The City Opera House is raising the curtain on two possibly annual productions masterminded by locals – and one ex-local.
The first: The Rocky Horror Show, a musical about a young couple and their encounter with transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter and friends, hits the stage beginning Wednesday, July 18. The show is being put on by Four Cornered Productions, a new all-local production company headed up by TC’s Brett Nichols and his wife, Kristina, and Brian Dungjen and Michelle Perez-Dungjen.
The four have been friends for more than a decade and met while doing plays at the Old Town Playhouse. One of those plays just happened to be The Rocky Horror Show in 2006, then starring Brett Nichols and directed by Dungjen.
“We had an absolute blast doing the show, and it was very popular,” says Nichols. “Since then we have been talking about doing it again.”
Last fall, the group decided it was time to “put their money where their mouth was” and created Four Cornered Productions. Once the theatre company was a reality, they immediately opened up auditions for Rocky.
“We have a strong local cast of 15,” states Nichols. “We have been working very hard, and we’re ready for an audience.”
Nichols says the company’s goal is simple: First, to “survive Rocky,” and, depending on its success, have an annual show. He says Four Cornered Productions is not trying to compete with other local entertainment, but rather, to add to the great arts in the area.
“We’re so proud of Traverse City for continuing to support the arts,” he says. “This region seems to ‘get it.’”
Fresh from New York City and beyond comes The Traverse City Dance Project, which is also making its debut later this month. A group of professional dancers and choreographers from around the world have made TC their home for 20 days as they learn and perfect four ballet pieces, including a work by Italian choreographer Mauro de Candia.
The founder of the dance company: TC native dancer Brent Whitney, who graduated from Traverse City West Senior High School in 2000 and studied locally at TC’s Ballet Etc. Whitney, who now resides in New York City, has danced for several of the nation's top ballet companies, including the Milwaukee Ballet Company and the New York Theater Ballet.
So why bring his Dance Project here instead of a big city like the Big Apple? Whitney explains, “Traverse City feels like a very embracing community to start a new project. I wanted to choose a community that didn’t already have a professional company and a community that we have the potential to grow in.”
And grow is just what the dance company hopes to do. Whitney says his goal is to make the Dance Project an annual summer event – making it possible for dancers to spend the entire summer rehearsing and performing in Traverse City and surrounding areas. He also hopes to work closely with Interlochen Arts Academy.
Give yourself over to absolute pleasure: Get tickets to The Rocky Horror Show (July 18 – 21) and the Traverse City Dance Project (July 26 & 27) here.
Love the lips on Four Cornered’s Rocky Horror promotional poster? They belong to local performing artist Blake Elliot.