Things to do around Ann Arbor this week, April 12-17


Hannah Flam and Joseph Sammour in U-M’s production of “Guys and Dolls.” (Photo by Peter Smith Photography)

Ann Arbor’s Jewish Film Festival continues this week, as does EMU Theatre’s run of “One Man, Two Guvnors” – but there’s tons more on offer, too. Check out all the details below. It’s a little overwhelming. In a good way.

See author Alice McDermott. The U-M English Department Zell Visiting Writers Series presents a reading by this Washington, D.C.-based National Book Award winner (for the 1998 novel, “Charming Billy”). “Someone,” McDermott’s 2013 novel that follows the sharp pains and unexpected joys of an ordinary life, was praised by Booklist as a “keenly observed, fluently humane, quietly enthralling novel of conformity and selfhood.” (McDermott will also be interviewed by author/U-M English professor Peter Ho Davies on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at UMMA’s Helmut Stern Auditorium.) McDermott’s reading happens on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the UMMA Apse, at 525 S. State St. in Ann Arbor, and the event is free.

Neutral Zone events. First up is the 2016 Ann Arbor Youth Poetry Slam Finals at The Neutral Zone. Readings by local teen poets and spoken word artists who are battling ferociously for one of the 6 coveted spots on the Ann Arbor Youth Poetry Slam Team, which will compete in the Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam Festival in Washington, D.C., this summer. Note: This event is usually standing room only. Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Neutral Zone, 310 E. Washington in Ann Arbor. Tickets cost $10 (students, $5). Visit or call 734-214-9995.

Then, on Saturday, check out NZ’s fundraiser, ”2nd Chance Prom: A Vintage Hollywood Event,” featuring performances by teen musicians and poets, plus live and silent auctions, as well as food & drinks. Fancy attire encouraged. (Age 21 & over only.) Followed by an after party at LIVE with dancing to music spun by a DJ. Saturday 7-10 p.m. at Neutral Zone B-Side, 310 E. Washington (entrance on Fifth Ave.) in Ann Arbor. Tickets cost $25 in advance at; $30 at the door.

UMS presentations. Lots going on on the UMS calendar this week, starting with Mnozil Brass. Named after a pub in Austria, where its members performed when they were students at the Vienna Conservatory, this brass septet combines world-class virtuosity with zany theatrical shenanigans. Their programs include original compositions as well as classical favorites, jazz standards, and pop hits-all imbedded in comic scenes worthy of the Monty Python boys. Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Hill Auditorium, 825 N. University in Ann Arbor. Tickets cost $10-$46.

On Friday, UMS presents “Zafir: Musical Winds from North Africa to Andalucía” at the Michigan Theater. National Heritage Award-winning composer and instrumentalist Simon Shaheen leads his trio Qantara in Arab music from Al-Andalus, set to flamenco performed by Auxi Fernandez, a fiery young dancer with explosive footwork who has toured with Teatro Real, New York’s City Center, and other groups. The vocal and instrumental program explores musical influences that originated in Iraq and Syria and blended with elements of Spanish music in Al-Andalus. Friday at 8 p.m. at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor. Tickets cost $20-$40.

On Saturday, UMS presents the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. Mariss Jansons conducts this prominent Munich orchestra in Corigliano’s Fantasia on an Ostinato, Dvorak’s Symphony no. 8 in G Major, and Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major, with Leonidas Kavakos, a Greek violinist who’s been hailed as “a spectacular artist,” by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Anything he wants to say on the instrument he clearly has the chops to say.” Saturday 8 p.m. at Hill Auditorium, 825 N. University in Ann Arbor. Tickets $12-$65.

Tickets for all these UMS events are available in advance at and 734-764-2538.

U-M Musical Theatre Department presents “Guys and Dolls.” Professor Mark Madama directs musical theater students in Frank Loesser’s iconic 1951 musical comedy, a perennially popular adaptation of Damon Runyan’s stories and vivid characters. Set in New York City in the 1930s, the action focuses on 2 contrasting romances, one a long-running liaison between a nightclub singer and a professional gambler and the other an unlikely affair between a high roller and a Salvation Army sister. The lively score includes such classics as “Luck Be a Lady,” “A Bushel and a Peck,” “If I Were a Bell,” and “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.” Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Power Center, 121 Fletcher in Ann Arbor. Tickets cost $26 & $32 (students, $12), and I wouldn’t be surprised if some performances are already sold out. Call 734-764-2538 or visit

Ark highlights. On Thursday at 8 p.m., Kris Allen, an Arkansas singer-songwriter best known as the Season 8 winner of “American Idol,” will bring his soul-inflected pop/rock to Ann Arbor. Tickets cost $20.

On Saturday night at 8 p.m., Leo Kottke – a perennial winner of the Best Folk Guitarist award in Guitar Player magazine’s annual readers’ poll – brings his richly varied acoustic repertoire back to the Ark. Tickets cost $40.

The Ark is located at 316 S. Main in Ann Arbor. To purchase advance tickets, visit,, or call 734-763-TKTS.

Willie Barcena at Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase. This L.A. comic was a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and Leno liked him so much, he hired him for a regular spot as a roving reporter. Thursday at 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 8 and 10:30 p.m., at 212 S. Fourth Ave. in Ann Arbor. Advance, reserved seat tickets cost $9 (Thursday) and $12, while general admission tickets at the door cost $11 (Thursday) and $14. Visit or call 734-996-9080.

Purple Rose Theatre world premiere, ”Gaps in the Fossil Record.” Guy Sanville directs Matt Letscher’s new drama about a woman who thinks her daughter is kidding when she brings home a much older man and introduces him as the father of her soon-to-be child. (Discounted preview performances are scheduled this weekend, while the show’s official opening night is scheduled for Friday, April 22.) Showtimes are Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Wednesdays and Saturdays at 3 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Purple Rose Theatre, 137 Park St., Chelsea. Tickets $25-$43, available in advance at and 734-433-7673.

Hear from international journalists. The U-M Knight Wallace Fellows program presents ”Beyond America: The Case for Foreign News.” NPR Morning Edition host David Greene will lead a panel discussion with CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, and Politico cofounder John Harris. Friday from 4:30-6 p.m. at Rackham Auditorium, 915 E. Washington St. in Ann Arbor. Free.

“Always … Patsy Cline” opens at Dexter’s Encore Theatre. Local actors perform Ted Swindley’s musical based on the relationship between the famous country singer and a Houston housewife who was one of her biggest fans. The story, drawn largely from letters written between the two women, is interspersed with many of Cline’s hits, including “Crazy,” “Anytime,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “She’s Got You,” and “Sweet Dreams.” Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. at Encore, 3126 Broad St. in Dexter. Tickets cost $26-$32, with $15 student rush tickets (if available) an hour before showtime. Visit or call 734-268-6200.

Rock the District Musical Festival. Join Ann Arbor’s 107one for the first ever Rock the District Music Festival on Saturday, April 16th, on the corner of Maynard and East William in Ann Arbor. (The forecast even looks – dare I say it? – promisingly sunny and spring-like.) Catch Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, Dave Menzo, Misty Lyn & The Big Beautiful, Kate Peterson, Matt Jones, Barelyon, Barbarossa Brothers and Stormy Chromer. Enjoy food and beverages in the Knights beer garden, and Tree Town Sound host Matthew Altruda will emcee this free, all-ages event, which runs from 3-10 p.m.

25th Annual Smithee Awards. This celebration of bad films features screenings of 5 clips of commercial feature films in each of 19 categories, including “Most Ludicrous Premise,” “Worst Science,” “Cutting Butter with a Chainsaw,” “Let’s Up the Rating to R,” “Alas, Poor Yorick,” “Inane Dialogue,” “Deus ex Machina,” and more. Films typically sampled include the likes of “Seedpeople,” “Leech Woman,” “Nailgun Massacre,” “The Clones of Bruce Lee,” and “Narcotic Justice.” Audience members vote on the “winners.” Unhealthy snacks are served. For mature audiences. Saturday from 7 p.m.-midnight, 1800 Chemistry, 930 North University in Ann Arbor. Free.

The Fab Faux at the Michigan Theater. Critically acclaimed Beatles tribute band, a quintet of top NYC session musicians, bolstered by horn and string sections, that specializes in later works never performed live by the Beatles. Calling them “the greatest Beatles cover band – without the wigs,” Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke says that “the Faux invigorate the artistry of even the Beatles’ most intricate studio masterpieces with top chops and Beatlemaniac glee.” Tonight the band, returning to town for the 4th consecutive year, presents a concert of “The Beatles Movie Music,” featuring hit songs from the Beatles’ various films, from “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” to “Yellow Submarine” and “Let It Be.” Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor. Tickets $39.50-$85, available in advance at or 800-745-3000.

Earth Day Festival. This family-oriented event features live raptors and amphibians & reptiles, hands-on craft activities, guided hikes to Black Pond, green building and commuting displays, and more. Also, exhibits by more than 40 local environmental, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. New this year are educational presentations on organic gardening (12:30 p.m.), aquaponics (1 p.m.), current issues for conservation-minded voters (1:30 p.m.), tips on investing for sustainability (2 p.m.), energy efficiency in your home (2:30 p.m.), and a storytelling program on rain gardens (3 p.m.). Entertainment includes local indie pop singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist Dede Adler (12:30 p.m.) and environmental songs and stories by local singer-songwriter Joe Reilly (2:30 p.m.). Also, all encouraged to come dressed as their favorite animal to join an “All Species Parade” (2 p.m.). Face painting. Light concession refreshments from Shimmy Shack, Hero or Villain, and BearClaw Coffee food trucks. All encouraged to ride bikes to the festival. Sunday from noon-4 p.m. at the Leslie Science & Nature Center, 1831 Traver Rd. in Ann Arbor. Free.


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