Meadow Brook Theatre brings ‘a little something new’

By Sarah Wojcik

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Travis Walter, the artistic director at Meadow Brook Theatre, is working hard to restore the theater’s world class reputation.

This semester, he is directing each of the four productions Meadow Brook Theatre is putting on: “39 Steps,” “Reunion: A Musical Epic”, “Ding Dong” and “Shout! The Mod Musical.”

“I’m trying to give our audience something new—that’s sort of what my theme has been,” Walter said. “A little something new that is reminiscent of the past and the shows that (the audience) likes.”

Walter is successfully striving to bring many Michigan and North American premieres to the theater, including “39 Steps” and “Ding Dong,” from a large number of sources, including Broadway and London.

“(We are) trying to show (the audience) that there are other people that are still writing out there that are contemporary, who still write in the style that (they) like,” Walter said.

The normal age group ranges from 30 to 60, according to Walter. However, the theater would love to have more students.

Meadow Brook Theatre offers $10 student tickets with ID at the door the day of the show, which is roughly the same price to see a movie at a cinema.

The run time of shows is approximately two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

’39 Steps’

“The 39 Steps” follows the plot of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, however, while it is still a suspense thriller, Walter likes to call it a “comedic thriller” because four people play all of the characters in the production.

The result is lots of quick changes and comic bits throughout the show.

Several of the actors play well over a dozen characters, including some inanimate objects.

“It’s been really fun watching the audience too because they’re just laughing nonstop through the entire show,” Walter said. “It’s pretty fabulous.”

The plot follows the story of an unassuming man who takes a woman home and finds out she’s a spy.

When she dies, he is accused of the murder and has to go on the run, looking for the information she told him could clear his name.

‘Reunion: A Musical Epic’

“Reunion” is fundamentally a retelling of the Civil War as seen through the eyes of the North.

What makes the piece unique is its authenticity. All of the words in the show are actually pulled from letters, memoirs, diary entries and newspapers that were written by men and women living during the Civil War.

Walter calls it a “living documentary.”

‘Ding Dong’

“Ding Dong” is a comedy that is part of Marc Camoletti’s series which utilizes all of the same characters.

Because of Boeing Boeing’s wild success at Meadow Brook Theatre last year, the theater is choosing to showcase another of the playwright’s comedies.

The show has only been performed in London, but Walter attained permission to produce it as a North American premiere.

The show is about a man who discovers his wife is cheating on him. The wife’s lover tells the man that, as a businessman, he needs compensation and gives him the choice of either allowing him to have an affair with his wife or death. The man consents and brings a hired call girl to their arranged dinner to pretend to be his wife, but  his wife shows up later in the show.

“It’s just a wonderful French farce,” Walter said. “Lots of people running in and out and mistaken identities and that kind of stuff.”

‘Shout! The Mod Musical’

“Shout!” is a musical about the 1960s.

“It has all the Dusty Springfield music, Lulu and Petula Clark and stuff like that,” Walter said, “but it goes into the 1960s fashions as well.”

The show is about five women, all from different walks of life, that come together to reminisce about the ’60s.

Meadow Brook Theatre chose to end the season with “Shout!” because the flashback factor and high-energy spirit will close spring out with a bang.

For more information on all of the productions, visit www.mbtheatre.org