Actors’ Theatre in Todd Chance’s Top 5 Things to do:


The cast of Love! Valour! Compassion! perform during a dress rehearsal at the Actors' Theater in downtown Grand Rapids on Wednesday, September 18, 2013. (Andrew Kuhn |

The cast of Love! Valour! Compassion! perform during a dress rehearsal at the Actors’ Theater in downtown Grand Rapids on Wednesday, September 18, 2013. (Andrew Kuhn |

By Todd Chance |

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Although ArtPrize is taking over the headlines this weekend, there are even more things to do in and and around Grand Rapids this weekend.

Check out these five options for your social calendar:

1. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey present “Dragons”

The newest installment of the circus is coming Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 19-22, at Van Andel Arena, 130 W. Fulton Street. “Dragons” is called a “once in a millennium event that honors the Year of the Dragon.”

RELATED: Meet the Ringmaster: Emcee of Ringling Bros. Circus talks about ‘Dragons’ show coming to Grand Rapids

During this performance, the ringmaster’s sidekick Paulo – a 4-foot dynamo from Brazil claims he sees and can conjure an actual dragon to appear. The show “merges today’s technology and fast-paced tempo of entertainment with staying true to who we are,” said Ringmaster Johnathon Lee Iverson. “You will see video screens but they won’t distract audiences from the live features.”

Elephants, lions and tigers mixed with clowns and athletes performing acts of strength are on the itinerary. Tickets are $15-$68 with each performance offering a free all-access interactive pre-show starting one hour before showtimes when patrons can get autographs, try on costumes, and get close to the animals. Details and tickets

2. Grand Rapids Symphony opens season with “Rite of Spring”

The disastrous debut of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” in May of 1913 was unlike anything orchestral music lovers had ever heard. The dissonance caused such a discord that rioting broke out and Stravinsky was reviled. One year later, the piece was performed again to accolade and applause. It later was even included in Disney’s “Fantasia.”

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s 84th season opens in DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, with that same piece, now celebrating its 100-year anniversary, and other themes of scandal including a brand new cello concerto inspired by Flaubert’s shocking novel, “Madame Bovary.” Two performances will be held at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21.

Tickets start at $18 at the Grand Rapids Symphony office, 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, or online at

3. “Love! Valour! Compassion!” at Actors’ Theatre

Veteran actor, teacher and choreographer Jolene Frankey is making her directorial debut for Actors’ Theatre with the award-winning contemporary classic “Love! Valour! Compassion!” by Terrence McNally. The curtain rises in Spectrum Theater, 160 Fountain St. NE, on Thursday, Sept. 19, for a run of six performances through Saturday, Sept. 28. All shows begin at 8 p.m.

The story of eight friends who gather over the course of three summer weekends in a house belonging to aging Broadway choreographer Gregory and his younger partner Bobby, who is blind, puts friendship, love, life and death on center stage.

Tickets are $20-$26 at 616-234-3946 or

A special Friday Night Talk-Back session will be hosted by The Red Project following the Friday, Sept. 20, show. The discussion will focus on what HIV/AIDS has looked like in West Michigan over the past 20 years.

4. GrandCon 2013 Convention

The first GrandCon gaming and comic book convention will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21-22, at the Calvin College Prince Conference Center, 1800 E. Beltline Ave. SE. The event features tabletop gaming in all its forms as well as comic books and the creators behind them. Fans can mingle and appreciate their shared interests, check out unpublished games, get sneak peeks at things to come, and meet the creators behind their favorite games and comic books.

Gamers can come to play or just network with fellow enthusiasts. Costumes and art from vendors and guests will be on display. Event badges are sold as 1-, 2- or 3-day badges for $10-$40. Special event tickets sold separately. Details at

5. Bridal Show of West Michigan

DeVos Hall, 303 Monroe Avenue NW will once again host one of the largest bridal expos in the area on Friday and Saturday, Sept 20-21. Ultimate Bridal Fashion Shows are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, noon and 2 p.m. Saturday to showcase the latest in bridal gown fashion. Second Floor Bakery also will host a red carpet display of trendsetting cake designs for 2014.

Also included are booths from those offering tuxedos, flowers, photographers, beauticians, catering, reception facilities, DJs, limousines and more. Special discounts and door prizes will be offered.

Admission is $8 at the door. Details and coupons at Wedding resources at

Todd Chance is the West Michigan Entertainment Concierge for MLive/Grand Rapids Press. Email him at or follow him on Facebook Twitter,Google Plus

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