PREVIEW: The Importance of Being Earnest

**Photo from the Ann Arbor District Library blog

What: Oscar Wilde’s classic “trivial comedy for serious people,” performed by students in the Department of Musical Theatre


  • February 17, 2023 8:00PM
  • February 18, 2023 8:00PM
  • February 19, 2023 2:00PM

Where: Arthur Miller Theater (map)

Tickets: $13 for students, $23.50 regular

I love The Importance of Being Earnest, a comedy of manners by Oscar Wilde. One of my favorite memories from high school involved myself and my classmates, many of whom were friends from drama club, reading the play in turns during English. I struggled to describe the story in a nutshell myself, so I’ll quote a fan-blog from 2015 which describes it as “the story of two bachelors, John ‘Jack’ Worthing and Algernon ‘Algy’ Moncrieff, who create alter egos named Ernest to escape their tiresome lives. They attempt to win the hearts of two women who, conveniently, claim to only love men called Ernest” (source). I am super excited to see the work interpreted by the Department of Musical Theatre (although the play is decidedly not a musical, so I’m curious what the reasoning was there), and how they have shaped it to fit the in-the-round style of the Arthur Miller Theater. On a more serious note, laughter can be a strong form of self-care, and after this long and sad week, I highly recommend this show to anyone who feels it might help them recover.



The Department of Musical Theatre’s production of Hair was two and a half hours of some of the highest-caliber performance I have ever seen. The revolutionary “tribal love-rock musical” Hair is a powerhouse of a musical, anti-war and counterculture sentiment in its bones, filled with unapologetic depictions of drug use, sexuality, and even nudity. 

As an audience member, I was enthralled from the first moment all the way until the end. Every moment of the performance was perfectly crafted, the movement on the stage always dynamic and exciting. Each vocal performance was special in its own right, and I found myself with chills from the power of the cast’s collective voices multiple times, especially in the compelling final reprise, “Let the Sunshine In.” It’s hard to pick a favorite moment, but one fun visual that stood out to me was the song “Air,” performed flawlessly by Maggie Kuntz as Jeanie, while members of the Hair Tribe surrounded her with a cloud of bubbles from bubble guns. The majority of the second act, which centers on the visions of Claude’s hallucinogenic trip, was a stunning showcase of choreography, costuming, and striking lighting design. 

A flyer for the in-show Be-In, handed out during the performance

Hair, in my opinion, is an important musical. The director’s note at the beginning of the program asks audience members to consider, in response to questions about the “shocking” nature of the show, why the language and brief nudity on stage draws more attention and challenge than the thought of sending young people to war. Hair asks us to reconsider what we are told is “normal.” The Department of Musical Theatre worked in collaboration with a cultural sensitivity specialist, an intimacy director, and other experts to create this show, building an understanding of the musical and the topics it tackles, connecting it to today’s context and conversations.

My only wish is that I could have seen this more than once. This was an incredible last musical to see at the University of Michigan as a student supporting my peers. I could not be filled with more love for live theatre and the incredible talent and energy in the student productions here at this university.


Read more about SMTD’s production process for Hair in this Michigan Muse article.

REVIEW: Sweet Charity

The music by Cy Coleman burst out of the pit of the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater with grand flair and style. Dance hall hostess Charity made her way onto the stage, dancing her little dance with a sweet fashion that becomes characteristic of her personality throughout the 1960s musical appropriately named Sweet Charity.

Nevada Koenig portrayed that sweetness and purity in Charity beautifully with an unbridled and unlimited amount of excitement and belief in the greatness in people. With “big” dreams for her life, Charity’s aspirations can be viewed as naively sweet, which makes the heartbreak she experiences over and over that much more painful to watch.

Charity comes across film star Vittorio Vidal for a night to remember, and Blake Bojewski gave the audience a song to remember as his majestic voice floated through the air in his showstopping number, “Too Many Tomorrows.” As Charity laments about greatness and love, the fickle finger of fate finally falls in her favor during the hilarious elevator scene with Oscar, played by Lake Wilburn who captured the panic with excellent comedic acting and accurately showed Oscar’s personality as a timid guy stuck in his own head.

Sweet Charity is basically a romantic comedy musical with a small dance show in the middle of the first act. The dance number for “Rich Man’s Frug” was spectacular in every sense. It actually felt like a real dance show and I never wanted it to end. Again, the ensemble brought the energy to the stage as the Rhythm of Life Church, which indeed is a powerful beat.

While Charity may not have purity in the purest sense, she still possessed a purity that is rare in the world today: she believed in the best of people and in the best of the future, and that is a sweet purity that is hard to come by.

Overall, Sweet Charity was a wonderful production by the Department of Musical Theatre in every aspect, from the costumes to the pit orchestra to the set designs to the acting to the choreography to the singing. Though I am not a huge romcom fan, I enjoyed this musical and its message of pure bliss and hope greatly, particularly because of the phenomenal orchestra and cast that made Sweet Charity that much sweeter.