Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Sweetest Swing in Baseball – Cast Announced!

The cast for The Sweetest Swing in Baseball has been announced:

Dana – Jolene Frankey
Roy/Gary – Calin Skidmore
Rhonda/Dr. Gilbert – Ellie Gramer
Brian/Michael – Kyle Los
Erica/Dr. Stanton – Lorna Torres

Congratulations to all!  The Sweetest Swing in Baseball opens March 24th at Actors’ Theatre.

Rebecca Gilman, Playwright

Rebecca Gilman native of Alabama, Rebecca Gilman’s plays include The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, The Glory of Living, as well as world premieres at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre of Spinning Into Butter, Boy Gets Girl, and Blue Surge. Ms. Gilman’s plays have been produced at the Lincoln Center, Royal Court Theatre in London, the Public Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club among many others. She serves on the advisory board for Chicago Dramatists and was awarded the 2008 Harper Lee Award.

Michelle Urbane, Director

The Sweetest Swing in Baseball marks Michelle’s second mainstage directing project for Actors’ Theatre, though her history with the theater includes many acting and directing accomplishments. “Shelly”, as her friends know her, has also directed for GRCC Players and Circle Theatre as well as for the Actors’ Living on the Edge series.

Michelle’s acting credits for Actors’ include the 2007 production of Neil Labute’s Fat Pig and 2004’s The Rocky Horror Show, among many others. She is also the Manager of Spectrum Theater.

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“Opus” in On The Town

There are just three chances left to see the play Grand Rapids’ Press writer John Phipps called “a work of art.” Interested in learning more about this amazing show? See what writer Kristin Austin had to say in On The Town:

It’s all drama as the Lazara String Quartet prepares for the performance of their lives in Actors’ upcoming production

Published: Monday, January 24, 2011, 10:54 AM
By Kristin Austin

Playing for their lives: Actors' presents "Opus." Photo Credit: On-the-Town

When preparing for a concert, musicians face pressure and passion that provide drama all its own.

That is why former concert violist and now playwright Michael Hollinger thought the work it takes to prepare for a performance would translate into a good play. So, he wrote Opus, the drama-filled and often humorous story of the Lazara String Quartet. Three of the quartet’s members fire the fourth, a talented but troubled violinist, and hire a gifted young woman unsure of her career path as they prepare for the performance of their lives.

Actors’ Theatre will present the West Michigan premier of Opus this month. Director Jeralyn Pinsky said she simply fell in the love with the play and hopes the audience will too.

Opus is ninety minutes of the world of a string quartet,” she said, describing the play as “classical music with witty, bright, and interesting characters and relationships, unique staging, and beautiful music. And, of course, dramatic conflicts.”

Grand Rapids Symphony Music Director David Lockington agreed drama can stem from the pressure and emotions musicians feel during the rehearsal process. “We all have to pace ourselves so that, like athletes, we peak at the time of the performance,” he said. “The demands of playing together and in tune are enormous. It requires great technical skill but also an ability to listen beyond your own instrument or small group surrounding you.”

Lockington continued, “Of course we are all flowing with the emotions of the music, but we are also having to communicate with our colleagues on a very intimate level and sometimes this can be difficult. Communication is, in general, quite difficult. We have to be strong in our convictions and vulnerable at the same time. Somehow we have to trust each other!”

(Read the rest of the article here, on

Remaining Performance Dates for Opus:

Feb. 3 – 5, 2011 –  all shows at 8PM

For tickets, call the box office at 234-3946 (The box office is open from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM) or purchase them online anytime at

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“Opus” 4 Star Review in the Grand Rapids Press!

Check out the review in The Grand Rapids Press by writer John Phipps:

Actors’ Theatre’s ‘Opus’ a Work of Art

Published: Friday, January 28, 2011, 8:05 AM

T.J. Hamilton | Grand Rapids Press Lauren Greer and Greg Rogers appear in a scene from "Opus."

John Phipps | The Grand Rapids Press

In music, an opus is a work, and its number shows the order in which it was composed.

Well, throw out any thought of order and move Actors’ Theatre’s presentation of “Opus” straight up to No. 1, because it is a first-class piece of work by all concerned.

Clear your schedule for one of the remaining performances, and go get your money’s worth in prime theater while you have the chance.

Beautifully orchestrated by Grand Award-winning director Jeralyn Pinsky and an ensemble cast of four Grand-winning actors and a talented newcomer, this one is a solid winner. And it deserves much more of an audience than Thursday’s opening night crowd, which, while appreciative, was lucky if it populated half the 230-seat Spectrum Theater, 160 Fountain St. NE.

Too bad, because the work is a tour de force that shows what clever, rapier script-writing, adroit, fast-paced direction, supple, nuanced acting and artful use of lighting can do to fire an audience’s imagination into seeing a minimal stage set as a rehearsal hall, concert venue, apartment and backstage room at the White House.

And although players in a string quartet on stage clearly are not really playing, they are perfectly believable as world-class musicians with all the joys, hang-ups, talents and foibles of any four people thrown together in a common endeavor…. (Read the rest of the review here on

Good news!  There are still tickets available for this beautiful show!  Be sure and order them today.

Performance times:

Jan. 28 – 29, 8 PM
Feb. 3, 4, 5 8PM

Go to for more information, or call our box office at (616)234-3946. Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 1:00PM until 5:00 PM. The box office will be open from 1PM until show time on the day of performance.

Spectrum Theater is located at:

160 Fountain Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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“Opus” In the Grand Rapids Press

Check out this excerpt from an article about Opus by Grand Rapids Press writer John Phipps! (Be sure and go over to to read the complete article.)

Grand Rapids’ Actors Theatre debuts award-winning Opus

Photo Credit: Cory Morse | The Grand Rapids Press The cast: From left, Ralph Lister, Steven J. Anderson, Lauren Greer, Michael Smolinski and Greg Rogers star in "Opus."

GRAND RAPIDS — How’s this for a nightmare? You land a position most people in your field would kill for, only to learn that your job performance will be evaluated by one of the most powerful executives on the globe.

And your success will depend on how you handle being sucked into a vortex of passions, tensions and personalities generated by three complex co-workers who demand nothing less than world-class achievement — all under the scrutiny of a national TV crew.

Welcome to the world of Grace, a gifted young viola player who must wonder why she turned her back on an audition for a safe orchestra chair in favor of this swirling unknown in Michael Hollinger’s “Opus.”

The award-winning, one-act drama with comedic edges gets its West Michigan premiere by Actors’ Theatre this weekend in Spectrum Theater with a star cast and director….

(Read the rest of the article at

Performance Information on Opus:

When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (Jan. 27-29) and Feb. 3-5; final rehearsal at 8 p.m. Wednesday open to the public

Where: Spectrum Theater, 160 Fountain St. NE

Tickets: $24 adults, $20 students and seniors at the box office, 234-3946 or; $5 for all ages at Wednesday’s rehearsal

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This Week at Actors Theatre Grand Rapids – “Opus”

January 27-29 & February 3-5, 2011 8PM

Opening this week – Opus by Michael Hollinger!

Members of the cast of Opus rehearse their instruments with advisor Diane McElfish Helle.

The world-class Lazara String Quartet is struggling to prepare for their highest-profile performance when they decide to fire their brilliant, yet mercurial, violist. When a young woman is hired as the replacement, her gifts inspire them to attempt a musical feat of epic proportions.

The rehearsal room becomes a pressure cooker as passions rise, personalities clash, and the musicians are forced to tackle life, love, and the ephemeral nature of their work.

“a taut, smart, thoroughly entertaining drama about that most rarified of heady glories, the string quartet”

“Opus plays all of its notes with an utmost precision and delicacy”
—New York Post

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