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Theater Talk: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Sweeney Todd, and Songs for a New World

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Theatergoers can expect original dramas and song cycles as well as reinterpretations of cult classics at local theaters this fall.

In Michigan, it’s not just students who mark the start of a new year in September.

Encore Michigan Editor-in-Chief David Kiley said local theaters will roll out the upcoming season’s programming this fall. He joined Stateside today for Theater Talk.

From state premieres of original dramas and song cycles to reinterpretations of musicals with cult followings, here are his recommendations for theatergoers as the leaves begin to change.

1.      A Human Being Died That Night, Outvisible Theatre Company in Allen Park

Kiley said the drama, which makes its Michigan debut, “moves from clinical to very intimate in a jail cell setting,” as it follows a black psychologist interviewing an imprisoned white political assassin in apartheid South Africa. Director Adriane Galea said the theater's intimate setting makes it "impossible for the audience to be in our theater and to not feel like they are involved in the show.”

2.      Songs for a New World, Thunder Bay Theatre in Alpena

Kiley said the song cycle, which also makes it Michigan debut, features a series of original tunes that explore the theme of “moments of decision.” He said the songs written by Jason Robert Brown will remind audiences of his award-winning score for Bridges of Madison County.

3.      The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Ringwald Theatre in Ferndale

Kiley said fans of the cult classic can expect “something different” from this reinterpretation of the musical made famous by Tim Curry’s turn as transvestite Dr. Frank N. Furter and hits like “Science Fiction/Double Feature” and “The Time Warp." Fans should come dressed up and plan on plenty of added gender and sexual identity-swaps on top of the original’s.

4.      Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Encore Musical Theatre Company in Dexter

Kiley said Director Matthew Brennan has transported the classic musical of a barber obsessed with revenge after a lustful judge takes both his wife and child from its original Victorian setting to the 1940s. He also reinterprets the eponymous character in the hopes that audiences “if they can’t relate to, at least see how he’s motivated and realize that he’s not just a sociopath with a razor.”

Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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