Love Is Strange: A Creative 360 Preview

Reviewer: Michelle Nemeth Puckett

Venue: Creative 360

If you’re looking to warm your heart up on a chilly mid-February Michigan mid-winter weekend “Love is Strange” a variety of nine short plays will help convey that feeling.

“Love is Strange” showcases a variety of vignettes that are fast paced and engaging. It is being performed at Creative 360 in Midland, Michigan.  I excitedly got to preview the show during last night’s tech rehearsal.  If I had to describe “Love is Strange” in one word it would be “I absolutely love community theatre! The actors are serious, passionate and humorous. The plays are evocative and clever!”

This showcase of theatre artists and playwrights is a first for Creative 360.  Laura Brigham, public relations coordinator emphasized that she is very excited to produce a show for the community like this.  Laura recently learned as a former performer herself, that her personal mission is – to raise up other people’s voices.  “I like to do these projects where I have local playwrights that are being heard and numerous local actors being on the stage to do their art. We like to be able to engage a lot of people in the community.” 

Director Danielle Katsoulos is excited to share her passion and to work with the local talent bringing these scripts to fruition this Friday February 10, and Saturday February 11 from 7-9pm when the collective of 20 student, community and professional actors will be engaged in transforming Creative 360 into a live theatre experience.  By bringing fruition to the nine plays by both local and national playwrights, she is also very enthusiastic for the playwrights to be able to see their work in action. 

Danielle and Laura also felt that it was important that “the plays not only feature romantic love, but many types of love.”  

Danielle’s and Laura’s vision for this performance is to use the space at Creative 360 a little bit differently.  Without a costume designer, lighting designer, or technical designer that larger performance venues have, they took on this bold project by looking at it in terms of “How can we do this?”  As a result of watching the tech rehearsal, they accomplish this with simple sets, precise props, and sound effects. This simplicity allows the actors to really punctuate their art form.  The minimal set and stage provides the perfect palette for the actors to shine.  The talented group of actors that will be bringing these humorous, engaging and thought provoking plays to life this Friday and Saturday by sharing their love of live performance are as follows:  Claudia Marsh, Matt Kehoe, Donald Owens III, José Jimenez, Gina Kearly, River Kearly, Erica Tatum, Cameron Schott, Jaeleen Davis, Bre Sklar, Shawn Finney, Darby Johnson, Rita Gnida, Dan Kettler, Nathan Hanley, Richard Gomez, Keara Dixon, Angie Noah, and Spencer Beyerlein with stage management by Mary Monroe.

Four Michigan promising playwrights Nicholas Alfano, Emma Bowen, Antonio Vettraino, and Jason Applegate will be featured. Their plays were selected from the entries of  “Art Speaks” Creative 360’s playwriting festival and competition.  The other five plays are from national playwrights.  Four scripts by Erich Goldstein and one script by Jean Ciampias.

The performance is recommended for an 18+ audience due to the language and content of a few plays in the second act. 

Per usual at Creative 360, it’s bring your own beverage, charcuterie board, picnic basket or slice of vegan gluten free chocolate cream cake!

Just thinking about this charming, heartfelt, engaging and uplifting set of well written plays while eating a slice of my vegan gluten free chocolate cream cake,  performing right here in the heart of Michigan, makes my heart grin. If you’re interested in attending this Friday February 10, and or Saturday February 11, at 7pm, with doors opening at 6:30pm you can purchase tickets online for $15.  Go to https://becreative360.org/ and click on the side bar that says register.  You can also purchase tickets for $20 at the door.  Seating is first come first serve. Reserved seats are limited to parties of six or more. 

After talking with Danielle and Laura it’s clear that Creative 360’s mission is about creating spaces for people to create. They are doing wonderful things to support art for all within the Saginaw, Bay, Midland and the surrounding communities.  And this show highlights their most recent art supporting endeavor, “Art Speaks” a festival that celebrates playwrights.  What!?!?!  A festival right here in mid-Michigan that celebrates playwrights?  Yes, that’s right!  And the third annual “Art Speaks” deadline of April 3, is quickly approaching!  Details right here if you are a playwright or are thinking about becoming one. https://www.facebook.com/events/1381559989253810/?ref=newsfeed

In closing, thank you Danielle and Laura for the interview/preview.  I appreciate your time and kindness!  Thank you actors and creative 360 for sharing your love for live performance with all of us! Please keep doing for the community what you are doing!  The creative use of the space and the intimate audience seating completes a feeling of oneness.  By the end of tech night I felt love, sadness, hope, and happiness. 

Love Is Strange. And I was immersed in it!

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