Farmers Alley Theatre

Becky Klose

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, director Kathy Mulay and actors Jody Briskey and Annie Yokom set the stage for an evening at Farmers Alley Theatre honoring the life and art one of the most popular and beloved performers of the 20th century: Judy Garland. 

Beyond the Rainbow: The Judy Garland Musical examines a woman adored by millions, who began her professional career at age 4. Garland earned iconic status by age 14 with her portrayal of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, but even then she was beginning a lifelong struggle with self-confidence and drug dependency.  Her legendary 1961 come-back Carnegie Hall concert serves as a starting and returning point in this production, which features four actresses playing Judy at different stages in her life. 

The show features several songs Garland made her own, including "Get Happy", "Stormy Weather", "The Trolley Song", "That's Entertainment", and, of course, "Over the Rainbow."

Beyond The Rainbow: The Judy Garland Musical opens on Sep 28 at 221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo, MI. After opening on Friday 28th, performances are Thursday-Sunday through Oct 14.

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Writer and theater critic Gordon Bolar (and a former general manager of WMUK) finds much to be hopeful and excited about in the rich world of West Michigan live theater. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance about the 2018-19 season, Bolar says we live an unusually supportive theater community that offers opportunities to participate at all age levels. Here are the productions he picked as his most-anticipated shows of the fall.


C. Lieurance

Farmers Alley Theatre will produce seven plays and musicals and two Children's Series productions in its 11th season, returning full-time to its home at 221 Farmers Alley for the first time since city construction forced the theater company to relocate parts of their seasons to another venue.  Executive Director Adam Weiner and Deputy Director Rob Weiner run down the offerings with Cara Lieurance, explaining the dramatic situations behind each title, which run the gamut from the dramas A Doll's House, Part 2 and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,  to the musicals Avenue Q and Fun Home.

Notable West Michigan directors Kathy Mulay, Sandy Bremer and D. Terry Williams will helm several shows, and the Weiners themselves will each step into directing roles this season. The first show of the season, Beyond The Rainbow: The Judy Garland Musical, takes a thorough look at four stages of the iconic entertainer's life, portrayed by four different actors. For the holidays, The Marvellous Wonderettes returns, packed with 60s and 70s hits.

Katherine Mumma

The disreputable bust-and-boom Broadway adventures of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom in the record-breaking, 12 Tony award-winning musical The Producers are coming to the Farmers Alley Theatre July 20-Aug 5. Stars Stephen Wallem and WMU alum Tony Humrichouser, the real-life couple playing Max and Leo, and director/choreographer Bill Burns join Cara Lieurance to preview the production, which will be the biggest production yet in Farmers Alley Theatre's ten-year history. Wallem and Humrichouser talk about the experience they bring to their roles and praise director/choreographer Bill Burns, who worked directly with the team that launched the original stage adaptation of The Producers, including Mel Brooks, Susan Stroman, and Thomas Meehan.


C. Lieurance

When she saw the show on Broadway, Denene Mulay Koch thought she had found a role that fit her incredibly well: the character of Francesca was the right age, was also Italian, and the songs were in the right range for her voice. Additionally, it was a chance to work with her husband, actor Jeremy Koch, who was perfect for the role of Robert Kincaid, the photographer who upends Francesca's life while her husband and children are away at the state fair. Francesca's children? They could be played Jason and Carly Koch, the couple's two real-life children. There was one more family member to add to the mix: Kathy Mulay as director. The Bridges of Madison County, a musical adapted from the book by Robert James Waller, which won the 2014 Tony for Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations, comes to Farmers Alley Theatre on June 8 in the Little Theater on Oakland Drive. Jeremy Koch and Denene Mulay Koch joined Cara Lieurance to talk about this contemporary musical with music by Jason Robert Brown.


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