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The Arts – April 2023

April 2023


The Play that Goes Wrong

April 7–16
WMU Theatre

Part Monty Python, part Sherlock Holmes, this play about an acting company’s accident-prone, disastrous presentation of a 1920s whodunit is being staged by the WMU Department of Theatre.

On opening night for the Cornley University Drama Society’s newest production, Murder at Haversham Manor, things are going from bad to worse, with an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors tripping over everything, including their lines.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 7, 8, 13, 14 & 15 and 2 p.m. April 16. Tickets are $6–$21 and available by calling 387-6222 or visiting

What to Send Up When It Goes Down

April 13–16
Face Off Theatre

This play by Alesha Harris is meant to disrupt racism, acknowledge the resilience of Black people throughout history and provide a space for catharsis and healing.

Through a series of vignettes in various forms, including parody, song, movement, and facilitated dialogue on racial violence, boundaries between the performers and the audience will be broken as audience members are asked to observe and participate.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 13–15 and 2 p.m. April 16. Tickets are on a pay-what-you-can basis and available at

Chicken & Biscuits

April 21–May 7
Farmers Alley Theatre

Family rivalries and secrets set the stage for this comedic production directed by Kalamazoo College Assistant Professor Quincy Thomas.

The play stars Demetria Thomas and Darlene Dues as rival sisters Baneatta and Beverly, who have come together to bury their father. Among the cast are local actor Von Washington Jr. as Baneatta’s pastor husband, Reginald, and Face Off Theatre’s Marissa Harrington as their daughter Simone.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 20-22, 27–29 and May 4–6 and 2 p.m. April 23, 30 and May 7. Tickets are $30–$39, with lower prices available for students, and are available at

The Bird Who Made Milk

April 29
All Ears Theatre

An African folk tale adapted by local writers Arnold Johnston and Deborah Ann Percy is brought to life in this all-audio theater production directed by Sid Ellis.

The radio play tells of a mother, her bullying husband, and their two children who find their lives changed by the intervention of a magic bird that brings out the worst in the father. 

Show time for this free production is 6 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition, 315 W. Michigan Ave. For information, visit


April 21–30
The Civic Youth Theatre

In this musical for children, 8-year-old Lily Polkadot has recently moved to the “Squares Only” town of Rockaway. Being the first Polkadot in her school, Lily faces daily bullying and segregated drinking fountains. It seems impossible for her to gain peer acceptance — until she meets Sky, a Square boy who is curious about her polkadot skin and becomes her friend.

Polkadots serves as a history lesson for children, since it was inspired by the experiences of the Little Rock Nine, a group of nine African American students who were prevented from attending a racially segregated high school by the governor of Arkansas in the 1950s.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 21 & 28, 1 and 4 p.m. April 22 & 29, and 2 p.m. April 23 & 30 in the Civic’s Parish Theatre. Tickets are $15 and available by calling 343-1313 or visiting


Kalamazoo Poetry Festival

April 13–15
First Congregational Church

Pulitzer Prize-winning Kalamazoo poet Diane Seuss will be one of the celebrated writers at the 10th Kalamazoo Poetry Festival, which will be held in person and online and have the theme “The Garden.”
Seuss will host a Celebration of Community Poets at 6 p.m. April 14. That will be followed by a Your Turn Open Mic event at 8 p.m.

Other featured poets will be Hala Alyan, Kaveh Akbar and Traci Brimhall. They will read their poetry at the festival finale, which starts at 6 p.m.
April 15.

Workshops will be offered at 6:30 p.m. April 13 and 10 a.m. and noon April 15.

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

Creating Children’s Books in the Digital Age

April 3 & 4
David Small & Kristen Tracy

Kalamazoo illustrator David Small and author Kristen Tracy will talk about creating children’s books, including their new book, Cat’s Very Good Day, at two events this month.

Their children’s picture book, which chronicles a mischievous cat’s action-packed day, was released this month by Penguin Random House.

Tracy and Small will give a presentation and do a book signing at 6:30 p.m. April 3 at Western Michigan University’s Zhang Legacy Collections Center, 1650 Oakland Drive, and at 6:30 p.m. April 4 at this is a bookstore, 3017 Oakland Drive. Registration is requested for the bookstore event; you can go to is a bookstore to register.

Author Talks

Throughout the month
Various venues

Several authors will discuss their books at events across the area this month:

Angeline Boulley, who writes about the Ojibwe (Chippewa) community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, will discuss and read from her debut young adult and New York Times bestselling novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, on April 4 at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Texas Township campus. Boulley will present a craft talk at 10 a.m. and a reading at 2:15 p.m. in the college’s Student Commons Theater, Room 4240. For information, go to

Spiritual writer, poet and philosopher Mark Nepo will read from his book of poems The Half-Life of Angels at 7 p.m. April 13 at the Kalamazoo College Upjohn Library, followed by a discussion and book signing. For information, visit

Anne Dueweke will discuss her 2022 book, A Conversation & Reckoning: K College Uncovers Its Racial & Colonial Past, at 6:30 April 25 at the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Oshtemo Branch. Dueweke will be joined by Donna Odom, the former executive director of the Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE). For information, visit

Silke Maria Weineck and Stefan Szymanski, who penned City of Champions: A History of Triumph and Defeat in Detroit, will discuss their book at 7 p.m. April 26 at the Richland Community Library. The book tells of the changing fortunes of Detroit told through the lens of major sports stories. For information, visit


WMU School of Music Performances

Throughout the month
Various venues

David Berkman

Western Michigan University’s School of Music will present several ensembles and showcase its student talent in various performances this month. These events will be in the university’s Dalton Center Recital Hall and, unless otherwise noted, are free. The performances scheduled are:
WMU Trombone Choir, 7:30 p.m. April 3.
University Jazz Lab Band, 7:30 p.m. April 4.
• Chromic Duo, 7:30 p.m. April 5, with pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5–$15.
• David Berkman, jazz pianist, 7:30 p.m. April 5, Dalton Center Leture Hall.
Gold Company II, WMU’s vocal jazz ensemble, 7:30 p.m. April 6.
Brent Miller, composer, 5 p.m. April 7.
Birds on a Wire, WMU’s new-music ensemble, 1 p.m. April 8.
University Percussion Ensemble, 7:30 p.m. April 8.
• University Wind Symphony, with guest composer David Biedenbender, 7:30 p.m. April 13, Miller Auditorium.
• University Symphonic & Concert Bands, 3 p.m. April 16, Miller Auditorium.
• Amphion, Anima & University Chorale, three university choirs, 5 p.m. April 16.
Chamber Music Ensembles Student Showcase, 7:30 p.m. April 17 & 18.
Campus Choir, 7:30 p.m. April 19.
University Symphony Orchestra, 3 p.m. April 23, Miller Auditorium.
For information or to purchase tickets, visit

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

April 28
WMU’s Dalton Center Recital Hall

Fontana Chamber Arts presents this ensemble, performing works by Brahms, at 7:30 p.m.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center has an evolving and impressive roster of musicians and is one of 11 constituents of the largest performing arts complex in the world, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which offers performance, education, recording and broadcasting activities.

Tickets are $15–$30 and available at

KSO Concerts

Throughout the month
Various venues

From Brahms to Broadway, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra offers three programs this month geared for music lovers of all ages:

A German Requiem — The Bach Festival Chorus will join the full symphony to perform this Brahms requiem to hope, courage and joy at 7:30 p.m. April 15 at Chenery Auditorium. The program will also include music by Beethoven and Mozart.

Family Discovery Concert — A concerto performance by the KSO’s Jane Rooks Ross and Barry Ross Youth Soloist Competition winner will be one highlight of this family-friendly concert at 3 p.m. April 22 at Chenery Auditorium. The concert will be preceded by lobby performances by youth musicians, hands-on exploratory activities, and information on getting started with area music programs.

Afternoon on Broadway — The Chamber Players of the KSO plus four singers and pianist Christopher Gray will perform songs from Broadway shows such as Les Misérables, South Pacific, City of Angels, My Fair Lady and Into the Woods on April 30 at Western Michigan University’s Dalton Center Recital Hall. Kathy Mulay will direct the concert, and the featured singers will be Rhea Olivacce, Sandra Bremer, Ben Gulley and Jeremy Koch.

Tickets for each of these performances can be purchased at, with discounts available for teachers, veterans, students and low-income individuals.

Travelin’ Music

April 29
Kalamazoo Concert Band

In its final concert this season, the Kalamazoo Concert Band will be joined by the winner of its 2023 Youth Soloist Competition for high school wind and percussion players.

They will perform a program of music focused on travel at 7:30 p.m. in Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave.

The concert is free. For information, visit

Earthwork Music Collective

April 19
Dormouse Theatre

For the first time since 2018, members of the Earthwork Music Collective will bring their tour to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, including this stop in Kalamazoo.

Among the musicians who will perform are Dede & the Dreamers, Seth Bernard, Samantha Cooper, Chris Good, Jordan Hamilton, Audra Kubat, Elisabeth Pixley-Fink, Hearth & Hymn, Jo Serrapere and Nicholas James Thomasma.

Show time is 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 and available at

Songs for the Journey Part 2

April 23
Kalamazoo Singers

This chorus will perform music about memories and looking to the future at 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 345 W. Michigan Ave.

The concert is the second to focus on this season’s theme, Songs for the Journey. The first concert, in November, focused on moving from grief to healing.

Tickets are $5–$15 and available at


April 23
Kalamazoo Community Chorale

The Kalamazoo Community Chorale teams up with the Kalamazoo Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra for its annual spring concert, a free event set for 3 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 212 S. Park St.

The chorale is a 55-member women’s chorus, and the orchestra is a plucked string ensemble of mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos, guitars and bass.

For more information, visit

Meditations on Fate

April 30
Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra

Vocalists from several local choruses will join the KJSO in this performance at 4 p.m. at Chenery Auditorium.

The youth symphony will join forces with singers from Vicksburg and Three Rivers high schools, First Congregational Church, First Presbyterian Church and Kalamazoo College in a program featuring works by Charles-Auguste de Bériot, Alan Hovhaness, Giuseppe Verdi, Brahms, and John Williams. The program will reflect on transitions and be a celebration of longtime KJSO Executive Director Lee Fletcher, who is retiring after nearly four decades at the organization.  

Violinist Tyler Jacobs, winner of the 2022 KJSO Concerto Competition, will also perform.

Tickets are $5–$15 and available at

Bravo! Competition Recital

April 19
Judy K. Jolliffe Theatre

Bravo!, a competition and performance celebrating local youth musicians, returns this month after a seven-year hiatus.

Local youth musicians from all musical disciplines were invited to audition for the program. Winners of those auditions will give a free recital at 7 p.m. April 19 in the Judy K. Jolliffe Theatre in the Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall. Winners also receive professional coaching sessions prior to the recital, tickets to The Gilmore, Fontana Chamber Arts and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra performances, and gift cards to local businesses.

Portions of the recital will be recorded for broadcast at a later date on Classical WMUK 89.9 and the Public Media Network.

Bravo! was originally created in 2001 to showcase local youth musicians; the last event was held in 2016.

For information, visit


High School Area Show

April 24–May 21
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Showcasing artwork made by local high school students, the High School Area Show has been a tradition for over 40 years at the KIA. Works by students in Allegan, Berrien, Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties will be displayed, with the student artists eligible for more than 45 scholarships and prizes that will be awarded.

The KIA is open 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Wednesday–Saturday and noon–4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5, or $2 for students and free for members. For information, visit

Edible Book Festival

April 1
Kalamazoo Book Arts Center

After being a virtual event last year, the Edible Book Festival returns to being a live event beginning at 2:30 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave, Suite 103A.

In this popular annual culinary celebration of the book arts, the competitors create food items inspired by their favorite books. The display begins at 2:30, and winners will be announced at 4 p.m., followed by an opportunity for attendees to eat the entries.

For information, visit

New Exhibitions

April 7–May 5
Kalamazoo Book Arts Center

Two artists will be featured this month at the KBAC Gallery.

Prints and other artwork by John McKaig explore escape, sexuality, mortality, passage after life and dealing with trauma.

Works created by Caroline Allen and inspired by the writing of  Kia Penso will be featured in Caroline Allen: Paper Collage. Allen’s collages are being used to design multi-colored linocuts for the KBAC letterpress publication The Ghosts, a limited-edition book of short stories by Penso.

The opening reception for both exhibitions will be 6–7 p.m. April 22, followed by readings by poet W. Todd Kaneko and author Kia Penso from 7–8:30 p.m.

For information, visit


April 29–June 15
Westminster Art Festival

Visual art and poetry representing the complicated and intertwined relationships in and among ecosystems will be the focus of this annual exhibition.

The juried festival, which is held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1515 Helen Ave., will kick off with an opening reception and concert from 5–8 p.m. April 29. Awards for the festival will be presented at 6 p.m. May 13, with the exhibition open from 5–8 that night.

For information, call 344-3966 or visit


Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
Young Artists of Kalamazoo County through April 16
Art, Music and Feminism in the 1950s, through May 7
Expressions in Paper and Clay, through May 14
Lines That… , through June 11

WMU’s Richmond Center for Visual Arts
Naomi van Niekerk: Interval, through April 21
Annual Frostic School of Art Student Exhibition, through April 21

Portage District Library
A Weaver’s Journal of Endangered Wildflowers, by Carol Irving, through April 22
Le Petite Bookshelf, by Michele Boudreaux, through April 22

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