Fall Arts Preview

The stage is set for another artistic season. Here are some standouts.


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Through Nov. 28

U. of M. Museum of Art

American artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) was an arrogant, litigious man, but his gorgeous art belied his prickly personality. During his prolific career, he found beauty in muted scenery and turned the ordinary into the extraordinary with his innovative and poetic style. More than 100 lithographs and etchings spanning his career in Europe are on display in the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s exhibit On Beauty and the Everyday: The Prints of James McNeill Whistler. The bulk of the show comes from the bequest of Margaret Watson Parker, an early Whistler collector known for her discernment. Now through Nov. 28. Free ($5 suggested donation). University of Michigan Museum of Art, 525 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-764-0395, umma.umich.edu.

Sept. 24

Sean Blackman

The World Cup soccer games this summer showed how nations can harmonize through sports. Global cooperation through music takes that spirit a step further. World music is a genre that shows no signs of losing steam, and one of its biggest proponents, Detroit’s own Sean Blackman, will show what the big attraction is when the guitarist joins musicians from Armenia, Senegal, and Brazil — along with dancers and local jazz players — in a show called Sean Blackman’s In Transit, which is also the name of his latest CD. One could say the world is Blackman’s oyster. After the four-continent-wide concert, the journey continues at the Music Box at the Max, outside the hall. 8 p.m. Sept. 24. $18-$100. Orchestra Hall in the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward, Detroit; 313-576-5111, detroitsymphony.org.

Oct.1-Dec. 4

Hilberry Theatre

Noël Coward’s wit is nothing to sneeze at; just consider his 1924 comedy Hay Fever as evidence. The ironically named Bliss family live in a world that intertwines reality with fiction. There’s Judith, a former actress; David, a writer; and their two grown, imaginative children. When they each invite a romantic guest over, an interesting weekend ensues. The guests highlight the family’s lack of self-awareness before finally being driven to the edge. Coward admitted the play has “no plot at all and remarkably little action. Its general effectiveness therefore depends on expert technique from each and every member of the cast.’’ See the technique of Wayne State’s graduate theater students in action. Oct. 1-Dec. 4. $25-$30. Hilberry Theatre at Wayne State University, 4841 Cass, Detroit; 313-577-2972, hilberry.com.

Oct. 6-31

Jewish Ensemble Theatre

David J. Magidson begins his first full season as artistic director of the Jewish Ensemble Theatre in October with a drama by James Sherman (who has sometimes been compared to Neil Simon): The G-d of Isaac. Like Hamlet, it’s a play within a play; Isaac Adams, a playwright and actor, performs his own piece about discovering the significance of religion in his life. Alternating between light comedy and serious contemplation of culture and identity, The G-d of Isaac focuses on Adams and his quest to discover what being Jewish means. Oct. 6-31. $32-$41. 660 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield Township; 248-788-2900, jettheatre.org.

Oct. 6-31

Meadow Brook Theatre

Considering the popularity of vampires these days, Meadow Brook should have a bloody good hit on its hands as it puts a modern spin on a timeless story in Dracula: A Rock Opera. Perhaps Bram Stoker wouldn’t have recognized the transformation of his novel, but a vampire musical will no doubt thrill Twilight and True Blood junkies. Sorry, but Taylor Lautner isn’t in the cast. Oct. 6-31. $24-$34. 207 Wilson Hall, Oakland University, Rochester; 248-377-3300, mbtheatre.com.

 Oct. 8-10

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Under Leonard Slatkin’s baton, the season opener is a real ear-opener, with Berlioz’s wildly theatrical Symphonie Fantastique sharing the bill with Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (with soloist Sarah Chang) and William Schuman’s American Festival Overture. Oct. 8-10. Another intriguing concert in December is a Slatkin family affair. Leonard Slatkin will be on the podium, with younger brother Fred Zlotkin (he retained the family’s original Russian spelling) as soloist in Korngold’s Cello Concerto. But the family connection doesn’t end there. Their cellist mother, Eleanor Aller, performed the work in the 1946 Warner Bros. film Deception. Dec. 9-11. $19-$123. Orchestra Hall in the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward, Detroit; 313-576-5111, detroitsymphony.org.

Oct. 10-24

Michigan Opera Theatre

MOT has a few things to sing about this year. Not only is the company celebrating its 40th season, MOT Director David DiChiera is one of four recipients of the 2010 National Endowment for the Arts’ Opera Honors. He’ll pick up the prestigious award, which recognizes lifetime achievement in American opera, on Oct. 22 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Back in Detroit, MOT opens the season with a perennial favorite: Gilbert and Sullivan’s melodious The Mikado. Join Yum-Yum, Ko-Ko, Nanki-Poo, Pitti-Sing, and the rest of the colorful characters Oct. 10-24. $29-$121. Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, Detroit; 313-961-3500, motopera.org.

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