By Kris Kelly
CBS 62/CW50 Community Affairs Manager
I'm looking into my crystal ball (shhh…it's really glass) and the future becomes clear. I will definitely be returning to another performance at the Two Muses Theatre.
Last Sunday, I saw "The Current" by native Detroiter Sean Paraventi on a tiny stage hidden inside the West Bloomfield Barnes and Noble store. I admit, it was the last place I would think to look for good theatre, but I found it.
The play was clever, touching, and all-around fun. It tells the story of four young women who visit a psychic during a bachelorette party and the havoc that's created as the psychic's hazy predictions actually shine light on the fears or worries of each of her guests. The acting was sharp, the staging was great, and it moved at a quick pace to a warm and endearing ending! Kudos all around to the cast, the director, and the author for a delightful afternoon!
But the fun didn't stop when the play ended. Following the Sunday afternoon performance, three local psychics presented a gallery reading for audience members who stayed to watch, sharing messages of hope and love from beyond. For anyone unfamiliar with gallery readings, the psychic relays information he or she receives from the spirit world to the audience in an open forum. Everyone hears all the messages and even though some may be directed at one person, others may find they connect with the message as well. The readings are short, lasting three to five minutes, and not everyone in the audience will receive one. But if you are into that sort of thing, it is always an interesting opportunity to get a brief glimpse at "the other side."
So after a pleasant afternoon of entertainment, I started wondering…who are the "Two Muses" and what brought them to this point? Since my own crystal/glass ball is a bit murky at the moment, I decided to interview Diane Hill who played the psychic in the show to get the details. This is what I found out:
Diane Hill and Barbie Weisserman are the co-founders as well as the heart and soul of Two Muses Theatre. In the summer of 2011, they combined their varied skill sets (Hill is a director/actor with a professional theatre background. Weisserman is a designer/actor from the community theatre world) to create a new professional theatre company with a very distinct mission.
"In an often male-dominated theatre world, our mission is to provide opportunities for women in theatre and to promote female artists and artisans," explained Hill. "A goal of our mission is to present programming centered around women and their interests and issues, and to both develop and fulfill the need for a sense of community, artistic outlet, and employment opportunities for women in the theater. All funds raised from performances go directly into maintaining the theatre and contributing to charitable organizations centered on women, children and families."
"The Current" is a perfect example of this. It is directed by Nancy Kammer (Grosse Point Park) and stars five Michigan ladies: Tara Tomcsik (Northville), Kristin Schultes (Grosse Pointe), Alysia Kolascz (Ann Arbor), Kelly Rose Voigt (Farmington), and Diane Hill (Wolverine Lake). The charitable partner for this production is The Bride's Project, an organization that raises funds for the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor through the sale of donated bridal gowns. Audience members who contribute a gently-used bridal gown will receive two free tickets to The Current.
Their next show is a Nora Ephron comedy called "Love, Loss and What I Wore" that features local celebrity guests who will perform with the cast. One of the celebrity guests is Stacey DuFord, a radio host from CBS sister station WOMC. The charitable partner for this show is also closely tied to the theme of the production.
"With our next show, Love, Loss and What I Wore, we will team up with Dress for Success, which helps disadvantaged women find employment and provides them with the professional attire to wear on the job. We really enjoy doing these special events and linking to local charities because they help our audience feel more involved and connected to what we do."
It doesn't take a crystal (or glass) ball to see that Two Muses Theatre is a very special company. They just received an operational grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts that will provide financial support for four more productions.
"But without our local sponsors and donors, we could not have received the grant, as we have to match it 50/50, so we are so very appreciative of all who have contributed to Two Muses Theatre over the past two and a half seasons. We could not have done it without them," said Hill.
There's still time to see "The Current" since it plays until April 13th, but if you are interested in the gallery readings you have to go on Psychic Sundays. You can also order tickets for Stacey DuFord's performance in "Love, Loss, and What I Wore" the weekend of May 30-June 1. For more information on both, visit www.twomusestheatre.org .
Now I'm packing up my crystal/glass ball and leaving the psychic stuff to the pros. It's time for me to go back to my day job.
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