December, 2011

The Penny Seats began last year with an idea: Bring high-quality, easy to get to, fun, stirring theater to Ann Arbor for the price of a movie ticket.

We did it. Hundreds of people came to Ann Arbor’s West Park in August to eat a delicious picnic and watch Goodnight, Desdemona (Good Morning, Juliet). The show was witty and zany and full of life. The response was great. The Penny Seats were born. And it couldn’t have happened without your help.

Now, we’re doing it again. And, we’re growing. This summer we’ll return to West Park with She Loves Me, a classic musical by Joe Masteroff, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick. It has humor and romance, trickery and harmony, and you can enjoy it all with a delicious picnic dinner.

But Michigan winters are long, and we think great theater should be just as easy to get in February as it is in July. So this winter, we are excited to bring you our first indoor show, at Performance Network’s cozy second stage. Jeffrey Hatcher’s What Corbin Knew is a twisty, witty tale of confrontations and intrigue, where what you think you know is only half the story.

Here’s the best part: each ticket will still be just ten dollars, so you can see first-rate live theater without breaking the bank. But we can’t do it without your help. 

We keep ticket prices at $10.00 because we are funded entirely via private donations. 

This means if you don’t help, we don’t have a season. So please help. Here’s how: CLICK HERE (or visit the Support page) and make a donation. How much? Every bit helps, but $100 gets you 2 free tickets to both shows. And just for visiting, you get a FREE chance to win two 6th Row tickets to the Red Wings (courtesy of our friends at Trott &Trott)! [NOTE, 3/2/12 - The ticket contest is now over. Thanks to everyone who participated!]

This is our one and only fundraising campaign this year.
It’s our only chance to raise the money we need.
Please, please help us make it happen.

Thank you so much. We’ll see you this winter.

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November, 2011

Hot on the heels of (okay, a month or two after) our first full production, we're thrilled to announce our 2012 season, as well as our second show in partnership with 826michigan!

While we loved spending our summer in the bizarre world of Goodnight Desdemona, we're excited to move ahead to What Corbin Knew, opening in late February. In Jeffrey Hatcher's twisty, witty tale, a wealthy architect sets off a dangerous chain of confrontations and betrayals when he invites two couples to a luxury skybox to celebrate his good fortune. Even a tragic turn doesn't end the intrigue, as the story is, well, only half the story.

And in July and August, we'll return to Ann Arbor's West Park to present the classic musical She Loves Me, by Joe Masteroff, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. Two workplace rivals spend their days bickering...and their nights falling in love as secret pen-pals. Songs include "Vanilla Ice Cream," " Twelve Days to Christmas," and, of course, "She Loves Me."

While these are on the horizon, just around the corner is our trumphant re-teaming with 826michigan for Five Bowls of Oatmeal: The Return of Oatmeal. This massively exciting event will feature new plays written by middle and  high school students, performed by The Penny Seats alongside novelist Dave Eggers and other guest artists! Reserve tickets before they're gone, and be at Rackham Auditorium on November 17. You will want to see this.

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October, 2011

Hello, All!  Welcome to another year. A year in which we hope to double our performances and venues and have quadruple the fun.  A year in which we will present a musical and a straight play, at different times, inside and out.  A year in which we will partner with more industrious businesses to get you the absolute most bang for your theater buck. A year in which we will grow our ranks. And a year in which we will turn a scant 2 years old.  To bring you this exciting year, we happily fire the starting pistol on our annual fundraising appeal. (Remember that part about how we're 100% donor-funded ?)  And what better way to start than with a lovely little opening event, generously hosted by one of our intrepid band?  We hereby announce the  inaugural The Penny Seats Sell Things with Seats garage sale!  We have collected a collection of lovely collectibles, for young and old, all of which can be perused at your leisure. And some of which have seats. Come join us, and see't for yourself:

Sunday, October 9, 2011
2:30 - 5:00pm
2903 Vinewood Boulevard, Ann Arbor

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August 2011Well, our very first show is now put to bed.  It was So Much Fun.  Really, the most fun, collaborative, silly, smart, exciting experience we could hope for.  Audiences were kind and intrepid, and laughed in all the right places.  AA Parks & Rec and What's Cooking! were incredibly terrific partners.  In short, we can't wait to do it all again.   To that end, this year, we're aiming to grow! We are planning more shows, more performances, and more events throughout the year.  Some indoors, some out.  Seasonal announcements are coming very soon! And all will be fun, we promise.   See you soon.

desdemona montage

Hey folks, just a reminder that we will indeed perform through any light rain!  It's actually really fun.  The show will go on today, barring torrential downpour or thunder/lightening in the area.  Come on down to the park.  We'll have extra umbrellas handy if needed, and we can't wait to see you.  It's our very last show this August, so we're planning to make it a romp of a good time!  All ticketholders from last night (Saturday, August 13 at 7pm) are welcome; no paper tickets needed. See you there.

Well, we wished as hard as we could for that big, black cloud to go away, but it just wouldn't.  To those intrepid fans who came down to the park tonight, thanks so much for your efforts! We hope you had fun while you were there. Here's how we can make it up to you: 1) if you had tickets for tonight, you can come to our last remaining show, tomorrow (Sunday), August 14th, at 2:00pm.  We'll have our door list from tonight's show handy, and we will check you in just as if it were today. No printed tickets necessary.  Or, 2)  if you can't make it to tomorrow's show, you can send us a quick e-mail at info@pennyseats.org and let us know if you'd like to put the price of your ticket toward a future show.  Thanks so much again for coming out tonight.
Yes, we hope to perform both shows today!  Come on down to the park.  We'll bring extra umbrellas. If you're coming to a show today, though, please prepare to be hearty.   Weather is part of the fun of outdoor theater, but it's a blessing and a curse.  Here's our policy:  We will perform through light rain, but if there is thunder or the rain gets heavy, we will cancel or stop the show, and honor tickets at all other performances.  It's a game-time decision.  If you'd like to come this afternoon instead of this evening, that's ok too.  Just tell us which show you had tickets for when you arrive.  We will keep our ticket list from a cancelled show, to check in people at other performances.  And if you ordered a What's Cooking! picnic meal you can't pick up, just drop a line to stacy@whatscookinga2.com and let her know of your plan.  Again, we hope and plan to see you today!

What a fantastic first weekend we had.  Ann Arborites are the best.  We admit, we worried a bit when Jacqui stepped onstage to welcome everyone to the Saturday night show, and it began to pour, on her, on us, and on the crowd.  But nothing could dampen the spirits of our stalwart West Park audience! They stuck it out through the slippery, soggy first act, to enjoy what turned out to be a beautiful evening that ended with a luminous, pinkish glow in the air. What troopers! Also:  the show is funny.  It's really funny.  We're having an amazing time, and we can't wait to do it again this week.  Tickets are going fast, so come get yours! It's the last week of the show; your last chance to see this lovely, intelligent piece.  Don't miss out!

What a fantastic first weekend we had.  Ann Arborites are the best.  We admit, we worried a bit when Jacqui stepped onstage to welcome everyone to the Saturday night show, and it began to pour, on her, on us, and on the crowd.  But nothing could dampen the spirits of our stalwart West Park audience! They stuck it out through the slippery, soggy first act, to enjoy what turned out to be a beautiful evening that ended with a luminous, pinkish glow in the air. What troopers! Also:  the show is funny.  It's really funny.  We're having an amazing time, and we can't wait to do it again this week.  Tickets are going fast, so come get yours! It's the last week of the show; your last chance to see this lovely, intelligent piece.  Don't miss out!

*Yes, it's a line from the show. Bonus points if you can spot it!

We hope to perform both shows today!  Come on down to the park.  We'll bring extra umbrellas. If you're coming to a show today, though, please prepare to be hearty.   Weather is part of the fun of outdoor theater, but it's a blessing and a curse.  Here's our policy:  We will perform through light rain, but if there is thunder or the rain gets heavy, we will cancel or stop the show, and honor tickets at all subsequent performances.  It's a game-time decision.  We will keep our ticket list from a cancelled show, to check in people at other performances.  Just let us know you had tickets to the cancelled show.  And if you ordered a meal you can't pick up, just drop a line to stacy@whatscookinga2.com, and let her know which remaining show you're coming to.  Again, we hope and plan to see you today!

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July 2011desdemona rehearsals uploadIt's almost here.  Opening night is but a week away.  Anticipation is building. Nerves are frayed.  And just in time, we've received some fabulous press for our first ever show.  No pressure.  Check us out, in our ratty rehearsal T-shirts, in the A2Journal and the Detroit Jewish News this week!  Thanks to Sheila Pursglove and Suzanne Chessler, for giving us a shot.  And did you catch our ad and picture in the Ann Arbor Observer August issue? Our resident choregraphista-slash-art designist extraordinare, Vic Gilbert, is behind the beautiful art.  Amazing, right? Hey, if you found the ad, 10 points for you!  Use the Observer coupon to get a buck off each ticket.  (That's a buck you can use to buy yourself one-tenth of a delicious boxed picnic dinner from What's Cooking before the show.)  Give yourself a clap on the back.  You deserve it.  And for the curious, here are some rehearsal shots from the last few weeks:

Our catering partner's website is now LIVE for pre-ordering delicious picnic dinners before any Penny Seats evening performance!  Check it out!  What's Cooking Ann Arbor will prepare and deliver to West Park two delectible, affordable types of boxed dinners before every Penny Seats evening show.  If you're craving a casual dining experience to whet your appetite for some fun theater, now's your chance.  Just click on the link above, then find the "Penny Seats Theatre Company" link on the left-hand side under "Categories," and click on it.

So remember way back during our initial fundraising-slash-cabaret season when we all  started singing this nifty "Penny Seats Are Nothing But Trouble" song (and doing a somewhat confusing dance with it)?  Of course you do. What a charmer that thing was. Well, you ain't seen nothin' yet.  Zach London, PS board member and artistic genius behind that little ditty, has now composed another for us, and--get this--it's gonna be the opener for our show.  I know!  What IS it with us and original songs, anyway?  Well, Zach is a commodity, and we intend on getting our money's worth. He's a  prolific composer with a website of his own (www.hardtaco.org, which is now Totally re-designed, for those who are old HT fans). He allowed GDGJ director Jacqui to talk him into composing an eerie, rompy, circussy, Goodnight Desdemona-y deal for us called "The Alchemy of Blank Verse."  Give it a listen.  Aaand for those of you now listening with furrowed brow, don't worry; it'll make sense when you see the show.  You go, Zach.

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June 2011

We've been thinking it would be really cool if people coming to see our shows could have a nice, casual picnic in the park before a show.  "Wouldn't it be nice," we thought, "if we had a local catering partner who could do delicious, high-class boxed meals for our patrons, for pre-order and pickup at the park?"  Today, friends, we're proud to announce that we have found such a partner.  What's Cooking Ann Arbor, Stacy Williams' delicious local business that delivers pre-ordered healthy, inexpensive, beautiful meals to your door, will provide a selection of delectable boxed meals at every Penny Seats show!  Anyone who wants to partake can go to the What's Cooking website starting around August 1 to order the yummy stuff.  Meals will be available for pickup at the park on show day, starting 90 minutes before curtain. Don't worry; we'll send reminders and we'll talk about it plenty. You won't want to miss this.

Drumroll, please.  We are now Really Selling Tickets to our inaugural show, Goodnight, Desdemona (Good Morning, Juliet)!  Visit our Tickets! page to buy tickets through our partner, Brown Paper Tickets (or just click here).  Shows are August 5-7 and 11-14 at the West Park band shell in Ann Arbor.  Because we're a donor-supported organization, every ticket, to every show, is just $10.  And check back here soon for more info on how to order or pick up a delicious, summery picnic at the park before any Penny Seats performance!

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May 2011

Penny_Seats_Jumping

It's us, with our friends from Blackbird Theatre, jumping at the prospect of summer theatrics at West Park.  The photo was part of a series taken for an article about both companies, written by theatrical maven Davi Napolean.  It appears in the June issue of the Ann Arbor Observer.  Here's the link!  Enjoy!  And thanks, Davi.

There we were, one year ago yesterday, sitting around a living room and talking in a wistful way about how great it would be to add to the burgeoning summer arts scene in Ann Arbor.  And now, we're getting ready to do some actual adding.  It's been a slow and steady, but pretty exciting, year.  Our first summer show is cast, and we're telling people all about it.  We're actually going to start rehearsals pretty soon. Begin holding breath now!

Also.  We've got an incomparable, uber-competent,  and sensible crew, of whom we're very proud.  But we're always looking for more help; if you want, please oh please, e-mail us at info@pennyseats.org, or click here.  Or, if you're just feeling generous and want to know what things we most need, click here, or, as always, here

Further! Our ticketing site will be live shortly.  On that page, you'll be able buy cheap tickets and, we hope, pre-order a delicious picnic meal from a tasty, to-be-named, Ann Arbor partner.  Stay tuned.

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April 2011

OK, we were too excited about this to keep it to ourselves.  We are extremely proud to post the cast for our first summer show.  We'll post more lovely human-interest-background-type stuff discussing the great dramatic talents of these folks as we get closer to showtime.  But for now, here they are.  And here's a picture of our intrepid audition-greeter, Russ, who tried valiantly to explain to the good folks at AADL why there were repeated, loud, Shakespearean screams of, "Bullshit!" coming from the third-floor freespace.  Here's to you, Russ.

desdemona casting

We've had a truly amazing first year, and next week we're having auditions for our very first summer show, Ann-Marie MacDonald's Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning, Juliet), to be performed at the West Park band shell during the first two weeks of August (5-7 and 11-14).  We're searching for two fabulous women to play the title roles. Click Here for all the information you'll need to audition.  No monologues necessary; just side-reading.  If you have any questions, please call or e-mail our director, Jacqui Robbins, at 734-272-7474 or jacqui_robbins@yahoo.com. Hope to see you there!

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March 2011

Catch us doing other stuff!  Penny Seat resident artists have busy lives.   We love all the practice they're getting.  See Russ Schwartz as Peter in Jewish Ensemble Theatre's The Diary of Anne Frank, playing at Ford Community & Performing Arts Center on April 1 at 8:00 p.m.  Tickets Here.  Or, if cabaret's your game, catch Roy Sexton in Cabaret Detroit, on Thursday and Sunday nights at Bastone in Royal Oak, beginning on April 7th.  Tickets here.  We'll be there with bells on.

And speaking of cabarets, we'd like to thank Rick and Roberta London for the fabulous soiree they threw on March 13th.  The Londons' founding donation entitled them to a free "Private Penny Seat Cabaret" donor prize, and boy, did they make the most of it.  We met Londons from far and near, sang our hearts out, and had a great time doing it.  If you'd like to hire us for a similar show, just give us a call.

Aaaand, we're gearing up for Goodnight Desdemona!  Our park is booked; our sound system ordered; our crew ready; and auditions on the horizon.  Onward!

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February 2011

Penny Starts 2011Many thanks to everyone who came out to see Penny Pieces:  A Cabaret, at Mediterrano Restaurant on January 29th. To our utter shock and delight, y'all filled the place!  We hope you enjoyed yourselves. Portions of the show ran on Community Network Television on February 18th.  Meanwhile, here are some pictures from that lovely night, courtesy of our uber-talented photographing phriend, Max Shtein, whom we paid in phree phood.  He'd be cheap at any price.

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January 2011

We are incredibly happy to report that our very first fundraising drive was successful, and that we have the funds to stage our inaugural season!  We're grateful to everyone who contributed, and can't wait to get started.  We are still seeking funds to support our purchase of sustainable set pieces and equipment, to make us the agile repertory company you expect.   If you'd like to contribute, please visit our Support page, or just give us a call at (734) 276-2832.  Did you miss our ridiculous Kickstarter video?  See it here!

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October, 2010

Our 2011 summer season will kick off with a production of the 1988 award-winning play, "Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)," by Canadian playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald. Look for us at the West Park Band Shell in Ann Arbor, August 5-7 and 11-14, 2011.   Shows will be each evening at 7pm, with afternoon matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2pm.  Advance tickets will be available here.  And, you'll have the chance to pre-order a delicious picnic dinner.  Bring your blanket.