musicals

Tony Award-winning composer John Kander has a favorite story about Broadway producer and director Harold Prince: In 1965, he and lyricist Fred Ebb were working on a show that Prince produced called Flora, The Red Menace and it was not going well.

Students at Leland High School rehearse 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood' earlier this week. The musical incorporates audience participation to determine the outcome of the show.
Kim Klein

When Charles Dickens died in 1870, his last novel, 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood,' was unfinished. All we know for certain is that the title character, Edwin Drood, mysteriously disappears.

A musical based on that story assumes Drood has been killed, and the students at Leland High School are performing it over the next two weekends.

For this edition of Theater Talk on Stateside, David Kiley of Encore Michigan joins the show to talk about four productions currently on stage across Michigan. Two are Academy Award-nominated films adapted into musicals (and only one of them is authorized), one is a drama about a single mom's intimate encounter with a U.S. Senator, and another is a Tennessee Williams classic that's making a rare appearance in the state. 

25 years ago this month, a recent college graduate named Christopher McCandless hitchhiked to Alaska. He then hiked into the wilderness, using an old mountain road called the Stampede Trail.

A few months later, on Sept. 6, a hunter found him dead inside an old bus.

Writer Jon Krakauer told this puzzling story in his book Into the Wild which was later adapted into a 2007 film directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch.

Now, the story of the young man who called himself "Alexander Supertramp" has been turned into a stage musical.

Into The Wild opens tomorrow night (Friday, April 14) at the Encore Musical Theatre Company in Dexter.

When Lin-Manuel Miranda was a teenager in the 1990s, he liked to make eclectic mixtapes for his friends. In those cassettes, he experimented with the rise and fall of energy in music: A musical theater number might play after a hip-hop song, only to be followed by an oldie or an obscure pop song. It was through mixtapes that he could bridge the gap between two seemingly opposing passions — Broadway and rap.

The Tony-award winning musical Fun Home opens tonight at Detroit's Fisher Theatre for a two-week run. Fun Home was adapted from Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, telling the story of her relationship with her gay dad and coming to terms with her own identity as a lesbian.

The musical got a very warm welcome when it finally got to Broadway. It was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and the show won five of them.

A few of those Tonys went to Michigan native Lisa Kron. She grew up in Lansing and is a playwright, actor and co-founder of the theater group Five Lesbian Brothers.

 

Broadway musicals have covered a dizzying array of subjects. It may be hard to believe, but that list includes the life and trials of a young physician.

On this evening, 69 years ago, the medical musical "Allegro" opened on Broadway.

Although it’s long been forgotten, University of Michigan medical historian Dr. Howard Markel believes the lessons taught by "Allegro" are worth remembering today.

Take a presidential campaign. Mix in a large serving of old-fashioned musicals, and top it off with two women realizing they are in love, and you've got the new film Liberty's Secret.

Andy Kirshner is the writer, composer, director, producer and he has a role in the film, which is having its premiere this Thursday at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. Kirshner is also an associate professor of both music and art & design at the University of Michigan.

The film, which the website describes as "the all-American lesbian movie-musical," tells the story of a struggling presidential campaign fronted by moderate Republican Kenny Weston, who recruits the charismatic Liberty Smith to be his running mate. This singing and dancing preacher's daughter is just what the campaign needs to get back into the race to the White House. That is, until she falls in love with one of the campaign's political consultants, who is a woman.

Ice arenas and fights are among the first images to come to mind when someone thinks about hockey. When author and playwright Mitch Albom thinks about hockey, he has one thing on his mind: musicals.

"Hockey - The Musical!" will be making its opening debut tonight for a month-long run at Detroit's City Theatre, and Albom hopes it will bring together theater geeks and sports fans alike.