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The Arts – Feb. 2023


Museum: Conversations in the Gallery  

Feb. 17–26
WMU Theatre

You’ll never know who you are talking or listening to in this immersive theater production in the Richmond Center for Visual Arts, Western Michigan University’s fine arts gallery space.

In this unique WMU production, the audience will have a chance to enjoy the art, meet an array of characters and hear their stories as they move throughout the gallery. Perhaps the people next to the audience members are actors, perhaps just guests.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17–18 & 24–25 and 1 and 4 p.m. Feb. 19 & 26. Tickets are $6–$21 and available by calling 387-6222 or visiting

First Date: Musical

Feb. 10–19
The Civic

What seems like certain disaster — blind date newbie Aaron is set up with serial dater Casey — turns into a musical journey in this production at the Kalamazoo Civic’s Parish Theatre.

Jordan Bruner and Nadya Beyar (in her Civic debut) are the hapless couple whose inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons transform into supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents who sing and dance them through icebreakers, appetizers and conversational land mines.

The show contains adult content and language. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10, 11, 17 & 18 and 2 p.m. Feb. 12 & 19 at the Parish, 405 W. Lovell St. Tickets are $17–$30 and available by calling
343-1313 or visiting

Caught Up in the Circle of Life

Feb. 18
All Ears Theatre

This all-audio theater production looks at how our lives intertwine with others and how what we seek is sometimes not what really is.

The script is by local playwright Buddy Hannah, and the show is directed by Marissa Danielle Harrington.

Show time is 6 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Building/First Baptist Church, 315 W. Michigan Ave.

The Mountaintop

Feb. 23–26
Kalamazoo College Festival Playhouse

This fictional depiction of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on earth set entirely in Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel on the eve of his assassination in 1968 will be staged by Kalamazoo College. Written by American playwright Katori Hall, the production will be directed by Quincy Thomas.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23–25 and 2 p.m. Feb. 26 at Kalamazoo College’s Nelda K. Balch Playhouse, 129 Thompson St. Tickets are $10–$25 and are available online at or calling 337-7333.

Something Rotten!

Feb. 24–26
Center Stage Theatre

How do two brothers running a theatrical troupe in 1595 cope with being outshone at every turn by none other than William Shakespeare? That’s the tale at the heart of this musical comedy.

The show is directed by Douglas Gaertner, with Jack Ford-Teich and Drew Dixon as Nick and Nigel Bottom, respectively. It will be performed at Comstock Community Auditorium, 2107 N. 26th St.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 & 25 and 2 p.m. Feb. 25 & 26. Tickets are $12–$15 and available at

Ongoing Productions

Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea

Feb. 2–5
Williams Theatre, WMU

The Great Leap

Feb. 2–12
Farmers Alley Theatre

Clybourne Park

Feb. 3–5
Civic Theatre


Author Hop

Feb. 10
Portage District Library

Meet more than 20 local authors whose work ranges from nonfiction to children’s books to fiction and mystery at this event, running from 5–8 p.m.

It will include the opportunity to purchase signed copies of the authors’ books, a prize drawing, live jazz and refreshments. Among the participating writers are two Encore contributors, Robert Weir and Heidi McCrary.

For more information, visit

Poets in Print: Layli Long Soldier & Chet’la Sebree

Feb. 18

Two award-winning poets will read from their works in this 7 p.m. virtual event via Zoom.

Chet’la Sebree is the author of Field Study, winner of the 2020 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Mistress, winner of the 2018 New Issues Prize and nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Her poetry and prose have been published in journals and magazines including The Yale Review, The New Republic, Kenyon Review, and Guernica. She is an assistant professor of English at The George Washington University and is working on her debut essay collection.

Layli Long Soldier is the author of WHEREAS, which won the 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and was short-listed for the National Book Award. She has received a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a National Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and a Whiting Writers’ Award. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

For a link to the reading, visit

Author TJ Klune

Feb. 21
Communiteen Read 2023

This award-winning author, whose novel The House in the Cerulean Sea was this year’s Portage Communiteen Read selection, will discuss his book at 6 p.m. at the Portage Zhang Senior Center, 203 E. Centre Ave.

The book won an Alex Award in 2021 from the American Library Association. These awards are given annually to 10 books written for adults that have special appeal to young people ages 12 to 18.
Communiteen Read, a program co-hosted by Portage Public Schools, Portage District Library, and This is a Bookstore/Bookbug, has Portage teens read and discuss a selected book and culminates in a visit from the author.

Klune is a prolific writer whose novels also include Into This River I Drown, winner of a Lambda Literary Award. In addition to stand-alone novels, he has written books in a number of series.
His Feb. 21 presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, visit


Winter Gala Dance Concert

Feb. 10–11
WMU Department of Dance

The Western Michigan University Department of Dance will present its annual student and faculty dance showcase in WMU’s Shaw Theatre.

Students will perform dances by Great Works artist Decidedly Jazz Danceworks and other guest choreographers in styles including ballet, jazz, modern and contemporary dance. The Winter Gala Dance Concert will also feature choreography by dance faculty and students.

Show times are 8 p.m. Feb. 10 & 11 and 2 p.m. Feb. 11 & 12, and tickets are $6–$21. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit


Clayton Stephenson

Feb. 5
Gilmore Rising Stars Series

While in-person tickets for pianist Clayton Stephenson’s performance have already sold out, you can still see it virtually.

Stephenson, the 2022 Gilmore Young Artist and a finalist at the 2022 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, will perform at 5 p.m. in the Wellspring Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall.

He has performed at BeethovenFest in Bonn, Germany, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics at Harvard and a master’s degree in piano performance at the New England Conservatory.

His concert program includes works by Bach, Gershwin, Beethoven, Tatum, Scriabin and Prokofiev. Tickets for a livestream of his performance are available on a name-your-price basis at


Feb. 19
Kalamazoo Ringers

Six handbell choirs will join as one to play in this annual concert celebrating the art form of handbell ringing.

This free concert will begin at 3:30 p.m. at Portage West Middle School, 7145 Moorsbridge Road. It will be directed by Fred Gramann, an internationally renowned handbell clinician, director and composer. For more information, visit

Fascinating Rhythm with Megan Dooley

Feb. 25
Kalamazoo Concert Band

Kalamazoo vocalist Megan Dooley will once again join the Kalamazoo Concert Band for a night of music and song at 7:30 p.m. in Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave.

Dooley, who last performed with the band singing World War II era songs in the 2020 show The Homefront, will lend her vocal talents to this concert, which explores the rhythms that surround us.

The concert is free. For more information, visit

WMU School of Music

Various venues
Throughout the month
Pianist Jasmin Arakawa

WMU’s School of Music is only a month into the new semester but has a full slate of concerts scheduled for February. Unless noted, performances will be in the university’s Dalton Center Recital Hall and are free. The performances scheduled are:

Western Winds, made up of WMU graduate students and faculty mentors, in WMU’s Bullock Series, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1 with pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5–$15.
University Jazz Orchestra and University Jazz Lab Band, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2. Tickets are $5–$10.
University Symphony Orchestra, with pianist Yu-Lien The, 3 p.m. Feb. 5 at Miller Auditorium.
University Wind Symphony and Concert Band, conducted by Scott Boerma and Mary Land, 3 p.m. Feb. 12 at Miller Auditorium.
University Symphonic Band, conducted by Trey Harris, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13, Miller Auditorium.
• Pianist Jasmin Arakawa, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16.
• Composer and WMU faculty member Christopher Biggs and saxophonist Ben Schmidt-Swartz, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19.
• Vocalist Greg Jasperse and Grammy-nominated guitarist Chico Pinheiro in WMU’s Bullock Series, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22, with pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5–$15.
Amphion, Anima and University Chorale, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25.
• Student Composers recital, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Jurassic Park in Concert

Feb. 24
Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Steven Speilberg’s iconic 1993 science fiction film about man against prehistoric predators will be shown as the symphony orchestra performs John Williams’ iconic score to the film.

The event begins at 7 p.m. at Miller Auditorium. Tickets are $6–$68 and are available at

Paths to Dignity

Feb. 19
Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra

See story on our website.


All Together Now: Contemporary Prints from the University Art Collection

Through Feb. 25
Richmond Center for Visual Arts
Laylah Ali, Untitled (2001)

Nearly 100 works representing the wide-ranging history of printmaking and taken from the Western Michigan University Art Collection are featured through Feb. 25 in the Albertine Monroe-Brown Gallery of WMU’s Richmond Center for Visual Arts.

This exhibition includes dozens of post-modern and contemporary artists, including Joseph Albers, Laylah Ali, Sol Lewitt, Lorna Marsh, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Do Ho Suh, Roger Shimomura and Cy Twombly.

Gallery hours are noon–5 p.m. Wednesday–Friday and noon–4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit

Ginger Owen-Murakami: Girl’s Own Guide

Through Feb. 25
Richmond Center for Visual Arts

Wet-plate collodion photographic images inspired by the woman recognized as America’s first published abolitionist writer, Lydia Maria Child, will be featured in this exhibition by Ginger Owen-Murakami in the Rose Netzorg and James Wilfrid Kerr Gallery.

Child, a women’s rights activist, opponent of American expansionism, activist for the rights of indigenous people, novelist and journalist, published The Girl’s Own Book in 1834.

Owen-Murakami is a professor of photography at Western Michigan University’s Gwen Frostic School of Art, whose artwork derives imagery from narratives and themes of family history, race, gender and culture.

For more information, visit

The Illustrated Accordion

Feb. 3–March 24
Kalamazoo Book Arts Center

Books created in the accordion style by emerging and established artists will be featured in this annual exhibition, with a reception for the artists set for 5–8 p.m. March 3.

Accordion books are composed of a continuous folded sheet of paper that can be stood up to view all the pages at once. They had origins throughout Asia and were created to accommodate scroll-style books.

The KBAC is at 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday or by appointment. For more information, call 373-4938 or visit

Michigan Mementos: A Painterly Collection of Memories and Places

Through Feb. 28
Portage District Library

A collection of paintings by Kalamazoo artist Anna Barnhart that give a snapshot of some of Michigan’s well-known places will be on display in the library’s Atrium Gallery.

Barnhart, whose style ranges from vividly impressionistic to nearly abstract, captures the landscapes and moods of the Midwest.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Monday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit


Local Filmmaker Showcase

Feb. 23
Kalamazoo Film Society

Works by local filmmakers will hit the silver screen in this inaugural event presented by the Kalamazoo Film Society.

It runs from 7–9 p.m. at Celebration Cinema, 6600 Ring Road. After the screenings, filmmakers in attendance will participate in a question-and-answer session.

The free event is designed to encourage and celebrate local filmmakers. The showcase began taking submissions in October, and those whose works were chosen for screening were notified in January.
For more information, visit

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Encore Magazine is Southwest Michigan’s Magazine, bringing readers intriguing images and stories of the good things, good works and great people of our corner of the mitten. Published 12 times a year, Encore in its fifth decade of serving Southwest Michigan, carrying on a historic tradition of being the premier lifestyle publication of the greater Kalamazoo area.

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