Two Muses Theatre
is on hiatus beginning September 30, 2016.
Our Business Address:
145 Ethel Court
Wolverine Lake, MI 48390
Box Office Phone:
10am-5pm, Monday through Friday.
Two Muses Theatre
Inspired by Women...For Everyone.
June 3 - 19, 2016
Directed by Diane Hill.
It’s a lot for four people to carry, but this veteran cast makes it look easy. Diane Hill (who also directs), John DeMerell, Topher Payne and Carrie Jay Sayer embrace the opportunity to explore a variety of characters in two short hours. More importantly, these actors have theatre-trained voices; their unamplified singing is not only musically satisfying, but carries the nuanced meaning that is so vital to this particular show.
There isn’t a bad number in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” and many, many memorable moments. When Carrie Jay Sayer sings “I Will Be Loved Tonight,” the deeply felt yearning bubbles to the rim without going over the top. When Diane Hill sings “Always a Bridesmaid,” she delivers the last bit of lyric with the sly twist that gives it both comic value and inherent truth. In a play that takes a somewhat cynical view of marriage, Topher Payne’s “Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?” gives us a lovely, affirming moment that feels exactly right. And when John DeMerell assumes the character of an aging widower to sing “I Can Live With That” to Diane Hill, we are putty in his hands.
A shout out is in order to the hard-working Marty Mandelbaum on piano and Susan Hammerton on violin, who provide all of the musical accompaniment. They lead, lift, but never overpower the vocals and the combination is most agreeable.
The version we have to enjoy this month at Two Muses Theatre in Waterford, Mich., features Diane Hill, John DeMerell , Carrie Jay Sayer and Topher Payne. The four, who play several different parts, handle the material with great craft. Their veteran chops and chemistry keep the whole show on a high level of comedy and music. Diane Hill pulls triple duty as actress, director and musical director. And few actresses handle uptight angst better. Even as a senior who meets an amorous phlegmy Jewish senior admirer (John DeMerell) at a funeral, she starts out angsty, but mellows in the sketch to someone who would be very pleased to have his company both in and out of bed. And we root for them. DeMerell is a welcome sight throughout the show. He has one of the most expressive faces around, able to play a wide range of characters and do an amazing job of conveying most of that range whether he is talking or not. Topher Payne plays a range of ages, too, as well as a range of men–from a dysfunctional dope, to a Mr. Man, to a tender suitor. Carrie Jay Sayer handles everything from being sexy to self-deprecating to kvetchy in her range of characters. Her sunny presence and top-drawer vocals makes all of them go down well. The show is a bon-bon. It all goes down easy, and is as fun to watch as two hours of Carol Burnett sketches. Done as well as the Two Muses company executes, that’s not a bad thing at all given all the wretched news happening on a day-to-day basis. Sit back and enjoy.
April 1 - 17, 2016
Directed by Diane Hill.
Two Muses Theatre brings brilliant Pulitzer-winning play to new Waterford home
First, congratulations to Diane Hill and Two Muses Theatre on an amazing grand-opening performance in its new Waterford location inside the Monster Box performance space and café. If this is a taste of things to come, we have much to look forward to.
The bar has been set high indeed, with this moving production of Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive,” which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1998. There’s a reason Ms. Vogel’s small, Off-Broadway drama won this kind of oversized acclaim, and it has everything to do with writing a beautiful play about an ugly subject...This brilliantly constructed play uses the convention of a Greek Chorus to frame the scenes as they move backward in time toward that first inappropriate encounter between Lil’Bit and Uncle Peck. Melissa Beckwith, Sarah Burcon and Amy Morrisey get a workout, jumping back and forth between roles that span age, gender and intellect. But it’s a great theatrical device, and these actresses add texture, context, and welcome comic relief.
The performances by Cochrane and North are amazing, uncomfortable and heartbreaking. Cochrane’s Litl’Bit is tough and sarcastic – there is no “poor little me” in her narrative. Most unsettling is the fact that Uncle Peck is the only sympathetic character in Lil’Bit’s life – and he is an alcoholic WWII veteran and pederast who has convinced himself that his carnal love for his own niece is pure and, even worse, reciprocated.
Artistic Director Diane Hill handles the subject matter with utmost sensitivity and the play feels surprisingly light for the darkness of its taboo subject matter.
This is a powerful play that stays with us long after the cast takes a well-deserved bow. We suspect that Lil’Bit’s story is true for all too many vulnerable children. But instead of pounding us with righteous indignation, “How I Learned to Drive,” with its glib moments and sensitive handling, somehow elevates our understanding of child abuse, the passive-aggressive role of enablers, and the crushing guilt that haunts victims throughout their damaged lives. Don’t be put off by the subject matter of this play – it’s an amazing experience and you will enjoy every minute of it.
“How I Learned to Drive” is well worth the trip to Two Muses
As the mission of Two Muses is “to provide opportunities for women in theatre and to promote female artists and artisans,” Hill’s choice to cast four women and only one man adds a profound layer to her production, absent from the original. (The script calls for a male, female and teenage Greek Chorus. Hill’s is comprised of three women.) Not only does this choice make Uncle Peck even more an outsider, there’s something refreshing and quite funny about watching a woman take on the role of Li’l Bit’s sex-starved grandfather, Big Papa, or that of a young boy asking Li’l Bit for a dance just so he can watch her breasts jiggle.
The actors here are all first rate. As Li’l Bit, Dani Cochrane carries the show, believable as a precocious 11-year-old girl as she is a mature 35-year-old woman. Cochrane’s moments of direct audience address, often awkward, are easily-delivered with confidence. Her scenes with Dennis North as the sweet-talking Uncle Peck are both humorous and heartbreaking, as Li’l Bit fights against the demons — and love — inside her. As Peck, North portrays a pedophile as a suffering human being. He uses his sweet-talking ways, and handsome good looks, to manipulate his niece into falling for him. All the while we, the audience, can clearly see just how sick and in pain the man truly is.
Members of the Greek Chorus include Melissa Beckwith, Sarah Burcon and Amy Morrisey, each playing a number of characters. Among Beckwith’s most memorable is Li’l Bit’s outspoken grandmother, who tries scaring Li’l Bit into abstaining from sexual relations with tales of horror. Burcon’s primary choral role of Li’l Bit’s single mother is a serious one, but she’s also quite the comedienne during a drunken dinner scene. As Li’l Bit’s aunt, Morrisey subtly tackles the role of a woman who is not nearly as naïve as everyone thinks, and who wants nothing more than to get back her husband from the niece who unwillingly stole him. She’s also a hoot as the burly Big Papa, chasing grandma around the dinner table!
Scenic designer Ryan Ernst does an excellent job filling the cavernous space with a multi-leveled set that evokes the play’s agricultural farmland setting. Ernst’s design serves the actors and the action well, providing areas that play as the family dining room, a footbridge for fishing, a hotel room and, most impressively, the vehicle where Li’l Bit spends time with her uncle learning how to drive. It’s not always easy to keep our eyes on this road. But, in the end, the trip is well-worth it. encoremichigan.com
November 6 - 22, 2015
Directed by Joe Bailey. Music Direction by Jeff Bobick.
FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS It’s a stirring production, directed by Joe Bailey and offered up as further proof that amazing art and soaring music can come in modest, unassuming packages.As you can imagine, this music demands a disciplined ensemble of singers guided by an experienced Music Director and orchestra. Jeff Bobick fills the bill, playing the wickedly difficult piano pieces and directing Stacey Bowen on violin, Kevin Irving on Cello, and Maritsa Kalasz on Harp. That billowing harp music fill the space like the very light in the piazza. Still, it is the singing that must carry the day, and Annie Kordas and Vince Kelley’s voices are indescribably lovely as they evoke the besotted Clara Johnson and Fabrizio Naccarelli. (Mr. Kelly also serves as costumer, and the ‘50s-era dresses in this show are to die for.) Diane Hill, Artistic Director of Two Muses Theatre, is compelling as Margaret; she avoids the “clingy mother” clichés and gives us a gracious woman who will fight for whatever is best for her special child. Ms. Hill also serves as Producer and Technical Director of this production. Two Muses regular John DeMerell plays Fabrizio’s father, Signor Naccarelli, and Beth Lackey, Arjun Nagpal, and Aynsley Martindale play other members of this very Italian family. Kevin Kuznia rounds out the cast, playing Clara’s father and a variety of ensemble roles.The Examiner
September 11 - 27, 2015
Directed by Steve DeBruyne
There’s not much more can you want from a comedy with this many laugh lines, except to grab a latte on your way into the theatre and treat the evening as a guilty pleasure. The Examiner
June 5 - 21, 2015
Directed by Diane Hill
Two Muses Theatre has been producing plays for the past four years in an unlikely and nicely equipped black-box space attached to the Barnes and Noble store in West Bloomfield. The company is
enjoying its biggest success yet with “Clybourne Park,” Bruce Norris’ 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning play that is running for one more weekend. You really need to see this one...“Clybourne Park” does
everything I expected (and didn’t get) from the higher-profile local stagings of Lisa D’Amour’s “Detroit” and Joanna McClelland Glass’ “Palmer Park.” This play isn’t set in Detroit, of course, but it
could easily be named “Cass Corridor/Midtown.”
Detroit Free Press
No surprise, Two Muses Theatre proves up to the challenge of performing this heart-wrenching Pulitzer Prize-Winning play with a delicate balance of boldness and sensitivity...The intense script demands much from the actors emotionally as well as their ability to switch characters from Act I to Act II...Two Muses did an amazing job casting for this production selecting actors with talent to meet the demands in addition to working in sync and building off each other’s energy.
The cast has a very strong ensemble feel, a credit to director Diane Hill who delivers a very tight production and honors a terrific script. John Boufford handles the duties of the grieving,
repressed father with great depth and tension. In Act Two, he delivers more of a character sketch, solidly done, of a guy laying wire in the back yard. Brenda Lane shines as tortured Bev,
relentlessly trying to keep her head above emotional water as she is continually being dragged down by Russ. In Act Two, she is the real-estate lawyer and daughter of the racist couple played in Act
1 who complained about the house being sold to the black family.
Ramona Lucius handles her two roles spot on, first as the subordinate but dignified domestic, and later as a forceful black woman of the 2000s standing up for what she feels she and her community have coming in terms of respect. Matios Simonian--as a priest you want to defrock and then punch, and then as a Realtor--has a lot of lifting to do with hate-worthy characters. It is a thankless job in the play that he does solidly. Phil Rice plays Albert, the husband of housekeeper in Act One, and then Kevin, husband of righteous Lena in Act Two. He nails both characterizations perfectly--especially Albert who is the 1950s black husband and father with a solid job to provide for his family, and who tries to respectfully diffuse and help the situation any way he can. There is a lot of subtlety in his portrayals, and a lot of different temperatures that should be appreciated.
Travis Reiff and Dani Cochrane play two sets of married couples. In Act 1, Reiff plays uber-racist Karl who scans as a geek and pussy, but is really the most dangerous bastard in the neighborhood, wielding social power in the housing development of Clyburne Park. If the play was in Mississippi, Karl would still be the bow-tie wearing Rotarian, except he’d be wearing a hood at night in the name of Christian racial superiority. In Act Two, he is the cranky dominated husband who acts racially inappropriate but insists over and over again he is not. He handles both roles, full of emotional peaks and staccato dialogue, like a pro. He’s got two characters nobody is going to like, and he wears them just right. Cochrane, in Act One, plays a highly believable deaf woman who we think only stays with lout Karl because she doesn’t hear most of what he says. In Act Two, she is the spot-on gluten-intolerant, pregnant and cranky, Whole-Foods shopping, Volvo-driving Sally Suburbia who loathes her husband’s ignorant comments and thinks her desire for an open floor-plan, upstairs laundry room and two-story solarium is significantly more valid than the historic aesthetic of the neighborhood. It’s as if she is saying, “We’re gonna gentrify this neighborhood because, of course, we’re white.”
April 10 - 26, 2015
Directed by Nancy Kammer
"God of Carnage" (translated from the original French by Christopher Hampton) artfully poses the theory that childishness is best left to the grown-ups. Two Muses Theatre, operating from its converted space within a West Bloomfield chain bookstore, gives the claws-out, cutting-edge text plenty of bark and some diffident bite...The play unfolds as one long scene in a single arc, a high-wire act for any ensemble. Here, the players refrain from excessive gorging on the vicious comedy and backbiting, letting awkward punch-lines and wryly ironic pauses speak for themselves as the ever-rising action hiccups higher...This "God of Carnage" aims to pit animal instinct against the better angels of our nature. But in this test of the fight-or-flight reflex, the "flight" gets in just as many comic barbs as the "fight."
Nov 14 - Dec 7, 2014
Directed by Bailey Boudreau
I am happy to report that the sparkling ensemble in Two Muses’ current production of Jake’s Women (directed by Bailey Boudreau) hits all the right notes. Given that Two Muses’ mission is to promote and celebrate the artistic contributions of women, this play is an inspired and intriguing choice...Some of the production’s most emotionally affecting moments come from the theatrical mother-daughter team of Meredith Deighton as Jake’s late wife Julie and Egla Kishta as college-age Molly. The familial dynamic achieved between Alexander, Kishta, and Hotchkiss during the play’s second act is remarkable – deeply felt with a comfort and ease rarely seen on any stage. Reel Roy Reviews
Director Bailey Boudreau directs a fine local cast in this production of this less well known Simon play...It's a fun show performed by a very talented cast, with a great set by Bill Mandt. EncoreMichigan
Sept 26 - Oct 19, 2014
Directed by Jules Aaron
The cast functions very well as an ensemble, each shining particularly in the more poignant moments. Carrie Jay Sayer as “Lady of the Canyon” Cheyenne and AlissaBeth Morton as her daughter Destiny (yeah, those names are a time warped hoot) steal every scene with a believable familial dynamic that engenders laughter and tears. They really do a solid job finding the humor in the pathos. Amy Lauter as Abigail, a sweet-natured if misguided women-done-wrong, and Diane Hill as B.J., a not-as-sweet-natured but equally misguided woman-done-wrong, both have many touching moments as they explore the betrayal of a dream deferred. Both actresses excel in their plaintive solo numbers, plumbing new depths of heartache. John DeMerell as master of ceremonies and the restaurant’s maître d’ sparkles – the catalyst that gives the production forward momentum and a refreshing lightness. He has a ball playing several additional bit parts throughout the show, aided and abetted by clever costuming and no end of silly accents. Miles Bond and Rusty Daugherty are fun as a sort of campy Greek chorus, offering arch commentary as waiters, moving men, clerks who float through the proceedings. A narrative highlight – musically and acting-wise – is the number “Just Another Baby.” A scorched-earth, toxic meltdown that B.J. (Hill) delivers at a baby shower, ridiculing our nation’s unyielding mania for infants and our collective fixation on insipid names, miniaturized fashion, and corrosive parental competition. Hill nails it. Reel Roy Reviews Read the entire review at http://reelroyreviews.com/2014/10/12/the-right-accessory-can-change-your-life-two-muses-production-of-new-musical-at-the-bistro-garden/
This is a great ensemble piece with a strong cast that knows how to deliver a fun – if not always happy – musical. The songs are inventive and the lyrics hold some of the best laughs. One of the most entertaining things about this production is the almost endless parade of ‘80s fashions rocked by the ladies. Even if the women never spoke a word, Barbie Weisserman’s costume designs would tell us everything we needed to know about each of them. Weisserman and Diane Hill are the “Two Muses” founders and co-producers for this show. Other design credits go to Diane Hill (Sound), Lucy Meyo (Lighting), and Bill Mandt (Set). Examiner Complete review at http://www.examiner.com/review/two-muses-theatre-celebrates-friendship-over-lunch-at-the-bistro-garden
Two Muses is getting quite good at putting on musicals, and this is yet another example of what great work they can do. Hill is always such an appealing performer, and DeMerell has shone in every role I've seen him play. Sayer, Lauter and Morton bring both fine singing and acting talents to their roles. Bond and Daugherty also bring some impressive acrobatics to their performances. Bill Mandt's set design is not only attractive, but serves the show very well in its flexibility. Barbie Amann Weisserman has done a great job with the costumes. New Monitor Complete review at http://www.encoremichigan.com/article.html?article=8968
Jules Aaron’s direction is masterful. He keeps the story moving forward while delicately balancing the truth with humor.
This production is demanding. It requires the cast to continuously switch between high energy choreography, upbeat songs to heartfelt ones, and back to acting including several costume changes without a glitch. This ensemble proves up to the challenge, bringing a rare energy, connection and sensitivity to the stage.
Bill Mandt once again does an incredible job with his set design creating a lovely, intriguing atmosphere transporting the audience to a cozy bistro.
The play’s message of maintaining friendships face-to-face is so relevant in our social media-saturated culture. Saying goodbye to sorrow and moving on is easier with the help of friends. Oakland Press Complete review at http://www.dailytribune.com/arts-and-entertainment/20140930/review-two-muses-reinforces-importance-of-friendship-at-the-bistro-garden
It seems like just yesterday that local artists Diane Hill and Barbie Amann Weisserman, fed up with a theater lacking solid roles for women, founded Two Muses Theatre. Yet here they are, opening their fourth season, featuring a new musical with four strong, balanced parts for women. There's a fine sense of ensemble among the four women; especially notable is the intense interplay between Morton and Sayer, as former wild-child Cheyenne is confronted with her bad parenting in the prickly relationship with Destiny. On the masculine side, John DeMerell acts as both the restaurant's Maitre D and our own MC, commenting on and guiding us through the action. He's ably assisted by Miles Bond and Rusty Daugherty, who play singing and dancing waiters, sales clerks and moving men. "At the Bistro Garden" is going to have instant appeal to women of a certain age; "been there, done that" is the operative term. But that appeal is not limited; anybody can find a kernel of truth in this study of the human condition. It's a fanciful feather in Two Muses' bonnet as the company continues its mission to provide increasing opportunities for women in theater. PrideSource Complete review at http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=68253
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WEEK 1: Stacey DuFord Yolanda Fleischer Amy Morrisey
Susan Craves Sonja Marquis
WEEK 2: Lila Lazarus Jan Cartwright Wendy Hedstrom
Courtney Burkett Julie Fuller
Week 3: Anqunette Jamison Rae McIntosh Julie Yolles
Connie Cowper Kez Settle
May 30 - June 15, 2014
Directed by Diane Hill
“Love, Life and What I Wore” is directed by Diane Hill, who had the brilliant (slightly manic) idea of producing this show so that each weekend features an entirely different cast of five women, including a local celebrity as Gingy. This is the final weekend, and it features Anqunette Jamison – the news anchor on FOX 2 Morning News and FOX 2 News “Live at 11.” Her Gingy is warm and reflective without being sentimental or sappy. She avoids blame, bravado and the ever-popular self-loathing – leaving us with a woman whose evolving wardrobe has left her comfortable in her own skin. Interlaced with Gingy’s story is a running commentary by mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and lovers – myriad women remarking on the fashions that framed their lives. This ensemble performance is served up with loving exuberance by four actresses who assume multiple roles – Connie Cowper, Julie Yolles, Kez Settle and Rae McIntosh. Their life lessons – such as why black will always be the “new black,” why we never have anything to wear in our too-full closets, and how our bulging purses come to represent our true selves – are related in a way that any woman over the age of 15 can relate to... there was a good deal of nodding, elbowing, laughing and blushing as the cast laid bare secrets we all keep in our collective closets. From boots to bra’s to berets, no subject is off-limits in “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.” The Examiner
Anqunette talked about Two Muses Theatre and Love, Loss and What I Wore on Fox 2 News on Thursday. http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/25762801/fox-2s-anqunette-q-jamison-stars-in-love-loss-and-what-i-wore-through-june-15
March 21 - April 13, 2014
Directed by Nancy Kammer
The play was clever, touching, and all-around fun. It tells the story of four young women who visit a psychic during a bachelorette party and the havoc that’s created as the psychic’s hazy predictions actually shine light on the fears or worries of each of her guests. The acting was sharp, the staging was great, and it moved at a quick pace to a warm and endearing ending! Kudos all around to the cast, the director, and the author for a delightful afternoon! CBS Television Stations
They're an appealing group, all five of them, distinguishable from one another and sharply delineated. Who knows what the next production of "The Current" may bring? Meanwhile, there's this one to enjoy. encoremichigan.com
Director Nancy Kammer and a very talented cast have given us a very fine production of this play by local playwright Paraventi.
Diane Hill, a co-foundress of Two Muses and always a delight to see perform, is Madame Camille, the psychic - who doesn't claim to "know all and see all," but does have a gift that gives her special insights into others' hopes and fears, and sometimes their futures.
Alysia Kolascz, who has been seen in a number of productions at Northville's Tipping Point Theatre, is Mary, the bride.
Mary's bridesmaids are Kristin Schultes as Darlene, the guileless and adorable friend who set up the visit to Madame Camille; Tara Tomcsik as the glamorous and cynical married friend, Angie; and Kelly Rose Voigt as the sensuous and sexually promiscuous Sharon.
Hill and Kolascz are already known to many theatergoers as two of the finest local actresses, but the other three cast members show themselves equally worthy to share the stage with them.
And they all have the good fortune to perform on yet another great set designed by Bill Mandt. The New Monitor
Feb 8 - 23, 2014
Directed by Emilio Rodriguez
September 27 - October 20, 2013
Posted by ronannarbor
Get in the car, get out to Bloomfield, and catch Two Muses production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”. Located in its own theater inside the Bloomfield Barnes and Noble, the production is in a word stellar — its the best production you are going to see locally, and it has a strong sense of integrity to the original NYC production. See it now so you will know why its going to win all those local Wilde awards next summer.
Adults play elementary school kids in a local spelling bee, complete with sassy organizer Rona (terrific Diane Hill), Vice Principle (hilarious Alan Madlane) and “comfort counselor” (outrageous John DeMerell). There’s nothing subtle here — and that goes for the “kids” themselves (who occasionally play other adult parents) and you won’t find a more stellar assembly of spelling bee participants than you find here. Representing the boys, Jason WIlhoite plays an, ahem, energetic Chip Tolentino; Richard Payton is an over-the-top-but-never-off-the-mark oddball Leaf Coneybear; Jared Schneider is a star-in-the-making “magic-footed” William Barfee (“pronounced barf-ay”). The girls are equally matched: Liz Jaffe is simply pitch-perfect superb as Logainne SchwarzandGrubenierre; Stafanie Bainter explodes in pent-up rebellion as Marcy Park; and Halle Bins brings heart and a great voice to Olive Ostrovsky. She also delivers my favorite line at the end of the show.
There is no surprise in knowing that there is some audience participation involved, and at this afternoon’s performance the cast was simply spot-on when a senior citizen participated in the spelling bee and decided it was his moment to hog the spotlight and throw in his own unscripted lines. Richard Payton didn’t miss a beat by tossing out a “Thanks for the stories” comment during his “goodbye” sequence. I haven’t laughed this hard at a single live theater stage moment at a show in years.
But there is more to this show than just a spelling bee — it speaks to the anguish and fears in every kid placed in the spotlight — by choice or by parental meddling. You recognize these stereotyped characters and you laugh with them, not at them — okay, well sometimes you do laugh at them…but there are moments of true heart in the show, and it is what lifts it above the norm. Halle Bins “The I Love You Song” is one of the finest interpretations of that scene that I have seen.
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has become a favorite of theater companies because of its minimal technical requirements, small combo band, and variety of character roles. When done right, it is far far more than a small-theater production — and I can honestly state of the half dozen productions I have seen of this show locally, this is far and away the best. Its tight and fast and every single performer is spot-on. Bravo.
Two Muses' 'Spelling Bee' is fun musical
by Robert Delaney, The New Monitor, Oct. 10, 2013
Tension runs high and the laughter runs deep as an assortment of school kids compete to be the winner of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," the fun musical that kicks off the 2013-14 season for Two Muses Theatre in West Bloomfield Township.
The emcee for the spelling bee is a glamorous local real estate agent and former champion speller Rona Lisa Perretti, played with style by Diane Hill. Calling out the words to be spelled is Douglas Panch, the local middle school vice principal, amusingly played by Alan Madlane, who - like Hill – is among the finest acting talents in the metro area.
The six student characters represent a variety of student types - shy girl Olive Ostrovsky (Halle Bins), brash girl Logainne SchwarzandGrubenierre (Liz Jaffe), prim overachieving girl Marcy Park (Stefanie Bainter), overachieving active boy Chip Tolentino (Jason Wilhoite), nerdy social misfit guy William Barfee (Jared Schneider), and weird loner Leaf Coneybear (Richard Payton) - all portrayed in highly believable performances by this talented cast.
Order is maintained by comfort counselor Mitch Mahoney (John DeMerell), a tattooed ex-con doing his community service by ushering losers off the stage with a box of juice.
The Two Muses' second musical show exhibits great production values. The singing and dancing are a lot of fun, even if there are no particularly memorable songs in this show. But although theatregoers might not leave whistling any of the tunes, they are likely to leave still wearing a smile from this fun experience.
by Dana Casadei, Encore Michigan, 9/28/2013
The musical, with music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin, starts with a bang. The company's first song lets viewers know who these six spellers, and three adult counterparts, are in a mere matter of seconds, speaking volumes about the show that Finn and Sheinkin created.
The music and book are witty and funny, while at the same time being a showcase of what a difficult age adolescence can be. It's an age many wouldn't want to go back to, and yet the cast willingly does, recreating a time when being awkward was the norm for most – and does it brilliantly.
The group numbers range from "Pandemonium" to "Prayer of the Comfort Counselor," which transforms into a gospel number to close out Act I.
Instant standouts are Jaffe and Payton, as Logainne and Leaf, respectively. Vocally they both fall in the middle of the group, but damn, do they commit to their outlandish characters. They have chemistry together and work wonders on their own, especially during their respective solos, “I’m Not That Smart” and “Woe is Me.” If there were a workshop on how to fully become a character, these two would teach it.
Olive is the simplest character, but her portrayer, Bins, has one of the prettiest voices. Her first solo, "My Friend, the Dictionary," gave me chills. And "The I Love You Song" has nice harmonies, but when Bins sings "Mama, mama, mama" during the song's chorus, it's heart wrenching and beautiful, earning Bins one of the loudest applauses of the evening. Bins may be making her Two Muses Theatre debut, but I have a good feeling the high school senior will be back, and often.
Schneider is the show's MVP. He's the strongest male vocalist, and the way he portrays William is pretty close to perfect. William isn't a character that can be played small; it just wouldn't work. So the larger the better, and Schneider nails every moment of it. During "Pandemonium" is when you get the first taste of how wide Schneider's range is. Then there's "Magic Foot," the moment I fell in love with William Barfee, and Schneider.
The show also has some audience participation. I won’t tell you what exactly that entails, but it makes for some big laughs.
Spelling may not be considered a subject in a commercial – heck, most people nowadays just use spell check and the world wide web – but it will be the subject of conversation for many viewers days after seeing this production.
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June 7 - June 30, 2013
Directed by Diane Hill
"Local theater vet (and Two Muses cofounder) Hill is eminently believable and in fine voice as Diana. She’s smart, attractive and strung out from the laundry list of prescription drugs described in the first-act number “My Psychopharmacologist and I.” “Next to Normal” works surprisingly well on the small Barnes & Noble stage, particularly during songs like the quiet “Perfect for You,” which finds Diana recalling her first dates with Dan and Natalie falling for Henry (Rusty Daugherty), a boy from school who sticks with her despite Natalie’s fear that she will somehow end up like her mother.
...a strong indication that the fledgling Two Muses company is ambitious and poised to grow stronger in coming seasons." John Monaghan, Detroit Free Press
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"The cast delivered a mind-blowing and seamless performance opening night, earning a standing ovation.
Diane Hill embodies the suffering of Diana with haunting depth and realism. Glassy-eyed one moment, high-energy the next and fearful another, the svelte actress takes the audience from soaring heights to plummeting lows that characterize manic depression. Voice dripping with emotion, she mesmerizes from beginning to end. John DeMerell, as the even-keel husband, brings good balance to the stage. We experience his frustration as he grapples with pain and the disappointment in his life. Overcome with emotion in a very poignant scene, DeMerell’s tear-filled eyes and quivering voice render the audience motionless. Tangled in the throes of teenage life and the chaos of her dysfunctional family life, Aubrey Fink captures the essence of angry, ignored daughter Natalie. Rusty Daugherty as Natalie’s pothead boyfriend, Henry, offers her understanding and solace from the confusion. Nathan Larkins, as son Gabe, physically and vocally commands the stage with power. Richard Payton as Dr. Fine and Dr. Madden delivers a believable portrayal of the stereotypical polished physician needing a booster shot of empathy." Denise Manzagol, Oakland Press
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"If anyone needs a review, here's mine from my attendance this evening: Words fail!!! The play itself is brilliant and intense, and I had no idea what I was in for. If that wasn't enough, the performances by each member of the ensemble swept me away, each seemingly made for the part. I'd go back and see this again, much like one might reread a book or see a movie twice, just to make sure I didn't miss anything. You folks are jewels in the theatre world around here; what you created this evening onstage with precious little by way of props and/or scenery was nothing short of a miracle. Thank you so much for your efforts and your talent; I hope that many people find you." Marguerite Walker II, Facebook
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"With minimal staging, heartfelt performances, and a blessedly light touch, the six-person ensemble (Diane Hill, Nathan Larkin, John DeMerell, Aubrey Fink, Rusty Daugherty, and Richard Payton)
delivered an exceptional show. Hill and DeMerell captured beautifully the delicate and painful dance of a couple perfectly wrong for one another, whose youthful good intentions have calcified into
... this production strips away any visual distraction, simply and effectively using lighting, movement, and a simple chrome dining table and chairs to evoke a wide vary of locations, moments, and emotions.
So, here’s the punchline, Metro Detroiters. You only have one more shot to see this stellar production. Run don’t walk to the Two Muses website – www.twomusestheatre.org – and get your tickets for tomorrow (Sunday, June 30) afternoon. You won’t be sorry!" Roy Sexton, Reel Roy Reviews Volume 1: Keepin' it Real
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"The tendency with musicals of this stripe is to burn big and bright – and as loud as possible. The comparatively muted and deliberate approach that Two Muses has taken is a risk that gives its production a distinctive look and feel. While this "Next to Normal" maintains the drive and daring inherent to the text, it foregoes overload and elects to tell its astounding stories with tender precision, yet retains the power to touch the viewer deeply." Carolyn Hayes, Encore Michigan
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ONE DOLLAR OF EVERY TICKET PURCHASED WAS DONATED TO COMMON GROUND
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Directed by Nancy Kammer
Director Nancy Kammer and six fine actresses have given us a very enjoyable production of this popular play, and arguably one of the very best productions to date by the
Two Muses company... Liz Jaffe is sweet and likeable as her daughter, Shelby. Diane Hill also gives an outstanding performance as Clairee, a well-to-do widow among the shop's customers.
Brenda Lane is quite believable as Truvy, the beautician, as is Emily Caffery as Annelle, her young assistant.
Margaret Gilkes provides great comic relief as the strong-willed and eccentric Ouiser." The New Monitor
...That's where director Nancy Kammer's production especially shines: Much attention has been paid to the development of each character and how one relates to every other – and from the moment the show begins, the camaraderie and love these six characters share is apparent and believable. Their banter is easy and familiar; the looks and touches are sincere and revealing. And it all builds to a climactic fourth scene that left the opening night audience totally quiet and fully engaged on the action unfolding before them...A line early in the performance pretty much sums up Two Muses' latest production. "It takes some effort to look like this," Truvy says of her colorful outfit and hair. And it's a sentiment that Kammer and company took quite seriously – and it shows in this night of entertaining and engaging theater (for men and women alike). Encore Michigan
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Two Muses Theatre donated a portion of the proceeds to Starfish Family Services, a community-based nonprofit organization serving thousands of vulnerable children and families annually in
Two Muses comedy "Big Bad Wolf" is howling good family fun
Oakland Press, 2/15/2013
“I liked the show,” said dad Ron DeMarco. “It was very appropriate for kids and it even made the
This was DeMarco’s first time seeing a production by Two Muses. He was so impressed with the children’s show he said he is eager to return for an adult production.
Mom Christa Kerr added, “It was hilarious. The kids liked it and it was the right amount of time for young audiences.”
From beginning to end, this production stimulates your senses with bright, bold costumes and lively music.
This clever fairy tale combination has constant excitement, high energy and whirlwind antics to captivate even the wiggliest.
Two Muses Theatre, West Bloomfield’s newest nonprofit professional theater, will donate a portion of the proceeds to Starfish Family Services, a community-based nonprofit organization serving thousands of vulnerable children and families annually in Metro Detroit.
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November 23 - December 16, 2012
'Greetings' offers an unexpected perspective on the holiday season
by Patty Nolan
This script would not work at all without an excellent ensemble performance, and Two Muses Theatre has assembled a cast of veterans who prove they have the chops for a play that continually shifts
If you want to see something completely new in the holiday vein, don’t miss this Two Muse Theatre production of “Greetings.”
By Dana Casadei
"Greetings!" is the last show in Two Muses' first year in production, and it's a gutsy move for the company. It takes shots at every religion under the sun and New Age philosophy, but I'm glad they did it. With choices like this, the company is one that will hopefully keep the surprises coming for years to come.
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September 7 - 30, 2012
Directed by Diane Hill
By Robert Delaney
The New Monitor
Director Diane Hill gives us an entertaining premiere production of this funny play, and set designer/builder Bill Mandt has once again come up with a great set for the Two Muses' theater space in the West Bloomfield Barnes & Noble store.
Weisserman is always an accomplished actress, and I think this is the best performance I've seen yet from Cooper.
By Denise Mills Manzagol
The Oakland Press
The cast’s performances are contagious fun, and the energy takes off when Mia’s book club gathers to discuss breast implants, Botox, and Zoloft.
By Dana Casadei
Cooper is extremely entertaining to watch as self-obsessed, diva Kitty, especially when she's still on her pain meds after her surgery.
...there were other moments that left my sides aching, especially the scene with Mia's book club. I would have gladly watched a play based around the book club. If it had added LuAnne, Barbara Bicknell in a scene stealing performance, I would have seen it 50 times.
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June 8 - July 1, 2012
Directed by Diane Hill
By John Quinn
Barbie Amann Weisserman plays Sylvia without the cheap dog suit or character make-up. It's an extraordinarily physical role, which she pulls off with grace and charm. Understand, most of the time Sylvia walks (and runs and bounces) on two legs, yet Weisserman never lets us forget Sylvia's essential doggy character.
As her adopted family, John DeMerell and Nancy Cooper deftly play a couple on the cusp of change, each partner relying on different, conflicting coping skills. The trio is a delight together...
It is no surprise that director Diane Hill brings out all the nuances of a marvelous piece and renders its fantasy so believably.
Set designer Bill Mandt, lighting designer Lucy Meyo and their crews deserve special notice for their solid workmanship...
I think "Sylvia" is a howlin' success. Encore Michigan, June 9, 2012
Two Muses' 'Sylvia' is doggone fun
By Robert Delaney
Directed by Diane Hill, "Sylvia" is yet another very fine production by this new theater company that specializes in shows that have great parts for women.
Amann Weisserman's performance is just a delight, and everybody else is quite good as well.
Bill Mandt's set and Lucy Meyo's lighting design provide a clever way of moving from the indoor scenes to those in the park, with the help of some projected visuals.
This is a fun show that is done well - great entertainment by talented local performers.
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February 3-19, 2012
Directed by Nancy Kammer
With Diane Hill and Aaron Alpern
REVIEW: In this, their second production, the Two Muses Theatre has given us a very high-quality production of this play, directed by Nancy Kammer and featuring two fine performers in the roles of Doris and George. As anyone who has seen her in other productions would expect, Diane Hill is just terrific as Doris, equally convincing as the shy young woman we meet in the first scene as she is in all the changes her character undergoes over the years. Likewise, Aaron H. Alpern gives us a George who goes through many changes over the years, always hitting the right note for his character’s age and outlook. The New Monitor, Robert Delaney
Review: Hill and Alpern do good work in their roles generally, but they are perhaps at their best in scenes like the one in which George impulsively decides to fly home because his daughter has lost her tooth and is panicking about the tooth fairy not finding it. Doris calls George on his constant claims of feeling guilty, demonstrating that this self-servingly makes him seem like a good guy, and the exchange has a genuine, palpable heat to it. Set designer Bill Mandt has created a cozy, appropriately dated room at a country inn, and costumer and properties designer Barbie Amann Weisserman hits a home run, particularly where Hill's fabulous costumes, and the room's era furnishings, are concerned. (I was nearly sold the minute I recognized the bedspread as the same type that had covered my own grandmother's bed.) Meanwhile, Lucy Meyo designed the show's lighting, and Nancy Kammer and Hill designed the sound. . . .So anyone who's been involved in such tricky, unconventional-but-deep friendships will appreciate how Kammer, who directed "Same Time," and Hill and Alpern both explore and do honor to this particular brand of love's inherently bittersweet nature. Encore, Jenn McKee
Review: By the end of Same Time, Next Year’s second act, the extent of the viewer’s closeness with these characters and their story is surprising…The secret to this feather-light comedy is in creating an encapsulated haven, a vehicle for enacting a life in miniature by showing a bare but precious sliver of it, and it is a lovely escape indeed. Rogue Critic
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February 7, 12, and 14, 2012
Directed by Lonnie Fleischer
What else could be more perfect for the Valentine’s season than Love Letters, a play about a couple whose love letters carry them throughout their lives. Two childhood friends flirt, fight, forgive and forge separate lives--remaining there for each other through the written word at each stage in life. Two Muses Theatre presents the show three times, each performance with a different cast of a different generation. You'll want to see all three!
February 7, 2012 8 PM with Robyn Lipniki Mewha and Rusty Mewha
February 12, 2012 6:30 PM with Karen Sheridan and Sam Pollak
February 14, 2012 8 PM with Mary Bremer Beer and Arthur Beer
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November 4-27, 2011
Directed by Diane Hill and Terie Spencer
REVIEW: The "female version" is better than the original, if such a thing were possible...The performances are smart, engaging and down-right fun...The Odd Couple is an amusing evening of entertainment. It's like having your cake and eating it, too. John Quinn, Encore Michigan
REVIEW: ...this production struggles for a foothold in its iconic, traditionally male scenario, but is boosted by comprehensive design that adds confident flair to its first step onto the Southeast Michigan scene...This Odd Couple benefits from obvious forethought and capable design indicative of strong offerings to come. Carolyn Hayes, The Rogue Critic
REVIEW: Co-directors Diane Hill and Terie Spencer have given us an entertaining production of this very funny play. Robert Delaney, The New Monitor