable live stage entertainment. What more can a theater lover ask for?

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