Director’s Notes – Avenue Q

As I sat down to write my thoughts for Avenue Q, it was easy to think, “Why should I write notes for this show?  It’s absolute entertainment.”  Then, I realized that it was important to help people recognize that there is much more to this show than meets the eye.  As easy as it is to simply think of the show as “Sesame Street for adults,” there is much more to it.

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Twyla Tharp and Benjamin G. Bowman

Wayne State University Brings Twyla Tharp’s Ground-Breaking Work, “The One Hundreds,” as the Fall 2018 Allesee Guest Artist in Residence in Dance

Twyla Tharp and Benjamin G. Bowman
Twyla Tharp and Benjamin G. Bowman
Ms. Tharp’s photograph may not be reproduced without written permission of Richard Avedon. Copyright © 2003 Richard Avedon.

Detroit, Michigan: The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, part of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University, announces the licensing and staging of world-renowned choreographer, Twyla Tharp’s ground-breaking work, “The One Hundreds,” staged by former Tharp company member, Benjamin G. Bowman as the Fall 2018 Allesee Guest Artist in Residence in Dance.

Twyla Tharp’s “The One Hundreds” will also serve as a community engagement event where 100 people from WSU’s theatre and dance department, college, university, and alumni along with the Metro Detroit dance community will join our dance majors onstage at the Music Hall for the December Dance Concert to perform one of The One Hundred phrases simultaneously. 

Two public performances of the December Dance Concert will take place on Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets for the December Dance Concert are on sale now, starting at $15, and may be purchased online at or by phone at 313-577-2972. For purchases made online, additional ticket and order fees may apply. Ticket prices are subject to change.

“’The One Hundreds’ is a hundred eleven-second segments that are performed by two dancers in unison separated by four seconds between each segment…Five people each do twenty different segments simultaneously so that the one hundred are represented one-fifth of the time and then one hundred each do one in eleven seconds, right? You follow me? Let’s go through it again. Five people do twenty representing all the phrases in one fifth of the time. And then one hundred people each do one simultaneously. In eleven seconds.” — Tharp, as quoted in “Ballet Review,” Vol. 4:1 in September 1971. 

Since graduating from Barnard College in 1963, Ms. Tharp has choreographed more than one hundred sixty works: one hundred twenty-nine dances, twelve television specials, six Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines. She received one Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, nineteen honorary doctorates, the Vietnam Veterans of America President’s Award, the 2004 National Medal of the Arts, the 2008 Jerome Robbins Prize, and a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor. Her many grants include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In 1965, Ms. Tharp founded her dance company, Twyla Tharp Dance. Her dances are known for creativity, wit and technical precision coupled with a streetwise nonchalance. By combining different forms of movement – such as jazz, ballet, boxing and inventions of her own making – Ms. Tharp’s work expands the boundaries of ballet and modern dance. 

In addition to choreographing for her own company, she has created dances for The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Boston Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Martha Graham Dance Company, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Today, ballet and dance companies around the world continue to perform Ms. Tharp’s works.

In 1992, Ms. Tharp published her autobiography “Push Comes to Shove.” She went on to write “The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life,” followed by “The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together.”

Today, Ms. Tharp continues to create.

Benjamin G. Bowman was introduced to dance through an outreach program instituted by the North Carolina School of the Arts’ (UNCSA) Ballet department, studying under Sonja Tyven and, later, with Duncan Noble, Melissa Hayden, Gina Vidal, Frank Smith and Gyula Pandi. He attended multiple summer sessions at both the San Francisco Ballet School and the School of American Ballet (SAB), while continuing training with the staff of the Kansas City Ballet. Mr. Bowman was accepted to SAB as a full-time student, following his sophomore year at UNCSA and joined the Kansas City Ballet in 1986. He

then joined the Fort Worth Ballet in 1988, where he became a Principal Dancer in 1990. He joined the New York City Ballet in 1993, performing with the corps de ballet and in many soloist and principal roles,

until leaving the company in the spring of 2000. After NYCB, Mr. Bowman was invited to join a select group of dancers that Twyla put together to create two new works for the American Dance Festival. The group continued to tour and create work for the next two years, while generating the material that formed the basis of “Movin’ Out”, Twyla’s hit Broadway show set to the music of Billy Joel, in which Mr. Bowman originated the role of “James”. Post- “Movin’ Out”, Mr. Bowman worked freelance for a number of choreographers, and wrapped a long career working with Martha Clarke on the revival of her Obie award-winning show, “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. Mr. Bowman lives in New York City and freelances as a teacher, choreographer, and both acts and is represented by Access Talent as a voice-over artist. He has been setting work for the Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation since 2010.

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit



Headshots for Mr. Bowman and Ms. Tharp are included for media use.

Benjamin Bowman Headshot
Twyla Tharp Headshot

Ms. Tharp’s headshot must include the following credit: This photograph may not be reproduced without written permission of Richard Avedon. Copyright © 2003 Richard Avedon.

Goneril and Regan’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents

As parents age they look forward to their care-free days of retirement and being taken care of by those who they helped raise. Here is our alternative take on that tradition.

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  1. Lie to them and shower them with praise. This will only be temporary, the praise, not the lying. Once you have won the favor of your parent(s) by showering them with false acknologements and praise, they will leave you their wealth and property and you will able to do with it as you see fit. Make sure to really lay on the admiration thick, because the more siblings you have, the harder it will be to win a larger piece of that pie.

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  1. Send them off on their own. Once you’ve secured their fotune, it’s time to let those frail old birds leave your nest, which you barely allowed them to move into in the first place. This is where having extra siblings DOES help, and you can pass the burden over to the rest of them.

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  1. Turn their other children against them. There is power in numbers, and depending on how powerful your parents are will determin how many sibings you need on your side. Don’t worry, it won’t take all of you, just a few. If you get lucky and have a sister who tries to be sincere about her feelings and ends up looking ungrateful, congratulations! They’ll never fight with you again because they know they have no place else to go!

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  1. Weaken them, physically and emotionally. This is the most fun part! Taking away the things that they have worked hard for to enjoy yourself is a sure sign that you are only out for Number Uno. Have they got friends trying to turn you against them? Blind them! Too many people around to protect them? Have guards fired.

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  1. Make them watch their kids die. As a bout of phychological warfare, lock them up with a long lost relative who they regrettable disowned and make them watch as that person dies. Is it a son or daughter of theirs? Even better. Only someone who has completely lacks human empathy or a shred of compassion will be able to commit to this final step, so good luck staying strong!


While we might think that all the above steps are great when it comes to dealing with aging parents, but we want to share a slight warning.

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If you are a terrible person and do terrible things, history has taught us that we all have a way of getting whats coming to us. Just remember that money can’t buy you happiness. So after you finish destroying your parent and stealing all their wealth, don’t expect to get too much joy out of it. Most likely you’ll go mad before long and meet your own untimely demise. Perhaps even by the hand of one of your co-conspirators. (Insert surprise face here)

Six-Time Tony Award-Winning Lighting Designer, Natasha Katz Honored With 2018 Apple Award

Natasha Katz received the 2018 Apple Award (with John Wolf, Chair)
Natasha Katz received the 2018 Apple Award (with John Wolf, Chair)

At a reception on Thursday, April 19 at the Fisher Theatre, John Wolf, chair of the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, a department within the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University, presented the 2018 Apple Award to legendary, six-time Tony Award-winning lighting designer, Natasha Katz.

Ms. Katz, who’s prolific career has spanned the globe and the performing arts, spoke with the group about her appreciation for being honored by Wayne State University. Following the reception, Ms. Katz, John Wolf, the students and faculty, attended the Broadway in Detroit touring production of School of Rock, for which Ms. Katz designed the lighting.

On Friday, April 20, students and the public were invited to join Ms. Katz at the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry, where she reflected on her incredible career and shared wonderful insight into what it means to be a successful, working artist in the theatre.

View the discussion below via our Facebook Live feed.


About Natasha Katz

Natasha Katz is a lighting designer who works extensively in the worlds of Broadway, Opera, and Ballet. She was recently nominated for a 2017 Tony Award for Hello, Dolly!, and a 2017 Olivier Award for her work on The Glass Menagerie. She won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Play for her work on Long Day’s Journey Into Night. She has six Tony Awards, with 14 nominations.

Among over 50 Broadway credits include designs for Frozen (February 2018), Springsteen on Broadway (2017), Meteor Shower (2017), Cats (2016), School of Rock, An American in Paris (Tony Award), Gigi, Skylight, Aladdin, Motown, Once (Tony Award), Follies, Sister Act, Elf, Collected Stories, The Addams Family, Impressionism, Hedda Gabler, The Little Mermaid, The Coast of Utopia: Salvage (Tony Award), A Chorus Line (revival), The 25th Annual Spelling Bee, Tarzan, Aida (Tony Award), Sweet Smell of Success, Twelfth Night, Dance of Death, Beauty and the Beast, The Capeman, Gypsy. She has subsequently recreated her designs for many of these productions around the world.

She has lit such luminaries as Zachary Quinto, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mike Tyson, Jessica Lange, Helen Hunt, Mary Louise Parker, Christopher Plummer, Elaine Stritch, Cathy Rigby, Nathan Lane, Bernadette Peters, Claudette Colbert, Rex Harrison, and has designed concert acts for Shirley MacLaine, Ann-Margret, and Tommy Tune.

In the world of Dance, Natasha is a frequent collaborator with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, with projects including The Winter’s Tale, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Cinderella, and Tryst, all at the Royal Opera House in London. Other collaborations with Mr. Wheeldon include Continuum (San Francisco Ballet), Carnival of the Animals and An American in Paris (New York City Ballet). Her other dance work includes American Ballet Theatre’s production of “Don Quixote” and productions with companies including San Francisco Ballet, Dutch National Ballet and National Ballet of Canada.

For the Opera stage, her credits include Die Soldaten for the New York City Opera, two productions of Norma for Joan Sutherland: the Opera Pacific in Costa Mesa, California, and the Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, She has also worked with The Royal Opera on Cyrano de Bergerac, directed by Francesca Zambello.

Her film work includes Barrymore starring Christopher Plummer, and Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth. She has also lit the HBO Television specials Mambo Mouth and Side-O-Rama.

Her permanent audio-visual shows include The Masquerade Village at the Rio Casino, Las Vegas, and Big Bang at the Hayden Planetarium in New York, and for Niketown in New York City and London.

A New York City native, Natasha trained at Oberlin College, and early in her career was mentored by Roger Morgan.

About the Apple Award

The Apple Award, named for Sarah Applebaum Nederlander, is given by the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University on behalf of the Nederlander family. In 2001, the Nederlander family formed a partnership with the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University, establishing the Sarah Applebaum Nederlander Award for Excellence in Theatre; an annual theatre award and visiting artist fund in their mother’s name.

The Apple Award brings a nationally prominent theatre professional to Detroit and the Wayne State University campus as a guest lecturer to interact with and educate the rising stars of the Department of Theatre and Dance through master classes and a question-and-answer style forum. Previous Apple Award winners include Garth Fagan, Neil Simon, Carol Channing, Stephen Schwartz, Mandy Patinkin, Patti Lupone, Marvin Hamlisch, Elaine Stritch, and Tom Skerritt.

Your Subscription Makes an Impact

Purchasing a subscription for the Theatre and Dance at Wayne 2018-2019 season includes priority seating, free ticket exchanges, show swap, discounts for additional ticket purchases and invitations to exclusive events throughout the season.

Purchasing a yearly subscription is much more than just a ticket.

Subscription purchases also make up a significant portion of the department’s annual operating budget.

“I love interacting with our patrons,” said third-year MFA candidate, Brian Haven. “I especially enjoy meeting patrons who have been coming to shows at Wayne for years and hearing the stories they tell of the many shows and many company members they have seen go through the program.”

Performers, stage managers, and designers appreciate the support and dedication to the arts through subscribers’ attendance.

“A packed audience can provide energy that can greatly impact the performance,” said Haven. “They are such a valuable component to any live performance.”

Subscription funds aid students in their ability to explore, create and design in the classroom. Then take their work to the stage. Subscribers are directly contributing to building the next generation of theatre artists.

“Keep supporting the arts, but especially keep supporting the educational arts!” said fourth-year BFA student Patrick Roache. “You’re empowering the future of theatre here!”

Connecting the community through the arts works to support more than the theatre and dance department. It supports Wayne State University and the Detroit community.

“From faculty/staff to guest artists to my peers, the people have made such an impact on my life,” said Haven. “I hold a special place in my heart for my fellow graduate company members. We are a family that supports one another and help each other to grow.”

Your Subscription in Action

Rachel Smith is a fourth year BA theatre student who has performed in lead roles at the Bonstelle Theatre including Grandma in Harriet Jacobs, Women’s Leader in Lysistrata, and Paulette Bonafonte in Legally Blonde.

When asked how she has grown as an artist she replied, “I’ve reached a level of confidence that has allowed me to continually and unabashedly follow my dreams. I didn’t have that same sense of security before I came here. That feeling of being on the right path is invaluable.”

For Rachel seeing returning patrons’ faces is a positive experience. She loves the energy and liveliness audience members can bring to a performance.

“We are working for you! Putting our best foot forward as sort of a thank you for your support.”

Sister Act: The Musical

“The subscribers are what makes everything possible.”


Natalie Colony is a third-year MFA Lighting Candidate. She has been the lighting designer for Inspecting Carol, Raisin in the Sun, Alice in Wonderland and more!

She is grateful for being a part of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne and for the opportunity to really hone her craft in an open and respective environment.

“There is nothing more gratifying than knowing people return time and time again to watch your art,”

“Knowing that you want to come back and see live theatre and watch us grow as artists make the work we do that much more meaningful.”

Colony loves seeing returning patrons. She enjoys when audience members recognize her work and even start up conversations about her lighting choices.

“Gail and her husband remember me even though I’m never onstage,” said Colony. “They know which shows I’ve designed and they always have insightful questions about my art. I always am happy to see them and welcome them back to the theatre.”

Brian Haven is a third-year MFA Stage Management Candidate. He has been stage manager for Underpants, Clybourne Park, Twelfth Night, You Can’t Take it With You and most recently The Colored Museum and the 89th Annual Spring Dance Concert.

His work in the department of theatre and dance at Wayne has been highly valued.

“I have had many great experiences and opportunities to learn and work with many intelligent, talented, and wonderful people,” said Haven.

Wayne State theatre and dances hols a special place in many of the student’s hearts and audience members have a lot to do with the positive experience stage managers, lighting designers, actors, and directors have when working on graduate and undergraduate productions.

“I love interacting with our patrons. I especially enjoy meeting patrons who have been coming to shows at Wayne for years and hearing the stories they tell of the many shows and many company members they have seen go through the program,” said Haven.

Patrick Roache is a fourth year BA theatre student who has performed in lead roles at the Bonstelle Theatre including Jud in Oklahoma!, Men’s Leader in Lysistrata, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Warren Huntington III in Legally Blonde.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Over his undergraduate career, Roache has had the opportunity to participate in several productions on the Bonstelle and Studio Theatre stage. He has been a part of Motor City Cabaret for three years and study at the Moscow Art Theatre School through Wayne State’s study abroad program, Month in Moscow.

All of these opportunities have been supported by subscribers and returning patrons who support the arts in the Detroit and University’s community.

“Keep supporting the arts, but especially keep supporting the educational arts! You’re empowering the future of theatre here!”


We’re excited to welcome guest artist, Gelsey Bell to Wayne State University

Gelsey BellWe’re thrilled to have performer and vocal artist, Gelsey Bell to Wayne State University this week where she’ll lead workshops in Voice and Movement and Performing on Broadway with our current students.

Gelsey Bell is a New York City-based singer, songwriter, and scholar. Her performance creations have been presented internationally. She has released multiple albums. She was a 2017 recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Music/Sound award and she is currently the Exploring the Metropolis Ridgewood Bushwick Composer-in-Residence. She is a core member of new music ensemble thingNY, performance collective Varispeed, and improv trio the Chutneys. Her works include ScalingOur Defensive MeasurementsThis Takes Place Close By (with thingNY), and Prisoner’s Song (with Erik Ruin). She originated the role of Princess Mary for Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 (from Off-Off-Broadway to Broadway) and Pearl in Ghost Quartet. She is also known for her performances in Robert Ashley’s Crash, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler’s River of Fundament, John King’s Micro-Operas, Yasuko Yokoshi’s BELL, Kate Soper’s Here Be Sirens, and Gregory Whitehead’s On the Shore Dimly Seen, which incorporated her original vocal improvisations. She has a PhD in performance studies from New York University and is the Critical Acts Co-editor for TDR/The Drama Review and the Reviews Editor for The Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies. She is currently finishing a book on American experimental vocal music in the 1970s.

Want access to amazing guest artists?  Consider furthering your education and training with a degree in Theatre or Dance from Wayne State University. Learn more.

Sister Act Fun Facts!

Sister Act: The MusicalAs the opening of Sister Act: The Musical approaches we thought it’ll be cool to share some fun facts about the show!

  1. Deloris as sister Mary Clarence was partially inspired by a real nun. Mother Dolores Hart was a Hollywood actress, singer, and dancer. She starred in movies like Where the Boys Are and King Creole. She became a nun and left the industry at 24 years old.
  2. There are two different versions of Sister Act: The Musical. One is set on Christmas Eve and Deloris wants to go to Philadelphia to become a star; this musical is performed on Broadway here in America. The second musical is already set in Philadelphia and is performed at the West End, which is like Broadway in London, England.
  3. Paul Rudnick, the writer of the movie, wanted it to be a drag comedy and thought a nun’s habit was close enough for drag for a woman.
  4. The musical originated in 2006 in Pasadena, CA.
  5. The musical was nominated for five Tony awards, including Best Musical, but sadly did not win any of them.
  6. Bette Midler was the original lead actress in the movie and not Whoopi.
  7. Carrie Fisher helped with re-writing the script.
  8. The actor who played the detective in the Sister Act movie is named Bill Nunn!
  9. The original character name was not Deloris, but Terri Van Cartier. It changed to Deloris because Whoopi wanted to play someone named Deloris.
  10. The original music was made by Alan Menken, an eight-time Oscar winner.

Bird Poop: Wild Style or Fashion Faux pas?

And no – this isn’t clickbait.

If you’re just as confused about the title of this article like most people are – don’t be. For years, avant-garde and head-turning trends have been the go-to look for designers and streetwear lovers alike. From the looks that just hit the runway at NYC Fashion Week, to style pieces that stand the test of time, it seems as though new trends are always emerging, and that doesn’t stop

Enter the use of bird poop – the fashion world’s lost salvation and only hope. As unconventional (and just downright gross) it may seem at first, it’s still the only thing that’s highly recognizable by the general public, albeit something that annoys the hell out of us when we see it on our car. The bird poop that’s being used is a lot less gross in practice; there’s a whole process designers have to go through to use it. Celebrities and internet personalities alike are embracing the trend, and we’ve provided some examples down below just in case you needed inspiration for your next look.

GOOD LUCK?! Why Bird Poop is a Sign of Hope in Disguise

I’m sure we can all agree that we’ve had our fair share of annoyance with bird defecation – it leaves a nasty stain on our cars and clothing, and any time birds are around, we’re instantly aware of their presence and hope that they don’t decide to use our clothes (or skin) as a toilet. It’s simply become a random, everyday occurrence and constant annoyance. How could anyone ever like it?

If you agreed with any of the statements I’ve said above, then it’ll come as just as much of a surprise to you when I say bird poop is actually a symbol of good luck. Believe it or not, there’s an entire mythical world behind the existence of and the importance of when a bird sh*ts on your car. If you’re a bit skeptical, keep reading.

For centuries, birds have always been, to a degree, mythical creatures; the Phoenix is an example of this in many cultures. Imagine, an animal able to simply spread their wings and glide across the sky with no issue keeping in sync formation with the birds around them.

Unfortunately, the price of being an airborne member of the animal kingdom is never knowing or having the appropriate means of defecation. Where would their waste go if they have no time to reach the ground to release it? Good enough for birds though, they’ve figured out the answer to that question long before humanity could even form adequate societies: give the humans good karma if they ever had a direct encounter with their droppings.

The main reason why we get mad at seeing bird poop “fly-by’s” is because of its unexpectedness and the annoyance brought on by the thought of cleaning it up. That doesn’t stop the Karma Gods from working, which in turn will bring you good luck and good fortune. With that being said, the next time you see bird poop in someone’s (or your own) hair, clothing, or windshield, don’t get mad – take a sigh of relief!

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Obituary: Lari the Seagull

Lari the Seagull died on March 1st in Detroit Michigan at the ripe old age of 41.

Quite the specimen, Lari had a wingspan of 63 inches, above average compared to his peers. At the age of 34, Lari was involved in a midair collision fracturing a wing and ultimately losing a toe. This led to big life changes in diet and exercise, causing Lari to drop from a heavy 3.2lbs to a gaunt 2.5lbs. He enjoyed showing off his adult plumage and newly slimmed figure, while wooing the ladies with his impressive wingspan and powerful squawk.

Lari is survived by his longtime companion Ani and together they have 16 children who all still live at home in their Motown Caesar colony, where Lari served as Chief Flight Pattern Commissioner for 15 years. Family will be receiving visitors for light fare and flight show as a tribute as Lari’s memory. The family asks that any donations of food (dead or alive) be made to their neighborhood colony or when flying by your local bird sanctuary.

For more information on Lari and those lives that he touched, check out Stupid F*ing Bird, playing in the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry Theatre, March 1st – 31st. Please visit for more information.