My Pulp preview of A2SO’s ‘Star Wars’ concerts

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 2.55.33 PM.pngNot so long ago — last year, to be precise — in a venue that’s close, close by, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra (A2SO) played two sold-out concerts featuring John Williams’ music from the Harry Potter films. The audience response was so enthusiastic that A2SO immediately started making plans to perform two concerts featuring Star Wars music, and those concerts will happen Saturday night and Sunday afternoon (October 7-8) at the Michigan Theater.

“We were so overwhelmed (last year) … and the audience, some of whom had never seen a live symphony concert before, told us that the music evoked powerful images for them, even though there was no visual component accompanying the music,” said A2SO conductor Arie Lipsky. “They also told us that they’d never thought that music had played such a vital role in the movies, and they thanked us for highlighting the music on its own. So many said, ‘Now we’re hooked on seeing live symphony orchestra shows,’ and we responded by investing in music from all the Star Wars movies.”

In fact, the John Williams Signature Edition Orchestra Score only recently became available, so A2SO’s timing couldn’t be better.

“Before, we’d used an arrangement that was available for a band or high school orchestra, but this is the real deal for us, and it’s a challenge,” said Lipsky. “John Williams’ music is very, very demanding, very difficult. When the musicians realized we were getting the Signature Editions, they asked for the music to be made available to them as early as possible, so they could practice. So we’ve all been very excited.” READ THE REST HERE

REVIEW (Pulp): Encore Theatre’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ is a cut above

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David Moan and Keith Kalinowski in Encore Theatre’s new production of “Sweeney Todd.” (Photo by Michele Anliker Photography)

In 2015, I pronounced Into the Woods to be Encore Theatre’s strongest overall production since the Dexter company opened its doors in 2009.

Well, move over, Into the Woods. There’s a new Sondheim show in town, and when it opened on Friday night, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street quickly established itself as the best thing yet to happen on Encore’s modest, black-box stage.

This is largely due to director/choreographer Matthew Brennan, whose distinctive vision makes the classic show, which debuted on Broadway in 1979, into an entirely new theater experience. With seats integrated into the 1940s-era, London factory set — thus creating an immersive, thrust stage experience — Encore’s gruesomely comic Sweeney achieves an intensity and an immediacy that’s downright visceral. READ THE REST HERE

My Pulp interview with NPR librarian (and novelist) Nancy Pearl

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 10.08.30 AM.pngNancy Pearl — coming to Nicola’s Books on Wednesday, October 4 at 7 pm to talk about her new novel, George & Lizzie— may be the only person in America who could be referred to as a “celebrity librarian.”

For she’s regularly featured on NPR, where she recommends and discusses books; and she was the model for a librarian action figure that boasts “amazing shushing action!”

But locals who’ve heard Pearl on the radio may not realize that she has deep local roots. Though she now calls Seattle home, Pearl grew up in Detroit and studied library science at the University of Michigan.

“I remember being addicted to Judy Collins and Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell — that was the soundtrack for my time in Ann Arbor,” Pearl said during a recent phone interview. “The other thing about being in Ann Arbor at that time, of course, was the bookstores. That was when Borders was still this little bookstore. And I lived in the co-op system while I was at Michigan. I have a lot of fondness for those times.”

Regarding Pearl’s chosen profession, the die was cast early on. READ THE REST HERE

My latest WEMU 89.1 FM Art & Soul segment (for October), with Lisa Barry and Roustabout Theatre Company

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This month, we talked with “the two Joes” of Roustabout Theatre Company (playwright/director Joseph Zettelmaier and director/actor Joey Albright) about “Dark Ride Radio Hour,” a live show featuring four short radio plays by Zettelmaier, playing at Ypsilanti’s Bona Sera on October 14 and Livonia’s Trinity House Theatre on October 21.

We also talk briefly about the can’t miss production of “Sweeney Todd” now at Dexter’s Encore Theatre, “God of Carnage” at the Purple Rose Theatre and more. Listen to the 8 minute segment here.