Welcome to December, where live performances - holiday and otherwise - abound

Act I: MSU students mix it up with improv show

For four days, MSU Theatre students will create new works of comedy to entertain audiences using the classic form of improvisation.

“MSU UnScripted” takes place from Dec. 1-4 in Studio 60 of the Auditorium Building on campus. They’ll use a combination of classic and new improv games, taking suggestions from the audience so that each performance is unique and tailored to those who are in the theater.

Michigan State University's Department of Theatre presents MSU Unscripted Dec. 1-4 in Studio 60 in the Auditorium Building.
Michigan State University's Department of Theatre presents MSU Unscripted Dec. 1-4 in Studio 60 in the Auditorium Building.

“One of my favorite principles of improvisation is the idea that there are no mistakes, only opportunities to explore a new idea,” said Director Sarah Hendrickson, MSU Department of Theatre Improvisation and Acting faculty. “Improv comedians are constantly looking at given circumstances with a new perspective and working as an ensemble to achieve a common goal. We strive, in the Department of Theatre, to help students push the boundaries of discovery to become artists and find the humor in things whenever possible.”

In preparation for the run, the 26 participating students were divided into five teams. Each team will perform twice over the run of five shows.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $23.50 for general admission, $21.50 for seniors and MSU faculty and staff and $13.50 for students. Tickets are available at whartoncenter.com, the Wharton Center box office or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.

Act II: Frog and Toad sing out at Riverwalk Theatre

The amphibians are taking over Riverwalk Theatre for two weeks as Tom Ferris directs a musical based on Arnold Lobel’s beloved children’s books.

“A Year with Frog and Toad” is a whimsical musical about two best friends, a cheerful Frog and a grumpy Toad. It runs from Dec. 8-11 and Dec. 15-18.

The musical gathers such quirky friends as Snail, Turtle, the Birds and more as they progress through four seasons doing such things as rushing down a hill in a runaway sled, going on a picnic and enjoying the quiet of summer.

Local actors in the show include Connor Kelly as Frog; Quinn Kelly as Toad; Kelly Jo Garland, Anna Maier, Lauren Spadafora, Courtlandt D. Lyons and Eric Vincent as the Birds; John Henrikson as Turtle; Laura Johnson and Tim Lewis as Mice; Jessica McLarty, Danny Ferris, Evan Bywater as squirrels; Kat Koehn as Snail and Caleb Liggett as Lizard. Other cast members include Charles Hoogstraten and Lorena Krause. It has music direction by Kait Wilson and choreography by Fran Ludington.

Riverwalk is partnering with two community organizations during the run of this show. On Dec. 14, they will hold a special performance with Lansing Reading is Fundamental (RIF). After the show, every child under 18 can choose a free RIF book to take home.

The second partnership is with Preuss Pets to support the Panamanian Golden Frog Project. During the RIF performance, Sean Murphy will bring an 80-year-old South American Red Footed Tortoise and talk about the Project Golden Frog. He’ll do the same for the Dec. 11 and 18 performances. Project Golden Frog helps preserve the culturally significant golden frog of Panama. It is considered a flagship species for amphibian decline issues worldwide.

Riverwalk’s COVID-19 policies have changed as of Nov. 1. Masks are now optional, except for during Thursday night performances. Those shows will still be sold at half capacity to allow for socially distanced seating and audience and volunteers will be required to mask.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.riverwalktheatre.com or in person at the box office. Tickets are $26 for adults, $22 for students, seniors and military, and $14 for children 12 and under.

Act III: West Circle series visits the chamber works of Brahms

MSU College of Music’s West Circle Series continues at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 with a chamber concert featuring Brahms.

Taking place in the Fairchild Theatre, the concert will include selections from Hungarian Dances arranged by Brahms for piano four hands, the Sonata in E-flat Major for piano and clarinet and the Brahms Piano Quintet.

Performing artists include Deborah Moriarty, Zhihua Tang, Eric Zuber, Mingzhe Wang, Eric Nowlin, Suren Bagratuni, Yvonne Lam and I-Fu Wang.

“The College of Music is delighted to showcase Brahms chamber works and to feature the talents and virtuosity of our wonderful musicians here at the MSU College of Music,” said Moriarty, pianist and artistic director of the series. “The West Circle Series is a beloved gem of our music calendar through the enduring and generous support of Joanne and Bill Church.”

Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, $7 for students and those under 18. They can be purchased at music.msu.edu or by calling 517-353-5340.


  • Three Lansing Community College music ensembles will be holding concerts from Dec. 7-11. All concerts are free and open to the public. The LCC Jazz Band will perform at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at Everett High School, the LCC Concert Choir will perform at 7 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Okemos Community Church and the LCC Rock Band will perform 6 p.m. Dec. 11 at The Avenue Café.

  • The Capitol City Bell Ringers will perform their holiday concert, bRinging Back Christmas, featuring arrangements of family carols and holiday favorites. The choir is comprised of seven octaves of more than 150 handbells and hand chimes along with percussion instruments, bass guitar and keyboard. Concerts are 7 p.m. Friday at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, 7 p.m. Saturday at Delta Presbyterian Church and 4 p.m. Sunday at Lyons-Muir Church. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

  • The Lansing Matinee Musicale Christmas Concert is being held at 11 a.m. Dec. 7 at Ascension Lutheran Church in East Lansing. The first half of the program features the Lansing Matinee Musicale Chorale and the second half features the Asbury Brass Quintet. The program will end with Christmas carol singalongs.

  • The MSU College of Music is hosting “Telling the Story: Christmas Oratorios” at Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall at 8 p.m. Dec. 10. It will feature the music of Bach and Saint-Saens as performed by the MSU Choral Union, the University Chorale, the State Singers and the MSU Symphony Orchestra.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: MSU Theatre, Riverwalk Theatre, LCC plan December performances