Ann Arbor’s Penny Seats Theatre Company opens sixth season on June 16 with The Canterbury Tales

canterbury collageThe Penny Seats Theatre Company’s sixth summer season at West Park – performing outdoor professional theatre at movie-ticket prices, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays throughout June and July – opens next week with a modern adaption of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, by Lindsay Price (June 16 through July 2).   It will be followed later in July by the 2007 Broadway musical smash, Xanadu (July 14 through July 30) – based on the 1980 cult classic movie of the same name, with a book by Douglas Carter Beane and music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar.

Director Anne Levy (Brighton) is enthusiastic about this production of Canterbury. “This may be the most fun I have ever had directing a play. The versatility, talent, and creativity of the cast has taken my original vision to incredible heights. There was not a single rehearsal where they didn’t make me laugh out loud many times.”

In fact, Levy’s interest in Chaucer and medieval literature began early, and this production is a culmination of her longstanding appreciation for the genre. “My opinion of medieval literature was formed in the mandatory English Literature class in the first mind-altering year of university, when I learned that I was perhaps more suited to a major in animal husbandry. I slogged through the required texts and finally reached overload trying to read Canterbury Tales in Middle English (‘an exercise in scholarly fulfillment,’ I believe my professor called it!). Yet, despite that baptism by fire, there remained a nugget of an idea that maybe some of this stuff might have some value if only it could be deciphered.”

She adds, “A couple of English degrees, several careers, and a longed-for retirement later, I find myself not only directing a medieval classic, but actually enjoying it. This adaptation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales has allowed me to do what I love best as a director: open up the world of literary history to today’s audience. It not only makes it accessible, it makes it fun.”

Canterbury Tales stars Matt Cameron (South Lyon), Dale Dobson (Milford), Jenna Hinton (Farmington Hills), Brian Baylor (Pontiac), Tina Paraventi (Ypsilanti), Debbie Secord (Ypsilanti), Jeffrey Stringer (Ann Arbor), and Jennifer Sulkowski (Plymouth).

Levy, who also helmed The Penny Seats’ 2015 production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged], adds, “This was a great opportunity to create a play that presented a classic work of literature in an incredibly fun format. Who knew that Chaucer was so funny? And ‘The Miller’s Tale?’ Well, audiences will have to experience it for themselves.”

The show will run in Ann Arbor’s West Park, in the band shell area (near the park’s Seventh Street entrance), from June 16th through July 2nd at 7:00pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Advance tickets are available at the group’s website, www.pennyseats.org. Although the curtain goes up at 7:00pm each evening, pre-show picnicking is encouraged for audience members, and the group will sell water and concessions at the park as well.

 

Canterbury TalesABOUT THE PENNY SEATS: Founded in 2010, we’re performers and players, minimalists and penny-pinchers. We think theatre should be fun and stirring, not stuffy or repetitive. We believe going to a show should not break the bank. And we find Michigan summer evenings beautiful. Thus, we produce dramas and comedies, musicals and original adaptations, classics and works by up-and-coming playwrights. And you can see any of our shows for the same price as a movie ticket.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about The Penny Seats call 734-926-5346 or Visit: www.pennyseats.org.

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Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital).  In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan.  My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

WCBN’s “It’s Hot in Here” features The Penny Seats, Jacques Brel, roller skates, & walkie talkies

[Production photo by Frank Weir]

[Production photo by Frank Weir]

Thanks to Pearl Zhu Zeng, Sam Molnar, and Rebecca Hardin for welcoming our Penny Seats hijinks back into the WCBN studio as part of their fabulous weekly “It’s Hot in Here” radio program. The show is billed as ushering in a “new era in environmentally themed college talk radio with a focus on soul and R&B.”

And, occasionally, show tunes.

wcbn

[Photo Collage by Author]

I think you’ll really enjoy our episode “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris: Feels That Connect Us All.” Just please look past the lingering laryngitis that makes me sound like Elaine Stritch … and the dodgy lyrical recall that makes me sound like Jonathan Winters.

The Hot in Here team have put together such a lovely overview here, with photos and descriptions that present the illusion we are consummate professionals! You can also link directly to the MP3 here if so inclined. (And if you missed seeing Jacques Brel live, five of the songs are performed during the broadcast!)

wcbn 2

[Photo of Lauren and Roy by Pearl Zhu Zeng]

Here’s an excerpt from their write-up: “During our one hour radio show, the cast and crew offer insights and takeaways from the Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris show. They go into the origin of the show and the story behind the production, including why they brought the show onto the local stage and how the music came together. Laura Sagolla shares with us her story of being moved by Jacques Brel songs growing up, how it resonated with her and why she brought the show to the Penny Seats.  Roy Sexton and Lauren London, with Rich Alder, Jr. playing piano in the background, bring their characters to life through on-air musical performances while also delving into their impressions of the characters they reenact. Their insights are a must hear and the tunes include Amsterdam, I Loved, Mathilde, Marieke, and If We Only Have Love.”

Xanadu posterWe received such wonderful support on this sold-out run – thanks to everyone who came to see Jacques Brel or helped spread the word or both! And, yes, there is more to come …

The Canterbury Tales, adapted from the book by Geoffrey Chaucer – on stage Thurs, Fri, and Sat, June 16 – July 2

Xanadu, book by Douglas Carter Beane; Music and Lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar; the 2007 Broadway Musical Comedy Xanadu, based on the 1980 film of the same name – on stage July 7-23.

You can get tickets at http://www.pennyseats.org shortly, and, yeah, I’ll be playing the Gene Kelly part in Xanadu. Can’t wait!

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

P.S. If you didn’t see Zootopia yet, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s just the satirical fable our nation needs right now. You can read my review here.

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Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan.  My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.