PREVIEW: The Moth GrandSLAM Championship

One of the most original forms of art, storytelling is a tradition that never dies. The spoken word can express sorrow, hardships, humor, and triumph. There is nothing more raw than an individual standing on a stage, crafting words in a way that transforms their past into the present. The Moth Podcasts never fail to entertain me and touch my soul, and now, I finally get to experience these performances live.

The Moth GrandSLAM is taking place on September 26 at 8pm. It is the final culmination of the best of the best stories in Ann Arbor as stories come alive at The Ark. Join me at the intimate local venue where we will be taken on many different and wonderful journeys in one single night.

REVIEW: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Fifty years ago, the cinematic masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered. With its technological realism, scientifically accurate depiction of spaceflight, and innovative special effects, the 1968 science-fiction work became one of the most important artistic works of the 20th century. 2001: A Space Odyssey embodies the bold and creativity, serving as a spark of inspiration for many engineers, just as much today as fifty years ago. To celebrate the memorable anniversary of the movie, UMS teamed up with Michigan Engineering, Musica Sarca, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to bring a live multi-media presentation of this daring movie.

This was my first time watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, so I enjoyed watching this classic movie in the Hill Auditorium. However, just like most of the other people that came, we were there for the live accompaniment of the iconic soundtrack. The movie evokes the sublime on its own, but the live music of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra takes the experience to a whole new level. The sweeping classical music that the movie is characteristically know for filled the auditorium, and it brought the nonverbal experience of the movie to new heights.

From the majestic opening of Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra to Johann Strauss II’s intricate The Blue Danube, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra set the mood in the Hill with every dramatic note and every spinning waltz. Maestro Robert Ziegler perfected the timing, ensuring that the soundtrack was brought to life alongside the movie.

Musica Sacra performed the sustained dissonant chords that slowly shifted over time during long space or slow action shots. Under the direction of music director Kent Tritle, the choral accompaniment added to the sense of wonder and suspense that enraptured your attention during the space scenes. With the chorus and the orchestra on the stage throughout the movie, everyone in the Hill Auditorium was able to experience this legendary movie in a breathtaking new light.

PREVIEW: 2001: A Space Odyssey

For the 50th anniversary of the release of Stanley Kubrick’s classic movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”, the University Music Society along with Michigan Engineering are co-presenting the groundbreaking film in a special viewing. This free event will feature live orchestral and choral accompaniment by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for a one-of-a-kind experience at Hill Auditorium on Friday, September 21 st 8pm. Registration for the event is currently full, but general admission will open at 7:40pm to people without a ticket on a first come, first serve basis, so it’s not too late to attend this out-of-this-world showing of one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time.

REVIEW: Second City

Political comedy, improv brilliance, snippet skits, raunchy humor. Second City made The Ark erupt with laughter as they brought their impromptu comedy skills from Chicago to Ann Arbor.

Comedy is a great outlet for political commentary, and Second City had some fun with that with their skit involving a board game called Privilege, a mini scene involving Trump, and another skit of a talk game show called We’re Not Talking About That.

From a lesbian on an airplane to the Bass Man to a little boy and a potential step-father, from a game of Two Truths and a Lie to three bros teeing off to drama driver’s ed class, some of the skits were hit or miss, but they all elicited laughter and/or groans. A few easter eggs carried their way through the different skits, which strengthened the humor of the night. The few musical numbers were pleasant, especially the “I Cry” song that was particularly relatable.

Second City’s improv comedy was also on point. They played the classic improv game where two actors borrowed two phones from the audience and could only use texts as their lines. Their different quick, improvised scenes were also quick and witty. For being in Ann Arbor for only three hours, the Second City troupe caught on fast with the lingo and native culture of the city, except for a slip calling Zingerman’s a sub shop.

With the help of three audience members, Kim Kardashian and Matthew McConaughey star in the action rom-com film with a twist of sci-fi, Walking Chairs at Midnight. The cast later put on the trailer to this original movie after intermission, and I appreciated the fact that they brought that back and didn’t just leave it hanging after the audience participation.

Second City ended their show with some final improv. They definitely made being funny seem easy, but as they emphasized at the very end as they plugged their classes, it’s actually very hard and requires a lot of work. However, Second City did a great job of providing a night of carefree entertainment and quality comedy.

PREVIEW: Second City

For all the comedy and improv lovers out there, Second City is coming to The Ark again this year, guaranteeing a night filled with quick wit and hearty laughter. As the first ever on-going improvisational theater troupe based in Chicago in 1959, the Second City enterprise continues to produce high quality, satirical sketches with its cutting edge artists on tour. With notable alumni like Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Stephen Colbert, come out to The Ark on September 14 or 15 at 8pm to watch the next comedic hit. Tickets can be purchased at

REVIEW: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Two men con their way into the heart of women to get money and jewelry and great big stuff. The French Riviera has been brought to Michigan with Ann Arbor Civic Theatre’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

A2CT’s production included impressive props, set designs, and scene changes, with the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater providing vibrant color backgrounds. The French accents were sometimes hard to understand, and it was difficult hearing the lines over the pit at times. For the most part, the choreography was rather simple, but the vocal performance made up for it. The orchestra rocked the French jazz musical score that David Yazbek, who just won the Tony Award for The Band’s Visit, wrote, which stylistically added to the comedic vibe of the entire musical.

Dominic Seipenko dominated the stage as Freddy/Ruprecht, embodying the crass character greatly in his grand numbers “Great Big Stuff” and “All About Ruprecht.” He owned the role of the sleazy pupil in every moment. “Oklahoma” was stereotypically Southern, but it fit the comedic edge of the musical. Christine, portrayed by Hannah Sparrow, brings a glimmer of hope into the world with her beautiful performance of “Nothing is Too Wonderful to be True.” Though a microphone difficulty interrupted the reveal of the biggest scam in the musical, it was easy to figure out what happened (if you hadn’t called it already), and the ever-changing chemistry between the con artists onstage was certainly appealing.

Overall, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a fun show, and it looked like the cast had a fun time performing. The highlight was definitely Seipenko’s performance, who brought life to the stage and delivered his role perfectly. The audience seemed to love it, particularly among the older crowd, even receiving a couple standing ovations at the end. Now, I have to watch the 1988 comedy film to see where it all originated from.