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The Arts

Canned Champagne
April 2024
April 26–May 11
New Vic Theatre

Jim and Jennifer Furney take on the roles of John Adams and Abigail Smith in this production that explores the relationship between one of the United States’ founding fathers and his wife of more than 50 years.

Show times are 8 p.m. April 26 and 27 and May 3, 4, 10 and 11 at the New Vic, 134 E. Vine St. Tickets are $32 and available online at thenewvictheatre.org.

April 5–14
WMU Theatre

This musical based on the longtime Nickelodeon animated series explores how the citizens of Bikini Bottom come together to save their undersea world from a volcanic eruption. It will be presented in Western Michigan University’s Shaw Theatre.

The production features original songs by Yolanda Adams, Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, The Flaming Lips, Lady A, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants and more.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 5 and 12 and 2 p.m. April 7 and 14. Tickets are $7–$24 and are available by calling 387-6222.

April 5–14
Kalamazoo Civic

This revue of music by original “boy bands” — 1950s close-harmony groups such as the Four Aces — tells the story of The Plaids, four young singers killed in a car crash who posthumously take the stage for one final gig. The local cast includes Kevin Taylor (Jinx), Matthew Schuster (Francis), Cody Watson (Sparky) and Isaiah Lee (Smudge). Watson and Lee are both making their Civic debuts.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 5, 6, 12 and 13 and 2 p.m. April 7 and 14 in the Carver Center Studio, 426 S. Park St. Tickets are $17–$30 and available at 343-1313 or kazoocivic.com.

April 19–28
Civic Youth Theatre

Perfect for little lion lovers, this family-friendly musical presents the tale of Simba, a lion cub struggling to accept his destiny as king. It features several classic songs from the 1994 animated film The Lion King.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 19 and 26; 10 a.m. April 20, 24, 25 and 27; and 2 p.m. April 20, 21, 27 and 28 in the Parish Theatre, 405 S. Lovell St. Tickets are available at 343-1313 or kazoocivic.com.

April 19–27
Face Off Theatre

This Youth Play Series production tells the story of Relia, a Black girl in North Carolina in the 1960s, who is searching for her place to shine in both society and her personal life amid the rising tensions of the Civil Rights Movement.

Relia’s memories of magical moments stargazing with her father help guide her as she risks her life to be a part of the “Dream” and the “Big Freedom.”

The show is directed by Khadijah Brown, and show times are 7:30 p.m. April 19, 20 and 27 and 2:30 p.m. April 27 in the Jolliffe Theatre, in the Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall. Tickets are on a pay-what-you-want basis and available at faceofftheatre.com.

April 25–May 12
Farmers Alley Theatre

This production, presented in collaboration with the Gilmore International Piano Festival, provides an intimate portrait of famed composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

The production gives an inside look at the artist’s personal life and artistic process and includes video interviews and performances of songs from Sondheim shows, including West Side Story, Company, Follies, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sunday in the Park with George, Merrily We Roll Along, Passion, and Into the Woods.

Show times are April 25–May 12 at Farmers Alley Theatre.

Tickets are $25–$52 and available at 343-2727 or farmersalleytheatre.com.

April 11–21
Queer Theatre Kalamazoo

An interracial lesbian couple’s journey to get pregnant using a sperm donor is the focus of this production, which will be staged at Crawlspace Comedy Theatre, 315 W. Michigan Ave.

The play was written by Ann Arbor-based playwright and poet Dawn Richberg, who earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Western Michigan University, and the local production is directed by Connor Klock.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 11, 12, 19, and 20 and 2 p.m. April 21. Tickets are on a name-your-price basis and available at queertk.org.

April 27
All Ears Theatre

This story of a lonely farmer who wants a wife will be performed at 6 p.m. April 27 at the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition, 315 W. Michigan Ave.

The free, live, all-audio production will be recorded and broadcast at a later date, primarily on SoundCloud. For more information, visit allearstheatre.org.

Comedy Performances

Throughout the month
Various venues

Comedy fans will have several chances to take in improv or stand-up performances this month.

A free Early Bird Comedy Open Mic is scheduled for 8 p.m. April 1 at Crawlspace Comedy Theatre, 315 W. Michigan Ave. and an all-ages improv Family Show, featuring the Crawlspace Eviction improv group and the Kids Improv Team, starts there at 1 p.m. April 6. For more information, visit crawlspacecomedy.com.

Dormouse Theatre, at 1030 Portage Road, will feature performances by three local improv groups:

  • Joyce II Men, with live music from XYZ, 7 p.m. April 5.
  • Blunder Bus, 7:30 p.m. April 19.
  • Canned Champagne, 7:30 p.m. April 26.

Tickets are $10 for each Dormouse show. For tickets or more information, visit dormousetheatre.com.

Throughout the month
Various venues

A number of authors and poets will give readings and/or in-person talks this month

Kia Harris
  • Kai Harris, author of the novel What the Fireflies Knew, will give a 10 a.m. craft talk and a 2:15 p.m. reading on April 4 at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Student Commons Theater, 6767 West O Ave.
  • Poets Gail Griffin and Aaron Coleman will read at 7 p.m. April 6 at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave. Suite 103A.
  • Bonnie Jo Campbell will speak on her latest novel, The Waters, at 7 p.m. April 4 at Richland Community Library, 8951 Park St.
  • Parvinder Mehta will read from her recent poetry anthology, On Wings of Words, at 6:30 p.m. April 16 at the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St.
  • Angeline Boulley, author of the novel Firekeeper’s Daughter, will speak at 6:30 p.m. April 16 at the Portage Zhang Senior Center, 203 E. Centre Ave.
  • Harry Dolan will discuss his book Don’t Turn Around, a thriller, at 6 p.m. April 17 at Richland Community Library.
  • Aubrey Begauer, author of Run It Like a Business: Strategies for Arts Organizations to Increase Audiences, Remain Relevant and Multiply Money without Losing the Art, will speak at 11 a.m. April 29 at the Kalamazoo Public Library, Central Branch.

In addition, KPL will host online talks by these authors:

  • Paula J. Johnson, author of The Foods, People and Innovations That Feed Us: A Sweeping History of Food and Culture, at 2 p.m. April 2.
  • Diane Foley and Colum McCann, authors of From Murder to Atonement: Confronting My Son’s Killer, at 2 p.m. April 9.
  • Xochitl Gonzalez, author of A Literary Examination of Power, Love, and Art, at 8 p.m. April 17.

Registration is required for the online talks. To register, visit kpl.gov.

April 6, 19 & 20
Various venues

This annual celebration of poetry and local poets will feature these events:

  • A thematic poetry workshop for youth of middle school and high school age at noon April 6 at Read & Write Kalamazoo, 802 S. Westnedge Ave.
  • An open-mic event at 6 p.m. April 19 at Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative, 1249 Portage St.
  • A Celebration of Community Poets at 6 p.m. April 20 at the Northside Association for Community Development, 612 N. Park St.

The festival, being held during National Poetry Month, is free. To register or for more information, visit kalamazoopoetryfestival.com.

April 27–June 13
Westminster Art Festival

The nature of the relationship between human beings and land will be explored in this annual festival that features a juried exhibition of visual art and poetry.

The festival is held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1515 Helen Ave., in Portage. It will begin with a concert by the Irish folk band Selkie at 5 p.m. April 27. Other festival events include an awards presentation at 5 p.m. May 10, an open-mic poetry reading at 6 p.m. May 31, and a closing celebration with a performance by the brass quintet The Five Directions at 5 p.m. June 13.

For more information, visit westminsterartfestival.org.

April 5–May 24
Kalamazoo Book Arts Center

This exhibition by a New England-based artist will feature research-driven art projects that use a variety of materials and processes.

Lorenz’s work centers on material culture and visual culture and language, and her processes include watercolor painting, photography, printmaking, papermaking, letterpress, felting, sewing and paper engineering.

A reception for the artist will be held at 5 p.m. April 5 at the KBAC, at 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A.

In addition, Lorenz will present a lecture about her work at 5:30 p.m. April 4 in Room 2008 of Western Michigan University’s Richmond Center for Visual Arts.

The KBAC is open from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday. For more information, visit kalbookarts.org.

  • American Realism: Visions of America, 1900-1950 — through April 14
  • High School Area Show — through April 28
  • Kyungmi Shin: A Story to Finding Us — through May 12
Throughout the month
Various venues

Audiences will have three chances to enjoy the KSO this month, including two performances featuring opera.

The KSO Community Concert, set for 7 p.m. April 9 at First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St., will feature works by Italian composers Gabrieli, Corelli and Puccini and others. The event is free, but a ticket is required.

An Evening of Opera with the KSO, at 6 p.m. April 12 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, will include a fundraising dinner, auction and KSO musicians performing favorites from the Puccini opera Tosca. Tickets are $125.

On April 19, the KSO will perform Tosca at 7 p.m. in Miller Auditorium. The program will feature guest vocalists and the Kalamazoo Children’s and Kalamazoo Symphony Opera choruses. Tickets are $5–$68.

For tickets or more information, visit kalamazoosymphony.com.

April 21
Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra

Pianist Harmony Zhu, a 2024 Gilmore Young Artist, will be featured in this concert featuring works by Dvorák and Rachmaninoff.

It’s set for 4 p.m. in Chenery Auditorium. Tickets are $5–$15 and available at 349-7557 or kjso.org.

April 13
Kalamazoo Concert Band

Astrophysicist Paul Pancella and flutist Julianna Staufer of Kalamazoo, the winner of the Concert Band’s 2024 Youth Soloist Competition, will be featured in this performance that goes on a musical exploration of the universe.

The free concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave. For more information, visit kalamazooconcertband.org.

April 27
Three Rivers Presbyterian Church

This concert, set for 7 p.m., will feature the 17 ringers of the group playing handbells and hand chimes.

The church where they’ll perform is at 320 N. Main St., in Three Rivers. The performance is free, but an offering will be taken. For more information, visit kalamazooringers.org.

April 24–May 12
Various venues

More than 100 internationally renowned artists will perform in Southwest Michigan during this 19-day festival celebrating all things piano. Guest artists include Patti LuPone, Hiromi, Yuja Wang, Pink Martini, Kenny Barron and Eliane Elias. (See full story here.)

Ticket prices vary for performances. Visit thegilmore.org for the full schedule and ticket information.

Throughout the month
Various venues

A flurry of concerts this month will finish the performance season for Western Michigan University’s School of Music. Unless noted, performances will be in the university’s Dalton Center Recital Hall and are free. Scheduled this month are:

Abigail Walsh — Flute, 7:30 p.m. April 1.
University Jazz Lab Band — 7:30 p.m. April 2.
WMU Trombone Choir — 7:30 p.m. April 3.
Gold Company II — WMU vocal jazz group, 7:30 p.m. April 4.
Student Composers III — WMU student recital, 7:30 p.m. April 5.
Atlantic Suite — Western Jazz Collective and University Jazz Orchestra performing music by Phil Nimmons, 7:30 p.m. April 6, Dalton Center Recital Hall, tickets $5–$15. To purchase tickets, go to wmich.edu/music/events.
University Percussion Ensemble — 3 p.m. April 7.
Opera Workshop — Presented by WMU Opera, 7:30 p.m. April 9.
WMU Drum Choir — 5 p.m. April 10.
Spring Conference for Wind and Percussion Music — With University Wind Symphony and Kevin Day All-Star Band, 7:30 p.m. April 11, Miller Auditorium.
Choral Showcase — Featuring Amphion, Anima and University Chorale choruses, 7:30 p.m. April 13.
University Symphonic Band & University Concert Band — 3 p.m. April 14.
Chamber Music Showcase — 7:30 p.m. April 15.
65th Annual Concerto Concert — University Symphony Orchestra, 3 p.m. April 21.

For more info, visit wmich.edu/music.

April 20
Fontana Chamber Arts

This performance by an ensemble recognized as “the most distinguished” of brass quintets (American Record Guide) will wrap up Fontana’s 2023-24 season at 7:30 p.m. in Western Michigan University’s Dalton Center Recital Hall.

The American Brass Quintet, founded in 1960, has performed on five continents, made more than 60 recordings, and premiered more than 150 contemporary brass works.Tickets are $15–$30 and available at fontanamusic.org or by calling 250-9684.

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