Let's Hear It From The Girls! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Thursday, 20 June 2013 18:20

If your instant visualization of a jazz musician is a middle-aged gentleman, possibly with a receding hairline, a slightly wrinkled face and a constantly tapping toe, visualize again!

Bria Skonberg at the 2013 Elkhart (IN) Jazz FestivalNothing could be farther from the reality of two of the most talented jazz musicians being featured in the Elkhart Jazz Festival 2013.

Both are young, very talented, very attractive and very well-versed on the subject of jazz — past and present — and undoubtedly will play an important part in its future.

The only difference is that Bria Skonberg plays trumpet and flugelhorn and Ariel Pocock can be found at the piano.

Both will be familiar to regular visitors at past EJFs.

Bria came to the 2009 EJF as a member of the west coast sextet Mighty Aphrodite, an all-girl group which was a definite plus that year. She not only played but sang. Today she leads the Bria Skonberg Quintet and has changed her “coast of residence” to New York City.

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 June 2013 21:29
'Addams Family' To Visit Kalamazoo PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Monday, 21 October 2013 19:24

The Addams Family Miller Auditorium Kalamazoo MI“They’re creepy and they’re kooky,

            Mysterious and spooky,

They’re altogether ooky,

            The Addams Family.

Their house is a museum

            When people come to see-um,

They really are a scre-um

            The Addams Family.

   (neat, sweet, petite)

So get a witch’s shawl on,

            A broomstick you can crawl on

We’re going to make a call on

            The Addams Family!”

The familiar theme for the TV version of Charles Addams’ famous cartoons in The New Yorker magazine is one song you won’t hear in composer Andrew Lippa’s score for the touring production set to play Tuesday and Wednesday evening in Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich.

All the Addamses — Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma, Uncle Fester and even Lurch — will be ready to greet visitors at 7:30 pm. Also invited for dinner are Wednesday’s boyfriend Lucas Beinenke and his parents, Mal and Alice.

Word is this will be a ”spooktacular” meal. It seems everyone has something to hide and more than a few skeletons in their closets.

Book for this new Addams Family adventure is by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice who also are responsible for “Jersey Boys.”

Tickets range from $35 to $58. For reservations, call (269) 387-2300 or visit

Last Updated on Monday, 21 October 2013 19:46
'Zombie Prom' Goes For Laughs, Not Chills PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Monday, 20 July 2015 03:58

The huge success of the AMC series “The Walking Dead” has spawned a rash of new TV shows featuring major characters who are — or are destined to become — undead.

Zombie Prom Elkhart Civic Theatre Bristol INZombie Prom Elkhart Civic Theatre Bristol INEntertainment-wise, however, this is nothing new.

In addition to the list of zombie-focused movies from “Night of the Living Dead” to “World War Z,” the late 1990s offered a zombie show with a different beat — “Zombie Prom” — which opened Friday evening in the Bristol Opera House.

The Elkhart Civic Theatre production offers laughs rather than chills and delivers a very lively evening with a show whose main character is a deadly green. It is two hours (including intermission) of great fun for all ages, zombie-lovers or not.

The premise is, of course, ridiculous but in the midst of music and dance it still manages to make some very solid statements about communication, education, integration and tell-all journalism.

Set in the 1950s, primarily in the halls of Enrico Fermi High School, the plot focuses on Jonny (no h) Warner (Andrew Daeger), the resident rebel and all-around wild kid, and his ill-fated romance with Toffee (Maddie Williams), the blonde-haired good girl (sound familiar???).

Of course, her parents object and, in despair, Jonny rides his motorcycle into the toxic waste dump at the nearby Francis Gary Powers nuclear power plant. His remains are encased in lead and dumped in international waters.

Think that is the end of the romance?

Of course not!

Zombie Prom Elkhart Civic Theatre Bristol INIn spite of the urging of her friends — Candy (Jane Payton), Coco (Sarah Nolan) and Ginger (Bethany Wirick) — to return to a social life, Toffee cannot forget Jonny — even after three weeks — and keeps hearing him calling to her. It comes as no surprise that he suddenly emerges from her school locker, although he is now a lovely shade of green. The surprise is that he wants to return to school and get his diploma.

Very vocal opposition to this idea comes in the form of principal Delilah Strict (multi-talented Kristen Kinder) who not only refuses his request but threatens all manner of punishment to any who support him, citing the “Rules, Regulations and Respect” required of all students.

Zombie Prom Elkhart Civic Theatre Bristol INIn Jonny’s corner are his three buddies — Joey (Dan Murakowski), Josh (Robert Clark) and Jake (Matthew Manley — who enlist the aid of sleazy reporter (check the jacket!) Eddie Flagrante (Geoff Trowbridge) of Expose magazine who has a hidden connection to Miss Strict.

Under the direction of Brock Butler, assisted by Stephanie Yoder, with music and vocal direction by Heidi Ferris, the high energy level of the youth-oriented cast never flags. From the opening at “Enrico Fermi High” to the final title tune, the pace is best when the ensemble, or any segment thereof, is singing and dancing.

This is especially true when Miss Smart is on stage. A veteran performer, Kinder is a standout whether reinforcing the school rules (“No zombies! No zombies! Case closed!”) or recalling her too-brief interlude with Eddie in the wonderfully satirical tango “Expose” or gleefully threatening the student body with sanctions.

With Butler and Becki Visker, she also choreographed several of the dances, all of which are executed with contagious enthusiasm.

For the students, the recurring question is “Where Do We Go From Here?” There is no all-inclusive answer but, for the duration of the prom at least, everyone dead or alive, finds his/her own happy ending.

“ZOMBIE PROM” plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Bristol Opera House on SR 120 in Bristol. For reservations, call (574) 848-4116 or visit

Last Updated on Monday, 20 July 2015 04:46
Green Day Album As Musical Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:39

In the 1986, two friends formed a punk rock band which they called Sweet Children.

Now a quartet of musicians known as Green Day, they have been at the top of the pop music scene for almost three decades, are one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time and a 2015 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

American Idiot The Barn Theatre Augusta MIAmong their top albums is a rock opera titled “American Idiot.” Released in 2004, it followed in the footsteps (or tracks) of other album-first, stage-musical-second — “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Who’s Tommy,”

In 2010, with an expanded story line, new characters and a couple of songs from a later album, “American Idiot” opened on Broadway where it played for a year, winning Tony Awards for scenic and lighting design and a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.

“American Idiot” opened last Tuesday at The Barn Theatre in Augusta, MI to an audience filled (as all, I suppose, will be) with Green Day fans who obviously (and enthusiastically) enjoyed the theatricalization of the award-winning album.

American Idiot  The Barn Theatre Augusta MIAt an hour and a half with no intermission, is it not difficult even for a non-Green Day fan to enjoy. Three of The Barn’s hard-working performers — Kevin Robert White, Jamey Grisham and Michael Tuck — portray the “idiots” who decide to leave their humdrum hometown — Jingletown — to experience LIFE!

Actually Will (Grisham) never makes it past the city line as girlfriend Heather (Bethany Edlund) presents him with a reason to stay, at least for nine months.

In the large and wicked metropolis, Tunny (Tuck) becomes disenchanted quite rapidly and turns to the safety (?) and discipline of the Army where he loses a leg and finds, in a nurse, The Extraordinary Girl (Sarah Lazar).

Johnny (White) wanders the city looking for a girl glimpsed in a window and, with the help of his alter-ego St. Jimmy (Jake Rura) and heroin, stirs up enough courage to find Whatshername (Samantha Rickard).

The experiences of the three rise and fall before reaching their respective conclusions which certainly are not all happy endings but allow at least a glimmer of hope.

American Idiot  The Barn Theatre  Augusta, MIBeing a Green Day fan, indeed knowing the music of Green Day at all, is not required to enjoy “American Idiot” — but, understandably, it helps in following the storyline which can get lost in the full-power vocals.

The six piece rock band, under the direction of keyboardist Matt Shabala, is on stage throughout and, for the most part, its music is driving but not overpowering.

A large turntable divided in three segments is center stage and moves the action from one location to another easily, also providing ramps and levels on which the singer/dancers move freely.

The entire ensemble replicates the drive of the instrumentalists, most especially White, Gresham (who is choreographer) and Tuck and their respective female partners. They never slow down. At times the lyrics are lost but, like that energetic hare, “American Idiot” just keeps on ticking.

The framework of the “plot” is a series of 10 letters written by Will, which chronicle their adventures from the wish to escape to the need to return home.

If you are a Green Day fan, this is for you. If you are not, it is a solid introduction to their music.

“AMERICAN IDIOT” plays through Saturday in the theater on M96 between Galesburg and Augusta, MI. For performance times and reservations, call (269) 731-4121.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 July 2015 17:06
'Hair' Plays Tonight At Miller Auditorium PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 15:30

The Age of Aquarius, it seems, is always with us.

hair  tour Miller Auditorium  Kalamazo MichiganOriginally on Broadway in 1968, the James Rado/Gerome Ragni/Galt MacDermott musical appropriately titled "Hair," returned to the Great White Way in 1977 and 2009, winning numerous awards with each incarnation. The most recent is now on tour, bringing its look at the movement of the '60s and '70s that changed America forever to theaters across the country. From its score, many songs have joined the list of hits on the Great American Songbook. Among these "Let The Sun Shine In," "Aquarius," "Good Morning Starshine" and the title tune.

Claude and his peace-loving friends will be on stage in (and out) of appropriate hippie attire at 7:30 p.m. today in Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University. For tickets, call (800) 228-99858 or (269) 387-2300 or visit

For those who were "there" — and those who were not— its one way to review past mistakes and keep them from repeating themselves.  

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2013 03:38
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