Welcome to [art]seen!

Our [art]seen bloggers are University of Michigan students who review arts events on and near campus, sharing their thoughts and experiences on live music, film screenings, dance performances, theatre productions and art exhibitions. Take a look back at some of our most memorable reviews of arts events this past year by clicking on the Year in Review(s) 2023 tag. See what our bloggers went to and read what they thought!

If you’re a U-M student interested in becoming a regular blogger, there may be a position available to get paid for your writing! Read more about Blogging Opportunities here… We review applications and hire twice a year, in September and January.
Email us at arts@umich.edu with any questions.

REVIEW: Stop Kiss

Rude Mechanicals completes their 2023-24 season with the 1999 play by Diana Son, Stop Kiss. Seeing this play was a new experience for me, and quite a beautiful one.

Set from Stop Kiss in the Arthur Miller Theater.

The play follows two young women, Callie (Emilia Vizachero) and Sara (Victoria Vourkoutiotis), who meet in New York City and begin to have feelings for one another. One evening, they share a kiss in the West Village, and it results in a terrible hate crime leaving Sara with a life-altering injury. The play follows a non-linear storyline, jumping from Sara and Callie’s first interaction to weeks after the attack.


I am not cultured on much queer theater, so I haven’t been exposed to many pieces where characters are actively discovering their sexual identity during the show—rather many pieces I’ve encountered have characters come in with their sexuality seemingly decided. I enjoyed this piece’s honest and sincere exploration of queerness.

I was immediately struck by Audrey Tieman’s beautiful onstage set when I walked into the Arthur Miller. It brought me directly into the moment of the show with an ornate pink apartment—the 1990s, young, and within a metropolitan city. The major part of the set was far upstage, juxtaposing the thrust space. This left the apartment scenes feeling more presentational than personal, counteracting the intimacy of a thrust. All of the scenes outside the apartment were on the thrust, such as the detective’s office or moments when characters were strolling through the streets of New York City. An interesting choice, that sometimes led me out of the detail of the world that was created in the embellished apartment set.

Emilia Vizachero and Adam Rogers delivered individually exquisite performances. Rogers is effortlessly charming as Callie’s undefined partner, George, and Vizachero brilliantly leads us through a journey of Callie’s many complex emotions over two timelines—one I would be happy to experience again. Vourkoutiotis also played a sweet and gentle Sara, with wholesome chemistry alongside a witty Vizachero.


Emilia Vizachero as Callie.

Direction (by Reese Leif) was cohesive and thorough. Scenes and dramatic moments felt naturally paced, at times skimming on hyper-realism, making the play’s brutal contrast of content duly apparent to the audience.


The illuminating kiss that closes the play leaves a fully realized portrait of Callie and Sara’s relationship. This perfectly placed scene becomes charged over the duration of the play due to the revelations about what lies behind and ahead of these beloved characters. It was an unforgettable (and titular) moment of the piece, yet left my heart aching for the two women.



Leo Kupferberg (a fabulous and frequent SMTD Dramaturg) made a beautiful point in his dramaturgy note about the “in-between” of the piece, which I left the theater pondering. This show revels in the lack of certainty, unwavering bravery, and messiness many women navigate through. Stop Kiss can feel limited to its darkness and crucial messaging of the tumultuous experiences of many LGBTQ+ relationships, but Leif brings out the beauty in such darkness, reminding us that love always prevails.






April 20th, 8pm. Arthur Miller Theater. Images thanks to @umrudes on Instagram.

REVIEW: Blind Pig Comedy

This past Monday, I attended the weekly Blind Pig Comedy Night, a stand-up open mic that serves as a consistent place for up-and-coming Michigander comedians to try out material and secure performance time. Located on South 1st Street, The Bling Pig is a popular bar and artistic venue that frequently hosts artists of all mediums. 

While some events only require attendees to be 18+, Bling Pig Comedy Night requires their audience to be 21 years of age or older. As a recent 21-year-old, I was excited to take the opportunity to engage with more stand-up comedy in the Ann Arbor area. Earlier this semester, I attended a somewhat underwhelming and slightly awkward show at Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, and the Blind Pig piqued my interest by providing a second chance for the downtown comedy scene. 

Upon arriving at the Blind Pig several minutes after the first comedian’s set began, I was surprised to see the minuteness of the crowd, although in hindsight I’m unsure why I anticipated a large crowd at 8:30 p.m. on a Monday. Grouped at high-top tables the audience was small but engaged – I was certainly the youngest attendee, and I predict the majority of audience members were in their thirties and forties. 

Each comedian’s set catered to the generational makeup of the audience. While I understood every pop culture reference and joke about taxes, I didn’t find any of the sets particularly funny or entertaining. I did not attend this event anticipating Second-City-level performances, but I was slightly disappointed by my lack of enjoyment at the Blind Pig. I simply don’t think these comedians are for me; while they did elicit some giggles from older audience members, the energy of the crowd that night was by no means raucous or terribly dynamic. 

My biggest gripe with the performances at this open mic was the heavy reliance on juvenile sexual jokes. While I will not get too specific or graphic in describing these, the frequency with which each comedian, regardless of gender, relied on making highly sexualized comments about women’s bodies was disappointing. It was clear that each comedian was attempting to evoke a shocked reaction from the audience members with these crass and overplayed jokes, but this hardly worked. I was also surprised at the frequency with which the comedians cracked jokes at the expense of the LGBTQ+ community – some tasteful, some not. It appeared as though each performer felt some sort of obligation to lean on jokes about sex or the queer community when all else failed. 

While the content of the stand-up sets was not my favorite, I did really appreciate the environment that The Blind Pig created for both its audience and performers. The energy of the room was very tight-knit and conversational, and it’s clear that the venue succeeded at creating a casual space for comedians to test out material and audiences to unwind after a long day at work. The staff was kind, the drink affordable, and the audience warm, which provided an overall pleasant experience. 

While my quest for laughter on a Monday night following the completion of my finals was not quite fulfilled, I still enjoyed my time at the Blind Pig Comedy Night. Although I may not attend this specific event again, I look forward to attending more artistic happenings at this venue in the future.

REVIEW: Spy x Family Code: White

Spy x Family is one of my favorite anime, so I was super excited when I heard there’s a movie, especially since the end of the last season felt incomplete. Spy x Family is a comedy anime that follows the daily life of the Forger family. As the agency’s most talented spy, Loid Forger is tasked with Operation Strix: a high-risk mission that requires him to form a fake family to maintain world peace. He marries Yor Forger, unknowing that she’s a top-tier assassin, and adopts Anya Forger, a telepath.

In the new movie, Spy x Family Code: White, Loid is told by his superior that mission Operation Strix is to be transferred to a new agent, meaning that the Forger family is no longer needed. To stay in charge of Operation Strix, Loid must prove that he and his fake family are the most fitting for the role. The movie isn’t written by the author of Spy x Family, Tatsuya Endo; I didn’t know this beforehand, but it became obvious halfway through. While Loid and Yor didn’t seem any different, Anya’s shift in personality is what gave it away. I think the out-of-characterness was a tool to be more humorous but at some times it was too much. To be completely honest, it lacked the same charm the anime has in terms of storytelling and plot. The creators did a good job setting it up in the beginning, but in the homestretch, it became rushed and had some unexpected (not necessarily in a good way) twists.

It’s possible to watch the movie without having seen the anime, but it would help. I’d recommend watching the anime over watching the movie, which feels more like a fun addition rather than an essential story. I still had a lot of fun watching it though

REVIEW: Greenwood Sessions – The Showcase



Greenwood Sessions is a cover band composed of UofM students who specialize primarily in OPM or Original Pinoy Music. While a niche, OPM is one of my favorite genres of music, mostly due to my half Filipino identity, and huge in the Philippines (of course since pinoy refers to someone from the Philippines). What this means is that you know that Greenwood is a group with a deep love for the music that they perform, something made obvious in their showcase. With their swaths of adoring fans (me very much included, love ya guys), the experience in the audience listening to their renditions of Filipinx/Filipinx American artists’ songs was adoringly fun.

The start of Act I came out with two of my favorite OPM songs, “Come Inside of my Heart” by IV of Spades and “Raining in Manila” by Lola Amour. Each instrument is showcased with intense skill and harmony with each other with these two songs, and one thing I have to highlight about “Come Inside of my Heart” is the guitar solo which resonated within my very being. While “Raining in Manila” has become a constant mainstay of Greenwood’s setlist, it by no means lessens the performative value of it, as the Taglish song gets better with each iteration.

Though, right after the intermission was my favorite moment of the night. Getting right back into it, the boys (+ Angeli) showcased their vocal skills with the most streamed OPM song of 2023 on Spotify, “Pasilyo” by SunKissed Lola. “Pasilyo”, meaning “aisle” (especially one that leads to a wedding altar, has a chorus that can only be described as magnificent. As they reached the amazing “ikaw at ikaw” (meaning you and you, which, since it references a wedding altar, is like the officiator declaring two people’s love), everyone in the audience held up green hearts holding the iconic lyrics with their phone flashlights out. simply great.

Anyhow, I can go on and on about how amazing this group is and why you should support them, but if I *have* to conclude, I absolutely have to provide shoutout to all the performers in Greenwood:

Angelica Alpas, Mateo Gonzales, Ashton Nunez, Catrina Cagalawan, Rafael Esteva, Angeli Fandino, and Andrew Ramirez you guys are all amazing performers (and multi-instumentalists what???). Congratulations on an amazing show, I can’t wait for your next performances, and when are you hosting your next open jam-session??

REVIEW: The Cherry Orchard

Nothing screams “Chekhov” like a three-hour play about family drama—and The Cherry Orchard is full of it.

The Department of Theater and Drama recently wrapped up its two-week run of The Cherry Orchard, directed by Associate Professor Daniel Cantor.

The play is about a 20th-century Russian aristocratic family facing financial ruin and losing their ancestral estate, including its titular cherry orchard. Matriarch Luibóv Ranyévska and her brother Leoníd Gáyev own the estate from their youth and have fond memories of the property. Ranyévska has two children, the free-spirited Ánya and the careful Várya. Two neighborly businessmen (Borís Semyónov-Pishik and Yermolái Lopákhin) are attempting to convince the family to cut down their beloved cherry orchard for land to maintain the finances to keep their estate. The family does not take to their counsel, tumbling into the inevitable fate of the property. The play explores the turn-of-the-century social and economic transitions in the waning aristocratic era of Russia within a little family out in the country.

The original 1903 book was written in Russian by Anton Chekhov (Вишнёвый сад), so the production was performed from an English translation. I’m not sure I was particularly fond of the translation—at times, the dialogue felt watered down from the complexity and nuance I know from Chekhov’s careful character-building.

An air of nostalgia cut through the direction quite masterfully. I felt sentimental with Ms. Ranyévska and her brother Mr. Gáyev, the estate’s owners, however, the predictable fate of the home and relationships between the family and businessmen were not as intriguing to me. I craved more of a ping-pong-like drama between the businessmen and the family, leaving the plot a little flat. The drama perhaps could have gotten lost because of the aforementioned translation or the length of the nearly three-hour endeavor to arrive at the fate of their beloved estate.

The movement and musical aspects of this play caught my attention significantly. Music & Live Sound Coordination (perhaps arranged or written?) was by Hayden Steiner and Raymond Ocasio. There was a small band that performed on-stage with the actors. I loved the soundscape and chosen instrumentation for the show—some solo moments, such as a clarinet to represent youth, and a single violin for perhaps a more sentimental yearning for the past.  There were larger arrangements, for example during Ms.Ranyévska’s party held at the estate with the band in all-white clown costumes (not sure what this was referencing, if anything). Choreography and movement was handled by Drey’von Simmons, a first-year musical theater student. I thought the movement created interesting stage pictures and was thoughtfully placed in the show.

Though I struggled with the lack of motivation in the plot, the performances by the actors were overwhelmingly good. Luibóv Ranyévska was played by a stunning Kaylin Gines alongside her brother Leoníd Gáyev as Jaylen Steudle. These two captivated my attention constantly—they deeply embodied the lack of acceptance from their declining fortunes and especially from Gines, an inability to embrace change. They playfully managed their character’s see-sawing emotions from euphoria to deep anguish. I equally enjoyed the disheveled butler, Firs (Sam Hopkins). Firs is an elderly servant who represents the fading aristocratic era, and while devoted to the family, is left behind at the end, tragically forgotten in the chaos of the family’s departure. Hopkins (an apparent college student) nailed the physicality of someone three to four times his age—physically and vocally. I enjoyed his sentimental presence, and I thought a profound way to end the play with his death in the empty house.



April 13th, 8pm. Arthur Miller Theater. Images thanks to @umichtheatre on Instagram.

REVIEW: A Little Night Music

A Little Night Music, based off of the movie Smiles of a Summer Night, was an exciting and jaw-dropping musical full of plot twists and shocking revelations that uses humor, song, and dance to portray infidelity as a romantic comedy. Set in 1900 Sweden, the story revolves around a messy love web between a lawyer, Fredrik Egerman; Fredrik’s wife, Anne; a famous traveling actress, Desirée Armfeldt; Desirée’s lover, Count Carl-Magnus Malcom; and the Count’s wife, Charlotte.

The drama between the characters shows the darker side of romance in a sarcastically endearing way. The men are ungrateful towards their partners but down bad for Desirée, which is what generates the jealousy that pushes the plot forward in unexpected ways. The entire time I was on the edge of my seat, uncertain where the story was taking me. The ending was bizarre yet satisfying: happy yet bittersweet. Afterwards, I had a lot of fun talking to my friend about all of the twists and turns in A Little Night Music, which for me is what set it apart from the other musicals I’ve watched. It was a story completely different from what I expected when reading the description of the plot online.

The students really brought this show to life; their voices perfectly replicated the classic European noble accent. The wardrobe was gorgeous, particularly Desirée’s deep red dress and Charlotte’s dark blue dress, a contrast that hints at their differences and heavy animosity. I was also very impressed by the live playing of the cello and piano on stage, as it was my first time seeing instruments played on stage by the actors and not by the musicians in the pit orchestra. Especially the student who portrayed Fredrik’s son, Henrik, who played the cello with a very good tone and vibrato. 

My favorite song would be “Send in the Clowns,” sung by Desirée as she discovers that love doesn’t always go as predicted. The lyrics were relatable and the emotion in her voice mirrors lots of the experiences people face in romance today. This is the last musical I’ll see this semester and was a fun one to review. If you’re looking for something to betray your expectations, then A Little Night Music is for you!