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SMTD Announces Live and In-Person Season of Ticketed Performances

Peter Smith Photography

The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance today announced its intention to return to produce live performances with the 2021-22 production season. Featuring ten fully-staged productions and one studio production, the season will run from September 30 through April 17. Information regarding performances by the major ensemblesincluding the annual Grand Night for Singing, Halloween Concert, Band-O-Rama, and Collage Concert performanceswill be announced at a later date. 

“Our goal this year is to return to creating the same high-quality productions you’ve come to know and love while providing more flexibility to better accommodate our audiences’ health and safety needs,” said Jeffrey Kuras, executive director of the school’s University Productions. These accommodations to increased safety include: working within the guidelines provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the University’s public-health authorities to enact necessary safety measures within all of the venues; changes to the exchange policy that allow more flexibility for those who are ill or have been exposed to COVID-19, and the introduction of a new subscription package. The SMTD Flex Series will allow audiences to select the four shows they would like to attend at a discounted price. The Flex Series joins the existing Power Series, which allows audiences to purchase all four shows at the Power Center for the Performing Arts for a discounted price. 

In addition to celebrating the return of live audiences, the school shall also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Power Center for the Performing Arts. This theatre has been the site for many university and community events,  becoming a vital part of the cultural life of this region.  The celebration acknowledges the many donors from the community who made its construction possible, especially the lead gift by the Power family, and its continued support.

Power Series renewals will begin on August 2; tickets and packages will be available to the general public beginning on September 1. Details regarding box-office hours, updated ticketing policies (including seating updates and safety protocols) will be available soon at tickets.smtd.umich.edu.

Those interested in learning more about the upcoming production season are encouraged to sign up at https://myumi.ch/yKzMj

Peter Smith Photography

Season details:
FALL SEMESTER 

September 30–October 10 at the Arthur Miller Theatre
The Department of Theatre & Drama presents
NORA: A DOLL’S HOUSE
Written by Stef Smith
After the classic play by Henrik Ibsen
Directed by Malcolm Tulip

Nora Helmer has been a feminist icon since her first appearance in 1879 as the lead character in Henrik Ibsen’s then-controversial A Doll’s House. 140 years later, Olivier Award-winning playwright Stef Smith has reshaped Nora’s singular struggle for financial and emotional independence into three characters, setting three Noras on parallel paths in different time periods. As their stories unfold, shifting cultural expectations exert their pressure on each Nora as what it means to be a feminist changes. 

Nora: A Doll’s House received its premiere at Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow in 2019 before moving to the Young Vic in early 2020.

October 7–October 17 at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
The Department of Musical Theatre presents
THE WILD PARTY
Book, Music, & Lyrics by Andrew Lippa (BM ‵87, music education and voice)
Director TBD
Music Direction by Jason DeBord

The setting is the roaring 1920s. Lovers Queenie and Burrs decide to throw the party-to-end-all-parties in their Manhattan apartment. After the arrival of a slew of colorful guests living life on the edge, Queenie’s wandering eye lands on a striking man named Mr. Black. As the decadence is reaching a climax, so is Burrs’ jealousy, which erupts and sends him into a violent rage. Gun in hand and inhibitions abandoned, Burrs turns on Queenie and Black. The gun gets fired, but who’s been shot?

A steamy prohibition tale, steamrolling and roaring its way across the stage, The Wild Party was an Off-Broadway gem that garnered an array of industry accolades, including Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Obie awards. Based on Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 narrative poem of the same name, this darkly brilliant show features one of the most exciting, pulse-racing scores ever written, courtesy of SMTD alumnus Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family, Big Fish). 

November 4–November 7 at the Power Center for the Performing Arts
The Department of Voice and the University Symphony Orchestra present
CINDERELLA (Cendrillon)
Music by Jules Massenet
Libretto by Henri Cain
After the fairy tale by Charles Perrault
Stage Direction by Abbigail Coté
Music Direction by Kirk Severtson

The King is throwing a ball in Prince Charming’s honor, and all will be in attendanceexcept for Lucette, known as “Cinderella” to her stepmother & stepsistersuntil Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother steps in. The fairy’s spell lasts only until midnight. That’s long enough for Cinderella and Prince Charming to meet and fall in love. 

This witty French opera premiered in Paris at the Opéra-Comique on May 24, 1899. It is based on the classic fairy tale as told by Charles Perrault.  This operatic version is closer to Perrault’s story than the version used in Rossini’s La Cenerentola.  Its music is full of melodic charm with recognizable arias.   

This production will be sung in French with projected English translations.

November 11–November 14 at the Arthur Miller Theatre
The Department of Theatre & Drama presents
MEN ON BOATS
Written by Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Emily Lyon (BFA 13, directing)

In 1869, a team of 10 men led by naturalist John Wesley Powell set out on an expedition to catalogue the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon—the first white settlers to do so. In 2015, playwright Jaclyn Backhaus set out to satirize the expedition and its bold yet arrogant explorers in a comedic tour-de-force that Time Out New York called a “thrilling, gender-flipped slice of manifest destiny.” 

With a cast made up entirely of women, Men on Boats pokes fun at what New York Magazine calls the explorers’ “cockiness and cluelessness” in their attempts to exert their control on an unfamiliar (and already populated) environment. “The tone is comic, but never cute or camp,” says the New York Times. “And ultimately, you feel, the play respects its bold if fallible pioneers, in all their natural bravery and fearfulness.”

December 2December 5 at the Power Center for the Performing Arts
The Department of Theatre & Drama presents
JUNK: THE GOLDEN AGE OF DEBT
Written by Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Geoff Packard

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar takes on the origin story of America’s financial crisis in this fast-paced thriller the Los Angeles Times called “Part Shakespearean history play, part ‘The Big Short.’”

It’s 1985, and prominent financier Robert Merkin is taking the world by storm with his willingness to take on higher-risk, higher-yield bonds—what he calls “junk bonds.” As he sets out to take over a massive steel conglomerate by using its own debts as an asset, Merkin sets off a financial civil war that threatens to change the world as we know it.

December 2–5 at the Arthur Miller Theatre
The Department of Musical Theatre presents a Studio Production of
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Vince Cardinal

There is much mischief to be had in Shakespeare’s most popular comedy when lovers defy authority and flee the court, only to find themselves caught in a zany web of illusion, romance, and magic in the Athenian woods. Featuring fairies, love potions, mixed-up lovers, magic spells, and a pompous rustic sporting a donkey’s head, A Midsummer Night’s Dream promises to bring laughter and a healthy dose of enchantment.

Peter Smith Photography

WINTER SEMESTER

February 3–7, 2022 at the Power Center for the Performing Arts
The Department of Dance presents
DANCE ‘22 (Title TBD)
Artistic Direction by Judy Rice

This annual showcase of the best the Department of Dance has to offer will feature a combination of works created by faculty and guest artists, featuring Wideman Davis Dance.

February 17–20, 2022 at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
The Department of Theatre & Drama presents
ANTIGONE
Written by Sophocles
Verse translation by David Mulroy
Directed by Sam White

In one of the most compelling pieces of classic theatre, Sophocles tells the tale of Antigone, daughter of Oedipus and sister to Eteocles and Polyneices, former rulers of Thebes who have just battled to the death. In their absence, their uncle Creon has ascended the throne and declared it illegal to bury the rebel Polyneices. Antigone refuses to obey Creon’s order, setting off a tragic conflict of morality vs. law, cruelty vs. love, and man vs. woman. Guest Director Sam White (founder of Shakespeare in Detroit), who led the Theatre & Drama students in last year’s production of Romeo & Juliet, will return to helm this production. 

David Mulroy, Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,  faithfully reproduces the literal meaning of Sophocles’ words while also reflecting his verbal pyrotechnics in this translation from 2013. Using fluid iambic pentameters for the spoken passages and rhyming stanzas for the songs, it is true to the letter and the spirit of the great Greek original.

March 2427, 2022 at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
The Department of Voice and the University Symphony Orchestra present
Winter Opera (Title TBD)

The winter opera will be cast in late September/early October and then a title announced shortly thereafter. 

March 31-April 10, 2022 at the Arthur Miller Theatre
The Department of Theatre & Drama presents
SOMEBODY’S CHILDREN
Written by José Casas
Director TBD

In the shadow of Disneyland lies the El Dorado, a run-down motel for those without permanent housing. Through a series of spoken-word poetry vignettes, five teenage residents share their lives and their dreams as they struggle to survive the challenges of being homeless in America.

Written by Assistant Professor José Casas, somebody’s children was a winner of the 2009 Waldo M. and Grace C. Bonderman Playwriting Workshop and was featured in a rehearsed reading at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Indianapolis. somebody’s children was originally commissioned by Found Spaces Theater Company. 

April 14-April 17, 2022 at the Power Center for the Performing Arts
The Department of Musical Theatre presents
HAIR
Book & Lyrics by James Rado & Gerome Ragni
Music by Galt MacDermot
Directed and choreographed by Linda Goodrich
Musical Direction TBD

Exploring ideas of identity, community, global responsibility, and peace, set to an infectiously energetic rock beat, Hair challenges audiences even as it wows them with songs like “Aquarius,” “Good Morning, Starshine,” “Easy to be Hard,” “I Got Life,” and “Let The Sun Shine In.” More than 50 years after it originally shook up Broadway, the original “American tribal love rock musical” remains as relevant as ever.

Peter Smith Photography