Jay Berkow

Janet Gover

Portage West Middle School seventh grader Andrew Klepser and Billy Elliot, the fictional title character of a film (2000) and musical (2005), have at least one thing in common: both were kind of surprised to discover they could dance. In a live interview, director Jay Berkow, actress Allison Crockett (Grandma), Max Butkiewicz (Michael) and Andrew Klepser (Billy Elliot) discuss the characters and themes of the musical, which will be a regional premiere in west Michigan.

Set during the doomed 1984-5 National Union of Mineworkers strike in the U.K. (one of the largest industrial actions in history), it tells the story of a motherless Billy Elliot, who lives with his somewhat senile grandmother and his father and brother, both coal miners, the latter involved in violence. Billy and his friend Michael are both accustomed to sometimes harsh and neglectful parenting, and so they set out to discover their own worth through trial and error -- Billy with the help of an unlikely mentor, the frustrated dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson.

Billy Elliot opens on Friday, May 4, and performances continue through May 20. Detail at the Kalamazoo Civic website.

WMU Department of Theatre

Hear Jay Berkow, professor of music theater performance, and Emily Duguay, director of theater arts management discuss comedies, dramas, and musicals that will be be marketed, produced and performed by a talented group of Western Michigan University students. Highlights include the premiere of the West End musical The Witches of Eastwick, in its first college production, and a spring performance of the Webber/Rice classic, Jesus Christ Superstar.


Kalamazoo Civic

Side Show, a 1997 musical by Bill Russell and Henry Krieger, has been on director Jay Berkow's dream list of shows he's like to to direct. Based on the true story of conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, who became performers on the vaudeville circuit, Side Show is a musical about acceptance, love, and embracing one's uniqueness. 


wmich.edu/theatre

Director Jay Berkow and cast members Gabrielle Oliva (Magnolia) and Kendall VanAmberg (Gaylord Ravenol) join Cara Lieurance to talk about what makes the still-popular 1927 Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein musical Show Boat special.


wmutheatre.com

There are nine productions in the new season of theater at Western Michigan University: everything from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to the musical The Wiz. Behind the scenes, faculty and students are prepping everything from scripts, to sets, to advertising, as they launch a non-stop year of drama, comedy, musicals, and more.