Face Off Theatre

Carl Van Vechten, via Wikimedia Commons

Face Off Theatre Company will present Mahaliathe story of gospel singing sensation Mahalia Jackson, on Feb 21 - 24 at the Joliffe Theatre in the Epic Center, Kalamazoo. It stars Christie Coleman, who recently played lead roles in Sister Act at the Kalamazoo Civic and in Dreamgirls at Face Off Theatre. Coleman says that like Mahalia, she grew up singing gospel music in her family's church. In her portrayal, she uses a combination of her own natural voice and some elements of Mahalia's style.

Director Marissa Harrington, a co-founder of Face Off Theatre, talks about its mission to put diverse stories and diverse characters on stage, to collaborate with other organizations in outreach efforts, and to get audiences involved after every show by offering "talkbacks" with the cast.  Harrington says Mahalia, which opens Face Off Theatre's 2019 season, is an ideal story for Black History Month, noting the powerful second act features scenes between Jackson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which portray their friendship and shared dream.

Matthew Murphy

Writer and WMUK theater critic Gordon Bolar highlights West Michigan theater this  winter and spring in a preview with Cara Lieurance. They cover upcoming productions by regional theaters such as Farmers Alley Theatre and the Kalamazoo Civic; the shows coming to Miller Auditorium, smaller companies like Queer Theatre Kalamazoo and What A Do Theatre; the Western Michigan University Theatre and more.


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.

Tanisha Pyron Photography

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots in Detroit - considered to be the largest civil disturbance in the United States of the 20th century. Over five days, people took to the streets protesting police brutality against African Americans and segregation. 

The Colored Museum performed in 2015 at the Avenue of the Arts, Boston University Theatre
T. Charles Erickson

Next week, Face Off Theatre Company will perform the play The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe as part of the week-long Black Arts Festival. In the satirical play, each monologue or vignette is an “exhibit” in the museum that portrays a different stereotype about African Americans.