I said goodbye to Michigan State’s theater program five years ago. I quit acting and designing costumes, except for a final tour of a children’s show that allowed me to get my minor. I never thought that when I moved to New York, I’d end up working on shows, let alone one that was so incredible. It has been a taxing but very rewarding experience.
Just some of the amazing press we received, if you’re not already convinced:
“The American Play part of the New York International Fringe Festival takes audience expectation wraps it up in beautiful and innovative stage pictures, adds in a twist of horrendous tragedy, and then lands you exactly where you know you’re going but don’t want to be.” –Times Square Chronicles
“The American Play is honest and frightening because of how recognizable these college students are, influenced by consumerism, media, and the desire to belong.” –StageBuddy
“It’s very possible to say that The American Play was perfectly cast. The three young actors that comprised this play fit their roles to a t.” –Theater in the Now
For the past four weeks, I’ve spent most of my spare time working on the production of Hallowed Ground, an exploration of text, produced by The Dirty Blondes. This is the second production I’ve done with The Dirty Blondes, first being a 24 hour festival, Deadline.
Before I discovered Professional Writing or even thought about a career as a web developer, I was sure I would be working in the theater. I acted in plays and musicals through high school and college; I single-handedly costumed Michigan State’s opera for a production of Susannah; I helped stage manage a rather elaborate production of Tommy the Rock Opera. After signing up for two many events and working with a few rather difficult directors, I took a break from the stage. My last production was acting in Reefer Madness in January 2010, and I finally took a breath.
Funfact: I spent my first year and a half at Michigan State University as a Theater major. I had come in thinking that I either wanted to be a performer or work in costume design for the rest of my life. This changed when I discovered Professional Writing (and met Professor Danielle DeVoss), but more about that later. In my time in Theater, I learned a lot about what we have to offer at MSU as far as live entertainment.
Every semester, the Theater Department puts on at least three major plays. In my time here, they’ve had The Wizard of Oz, the Rocky Horror Show (for which I was the Costume Crew Head), Hedda Gabbler, Tommy: The Rock Opera, Love’s Labours Lost (for those Shakespeare fans), and other plays and musicals you may or may not have heard of. In addition, there are also smaller shows put on entirely by students; in January of 2010, we put on Reefer Madness, with the help of grants and a completely student run production. These tickets cost anywhere from free to $16, but you often get to see shows that have wonderful quality. They are presented in the Auditorium or at the Wharton Center, depending on what the department rents out for the show.
The Wharton Center is another entertainment venue on campus. They actually own not only the center itself, but the Auditorium and the Fairchild theater. Several Broadway tours come through every year; this year, Jersey Boys, Les Miserables, West Side Story, Seussical, and Wicked will be coming to the Wharton. In addition, many major concerts and other events are held in their theaters. Check out their website in order to see show dates, and buy tickets online.
For less expensive options, try your hand at community theater! Riverwalk Theater is located in downtown Lansing, about a fifteen minute drive from campus. It’s also possible to hop the CATA 1 bus to Lansing and walk. They are a local community theater who puts on several shows every season. In addition, they often have student actors from MSU take part in their productions. Check out their website for more information about the 2011-2012 season.
Williamston Theater is a little more difficult to get to, but has a wonderful season lined up. They are also a local community theater that often uses actors from MSU. They just announced their next season, featuring The Understudy by Theresa Rebeck and directed by MSU Professor Rob Roznowski. They have a wonderful tie with MSU and Director Tony Caselli has come to direct several shows at MSU, including Hedda Gabbler in the spring of 2009. Their smaller stage creates an intimate view of the actors and audience, so much so that you feel you are actually a part of the show. Check out their website for more.
A lesser known theater group is the Peppermint Creek Theatre Company which performs at the Creole Gallery in Old Town Lansing. They have put on stellar performances, with very few actors in a limited space. I’ve had the pleasure to see just one performance, but I look forward to seeing more in the future. Read about their season on their site or buy tickets!
Finally, the Stormfield Theater is located in the Frandor Shopping Center, a short ride from the MSU campus on the CATA 1 bus. I have never actually been to this theater, but if they’re anything like other Lansing community theaters… they’re going to have some serious talent. Check out their siteand read about their upcoming shows.
In addition, Lansing’s City Pulse has an annual Pulsar Awards show where they nominate performers of all ages and give awards to the best shows in the area. Last season’s awards have been given out, but who knows who will be up for grabs next year!
My next blog will talk about Downtown East Lansing, and what you can do in walking distance of campus.
Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at @DesignLightning with any follow up questions or conversation.