REVIEW: Pick Up and Go See ‘Hands on a Hardbody’ at Oakland University

Timing is everything. When Hands on a Hardbody arrived on Broadway in 2013, it ran for just 28 shows before the curtain came down. Many probably mused at how a musical about 10 down-on-their-luck Texans trying to win a truck was even relevant. Well, a lot can change in three years, and the Oakland University School of Music, Theatre and Dance couldn’t have picked a timelier subject to bring back to the stage. Based on true events and a 1997 documentary of the same name, the story centers … [Read more...]

Enter for a Chance to Win Tickets to See ‘Hands on a Hardbody’

In Oakland University School of Music, Theatre and Dance’s latest production, Hands on Hardbody, ten hard-luck Texans, armed with nothing but hope, humor and ambition, fight to keep at least one hand on a brand-new truck in order to win it. Based on true events and a 1997 documentary of the same name, the New York Times said, “You can hear America singing,” in the show’s country-rock melodies and soulful lyrics. We want to send two people to enjoy this musical production. Tell us: … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Motives Abound in Avon Players’ ‘Dial M for Murder’

Fear. Jealousy. Money. Revenge. Protecting someone you love. When it comes to murder, these are the five examples Max Haliday (Chris Stepnitz) gives as justifiable motives. And each one plays a pivotal role in Avon Players’ latest production, Dial M for Murder. In many ways, Haliday is the smartest character on the stage—even if he’s not always aware of that fact. His job as an American television crime writer gives his imagination access into the deepest corners of human nature. And this … [Read more...]

REVIEW: There’s Nothing Fake About How Funny You’ll Find ‘The School for Scandal’

Fakes news. Slanderous accusations. Alternative facts. Playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan originally wrote The School for Scandal in the 18th century about pretentious London society. However, its tenets still ring true today in our tech-saturated 21st century as the Oakland University School of Music, Theatre and Dance’s latest production proves. Director David Gram deftly guides his actors through the quirks and intricacies of this biting comedy, which blends together the specific time … [Read more...]

REVIEW: ‘Boeing, Boeing’ Takes Humor to New Heights

I must confess I wasn’t familiar with this play, but rather the 1965 film which starred Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis in the lead roles. Thankfully, Avon Players Theatre president John (JD) Deierlein set me straight that the play (1960) is what inspired the movie. But even if neither version was on your radar, you’ll definitely want to buckle up for Avon Players’ take on this riotous romp. Set in 1965, Boeing, Boeing is a French farce, which means there is an abundance of misdirection, … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Enjoy a DysFUNctional Evening with the Avon Players’ ‘A Christmas Story’

‘Tis the season for holiday favorites. Many are familiar with, and love the movie A Christmas Story. But did you know when the film was released in 1983, it didn’t make much of a splash? However, over the years, gathering the family around the television to cheer on Ralphie as he schemes and dreams for a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and a sundial, has become as highly anticipated as a visit from Santa Claus. This weekend, Avon Players joined … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Storms and Soul-Searching Set the Stage for ‘Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet’

In case you missed it, this summer the Oakland University Board of Trustees promoted Music, Theatre and Dance from department to school status. With the new distinction, OU hopes to attract high-caliber talent to their programs. The good news is we don’t have to wait for results because the Theatre Department already is teeming with amazing talent as the cast of Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet proves. Set in the fictional town of San Pere during a hot Louisiana summer, the play focuses around … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Avon Players Christens Their 2017-2018 Season with ‘Titanic: The Musical’

Over a hundred years after the RMS Titanic’s fateful voyage, its story still resonates with audiences. Wait a minute. Arguably the worst maritime disaster in history … as a musical? Yes. But if you’re expecting something overly sentimental, or along the lines of the 1997 movie, you’ll be disappointed. And that’s a good thing. Instead this play focuses more on the human experience of its passengers through two attitudes: hubris and hope. Hubris rears its ugly head early on in the form … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Join ‘The Addams Family’ for an Evening of Laughs

Avon Players began their 2016-2017 season with the musical drama Assassins and ends it on another high note with The Addams Family, a New Musical Comedy. That’s right. The Addams Family as a… musical. I was skeptical at first. What sorts of songs would be used—different variations of the theme song? Admittedly, I knew nothing about the play other than theatre legends Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane originated the roles of Morticia and Gomez Addams on Broadway. So, as I joined the rest of the … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Oakland University’s ‘A Chorus Line’ Hits the Mark with Hope, Heart, and High Kicks

When I first learned the next production from the Oakland University Department of Music, Theatre and Dance would be A Chorus Line, my interest was piqued. Since the Varner Studio Theatre is such an intimate setting, I was curious to see how they were going to pull off such an ambitious piece of American musical theatre. The answer? Sensationally! Upon entering the Theatre, you can’t help but be struck by the massive size of the stage. The usual side stage seating is gone, which creates a … [Read more...]