Some local theater companies, such the Cadillac Footliters and Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City, take the summer off. Still, there’s no lack of opportunities for audiences to indulge in their theatre passions. Touring professionals, traveling repertory companies, and student productions offer comedy, music, drama and more, from Cheboygan to Manistee and many points in between.
The Lakeside Shakespeare Festival in Frankfort presents classics by the bard each summer. It was founded in 2003 to share the thriving creative and artistic force of the Chicago theatre community with residents from nearby Benzie County.
Today, patrons travel from Manistee, Traverse City and as far north as Charlevoix to see the presentations at Frankfort’s Tank Hill. Performances are free and all ages are welcome.
This year’s shows are Richard III July 17, 19, 22 and 24, and Twelfth Night, July 18, 20, 23 and 25. Preview performances are July 15 and 16, respectively. A young adult workshop will be offered July 17-19 and a children’s workshop July 22-25.
For more information, visit Lakeside- Shakespeare.org or call 312-576-5037.
Slightly to the south, the Ramsdell Theater in Manistee will host Shrek the Musical June 27-29 and July 3, 5 and 6. The play is a joint production of West Shore Community College and the Manistee Civic Players.
On July 19, author Dan Hornak brings back the “The Duke” in his one-man tribute, Jake Thorne: The Life and Legend of John Wayne. Hornak says the Jake Thorne persona came from a John Wayne-like character in a 1970s movie script that was never produced. “It works for me, because that way I don’t get a big head or carried away with myself,” he notes.
Other shows at the Ramsdell include comedian Brad Upton July 26 and Jeff Daniels with the Ben Daniels Band Aug. 20. For tickets and more information, go to RamsdellTheatre.org. At Bay View in Petoskey, music, theatre and opera come together. First up is two performances by the Youth Theatre on July 20. Disney’s The Little Mermaid Youth Theatre packs in all the best songs and moments from the Disney tale.
The classic Les Miserables holds forth July 24-26 in Hall Auditorium. The musical version of Victor Hugo’s timeless story has won awards for both its stage show and film version.
Less tragic but no less enthralling will be the presentation of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. In this version, the action is transported to an American college campus, where two fraternity brothers disguise their identities. Cosi Fan Tutte will be presented at the auditorium at Petoskey High School Aug. 5-9. For more information, go to BayViewAssociation.org.
Eight performers from Bay View will take the stage at the City Opera House in Traverse City June 25. “Opera a la Carte” delivers fully staged and costumed scenes from various favorite operas, accompanied by piano. The repertoire will include Bizet’s Carmen, Adamo’s Little Women, Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, Mozart’s The Magic Flute and more.
The Opera House will also host authors Karin Slaughter (June 26) and Diana Gabaldon (July 7) as part of the National Writers Series, and comedian Rita Rudner July 17. For tickets and information, go to City- OperaHouse.org.
Magic and romance come alive with Shakespeare’s The Tempest at Interlochen Center for the Arts. The production of this year’s Shakespeare Festival is at Upton-Morley Pavilion.
Interlochen’s summer festival also includes the political comedy cabaret of The Capitol Steps on July 5; Collage on July 8, the showcase of student performances encompassing music, dance, theatre, creative writing, film and visual arts; Michael Cooper’s “Masked Marvels and Wondertales”
July 13; the unscripted improvisational comedy Broadway’s Next H!t Musical July 14; and Les Misérables High School Musical Theatre Co. July 31-Aug. 3. For details on these or other shows, go to Interlochen.org.
One of the most popular musical traditions takes place each year at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs, the Young Americans Dinner Theatre. The Young Americans is made up of young, up-and-coming performers, handpicked from across the nation. The music spans generations.
Performances take place Monday through Saturday from June 27-Aug. 23. Go to BoyneHighlands.com for details.
At the Cheboygan Opera House, the Summer Youth Theatre in cooperation with the Northland Players presents Rats! June 20- 21. The musical comedy is based on the classic tale The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
The Children’s Ballet Theatre takes place Aug. 16. Other presentations include Steppin’ In It, June 27; Glenn Miller tribute July 2; Horton Creek Aug. 9; and Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band Aug. 14.
Go to TheOperaHouse.org for tickets and details.
Milliken Auditorium at Northwestern Michigan College’s Dennos Museum will host Catch Me If You Can July 11-14 and 17-20. It is based on a true story of a con man pursued across the country by the FBI, and was made into a hit movie starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The show is produced by Miracle Productions. Each summer, it produces Broadway musicals featuring college students studying or otherwise engaged in the performing arts. This year’s cast also includes Dominic Fortuna, who toured the country in the lead role of Frank Abnegale Sr.
For tickets and information, go to Miracle- ProductionsTC.com.
Fortuna is also at the center of things at the Williamsburg Dinner Theater. Each Wednesday in July and August, the Williamsburg will host dinner and a variety show, featuring music from the 50s to today.
The Williamsburg is located on M-72 just east of the intersection with US-31 in Acme. Log onto DominicEntertainment.com for information.