PREVIEW: Lizzie Hutton, poetry reading

Feeling poetic? Tuesday, December 6th at 5pm, you can marvel at the talents of UM alum, Lizzie Hutton. I heard about this event because I’m on the mailing list for the English Dept. stuff, being an English major, and it is part of the Zell Visiting Writers Series. I went to the Ghost Writers one, a seminar that they are actually bringing back next week I think, and that was really interesting and slightly spooky (if you’re into that, definitely attend). I’m excited to go to another one in this series considering how entertained I was by the Ghost Writers event. As an aspiring writer, these events are of course appealing, but even if you just enjoy good theatre, good stories, or in this case poetry, I suppose, definitely consider going. Since you hear the story/poem from the mouth of the author who wrote it, you really get swept up in the emotion that was intended by the author. I look forward to hearing Lizzie Hutton read some of her works for this same reason.

The e-mail I received as part of this Zell Series subscription says, “[Hutton’s] poetry has appeared in the Harvard Review, Yale Review, and Antioch Review…in 2009 she won the Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize in poetry.” Along with that prize and other awards mentioned, Hutton has proven herself as someone worthy of notability in the literary world.

So, Tuesday, Dec. 6th at 5pm in 3222 Angell Hall, come and check out Lizzie Hutton for FREE! Hope to see you there!

PREVIEW: Basement Arts and The Spectrum Center present BARE

Sponsored by World AIDS Week, Basement Arts presents “BARE: A Pop Opera.” I’ve heard so many great things about this show, and I’m so excited to finally get a chance to see it. And it’s FREE! Basements Arts with support from The Spectrum Center is putting on this sure-to-be-stellar musical at the Walgreen Drama Center on North Campus, Studio One. UM Events website says, “A group of high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school faces issues of sexuality and personal identity…they struggle to come to terms with who they are, and who the world thinks they should be…” (UM events). It is sure to be a fantastic event; especially since the other event I went to sponsored by the Spectrum Center was absolutely amazing. I don’t think we will be disappointed.

The performances of “BARE” run December 1st 7pm-9pm, Dec. 2nd 7pm-9pm and 11pm, and Dec. 3rd 7pm-9pm. Attending is free and more information regarding World AIDS week can be found at their website:

Hope you can make it!

REVIEW: Musket’s Cabaret

Upon attending Musket’s production of Caberet Saturday night, I had no idea what to expect. I knew the title song “Caberet” from an old recording I have on a Broadway Classics CD I bought at a used bookstore. I always thought it was cheerful and upbeat, and, logically, I presumed the musical itself would be just as light, fun, and energetic as the title song I knew it by.

Umm…not quite.

Caberet tells the story of Berlin at a dangerously turbulent time in Germany, directly before Hitler comes into power. It is a heart-wrenching story with multiple layers enshrouded by the rising influence of the Hitler youth. Two of the plot lines include an affair between an American writer and a British dancer and a tentative engagement between a landlady and one of her Jewish residents. It is the most moving and thought-provoking musical I’ve seen since Spring Awakening (a musical about teenagers trying to handle the new changes in their minds and bodies; also set in Germany, coincidentally).

The star of the evening was by far Connor Ryan, a sophomore Musical Theatre major, playing his “dream role” as Emcee. If you’ve never seen Cabaret before, Emcee is the caricatured narrator who directs the audience as the story unfolds. Ryan’s body language, expressions, and singing voice, of course, were positively magnificent. My friends and I were heatedly discussing the show afterwards, and we realized that there were times when Emcee would say something like “Life is beautiful,” but you’d know he didn’t really believe that. We were left wondering – how do we know he doesn’t think that? It was possibly the best role played by a student performer that I’ve ever seen.

That’s the other crazy part of this performance: it was entirely student directed and performed! Even the music director is only a junior Musical Theatre major! Musket is a student-run organization and their performances are always amazing. Last year, I had the opportunity to see both of their musicals (they do two a year), and they were both equally as well done. I think Caberet was the first time I’d seen them do such a deeply moving show, and they pulled it off with the ease of a professional theatre company.

After the performance, I went back to my room and was reading through the director’s note in the program. I think he sums up the essence of the musical quite well. I hope all of you get a chance to see Caberet performed because it is truly a remarkable show:

“With Cabaret, you get a chance to see how human beings survive in an increasingly evil, decadent society. It serves as a warning to those who would rather sleep in a dream of complacency, ignorant to the injustice around them and helpless to the powers above them instead of face their demons head on and do their part to make a change before it is too late.” – Roman Micevic, Director’s Note

REVIEW: Broadway Comes Home

Our Women’s Glee Club president snagged free tickets for a few of us to go to the “Broadway Comes Home” concert Friday night, featuring Michigan alumni that have made it on Broadway. All I had to hear was Broadway, Gavin Creel, and free to nearly tackle our president, Allison, for a ticket to the show.

Rackham was lit up pink for the “walk the pink carpet” theme of the event. Fabulously dressed men took our pictures as we filed in and awkwardly avoided their lenses. Allison said it was formal attire required, so I felt especially classy in my slacks, boot, lacey top, and pearls. A man seated behind me was slightly classier, however, rocking a cocktail dress, heels, and sequined purse.

The event was dedicated to celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Spectrum Center. The Spectrum Center is an organization on campus that actively supports the LGBTQ community in Ann Arbor, offering guidance and support in a safe and welcoming environment. Interspersed between performances, many active members in the LGBTQ community spoke about their experiences and how the Spectrum Center has influenced them. It was possibly the most inspiring part of the evening. I heard how so many people have been impacted by the Spectrum Center and motivated with the knowledge that “it gets better.” The speakers, including our past student body president Chris Armstrong, were incredibly uplifting, spreading love, strength, and pride. The messages were universal, and I doubt there was a single person in the audience who walked away uninspired.

The musical performances, as my initial reason for coming, were just as inspiring. Gavin Creel, tony-nominated Broadway star, recruited several other Michigan alumni to accompany him in performing at this event. Creel was absolutely amazing and kicked the evening off to an outstanding start with “Could Be” from West Side Story. His enthusiasm on stage was infectious. His voice was beautiful. His shining moment of the night was his concluding song, “Let the Sun Shine In” from the musical Hair he himself sang on Broadway. The freshman class of the musical theater program this year accompanied him, encircling the audience and wowing us with their powerful sound.

And Gavin Creel wasn’t even the best performer of the evening (it was a close tie between all the alumni, in my opinion)! Other returning Wolverines included Celia Keenan-Bolger, an incredibly adorable person with a beautiful voice, and Maddy Wyatt. Those two sang a song they wrote together about gay marriage that was both hilarious and powerful. Others included Daniel Reichard, who starred in Jersey Boys on Broadway and actually sang “Don’t go, Baby” from that musical while backed up by three men from the musical theater department. The other featured performer was Danny Gurwin. I know him as having played Laurie in Little Women the musical on Broadway and a few other notable roles. What’s crazy too about Gurwin is he is actually directing the Little Women production U-M is doing in December (I’ll be previewing and reviewing that performances as well – can’t wait!!). Towards the end of the evening, all these Broadway-bound alumni joined together to sing “Ordinary Miracles.” It was gorgeous and gave me serious goose bumps.

When speakers weren’t presenting or Broadway alums weren’t singing, the University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble was performing. I’d never heard them before, but they were so talented. I was blown away.

As you can probably conclude, this night marked one of the most epic performances I’ve attended all semester. So many amazing performers, speakers, and musicians – it was fantastic. I was absolutely inspired and I hope you get a chance to go to one of the Spectrum Center’s events because it is an admirable organization that deserves all the recognition it has acquired.

P.S. For more information on the Spectrum Center and the resources available there, check out their website:

PREVIEW: Arts Chorale’s Fall Concert

Do you know where you’re going to be November 22nd at 8pm? Hill Auditorium! Before you pack your bags to head home for Thanksgiving, check out this concert for FREE. Arts Chorale’s profile on the Arts at Michigan page says: “Our goal is to provide a fun and enriching environment for students who enjoy singing.” Made up of mostly non-music majors, this co-ed, musical sensation has been hard at work all semester and is eager to share their talents. Under the direction of Arian Khaefi this semester, it is sure to be an evening of fun and entertainment. You can learn more about Arts Chorale on their website:

Hope to see you all there!

REVIEW: Put on your dancing shoes and Mardi Gras beads

Friday night, my friend Emma and I hurried over to the Union to have our Arts and Eats pizza before an evening of New Orleans jazz. We were greeted with white flags and Mardi Gras beads. The Detroit Party Marching Band was going to perform before the Night in Treme, and it was tradition in New Orleans to wave white flags and wear beads while following the band. So, after eating, we stood out in the forty degree weather listening to the band play. The players were just as cold as us, but full of life and glitter. They played brilliantly, and we all clapped to the beat, waved our white handkerchiefs, and cheered along.

After the outside performance, we went into Hill Auditorium for the main event. Unable to feel my toes and sick of walking all day, I was so excited to just sit there and enjoy the concert. The Rebirth Band had other plans. Right from the beginning, we were commanded to stand and clap along. To be honest, even if you’d wanted to have sat down, the rhythm would have sprung you from your seat. The lively beats and amazingly talented performers made for an entertaining and lively performance. I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I felt like I had been there Friday night. The band members said they play “happy music,” and I think they were pleased to see, and hear from our vigorous applause, that not a single member of the audience was disappointed.

The funniest moment of the evening for me was when the concert was coming to a close, and one of the performers invited people to come and dance on stage while the band performed its final number, admitting that he “didn’t know the rules of the building.” That didn’t stop the audience, however, as many members of the audience heaved their behinds onto the stage. Stomping, clapping, and some swing dancing, the entire stage was a buzzing hive of activity. I don’t remember if I liked the final song or even how it went because I was absolutely hypnotized by all the new activity on stage. Slowly, men dressed in formal suits stepped from the shadows of backstage to guard the performers from their newly acquired fans. A few students got too close at one point and had to be ushered further away from the performers. It was completely hilariously, and, to be honest, sort of weird to see in such a formal setting as Hill.

That brings me to a critique I wanted to remember to mention after experiencing this event: the venue. I felt that the sound was so large and the energy was all encompassing; however, sitting in the balcony, I was so detached from what was happening that clapping and standing felt superficial – almost like clapping along while watching TV. I think a more intimate setting would have vastly improved my experience in the audience; but, of course, Hill’s acoustics can’t be beat, so there really wasn’t anything to complain about, sound wise. And the auditorium was positively packed, so I’m not sure if going into a smaller theater really would have been feasible anyway. Regardless of the logistics, my initial response after leaving the auditorium was that it would have been better in a smaller arena.

Overall, it was an absolutely outstanding, upbeat, inspiring jazz performance by incredibly talented musicians. I’m so glad I went, even if I was more tired from dancing than relaxed from listening after this musical experience.