REVIEW: Varner Act II Gala Honors Oakland University’s Musical Past While Shining a Bright Spotlight on its Future

Varner Hall, on the campus of Oakland University (OU), has spent the last two years going through much-needed renovations and is finally ready for its close-up. To celebrate, the esteemed OU School of Music, Theatre and Dance is staging the Varner Act II Gala — a show-stopping musical revue under the direction of Teri Hansen in the Varner Studio Theatre. Hansen, a visiting assistant professor, brings a wealth of screen (Film/TV) and stage (Broadway/London's West End) experience to this fresh … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Oakland University’s Multilingual ‘¡Farsa/Farce! (An Affair of International Laughter)’ is Relevant in Any Language

Oakland University Department of Theatre opened its 2023-2024 season with one of the most unique productions in recent memory — ¡Farsa/Farce! (An Affair of International Laughter) which runs now until Oct. 15 in Varner Studio Theatre on the campus of Oakland University (OU). Directed by David Gram, ¡Farsa/Farce! encompasses two plays. The first is El suplicio del placer (“The Agony of Ecstasy”) by Mexican playwright Sabina Berman, and the second is Non tutti i ladri vengono per nuocere (“The … [Read more...]

OU presents ‘¡Farsa/Farce! (An Affair of International Laughter)’ from Oct. 5-15

Oakland University’s Department of Theatre will present ¡Farsa/Farce! (An Affair of International Laughter) from Oct. 5-8 and Oct. 12-15 in Varner Studio Theatre on the campus of Oakland University. Photo credit - Crystal Orser Directed by David Gram, ¡Farsa/Farce! Brings together two important international playwrights for an evening of physical and verbal comedy — with a social conscience. The plays interrogate issues relating to gender, identity, sexuality, and class. “The two … [Read more...]

Musical theatre returns to OU stage with ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’

Performances are November 11-14, 18-21 in the Varner Studio Theatre Musical theatre at Oakland University makes a triumphant return to live performances this November in the Varner Studio Theatre with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee!Winner of the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, this musical takes audiences back to that awkward stage of life as six of the most eccentric kids in the school district vie for the coveted title in the sixth-grade spelling bee.“With the audience … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Insightful and Intriguing, Oakland University’s ‘Passage’ is a Powerful Journey Worth Taking

An attentive and appreciative crowd welcomed back live theatre to Oakland University (OU) for the opening night of Passage. Written by Chinese-American playwright Christopher Chen, this gripping and enigmatic play runs until Oct. 17 in the Varner Studio Theatre on the OU campus in Rochester, MI. The last time I sat inside Varner Studio Theatre was to review Macbeth on February 6, 2020, and it was a little sad thinking about those seniors who I never got to see take their final bow before … [Read more...]

Christopher Chen’s ‘Passage’ Coming to Oakland University Stage

Play leads audiences on a journey of self-exploration Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance will present Passage, a gripping and enigmatic play by Chinese-American playwright Christopher Chen, on Oct. 7-10 and Oct. 14-17 in the Varner Studio Theatre on the OU campus. Set in the fictional “Country X,” Passage engages audiences in an ideological debate about the precarious nature of political borders and the social divides that emerge in times of strife. Inspired by E.M. … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Oakland University’s ‘Macbeth’ Delivers a Powerful Examination of the Carnage Caused by Desire and Deception

A little over five years ago I went to the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada to see a production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Once there I quickly learned through the grapevine that people either loved it or hated it; during some performances, people actually walked out. That is when it dawned on me there are two types of Shakespeare enthusiasts. First, the purists. Those who want only traditional costumes, settings, and no interpretation of the script. Second, are … [Read more...]

Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ Coming to Oakland University Stage

Come Experience 'Double, double, toil and trouble' February 6 - 9, 13 - 16 Something “wicked” is coming to the Oakland University (OU) stage as the Department of Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s Macbeth — a cautionary tale about the trappings of power and what happens when vaulting ambition takes priority over the people one is expected to govern — from February 6-9, 13-16 in the Varner Studio Theatre on the OU campus. “With Brexit on the horizon, we have set our play in an imagined … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Oakland University’s ‘Urinetown’ Merges Merriment and Misery into One Mind-Blowing Musical Production

Urinetown is a musical I’ve heard a lot about over the years but never found the time to see — until now. Oakland University School of Music, Theatre and Dance get their 2019-20 season off to a phenomenal start with their production of this Tony Award-winning musical running now through Oct. 20 in the Varner Studio Theatre. Have you ever thought about paying for the privilege to pee? Probably not, but this concept served as the inspiration for Urinetown. In the mid-90s, Greg Kotis (Lyrics and … [Read more...]

‘The Who’s Tommy’ is Ready to Rock at Oakland University

The Oakland University School of Music, Theatre and Dance will present the thrilling rock opera Tommy by legendary British rock icons The Who at Varner Studio Theatre from March 21 – 24 and March 27 – 31, 2019. Winner of five Tony Awards, the story is set over a period of 25 years. Tommy is a story about hope, healing and the human spirit; while also exploring issues of mental health, abuse, and celebrity. The Who’s Tommy is fast-paced, exhilarating rock opera featuring music and lyrics … [Read more...]