Close this search box.

The Arts – May 2023

May 2023


The Hunchback of Notre Dame

May 5–21
Civic Theatre

The story of bell ringer Quasimodo who dreams of seeing Paris and his friendship with Esmeralda, a Romani woman, is the heart of this musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo.

The musical has songs from the Disney animated movie of the same name as well as new songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. This production is directed by Mike Artis and stars Brett Gowen as Quasimodo and McKenna Burlingham as Esmeralda.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. May 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 & 20 and 2 p.m. May 7, 14 & 21. Tickets are $30, or $24 for students 13 and up, and $17 for children 12 and under, and are available at

Bright Stars: A Benefit Concert

May 12 & 13
Farmers Alley Theatre

Farmers Alley Theatre celebrates its 15th season with a performance by Broadway performer and Kalamazoo native Hannah Elless and other Farmers Alley performers.

Elless will share with audiences her experiences on stages from Kalamazoo to Broadway, where she starred in the original production of Bright Star in 2016 and the revival of Godspell in 2011. Other performers sharing memories of Farmers Alley will be Denene, Jeremy and Jason Koch; Cece Weeks; Whitney Weiner; and Gina Chimner.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. May 12 & 13. Tickets are $75–$125, with a portion that is tax-deductible, and are available at

Jekyll & Hyde

May 13
All Ears Theatre

An all-audio telling of the story of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde will be performed at 6 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition, 315 W. Michigan Ave.

The free performance, directed by Martie Groat, will include Arnie Johnston in the title role of Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde and Pamela Clark as Gabriella Utterson, Dr. Jekyll’s friend and lawyer who untangles the mystery surrounding him.

For more information, visit

Next to Normal

May 18–21
Festival Playhouse

A suburban family’s struggle with the mother’s mental illness is the focus of this play to be staged at Balch Playhouse, on the Kalamazoo College campus.

For 16 years, Diana Goodman has lived with manic depression, since the death of her infant son, an illness that has almost torn her family apart on multiple occasions. Taking audiences into the hearts and minds of each of the characters, Next to Normal addresses issues such as grieving a loss, ethics in modern psychiatry, and suburban life.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. May 18–20 and 2 p.m. May 21. Tickets are $25, with discounts for seniors, children, students and staff, and are available at The show will also be livestreamed.

Ongoing Production

Chicken & Biscuits

through May 7
Farmers Alley Theatre


Little Worlds: Spring Concert of Dance

May 19–21
Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers

Kalamazoo’s modern dance company will wrap up its season with a weekend of performances this month at Wellspring Theater in the Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall.

The troupe’s spring concert will feature works choreographed by Cori Terry and Marisa Bianan.

Show times are 8 p.m. May 19 & 20 and 2 p.m. May 21. Tickets are $22, or $12 for students and $10 for youth, and are available at or by calling 342-4354.

Snow White: A Fairytale Ballet

May 20 & 21
Ballet Kalamazoo

The youth dance troupe will present the classic fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Comstock Community Auditorium, 2107 N. 26th St.

Grand Rapids native Joseph Van Harn, a member of Festival Ballet Providence (Rhode Island), will perform as a special guest.

Show times are 6 p.m. May 20 and 2 p.m. May 21. Tickets are $20, or $15 for students 17 and under, $10 for children 2–5 years old and free for younger children. Tickets are available at


Eternal Memory: Music for Ukraine

May 13
Kalamazoo Philharmonia

A centuries-wide sampling of Ukrainian music will be performed by this Kalamazoo College-based community symphony.

The concert is set for 7:30 p.m. in the college’s Dalton Theatre.

Among the works by Ukrainian composers to be performed are Maksym Berezovsky’s Symphony in C, Boris Lyatoshynsky’s Prelude from the film Taras Shevchenko and Mykola Skoryk’s Melody. Tickets are $2–$5 and will be available at the door. For more information, visit

Stulberg International String Festival

May 18–20
Various venues

There will be several opportunities to be part of the action when some of the globe’s most talented youth string musicians come to town for the Stulberg International String Festival.

The public can be part of the festival, a competition for young musicians, through these events:

The Stulberg Spring Soiree, a fundraising event that kicks off the festival and will feature music by The Birdseed Salesmen, a wine pull, a silent auction, dinner and drink.It starts at 6:30 p.m. May 18 at Bell’s Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., and tickets are $90.

Master Classes, which the public can observe for free, 3–6 p.m. May 19 at Western Michigan University’s Dalton Center.

Bach Prize Award Night, when the 12 Stulberg finalists play solo Bach pieces for prizes, 7:30–10 p.m. May 19 at WMU’s Dalton Center Recital Hall; tickets are $15, or $5 for students.

Competition Semifinals & Finals, when the 12 semifinalists compete for the top prizes. The semifinals are 9 a.m.–noon & 1–4 p.m. May 20, and the finals are 7:30 p.m. May 20 at Dalton Center Recital Hall. Admission to the semifinals is free, and tickets for the finals are $25, or $5 for students and $35 for a combo ticket to the finals and the Bach Prize.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit

Brass Band of Battle Creek

May 20
W.K. Kellogg Auditorium

The acclaimed brass band will perform a New Orleans-themed concert featuring several special guests.

Joining the band will be clarinetist Doreen Ketchens, known as “Lady Louie” for the way she plays her instrument like Louie Armstrong; trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, who has been named Trombonist of the Year 15 times by the Jazz Journalists Association; and jazz drummer Herlin Riley, a regularly featured musician at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at Kellogg Auditorium, located at 50 Van Buren St., in Battle Creek. Tickets are $25–$65 and can be purchased at

There’s No Place Like Home

May 21
Kalamazoo Ringers

The longest-running bronze-level community handbell ensemble in the U.S. will perform its spring concert from 4–5:30 p.m. at Grace Harbor Church, 811 Gorham Lane.

Admission to the event is free, but donations will be accepted. For more information, visit

Decades of Hits

May 24
Blendings Vocal Ensemble

This performance by a Kalamazoo choir is designed to appeal to fans of popular music from the 1930s through the 1990s.

The concert, set for 7:30 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, will include songs from each decade, including songs by Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Sonny & Cher, Stevie Wonder and Sting.

Tickets are $15 and will be available at the door. For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page, at

Love Is (Volume 6)

May 24
Kalamazoo Bach Festival

A commissioned world premiere and the revealing of a new name and logo for the 77-year-old Kalamazoo Bach Festival will be featured in this concert at 7:30 p.m. at Kalamazoo College’s Dalton Theatre.

Composer David O collaborated with Kalamazoo’s Joe Ossmann to create “Blessed: Meditations on the Beatitudes,” which will be premiered at the concert.

Tickets are $5–$24 for the in-person performance and $19 for online viewing and can be purchased at

KSO Concerts
Throughout the month
Various venues

The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra will showcase the talents of young players to professionals in three performances this month:

  • The KSO Community Concert, featuring works by Amy Breach & Johannes Brahms, is set for 7 p.m. May 9 at First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St.; admission is free.
  • The KSO Masterworks Season Finale, which will feature internationally recognized pianist Marc-André Hamelin performing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto in C Minor and the KSO playing works by Ferruccio Busoni, Carlos Simon and Ottorino Respighi. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. May 20 in Miller Auditorium, and tickets are $6–$68.
  • Kalamazoo Kids in Tune, an after-school orchestra featuring area elementary through high school students, will perform at 7 p.m. May 23 at Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave.; admission is free.

For more information or to purchase tickets. visit


Michigan Salvage: The Fiction of Bonnie Jo Campbell

May 20
Kalamazoo Public Library

Kalamazoo author Bonnie Jo Campbell will be on hand to discuss her fiction writing with the editors of this first scholarly book on her work. The event begins at 2 p.m. and will include a reading and book signing.

Campbell is the author of the novels Q Road; Once Upon a River, the best-selling 2011 novel that was made into a movie of the same name in 2019; and the forthcoming novel, The Waters.

She is also the author of the short-story collections Women and Other Animals, which won the 1998 Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs; American Salvage, a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in Fiction; and Mothers Tell Your Daughters (2015).
Campbell received her M.A. in mathematics and her M.F.A. in creative writing from Western Michigan University and lives with her husband and other animals outside Kalamazoo. She teaches writing in the low-residency program at Pacific University.

More Author Talks

Throughout the month
Various venues
Marion Sterling Boyer

Authors of both fiction and nonfiction works will discuss their writing in online and in-person talks this month.

  • Marion Starling Boyer, Kalamazoo Valley Community College professor emeritus and the author of five published poetry collections, will read from her new book, Ice Hours (2023), which won Michigan State University’s Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize, at 7 p.m. May 10 at the Richland Community Library.
  • Jena Friedman — The American comedian and writer will discuss her book, Not Funny: Essays on Life, Comedy, Culture, Et Cetera, in a virtual presentation 8–9 p.m. May 10 on Registration is required at
  • Courtney Summers — The author of I’m the Girl, a coming-of-age novel that was named a Best Book of the Year in 2022 by BuzzFeed, Kirkus Reviews and more, will give an online talk from 2–3 p.m. May 20 on Registration is required at
  • Justin & Alexis Black — The couple will discuss their experiences in the foster-care system and overcoming adversity as detailed in their book, Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat the Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness and Love, from 7–8 p.m. May 23 at the Portage District Library.


Art Hop

May 5
Downtown Kalamazoo

Celebrating public art, this month’s Art Hop will unveil the Kalamazoo County Public Arts Commission’s Pixel Stix project, which is an interactive, online gallery of area murals.

This free event, organized by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, runs from 5–8 p.m. and will also feature art making in action, including glassblowing, ceramics, fiber arts, woodworking and more.
The Arts Council has an app that provides a guide and map of Art Hop sites, information about participating artists, and walking directions. For more information or to access the app, visit

Somers Randolph

May 10
via Zoom

Somers Randolph will discuss his 40 years of creating sculptures from stone in a virtual presentation sponsored by the Kalamazoo Art League.

The New Mexican sculptor is known for creating one-of-a-kind sensuous knots and woven curves out of stone, including alabaster, marble, granite, and even lapis. The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. To register and receive the Zoom link, send email to

Cross Currents: East/West Woodblock Prints

May 12 – July 28
Kalamazoo Book Arts Center

Kalamazoo artist Mary Brodbeck, who learned woodblock techniques from Japanese artist Yoshisuke Funasaka through a fellowship in Japan in 1998, will participate in an exhibition with her mentor to showcase 25 years of cross-cultural exchange and relationship.

Using 17th-century Japanese woodblock techniques, Funasaka’s works will display abstract motifs, while Brodbeck’s will showcase the Great Lakes watershed region.

The KBAC gallery, at 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A, is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday. There will be a reception with the artists at 5:30 p.m. May 12. For more information, visit


Kalamazoo Book Arts Center:

  • John McKaig, through May 5
  • Caroline Allen: Paper Collage, through May 12

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts:

  • Art, Music and Feminism in the 1950s, through May 7
  • Expressions in Paper and Clay, through May 14
  • High School Area Show, through May 21
  • Lines That … , through June 11

EcoWisdom, Westminster Art Festival, through June 15

Encore Magazine

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.

Leave a Reply

Support local journalism by subscribing to Encore

By becoming a subscriber, you can help secure the future of Encore’s local reporting.

One year for
Just $3 a month!

Sign up for our Newsletter

Never miss an issue by getting Encore delivered to your Inbox every month.

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by those interviewed and featured in our articles do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Encore Magazine or the official policies, owners or employees of Encore Publications.

Encore Magazine is published 12 times a year. © 2024 Encore Publications. All Rights Reserved.
117 W. Cedar St., Suite A, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 (269) 383-4433