Bestselling author/illustrator Brian Selznick (Penny Stamps Speaker Series)
Thursday, March 29, 5:10 pm, Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. Free.
Selznick has been making children’s books since 1991. His illustrated novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret won the 2008 Caldecott medal and was the basis for Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning movie Hugo. Wonderstruck, his 2011 follow-up, was made into a movie by celebrated filmmaker Todd Haynes. The Marvels, the third book in a trilogy loosely connected to Hugo and Wonderstruck by themes of family and discovery, was published in 2016. Celebrated as much for their stunning object quality as for their rich narrative, Selznick’s books are best summarized in his own words: “It’s not exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel, or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things.” His newest project is a 200-page illustrated book for beginning readers called Baby Monkey, Private Eye, written by his husband, Dr. David Serlin.
“Angels in America: Millenium Approaches,” U-M Theatre Dept.
Runs March 29-April 8. Arthur Miller Theatre, 1226 Murfin, Ann Arbor. $12-$30.
U-M theatre professor Daniel Cantor directs U-M drama students in the first half of Tony Kushner’s epic, Pulitzer Prize-winning two-play series (1991) that can fairly be said to have redefined modern American theater. Subtitled “A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” Angels in America is an ambitious, sprawling, fantastic spectacle examining Reagan-era politics, religion, the AIDS plague, and the timeless questions of love, courage, and death. The drama centers around one HIV-positive man, his friends and loved ones, and the various presences who haunt him, including angelic messengers and the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg. For ticket info, visit tickets.smtd.umich.edu.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Elusive Ear,” Purple Rose Theatre Company. Runs March 29-May 26. 137 Park St., Chelsea. $20.50-$46.
Guy Sanville directs the world premiere of David MacGregor’s drama that imagines the Victorian super sleuth solving a case for the as-yet-undiscovered artistic genius Vincent van Gogh. Dr. Watson and Irene Adler join Sherlock in uncovering the audacious crime. (Discounted preview performances run March 29-April 5.)
“The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith,” Theatre Nova
Runs March 30-April 22. 410 W. Huron, Ann Arbor. $20, or pay-what-you-can.
Lynch Travis directs the Michigan premiere of Angelo Parra’s 2001 hit Off-Broadway musical about the “Empress of the Blues,” set on the eve of her death in 1937. Rebuffed by a “Whites Only” establishment, she takes the stage at a gin joint and shares stories from her life and career. Features 13 of Smith’s most famous songs, including “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” “St. Louis Blues,” and “Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do.” Stars K Edmonds.
Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra with Chick Corea, presented by UMS
March 31, 8 p.m., Hill Auditorium, 825 N. University, Ann Arbor. $16-$75.
Legendary jazz pianist Corea leads the orchestra – widely regarded as the finest large jazz ensemble playing today – in a retrospective of his venerated and eclectic 50-year career. He first came to prominence in the late ‘60s as a member of the Miles Davis Group, with which he recorded the legendary “Bitches Brew” LP, a revolutionary work that virtually invented jazz fusion. Since then, Corea has continued to expand jazz’s musical vocabulary, garnering accolades along the way, including the nation’s highest honor for jazz artists, the National Endowment for the Arts “Jazz Master” fellowship.
“Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ” (1925)
April 1, 4 p.m., with live organ accompaniment by Andrew Rogers. Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. $13-$16.
In this 1925 silent classic, Judah ben-Hur (Ramon Novarro) discovers that he has been betrayed by his childhood friend Messala (Francis X. Bushman), leading to separation from his family. Punished for an accident, Ben-Hur is unjustly forced to serve on a Roman ship, where he becomes a friend to the vessel’s admiral, Quintus Arrius (Frank Currier). Eventually, Ben-Hur has the chance to compete against Messala in a chariot race, providing him with a shot at vengeance.