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March 20, 2017: Your Arts and Culture Adventure Picks

This post is a part of a series of posts curating adventurous arts and culture experiences in Southeast Michigan. Sign up for email updates (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).


I’ve seen a lot of theatre. From grungy cabarets to Broadway smashes. As much as I love a classic musical, or Sarah Ruhl production – I grow tired of act one, fifteen minute intermission, act two, and scene. How about we spice it up a bit?

Luckily, we live in an area full of opportunity to explore unique theatre experiences. Most of these productions are devised, totally original, and may never be performed in this area again! So make sure to mark your calendars, because the next few weeks are packed with rare performances.

YKB 10th Annual Monologue Show

Rackham Auditorium | March 23

Monologues are an exciting showcase of talent. They’re usually short, and have the ability to change dramatically from performer to performer. Yoni Ki Beat (YKB) is an organization on UM’s campus aimed at raising awareness around social justice issues, especially those pertaining to South Asian women and women of color. Every year they present this monologue show where no topic is too taboo. YKB says you will laugh and cry all while supporting Mai Family Services with the proceeds from the show. Some of the monologue titles include, “I Refuse to Apologize Again,” “I Protest for You, Ma,” and “Did I stutter?” Cash only at the door.

Photo Credit: Sean Carter Photography

Photo Credit: Sean Carter Photography

Here’s to You, Here’s to Me

Location varies by date | March 23-April 2

One of my favorite things to do is grab a drink before or after a show. With Kickshaw Theatre, both the show and the drinks happen all at once! Check out this completely original 30 minute performance in bars across downtown Ann Arbor. Expect songs, dances, and communal toasts. “Once you have a glass to raise, you will take a seat. As the story unfolds, you’ll be toasting along with us,” explains director Lynn Lammers.  Check out Kickshaw Theatre’s website for specific times and accessibility information. Only 30 tickets to each performance!

Teatro Chico: [Other Americas]

Living Arts | March 25

Spoken word, live music, and clay-based-activities are not always a part of a regular theatre experience. “We are proud to have talented artists in spoken word and music speak to the immigrant experience in [Other] Americans,” said Living Arts. The clay based hands-on art activity will be hosted by Ladybug Studios. There is a suggested donation of $10, and is recommended for ages 13+. Support the voices of a diverse set of artists, and enjoy a multi-genre experience in Detroit.

Complicite-Encounter-5-by-Tristram-Kenton-x1080The Encounter

Power Center | March 30

UMS is bringing a one-man show unlike any other to Ann Arbor with Simon McBurney’s “The Encounter.” This performance retells a journey through the Amazon Rainforest and is delivered using binaural technology, or 3D audio. Everyone will get a pair of headphones for this fully immersive performance, and can enjoy a pre and post discussion with the artist. The performance was on Broadway for 3 months, and is now making its way to Ann Arbor for this 2 hour long production with no intermission. Visit UMS’s website to learn more about tickets and services for the hearing impaired.

I Have Found: A Journey Through Song with Jessica Grové

The Encore Musical Theatre Company | April 1

Cabaret is one of my favorite forms of story-telling, and rarely do we get to see a seasoned professional tackle this genre in Southeast Michigan. Encore Musical Theatre Company presents “I Have Found: A Journey Through Song with Jessica Grové” for one night only in Dexter, Michigan. This autobiographical tale tells the story of Jessica’s journey through show business, starting at the age of 14 with her Broadway rendition of Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz.” Travel 15 years through the lights on Broadway, all the way to finding love and motherhood. This is sure to make every theatre-nerd’s heart sing all the way through winter!


Thanks for reading! What awesome theatre performances are coming up that have you excited? Let me know on Twitter!

Want more information on high quality performances in the Ann Arbor area? Check out UMS on Facebook and Twitter!

Photos courtesy of artists and performance spaces.

Marissa Conniff is a UMS Blogging Fellow. Learn more about the blogging fellows program.

February 22, 2017: Your Arts and Culture Adventure Picks

This post is a part of a series of posts curating adventurous arts and culture experiences in Southeast Michigan. Sign up for email updates (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).

marissa-kurzhalls-2Over the years musicians like Brandi Carlile, Carole King, Alanis Morisette, and Andra Day have felt more like companions to me. Their music makes me feel stronger, more inspired. With these events, I was happy to find a few female musicians I had never heard of, but will surely be listening to in the future. I hope this list provides a path for more opportunities to feel influenced by strong female vocalists in honor of Women’s History Month in March.

Vanessa Carlton

The Ark | February 23

Credit: Emilia Paré

Credit: Emilia Paré

Yes, THE Vanessa Carlton is playing an intimate show at The Ark in Ann Arbor. For anyone who listened to the radio in 2002, we know her best for “A Thousand Miles”. I have seen a number of great performances at The Ark, such as Lucius and Judy Collins, and I have a feeling this will be the perfect setting for Vanessa Carlton. Her soft yet powerful voice is always accompanied by her lifelong skill for the piano. Playing since she was 2 years old, Vanessa Carlton learned piano from her mother who was a music teacher. Vanessa Carlton has continued to steadily produce catchy yet complex piano-folk songs for the last 15 years. Enjoy another female vocalist, Tristen, as the opener. She has a much more poppy sound, so it will be exciting to see how she adjusts that to the intimate space at The Ark. It is one of my favorite music venues in Ann Arbor, since you are never more than 50 feet from the stage. Tickets are still on sale!

Bettye LaVette

DIA | February 23

Bettye LaVette, a queen of soul, is performing at the Detroit Institute of Arts for an evening of high caliber entertainment in a marvelous venue. Concerts at the DIA are so magical, once the sun is down, the music brings the space even more alive. A Detroit native, Bettye LaVette, had her breakout hit in 1962 with “My Man-He’s a Lovin’.” Her voice harkens Etta James, and Aretha Franklin. Since the 60’s Bettye LaVette has been nominated for a Grammy Award and performed at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008. It’s unbelievable this performance is free of charge, because it is sure to be an evening to remember. FYI: It is still recommended to make a reservation on the DIA’s website to guarantee a seat.

Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa-624x624The Shelter | February 25

Don’t let the electronic poppy sounds of her songs fool you. Dua Lipa has serious vocal abilities. Born in London, Dua Lipa was discovered then she was 14 by posting covers of Christina Aguilera and Nelly Furtado on YouTube. She clearly has a large group of dedicated fans with 174K Twitter followers and 657K Instagram followers. Honestly, I had never heard of her before I began looking for performances by female vocalists in the area. Now I find myself downloading her music on iTunes, and getting her songs stuck in my head! The Shelter is always a great space for live music if you are looking for more of a “rock concert” feel. This should be a fun show.

Mariana Risquez

Next Wave Media Lab | March 4

Mixing Latin American music with soul, rock, and pop – Mariana Risquez’s exquisite voice transcends genres into her own unique sound. She’s working on writing and producing her own music in Michigan, and is having her debut performance at Next Wave Media Lab in Troy. When I asked her about her writing style she said, “I am inspired by the release of my emotions, love, unloving, impossible, forgiveness, betrayal, loneliness, confusion, eternity, faith, god, the past, and guilt… I know! Basically everything.” Check out this awesome international singer on the rise on March 4 in Troy!


Lisa-Liza-725x725Magic Stick | March 11

Angelic vocals and a softy strummed guitar creates a hauntingly immersive sound from Lisa/Liza. Opening for Jens Lekman at the Magic Stick, Lisa/Liza performs with two others, but records her music alone. Her debut album Deserts of Youth was recorded at home with just her voice and acoustic guitar. The mellow sound of her music will be sure to captivate the audience like a quiet lullaby. Take a listen to her album, and hear for yourself.


Thanks for reading! If you know of some upcoming female powerhouse performances, let me know on Twitter! I’m always looking to be inspired by new voices.

Photos courtesy of artists and performance spaces.

Marissa Conniff is a UMS Blogging Fellow. Learn more about the blogging fellows program.

January 25, 2017: Your Arts and Culture Adventure Picks

This post is a part of a series of posts curating adventurous arts and culture experiences in Southeast Michigan. Sign up for email updates (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).


It is high time for some extremely immersive art! The world is complicated. It’s cold outside. The holidays are over, and that means no more presents. Thoughtfully choose your distractions from reality, and support the expression of diverse voices by attending one (or all) of these events!

Romeo and Juliet

Slipstream Theatre | Now – Sunday

The Bard isn’t all about ruffled collars and the use of the words “stock-fish” as an insult. The stories and
characters remain truthful. Slipstream Theatre in Ferndale places the Capulets and Montagues in the middle of a contentious election. A billionaire business man is running against a former First Lady and Secretary of State. When their daughters fall in love, the drama of politics and romance heighten to a tragic end (or comedic, depending on how you categorize R+J). This show is closes Sunday, so move festinately!

In the Heights

Stagecrafters | Now – February 12
In the Heights

In the Heights with music & lyrics by Lin Manuel-Miranda is…Oh. Do I have to keep going? Long before the days of Hamilton, this Broadway musical was the latest sensation and won the Tony for Best Musical in 2008. This bi-lingual masterpiece follows a tight-knit community in Washington Heights when someone wins the lottery. Watch what happens near home with local artists. The Latin hip-hop music is unforgettable and is being performed in Royal Oak by Stagecrafters.


Detroit Repertory Theatre | Now – March 12

Founded in 1957, the Detroit Repertory Theatre is the cornerstone for theater in Detroit, Michigan. If you have yet to see one of their productions, you are missing out a major part of Michigan’s culture. Firepower by Kermit Frazier follows a City Councilman’s complex family that harbors one big secret. The Detroit Free Press says, “Ultimately it delivers an empowering message[…] Figure out your skill, your firepower, and use it to make yourself, your family and your community better.” Watch the story unfold with this historic Detroit theater now through March.


Photo by Danya Ensing.

RV Mendoza | February 4

Everyone could use a little fun and spend the night at the “disco pop performance and DANCE PARTY” with RV Mendoza at The Old Miami in Detroit. I messaged RV on his (highly entertaining) Facebook page. He told me, “Winter is really hard on me. I imagine it gets tough for other people too. I wanted to create a night where we can escape the bitterness and thrive rather than survive! LGBTQ+ are very welcome.” This show is one night only on February 4th!

Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity |

Power Center | February 18
Beyond Sacred

An interview-based play blurs the lines between the stage and reality. Some of my most formative theater memories are reading The Laramie Project for the first time and seeing You Better Sit Down at the Williamston Theatre Festival. I am incredibly excited to see Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity. This performance captures amazing stories of coming-of-age Muslim Americans post 9/11. I often find the medium in which it will be delivered to be highly effective for gaining understanding of a complex narrative. Don’t miss out on this one! UMS brings this production to Ann Arbor on (and only on) February 18.

I’m a “theater kid” at heart forever, so it is the primary focus (but I threw in a dance party to keep it fresh). Go out there! Enjoy the experience of art! What events are making you excited in Southeast Michigan? Let UMS know by leaving a comment, or send me a link on Twitter!

Photos courtesy of artists and performance spaces.

Marissa Conniff is a UMS Blogging Fellow. Learn more about the blogging fellows program.

January 10, 2017: Your Arts and Culture Adventure Picks

This post is a part of a series of posts curating adventurous arts and culture experiences in Southeast Michigan. Sign up for email updates (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).

adam desjardinsHappy New Year! I’m excited for this cold winter chock full of funky, affordable, and spectacular events to share with you! I’m still bursting about Batsheva Dance Company this past weekend at the Power Center and am really quite pumped for the rest of the UMS season, which you can gander here. Now, onto my picks for what I think will bring you warmth when the weather can’t.

Metropolis at the Senate Theater

Looking to the future? Maybe 2026? Then check out the 1927 silent film classic Metropolis, which will be playing at the historic Senate Theater in Detroit. The German expressionist epic is a dizzying two and a half hour wonder of mechanics, special effects, class struggles, and futuristic dystopian city living as told by the past. Also, there will be live musical accompaniment by Stephen Warner on the Might Wurlitzer Organ. Tickets are $10 and the film starts at 8 pm on January 14. One night only, don’t miss out. More.

Facebok Event // Trailer

Martin Luther King, Jr. Keynote + Talks at the University of Michigan

mlk-eventsAs a part of the great number of Martin Luther King Jr. Day events happening at the University of Michigan, three talks involving four truly exceptional thinkers + creators have me mouth-breathing, to say the least. The first is the keynote lecture, more so discussion between Issa Rae, writer, producer and star of the hit HBO series Insecure, and Amy Goodman, award-winning investigative journalist, author and host of Democracy Now! The two will be in conversation at 10 am on January 16 at Hill Auditorium. That same day,  star poet Claudia Rankine gives a talk at Rackham Auditorium at 4 pm, and on January 18 at noon, author + activist Junot Díaz will also grace the stage. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, all of these events are free. More here and here.

Facebook Event for Keynote

Printers Without Presses at Public Pool

public-pool-2A group exhibition highlighting the ingenuity of printmakers without access to presses is the next show hitting the Hamtramck art space. With open doors for the past 6 years, Public Pool continues to be dedicated to showcasing contemporary art, collaborating with artists from near and far, and creating a space where community members can dive right in to whatever is going down. Printers Without Presses will accomplish all of the above, exhibiting fresh press-less work and inviting you to also make a print on the premises. The show opens on January 21 from 7-11 pm and gallery hours are Saturdays 1-6 pm until February 25, where there will be a reading + neighborhood potluck to wrap up the show. More.

Facebook Page

Hank Willis Thomas at the Michigan Theater


Featuring a roster of prominent artists, designers, makers + creators, the Penny Stamps Speaker Series is back from winter vacation and in full throttle. Normally taking place every Thursday at 5:10 pm at the Michigan Theater, the series allows audience members to listen and learn from these creatives (for free!) as they present, converse, ask + answer questions and show work. On January 26 at 5:10 pm, contemporary photographer and visual artist Hank Willis Thomas will speak about his work, and hopefully much more, including his series Unbranded, which focuses on stripping slogans + brands from ads to direct attention to the visual and social content at play. Fingers crossed. More.

Facebook Page // Facebook Event

The Wright Museum of African American History

the-wrightAs the new Museum of African American History and Culture in DC continues to create buzz and ticket lines, you need not travel far to find a reputable, innovative, and an all-around wonderful local equivalent. Throughout the year, the museum hosts a great number of programs ranging from the African World Festival in the summer to field trips, film screenings and conferences. This month, the Wright has a strong line-up of MLK-related events including dance workshops, lectures, and an art exhibition opening, which are just small additions to the two permanent and two temporary exhibitions already on display. If you haven’t been, you’ve got to go. More.

Facebook Page

Thanks for giving this a read! Which events do you have on your calendar? Have any suggestions? Feel free to shoot me an email at, or comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

Photos courtesy of artists and performance spaces.

Adam Desjardins is a UMS Blogging Fellow. Learn more about the blogging fellows program.


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