GRAND RAPIDS — The seventh annual Lake Effect Fringe Festival (LEFF) is approaching and, like previous years, will offer a variety of live performances.
Running February through March, the 2019 festival will continue the LEFF’s mission of focusing on local playwrights, directors and performers.
Events will be held at Dog Story Theater, 7 Jefferson SE. As always, Dog Story’s popular Comedy Outlet Mondays (COM) will continue throughout the festival. Comedy Outlet Mondays is an experimental comedy hub in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.
Tickets for all events can be purchased in advance on the Dog Story Theater website; They are $15 for adults, and $10 for students and senior citizens.
New this year will be “Industry Sundays!” Patrons who provide proof of having worked on a West Michigan-area show in the past year (either with a playbill or a website that can be pulled up on their phone) are eligible for $10 admission. The offer is for Sunday performances only, and tickets must be purchased in person at the door.
LEFF also will offer an improvisation workshop this year, through the Collywobbles Theatre Company of Fennville.
The 2019 LEFF schedule is:
• Feb. 2 at 8 p.m., Feb. 3 at 3 p.m. — Hole in the Wall Theatre Company, Grand Rapids’ only commedia dell’arte troupe, will present “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised],” a parody by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jeff Winfield. In the show, three actors attempt to perform all of Shakespeare’s works in 90 minutes. Under the direction of T.J. Corbett, the performers include Tamar Erickson, Lauren Greer and Kenny Judge.
• Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25, and March 4, at 7 p.m. — Now in its fourth year, Dog Story’s popular Comedy Outlet Mondays is a staple for locals and visitors. The only one of its kind, COM is a weekly comedy variety show that features stand up, sketch, improv, and experimental comedic acts, now with live performances by local musical guest artists. Audiences can look forward to a stage full of talent, special events, and a free improv jam for all skill levels after the show. Admission is $6.
• Feb. 8 and 9 at 8 p.m., Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. — Local group, The Brutal Sea, will present “The Day the Earth Refused to Die” by Declan Maher. The plays follows a group of college students through the nightmare-proxy “Somnam” service, as well as the planning process of their yearly celebration of the planet’s narrow survival. Along for the ride is the chronically-oversharing priestess of the 1000th Dimension and her mysterious shadow, Agent Condor. The show is hilarious and frightening romp through dreamscapes and potential realities. It contains mature content and may not be suitable for young viewers.
• Feb.14-16 at 8 p.m., Feb. 17 at 3 p.m. — The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company presents Russian playwright Anton Chekov’s famous “The Seagull.” This is an adaptation by Christopher Hampton, based on a literal translation by Vera Liber. “The Seagull” follows the contentious relationship between famous actress Irina Arkadina and her son, the aspiring playwright Konstantin Treplev. When Arkadina begins a relationship with the writer Boris Trigorin, whom she brings to her family’s summer home, jealousy and resentment break out. With a play-within-a-play, references to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” and an exploration of the world as stage, “The Seagull” has many connections to Shakespearean theatre. Pigeon Creek’s production will employ many of the company’s signature staging conditions, such as cross-gender casting, direct audience contact, and live music and sound effects. Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company is Michigan’s only year-round, touring Shakespeare company.
• February 16 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. — Alastair Watt returns to Grand Rapids from Second City for a three-hour workshop. Price is $20. The workshop will touch on the idea of going in the scene while taking care of yourself, helping actors to be prepared to play.
• February 19 at 8 p.m. — Collywobbles Theatre Company of Fennville presents “Touch the Names” by Randal Mylar and Chic Streetman. A staged reading with music, this work is based on letters and artifacts left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall from fathers, mothers, daughters, sons and comrades. The title refers to the memorial, in which the names of those who died in Vietnam are etched into a sunken wall of black granite, able to be felt by searching fingertips. The show is being directed Carole Fletcher-Catherine.
• February 22 and 23 at 8 p.m., Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. — GEM Theatrics presents the one-man show “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry” by Samuel Gallu. Starring Gary E. Mitchell as Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, the play is directed by Mary Beth Quillin. First written and performed after the Watergate scandal and President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation, “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry” is surprisingly timely again as the nation faces yet another scandalous presidency, with an uncertain outcome. The play offers a refreshing view of a man who thought of public service as an honorable undertaking and a noble calling. The original production, starring James Whitmore, premiered at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 17, 1975, and was attended by then President Gerald R. Ford. This show contains strong language.
• Feb. 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. — The Curious Arrow will present “Polarea and the Cloud Weaver” by Stephen Douglas Wright. This is a new script, and the presentation will include a Feb. 26 reading. The suicidal Sun refuses to rise, leaving the burden of carrying “the light” to the Moon. When the exhausted Moon crash lands, it’s left to Polarea to get “the light” back in the sky.
• Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. — A reading of “The Behavior of Wings,” a new play by Steven Bogart. This is a full-length play by the author of “Two Men and the Moon” which was chosen as an audience favorite at the Lucid Festival. An 18-year-old college student drops out of her freshman year of college. She shows up at her father’s campsite in the mountains of Mexico where he has been trying to protect monarch butterflies.
March 1 at 8 p.m., March 2 at 3 and 8 p.m., and March 3 at 3 p.m. — The University Wits presents “It’s Just a Play” by Terrence McNally. It’s opening night of Peter Austin’s new play as he anxiously awaits to see if his show is a hit. With his career on the line, he shares his big First Night with his best friend, a television star, his fledgling producer, his erratic leading lady, his wunderkind director, an infamous drama critic, and a wide-eyed coatcheck attendant on his first night in Manhattan. The play alternately raucous, ridiculous and tender, reminding audiences why there’s no business like show business.