WEST MICHIGAN’S ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE FOR 31 YEARS » DECEMBER 2019
ALSO INSIDE: BEST ALBUMS OF THE YEAR XMAS ALE ALTERNATIVES
DOWNTOWN MARKET STAFF AT APERITIVO
HOLIDAY EVENTS 2019’S NEW RESTAURANTS AND SHOPS
ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HOLIDAY PARTIES
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TIME TO TURN
UP THE VOLUME
GRAMMY AWARD WINNER
GREATEST HITS & HOLIDAY FAVORITES
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12
90s HOUSE PARTY VANILLA ICE MARK MCGRATH COOLIO C & C MUSIC FACTORY SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29
CRISS ANGEL RAW
THE MINDFREAK UNPLUGGED THURSDAY, JANUARY 16
& THE BLACKHEARTS
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8
Tickets available now at the FireKeepers Box Office or FireKeepersCasino.com.
Must be 21 or older. Tickets based on availability. Schedule subject to change.
REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
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REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
December 2019 | Volume 31, Issue 12
SCENE: 14 What’s Going On 18 Potshots
SOUNDS: 20 Leif Vollebekk
REVUE ARTS: 1A Visual arts, classical and jazz music, theater, arts event previews, and more. (See the center of this issue)
REARVIEW MIRROR: 22 5 Best Albums of 2019 24 Year-End Biz Beat 27 Revue's 2019 Yearbook
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: 30 33 35 41 47
Introduction Last-Minute Gift Guide Ultimate Guide to Holiday Parties Revue's Guide to Holiday Happenings Holiday Traditions
DINING & DRINKING: 48 Xmas Ale Alternatives 50 Soup!
50 REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
he end is nigh! Let’s party. After 10 years that have felt like 50 years, we're nearly through this decade I can only assume future historians will refer to as the “Turbulent Tens.” We’ve had some high highs and some low lows, but I suppose that’s life, isn’t it?
With the year’s end, we celebrate. There are holidays for all in December, which means plenty of chances to meet with your loved ones and have a great time. Now, some of you might typically refer to these get-togethers as holiday “gatherings.” But really, shouldn’t every gathering aspire to be a party? No, you don’t need alcohol to have a party. All it takes is some extra attention and care. A party has an attentive host who goes beyond the bare minimum. They set the mood with music, offer a thoughtful spread of food and drinks, create spaces for conversation, and provide entertainment. This might all sound a bit intimidating. That’s why we have our Ultimate Guide to Holiday Parties to help you out. We talked with Amy Ruis, owner of Aperitivo, about how to create a memorable evening. She has years of experience entertaining friends and family — and as you can see on the cover, her shop offers amazing charcuterie boards, wine, and other treats. This year, with just a bit more thought and our help, you can set a new standard for the holiday “gathering.” Of course, West Michigan is throwing plenty of its own parties, so check out our Holiday Happenings story for some festive fêtes. We also have a few last-minute gift ideas for you, some favorite holiday traditions, and the beers we drink in December that aren’t loaded with the same old spices. We think now is a good time to look back, so our Rearview Mirror section celebrates five of our favorite local albums of 2019, reviews all the new and closed local businesses, and hosts a little mock election of our own design. December’s a special month. It’s a time to reflect, celebrate and prepare for the new year, all at once. Hopefully, we can help.
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WHAT’S GOING ON THIS MONTH | Compiled by Revue Staff
12/4 Louis the Child: Here For Now
20 Monroe Live 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Dec. 4, 7 p.m., $30+ 20monroelive.com Chicago-bred duo Louis the Child is coming back to Grand Rapids on a brand-new tour, Here For Now. Known for their remix work and complex sound, the DJs are coming to 20 Monroe Live for an intimate, yet energizing performance along with supporting acts DUCKWRTH and John the Blind. Keep your ticket close: Special offers will be available at the B.O.B. before and after the show.
Larry the Cable Guy: Remain Seated Miller Auditorium 1341 Theatre Drive, Kalamazoo Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m. millerauditorium.com
We refuse to say Larry the Cable Guy’s famed catch phrase, but we’re sure if you
see his new show at Miller Auditorium, he’ll gladly oblige. Larry’s established himself as the voice of the people, especially for those of us living out in the boonies. He’s known for telling fast-paced, ridiculous stories and making plenty of jokes at his own expense. This is your chance to see allnew material before it’s been broadcasted anywhere.
12/5 Butch’s Champagne Tasting 2019 Butch’s Dry Dock 44 E. 8th St., Holland Dec. 5, 5 – 7 p.m., $40 butchs.net
Feeling bubbly? Butch’s Dry Dock is hosting its annual champagne tasting event, which gives guests a special taste of the bubbliest, fanciest drinks around. The event is open-house style and offers exclusive pours and bottle pricing. You can leave with a special bottle for each of your forced-family-fun holiday get-togethers. Don’t forget, as Butch’s Dry Dock says, “The best way to show up to a party is with a bottle of champagne in hand.”
LOUIS THE CHILD.
DINING | SIGHTS | SOUNDS SCENE
Country Music Concert to Support Holland Firefighters
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Holland Civic Center 150 W. 8th St., Holland Dec. 5, 7 p.m., $25+ civiccenterplace.com
MO PITNEY. COURTESY PHOTO
The holidays are all about giving. This December, you have the opportunity to give to the first responders who give to you each day. Country singer Mo Pitney is coming to Holland for the 16th annual Firefighter Country Music Show, a concert that benefits Holland Firefighters Local 759. The proceeds will go toward equipment and training programs, hopefully making the station’s holidays a little more merry.
Bell’s Eccentric Day
Pictures with Santa Paws
Bell’s Eccentric Cafe 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo Dec. 6, 9 a.m. – 2 a.m. bellsbeer.com
“Come as you aren’t,” says Bell’s! This annual event is the perfect chance to dress up and go out — way out. Be as weird as you please, or even weirder, in fact. Even Larry Bell is getting in on the action, DJing from 2 to 7 p.m. The party starts early and goes all day and all night, offering a rotating tap list and a lengthy buffet menu. Attending is free, but “alter ego required for entry.”
Fido & Stitch 820 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 140, Grand Rapids Dec. 7 facebook.com/fidoandstitch Christmas isn’t just for your human children: It’s for your furry kids, too. Help your pets get into the holiday spirit by taking them to get photos with Santa Paws. This is the third year this event is being held by Fido & Stitch. It offers affordable photography in a low-stress environment, for your
Continued on page 16
Located in Holland and Grand Rapids. 866 609 CITY C I T Y F L AT S H O T E L . C O M
S TAYC AT I O N
Vacation with us stress-free in the heart of downtown!
REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
Continued from page 14 furry model to take charge of the camera. A percentage of the profits will be donated to a local animal organization.
12/8 Exclusive Statewide Film Premiere of Jumanji: The Next Level Celebration! Cinema North 2121 Celebration Drive NE, Grand Rapids Dec. 8, 2:30 – 6:30 p.m., $50 hom.org/events
The adventurous video game world of Jumanji comes back to the big screen Dec. 13, but a select few get the chance to visit that world a few days early with an exclusive film premiere Dec. 8. This special screening is raising funds for the Jo Elyn Nyman Anchors Programs for Children, a pediatric organization. Each ticket includes a soda and popcorn for the movie, as well as drinks and hors d'oeuvres at the Afterglow Reception following the screening.
12/13 Funny Girls Slay DOUBLE DARE LIVE. COURTESY PHOTOS
Dog Story Theater 7 Jefferson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids Dec. 13, 8 and 10 p.m. facebook.com/werfunnygirls Can you hear the slay bells ringing? Funny Girls are crossing the boundaries between humor, horror and holiday with this show on Friday the 13th. You’ll see sketches, improv, music, video shorts, audience interaction and apparently some murder, all in one night!
12/17 DINING | SIGHTS | SOUNDS SCENE
B-Side Session: Festivals
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Listening Room 123 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Dec. 17, 7 – 9 p.m., free michiganmusicalliance.org
BEYOND BEAUTY DRAG PRODUCTIONS. COURTESY PHOTO
Grand Rapids is best known for its incredible beer scene, but the city is home to a growing, thriving music scene, too. For musicians just starting out, the music industry can seem harsh and mysterious. With the help of B-Side Sessions, independent musicians can take control
of their music careers. Not only is the event free, but it also includes a panel of talented, successful musicians, making it an experience new musicians won’t want to miss.
12/18 Double Dare Live
20 Monroe Live 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Dec. 18, 8 p.m., $45+ 20monroelive.com Get ready! You’re about to be slimed. This December, Double Dare is hitting the road for a night of live slimes and stunts. The popular Nickelodeon show is coming to Grand Rapids with host Marc Summers for one night of messy obstacle courses, quiz challenges, green slime and intense nostalgia. A show for the whole family to enjoy, this is the perfect early Christmas gift.
12/20 FUGLY XMAS: Drag Benefit for Kids' Food Basket Atwater Brewery 201 Michigan St. NW, Grand Rapids Dec. 20, 9 p.m. – 12 a.m., $10, 18+ beauty-beyond-drag-productions. webnode.com
“Oh, the sweaters inside are FRIGHTFUL, but your company would be so DELIGHTFUL!” Or at least, that’s what Beauty Beyond Drag Productions says. While drag queens are usually all about glam, this production is all about ugly Christmas sweaters. This is the first year of FUGLY XMAS, an ugly sweater drag performance that benefits Kids’ Food Basket. All donations will go to the organization, just in time for the holidays.
12/31 NYE Gatsby Party on The Brew Bus Saugatuck Brewing Kalamazoo 140 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo Dec. 31, 8 p.m. – 1 a.m., $37 kalamazoobrewbus.com
Grab your favorite flappers and tuxes: It’s time to ring in the Roaring ’20s. The Kalamazoo Brew Bus is ready to take you and your friends to your favorite bars this
New Year’s Eve. From 8 – 11:45 p.m., the bus is hopping to local bars. Later, you will see fireworks downtown and help count down to midnight. This is your chance to dress to the nines and live out your Great Gatsby dreams, Old Sport.
Gatsby NYE Party
Paddock Place 1033 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids Dec. 31, 9 p.m. – 2 a.m., $30 thegilmorecollection.com/pubatpaddock Wait: Another Gatsby Party for New Year’s Eve? That’s right! Except this one’s in Grand Rapids—and there’s no better place to throw a lavish throwback party than in Paddock Place, a gorgeous historical estate. Your ticket gets you access to an all-night party featuring a live DJ, party favors, coat check, champagne at midnight and a pizza buffet at 12:30 a.m. You can also get a special ticket for a fancy dinner before the big party begins.
1/11 Napoleon Dynamite Screening with Q&A Kalamazoo State Theatre 404 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo Jan. 11, 7:30 p.m., $30+ kazoostate.com
It’s time to speak with Pedro and give him your vote, too. Actors Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Efren Ramirez (Pedro) and Jon Gries (Uncle Rico) are visiting Kalamazoo for a screening of Napoleon Dynamite, followed by a question and answer segment. Everyone's favorite llama, Tina, will also be at the event — but don’t call her a fat lard; that hurts her feelings.
For more events, check out our Holiday Happenings on page 41
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REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
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DECEMBER 2019 A monthly roundup of marijuana news and notes.
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t the risk of sounding like a broken record, it appears we’re near the finish line of having retail stores selling recreational marijuana.
State officials have granted some leeway by allowing medical marijuana dispensaries that plan to also sell recreational product to do so after Dec. 1. The state started taking applications Nov. 1 and two weeks later announced it would allow growers, processors, and provisioning centers to transfer up to half of their inventory for recreational sales. (The state estimated roughly a dozen stores would open first but hasn’t named them as of press time.) Similar to the initial opening of medical marijuana retail stores, shops technically couldn’t sell product for months until it received crops from licensed growers. Instead of a rush of recreational stores opening next month, a “slow build out” is more likely, state officials say. Park Place Provisionary in Muskegon appears to be one of the first allowed to sell recreational marijuana. “This will create an environment where businesses can supply the market as quickly as possible,” Marijuana Regulatory Agency spokesperson David Harns told MLive. Not so fast, though, claims the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. Leaders at the state’s main cannabis business advocacy group say they were “blindsided” by the move allowing medical licensees to transfer product for recreational sales, MLive reports. They fear medical marijuana shortages will be exacerbated by the decision and are urging members not to do it. While not all advocates are satisfied, the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has met the law’s requirement to issue
Park Place Provisionary. COURTESY PHOTO
licenses within a year. It’s a good time to reflect on cannabis reform in Michigan over the past decade. In 2010, just over a year after voters approved the state’s medical marijuana law, few could predict how it would unfold. Indeed, it got messy. Dozens of unregulated stores surfaced in cities like Lansing and Detroit. Law-abiding growers were sent to prison for violating federal law. Law enforcement, prosecutors and local officials held a collective shrug about how it would play out in the judicial system. Those days are behind us — for the most part — and Michigan is poised to land itself in the national spotlight as a cannabis-friendly state. Still, some cities aren’t ready to embrace the change. In the November election, voters in municipalities across the state raised their Not In My Back Yard flags when asked whether to opt in to allowing recreational cannabis businesses. Seven of 10 communities, including South Haven, said no to recreational marijuana at the ballot box. Bridge Magazine notes a more disturbing trend unfolding over the past year. Roughly a dozen cities selected to participate in the state’s social equity program have banned recreational busi-
nesses, despite a majority of residents approving the statewide ballot initiative in 2018. An earlier analysis by MLive this year found about 4 in 10 communities that backed recreational marijuana have opted out of allowing it. The findings highlight the disconnect between local officials hellbent on maintaining the status quo rather than adapting to changing voter attitudes. Perhaps their time in office has expired. On the public health front, state officials are still struggling to link the recent spike in vaping-related illnesses and devices containing marijuana. State officials said in late October that 81 percent of Michigan residents sickened by vaporizers used products containing THC, but no specific brands have been linked to the outbreak. Vapes manufactured illegally are of particular concern. We hope the state continues to take a serious look at this issue after initially stalling on the THC connection. Until then, it’s joints and edibles for us. — Compiled by Andy Balaskovitz
AND THE WINNERS ARE... VISIT REVUEWM.COM TO SEE WHOâ€™S BEST
PHOTO BY ALLISTER ANN
LEIF VOLLEBEKK LISTENING ROOM 123 IONIA AVENUE SW, GRAND RAPIDS DEC. 4, 7:30PM, $19 LISTENINGROOM.COM
FROM TYPEWRITERS TO TAPE
Leif Vollebekk on songwriting and surprises | by Michaela Stock
DINING | SIGHTS | SOUNDS | SCENE
n less than a decade, Montréal-based musician Leif Vollebekk has written, recorded, and released four albums; been on tour with artists like Gregory Alan Isakov and Half Moon Run; was a shortlisted finalist for the 2017 Polaris Music Prize; and was awarded the 2018 Juno Award for Adult Alternative Album of the Year. Vollebekk released his latest album, New Ways, on Nov. 1. Critics and listeners alike praise him for his ability to craft incredible songs, though Vollebekk knows his creative process begins long before he picks up an instrument. “I just live my life. And if I get better at living my life, then I make better music.” Distractions like the internet and small talk can swallow a song whole before it has the chance to surface, so when Vollebekk wakes up in the morning and feels a song coming, he tries not to talk to anyone or look at his phone before going to “the office” — otherwise known as his piano. He prioritizes living creatively in tune, because to him, songwriting is all about discovery. “It seems to be that the songs I keep are the ones that are already written,” Vollebekk said. “I just use lines that make me go, ‘I don’t
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know, I’ve never heard that before. What’s that about?’” Vollebekk’s lyrical openness is informed by authors like Ernest Hemingway and Jack Kerouac as well as musician Bob Dylan, all known for allowing surprises and spontaneity into their work. Vollebekk doesn’t stray far from his heroes’ creative mediums either, as he records everything on tape and writes out his songs with a typewriter. “I have trouble not recording on tape,” he said. “There are so many reasons why, it’s kind of like asking someone why they wear pants, you know? I guess it’s like, ‘Gosh, where do I begin?’ You’re just not ready to answer it.” Besides its natural sonic warmth and vocal saturation, Vollebekk records on tape because it doesn’t require a computer screen in the studio. “If you’re ever in a recording studio and there’s a computer screen on, you’ll see that everyone just looks at the screen while they’re listening back to the music.” This completely changes how the music is received. When people watch the recording on a computer while they’re listening to it, they see the soundwaves and begin to anticipate the song’s dynamics before they hear them.
Vollebekk writes his songs on a typewriter for the same reason. “A typewriter is a great democratic friend that makes all the words even, and every letter takes up the same amount of space, so you see the words weighing on the page properly.” His songs aren’t all about the medium, however. Vollebekk has a song titled Michigan, which he wrote from start to finish before driving through the state on his way home to Montréal from a gig in Pennsylvania. The lyrics are all about how he’s never been to the state before, but in reality, he actually has driven through and visited multiple times since he was a kid. The words came to him, so he wrote them. But in the end, he didn’t want to lie. Vollebekk curves the meaning of the song with one final phrase: There’s a chance, maybe one in 10, that I’ve never been, never been to Michigan. “It’s always good for a song to be turned on its head at the end.” While he can explain his general approach, Vollebekk doesn’t like to talk about the songwriting process with certainty. His approach to it has changed quite a bit since his early 20s and still remains elusive. “Younger me thought that he needed an acoustic guitar and a harmonica to write a
song,” Vollebekk said. “It was a lot of looking for validation elsewhere. It never really existed. It’s actually hard to think about, because I don’t really realize what that guy was doing.” When Vollebekk quit taking part in a “weird songwriting competition that doesn’t exist” and released himself from the pressure to imitate other artists, he loosened up and experienced less writer’s block. This was especially evident when he was working on his latest album. “A lot of the songs that are on this record were written more or less in the one-shot-oneswing approach, and they kind of have a life of their own,” Vollebekk said. “The more fun I have, the more the music seems to work.” Throughout his four records and during his live per forma nce s, Vol lebek k ’s music remains an open, inquisitive space of exploration and spontaneity. Songwriting is more than just a craft, feeling or formula for Vollebekk: It’s an extension of a life well-lived. “When a song comes, honestly it has to do more with if you’re living your life correctly or truly. Because if you are, the song comes and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m ready for you. I’m ready for the truth. I’m ready for whatever you have to say deep inside of me.’” n
PHOTO BY VANESSA HEINS
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Gift Cards Available
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/// REARVIEW MIRROR
BEST ALBUMS OF 2019 | by Eric Mitts
n a year filled with political and social unrest, many here in West Michigan turned to music as both an outlet and a reprieve from the tensions that ran high across the country. Artists and fans alike spoke their minds, sharing close emotional experiences and exploring new sonic territory like never before. Grand Rapids post-hardcore heroes La Dispute returned with their kaleidoscopic new album Panorama, touring the record across the United States and Europe this past summer. Ionia native and Nashville transplant Billy Strings broke through this fall with the release of his latest album, Home, which topped the Billboard bluegrass chart and took the virtuosic player onto major festival stages everywhere. Meanwhile, Grand Rapids native Elise Azkoul got a big bump ahead of the release of her album as she competed on NBC’s The Voice, where she drew the acclaim of Gwen Stefani and others. Back home, bands and artists of all types continue to prove there’s truly no limit to the talent in our community. Here are a few of the many great releases that showed how music can help heal and unite our souls.
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Last Gasp Collective – Seen Not Heard Two years since the release of its phenomenal debut album Agape, Kalamazoo’s Last Gasp Collective has crafted a new masterpiece. The large ensemble’s second full-length offering, Seen Not Heard, has a lot to say, with LGC founder Jay Jackson and company sharing thoughts on everything from artistic expression and positive affirmation to cultural turmoil and gun violence. Fully realizing their original dream of forming a hip-hop “band” and reshaping the local scene, Last Gasp has truly helped create a better world, where rap and classical can coexist — wrapped in the warm, loving embrace of jazz, soul, funk, and gospel. When music can bring people together like this, there’s no higher acclaim.
How To Live Together – Resister Confronting the unnatural anxieties of our modern age by exploring the dark, twisting world of synthesizers, Grand Rapids duo How To Live Together made a debut that goes deep into the dysfunctional digital soul of the social media era. At its core, the duo of couple Jesse Kaczmarczyk and Steffanie Rosalez emanates with love as an act of defiance, melding their vocal harmonies with relentless synth noise. Creating an album that pulses with nervous dance floor energy and plays out like a retro video game waging the current culture war, Resister stands boldly as the most original and inspirational sound of the year.
Michigander – Where Do We Go From Here After his song “Nineties” earned him millions of streams on Spotify, Michigander — the long-running project of alt-rock artist and Kalamazoo transplant Jason Singer — reached a profound crossroads. With the title to his latest release he asks the obvious question, Where Do We Go From Here, uncertain where the wave of success will ultimately take him. The absolutely gorgeous record plays to Singer’s arena-rock ambition, shooting for the stars and showcasing his soaring voice over top of instantly catchy hooks. He’ll wrap up this year playing shows with the likes of Pete Yorn and Silversun Pickups, so be ready for Michigander to keep putting our state on the musical map.
City State – Equinox Grand Rapids’ long-running history as a heavy music hotbed goes back decades now, so to hear a debut inject this much power and promise into the scene comes as both a timely throwback and a welcome surprise. Walking in the footsteps of GR heavyweights past and present, City State’s mix of melodic and ambient elements with its massive metalcore onslaught erupts with an inescapably explosive energy matched only by the band’s raw emotion.
Political Lizard – Joy the Dog Although their band name sounds super socially charged, the immensely personal Political Lizard spends more time looking inward at themselves and their relationships than unraveling illuminati conspiracies. The simple yet lush harmonies of singer-songwriters Jenna Olsen and Caleb Waldvogel should definitely appeal to fans of bands like The Lumineers or area favs The Accidentals. Their compelling debut takes a cautiously well-calculated step to expanding their sound, with gorgeously fleshed-out arrangements coming courtesy of John Bomer, Miles Ferguson, and others, who add color, shading, and depth to the pair’s lyrical sketches.
Other LPs to Listen To With so many great releases this year, shout-outs also have to go to Desmond Jones’ jam-tastic Hello, Helou, The Go Rounds’ psychedelic Whatever You May Be, Earth Radio’s stellar Mother’s Breath, Pink Sky’s introspective Meditations, Waldo’s GR rap love letter Grove, and Last Gasp Collective’s Jordan Hamilton for his solo release, My Thoughts Are. n
REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
Left to right: Third Nature Brewing, Živio, Poquito, Rise Authentic Baking Co. COUTESY PHOTOS
/// REARVIEW MIRROR
BIZ BEAT '19 A round-up of openings and closings in West Michigan
OTHER OPENINGS: ADA FRESH MARKET
444 Ada Dr. SE, Ada
ALEBIRD TAPHOUSE & BREWERY
2619 84th St. SW, Byron Center
BALDY’S SMOKED MEATS
340 Water St., Saugatuck
BLUE BRIDGE GAMES
954 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids
| by Josh Veal
4061 28th St., Kentwood
While we went through some painful losses this year (R.I.P., G.B. Russo’s), notice how many more fantastic places opened. West Michigan’s dining and drinking scene continue to grow, offering us almost too many places to choose. The year also brought us new movie theaters, plant shops, boutiques and more. Read on to see what you might’ve missed.
806 Riverview Dr., Kalamazoo
CAK ABAKERY (third location) 82 W. 8th St., Holland CHAR
6 Jefferson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids
Top to bottom: Poquito, Wood-Splitters Axe Throwing. COURTESY PHOTOS
CHILL HILL WINERY
8992 First St., Baroda
DR. ROLF’S BBQ
The owners of Hopland Brewstillery — which won Best New Brewery in Revue's 2019 Best of The West — have seen enough success to open a whole new watering hole in the form of Tulip City Brewstillery. While the two businesses will operate separately, Tulip City crafts beer, wine and spirits, like Hopland before it. The new taproom at 430 W. 17th St., Holland, opened mid-October and hosts numerous indoor yard games, such as cornhole, bocce ball, and darts.
447 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Holland gained even more places to go with Obstacle No. 1 and Poquito opening side by side in November. Obstacle is a Basque-inspired lounge offering unique cocktails, while Poquito has dishes from Spain like family-style paella and a wide array of tapas. You’ll find the pair together at 90 and 92 W. 8th St., Holland.
1157 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
After roughly 20 years as a takeout/delivery joint, Alfano’s Pub & Ristorante opened a full-service, sit-down experience, just outside Grand Rapids. You can head to 1389 Walker Village Dr. NW, Walker for all the authentic Italian food you could ever want, especially if you show up for the lunch buffet.
744 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids
Soon you won’t be able to swing an axe in Grand Rapids without hitting an axe-throwing business. Wood-Splitters Axe Throwing has joined the fray on Plainfield with more than a dozen boards to chuck your hatchet at. Visit 3170
119 E. Allegan St., Otsego
24 | REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019
GRIMSBY HOLLOW MEADERY
4525 N. M-37 Hwy, Middleville
HAMMER & STAIN WEST MICHIGAN
3901 Chicago Dr. SW, Grandville
HARBOR LIGHT BREWERY
516 Phoenix St., South Haven
HEIGHTS YOGA PROJECT I DON’T CARE GR
187 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
LIQUID NOTE BREWING LONG ROAD DISTILLERS
(third location) 18 Washington Ave., Grand Haven
Top to bottom: Pub at Paddock, Živio, Rake Beer Project, Kingfisher Restaurant and Deli, Friesian Gastro Pub. COURTESY PHOTOS
Plainfield Ave. NE to let some aggression out, or play some competitive games if you’re feeling experienced. MAX’S SOUTH SEAS HIDEAWAY
58 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
METRO GRAND RAPIDS
1901 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids
MICHIGAN MOONSHINE DISTILLERY
4005 Chicago Dr. SW, Grandville
1600 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
NEW HOLLAND SPIRITS
201 Culver St., Saugatuck
PINK BARREL CELLARS
3025 6 Mile Rd., Grand Rapids
RISE AUTHENTIC BAKING CO.
1220 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids
RIVER NORTH PUBLIC HOUSE
2115 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
317 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids
84 W. 8th St., Holland
123 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
THE IRON WELL
741 Leonard St., Grand Rapids
THE PLANT PARLOR
1059 Wealthy St., Grand Rapids
WILDROAST COFFEE CO.
4035 Chicago Dr. SW, Grandville.
WISE MEN DISTILLERY
4717 Broadmoor Ave., Kentwood
333 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
CLOSED: ARCADIA BREWING CO.
701 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo
BOATYARD BREWING CO.
432 E Paterson St., Kalamazoo
HIDEOUT BREWING CO.
3113 Plaza Dr. NE, Grand Rapids
701 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
KELVIN & CO.
1450 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
RUSSO’S INTERNATIONAL MARKET
2770 29th St. SE, Grand Rapids
1245 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
TOM + CHEE
3060 44th St. SW, Grandville
Wealthy Street got a taste of Europe with Živio, brought to us by the owners of Bosna Express. The new restaurant took over the former home of Georgina’s at 724 Wealthy St. SE, serving up gyros of all kinds, shish kebabs, and other Central European cuisine. The Medical Mile was prescribed some delicious fish and noodles by way of Ginza Sushi & Ramen, a modern eatery whose menu goes beyond the titular dishes. You’ll find creative sushi and hearty ramen, of course, but also bento boxes, poke, hibachi, and more — all at 1015 Michigan St., Grand Rapids. The folks at Brewery Vivant decided to plant new roots with Broad Leaf Local Beer in Kentwood, going beyond the boundaries of Vivant’s Belgian, French and Farmhouse ales. The new brewery at 2885 Lake Eastbrook Blvd. SE serves up just about every style you can thirst for, from double-dry-hopped hazy pale ales to barrel-aged porters. You can also get some hearty food, served out of a shipping container. After a long wait — as is often the case for businesses in Michigan — Rake Beer Project received permission to open, bringing innovative farmhouse and sour ales to Muskegon. The phrase “Honor the tradition, make the future” guides this progressive brewery’s process. Head to 794 Pine St. for a pint, or more. The year kicked off with Guardian Brewing Co. opening its doors at 657 63rd St. in Saugatuck. The women-owned, pegacorn-loving brewery has a huge range of in-house beers, as well as wine, cocktails and even beertails made with Guardian’s own brews. The brewery occupies the former Red Barn Theater and features an internationally inspired seasonal food menu. The former Mangiamo! and current Paddock Place opened its bar, The Pub at Paddock, in January. The Gilmore Collection spot at 1033 Lake Dr. SE in Grand Rapids is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays, offering “happy hour all the time” with affordable drinks and pub fare. The world could use more rooftop patios and Friesian Gastro Pub is happy to oblige. The new restaurant opened east of the Medical Mile at 720 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids. Friesian’s name comes from a Dutch horse breed, which should come as no surprise to West Michigan, though the menu features cuisine from around the world. Try a curry bowl, burger, lamb chops — whatever suits your mood. Kingfisher Restaurant and Deli arrived to fill the hole left by Marie Catrib’s, bringing back many of the Mediterranean and European flavors of the former neighborhood staple. They have “healthy-ish” dishes like lamb ragu, fattoush salad and hummus toast. Head to 1001 Lake Dr. SE for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or check out the deli stocked full of to-go meals and baked goods. There’s a new place to hang in downtown Grand Rapids, thanks to Social House. The bar and restaurant took over IRON’s old spot at 25 Ottawa Ave. SW, offering classic American eats like burgers, entrees, and salads, alongside a full bar with craft beer, specialty cocktails, and the rest. Burl & Sprig joined the ranks of Muskegon’s distilleries, specializing in rum and small plates. Head to the art-filled tasting room at 500 W. Western Ave. — right next to Pigeon Hill Brewing — for a premium cocktail like the Curve Ball, made with spiced rum, house-made falernum, pineapple gum syrup, lime juice, and bitters. Third Nature Brewing recently arrived in Rockford, with plenty of beer in hand. The brewery at 7733 Childsdale Ave. NE has a deep love for nature, even growing its own hops to use. The taproom features a big wooden bar with a live edge, and a huge patio that’s home to multiple fire pits. The building is situated right in the woods, surrounded by nature. PIND Indian Cuisine opened in downtown Grand Rapids, yet again giving life to the building that once held G.B. Russo’s and Bagger Dave’s before that. The restaurant at 241 W. Fulton St. offers a huge variety of Indian food, fully on display at the lunch buffet served seven days a week. You’ll find more than 18 items to choose from for $10.95. Or head in for dinner and have a fine-dining experience. n
REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
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DECEMBER 2019 REVUEWM.COM/ARTS
WEST MICHIGAN'S CULTURAL ARTS GUIDE
TOUGH NUT TO CRACK Grand Rapids Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ is a huge undertaking of artistic collaboration SEE PAGE 12A. STORY BY MEGAN SARNACKI.
PAGE FABULOUS FIBERS Muskegon Museum of Arts’ woven wonders
PAGE SHOWS TO REMEMBER The best performances of 2019
FRIEND LIKE HIM ‘Aladdin’ brings Genie back home
| REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019
Snow & symbols
President/Publisher Kasie Smith Editorial
Christmas and Holiday Traditions. PHOTO BY JOHNNY QUIRIN
Associate Publisher Rich Tupica Editorial Director Amy L Charles Managing Editor Josh Veal Design Art Director Courtney Van Hagen Graphic Designer Kaylee Van Tuinen Contributing Writers Amy McNeel Dana Casadei John Kissane Marla Miller Megan Sarnacki
FIND US ONLINE:
Meijer Gardens explores the importance of holidays Website: revuewm.com/arts Twitter: twitter.com/revuewm Facebook: facebook.com/revuewm Instagram: instagram.com/revuewm
across the globe with cultural symbols BY MEGAN SARNACKI Going from 20 displays in 1995 to more than 45 international tree spectacles today, the Metro Health Christmas & Holiday Traditions exhibition is back at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park with more than 300,000 bright lights. On display through Jan. 5, 2020, the show’s theme this year is symbolism, focusing on signs of the holiday season and how the meaning behind these iconic symbols correlates with cultural traditions across the globe. “ We wante d to highlight an assortment of beliefs because different cultures celebrate Christmas with various ancient rituals and dances,” said Steve LaWarre, director of horticulture at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. “These different decorations are reminiscent of the burials, ceremonies and dances performed.” As part of this symbolic theme, the exhibition features new trimmings and pairings, including an emphasis on birds, dolls, drums, trade beads, and wreaths. Though LaWarre and his team planned three years in advance to add fresh and unfamiliar elements to this year’s exhibition, they still wanted to honor their own traditions at Meijer Gardens.
“The Railway Garden has been a great long-term tradition for us and it’s now an integral part of the Christmas & Holiday Traditions exhibition,” LaWarre said. “It’s a garden-scale train that runs through a unique horticultural display, making you feel like you’re actually standing within the Railway Garden space. Scale falls away, and you become part of that garden when you walk under the trestle and see the train overhead and trolleys down below.” While the constructions and planti n g s fo r t h e C h r i s t m a s & H o l i d a y Traditions exhibition were being prepared, LaWarre found himself gaining a better understanding of what holiday traditions mean to families and communities. “Each week, I walk through and see things that I’m really excited for people to experience,” he said.
“It has reconnected me with who I am and slowed me down a little bit, making me appreciate things in a way I don’t get to do other times of the year.” Along with this annual exhibition, Meijer Gardens is continuously screening, in the Hoffman Family Auditorium, its 15-minute short film, joy, which showcases four local traditions in West Michigan. “One of the things that blows me away with this film is that I had no idea that we had so many diverse cultural traditions right here in our own town and own city,” LaWarre said. “It’s important that people know there’s a lot of culture in our own community, outside of what we, as individuals, are familiar with. It adds to our understanding of each other as humans to bring people joy and help people appreciate their past as well as learn about other areas of the world.” ■
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ON THE COVER:
METRO HEALTH CHRISTMAS AND HOLIDAY TRADITIONS Frederik Meijer Gardens / 1000 E. Beltline Avenue NE, Grand Rapids Nov. 26 - Jan. 5, 2020 / meijergardens.org
TOUGH NUT TO CRACK Grand Rapids Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ is a huge undertaking of artistic collaboration
SEE PAGE 12A.
REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019 |
'Excellence in Fibers V' brings top entries in international competition to Muskegon
BY MARLA R. MILLER
Wearables and wall hangings with intricate patterns and detailed faces and figures push the bounds of the fiber and craft movement. In fact, some of the pieces in Excellence in Fibers V don’t look like they’ve been woven together at all. Excellence in Fibers V brings together some of the best in fiber and craft art at Muskegon Museum of Art this winter. The exhibition moves entries published in Fiber Art Now off the page and puts them in a real-life venue. “A lot of expectations are being defied,” said Art Martin, MMA’s director of collections and exhibitions and senior curator. “You come in thinking you are going to see quilts and, initially, you don’t think you are looking at a quilt. It looks like a painting,
and you realize it’s all done in assembled fabric.” Excellence in Fibers V features nearly 40 diverse works by artists from the United States and Canada that were among the top entries in the 2019 Excellence in Fibers, an annual, international juried fine arts competition organized by the Fiber Art Network. Viewers can study large-scale wall hangings, unique vessel basketry, wearables that address the #MeToo movement and a bombed-out Mosul, and see Biggie Smalls on a quilt. “They are very much on the pulse of contemporary political, culture and social issues,” Martin said. “They feel very now and of the moment, but at the same time, because they are fiber, they are very accessible and beautiful. We wear fabric every day; it’s on our beds, on our bodies, on our furniture.” Fiber arts encompass anything using weaving or textile as a broad generalization. The final exhibition represents striking examples of a wide array of textile and fiber-based pieces including sculpture,
| REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019
tapestry, jewelry, costume, clothing, quilting, weaving, basketry, installation, and more. “These are artists who are showing their fibers all over the world; they are teaching all over the U.S. and Canada,” Martin said, noting a few artists have been included in past MMA exhibitions. People tend to gravitate toward fiber art because it is accessible and relatable, Martin notes, which made it a great fit for the museum. “You really get down into this wonder people have of how things are made. People seem to appreciate fine crafting, fine handiwork.” As for social commentary, the works are “sophisticatedly social” and ask more questions than answers given. “It brings these issues to light, but they are not didactic, they are not beating you over the head with it.” From pedestal-size baskets to towering textiles that fill entire walls, Excellence in Fibers offers “new perspectives for how we see and interact with our world, and how
deeply such familiar materials as cloth and thread can confound our expectations,” according to Martin. As the hosting venue, Muskegon Museum of Art curated the exhibit and handled the logistics of collecting the work from the individual artists and the transportation costs. Martin was charged with culling from entries chosen by a panel of jurors for the 2019 competition and organizing them into a cohesive and visually appealing display. Fiber Art Network evolved from the magazine Fiber Art Now, an internationally distributed publication focused on fiber
EXCELLENCE IN FIBERS V Muskegon Museum of Art 296 W. Webster Avenue, Muskegon Dec. 12, 2019 - March 15, 2020 muskegonartmuseum.org fiberartnow.net
art with a strong following. The Fiber Art Network has since developed into an organization for the contemporary fiber arts and textiles community. “We bring a community of more than 100,000 followers and readers,” said Marcia Young, publisher and editor-in-chief of Fiber Art Now. “We heavily promote the show and the venue. We try to be a really strong partner for them.” Each year, Fiber Art Network receives hundreds of entries for the competition, from artists around the world. A team of expert jurors representing artists, curators, and designers wades through the online submissions and selects about 50 works for the magazine. Those top entries are featured in a special edition of the magazine as a way of showcasing the current state of the fiber arts movement. This competition issue, coming out in early December, also serves as a catalogue to accompany the exhibit. Then comes the roaming Excellence in Fibers exhibition, now in its fifth year, which features select winners from the competition. Past venues include Craft in America Center in Los Angeles, Visions Art Museum in Los Angeles, and New Bedford Art Museum in Massachusetts. “Excellence in Fibers is our biggest and most well-known and most impactful exhibition,” Young said. “The venue gets to select the work that best fits their audience and their space.” Martin served as a juror for Excellence
in Fibers a couple of years ago and became familiar with the competition and jurying process. He learned that in some cases, the works are not available to travel or the international shipping costs make it cost-prohibitive to include them in the exhibition. For the competition, the work is not divided into mediums but organized into five categories: Wall/Floor Works: including quilts, tapestries, weavings, carpets, or works intended for wall or floor display; Sculptural Works: three-dimensional pieces; Vessel Forms/Basketry: functional work and sculptural expressions of the vessel form; Installation Works: three-dimensional work created as an environment; and Wearables: body adornments such as wearable art clothing, accessories, and jewelry. “A lot of the newer artists, they have no preconceived notions,” Young said. “They just use whatever techniques they want to use to accomplish their work. Fiber art is being shown with other mediums, and it’s all getting integrated, and that is one of our priorities to get it seen more and integrated into fine crafts and art.” To that end, the number of works selected for each category is proportional to the number of entries for that category. This keeps the possibilities wide open while putting the focus on the makers’ intentions, Young said. “At the core of all meaningful art is the intention behind it and the attention and meaning that the artist puts into it.” ■ REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019 |
THE FUN BEGINS THIS FALL AT THE KALAMAZOO VALLEY MUSEUM WITH NEW AND EXCITING HAPPENINGS Enjoy family and circle time, hands-on activities, exhibits, musical performances, planetarium shows and more.
Free rides throughout downtown on the Holly Jolly Trolley that stops just steps away from the museum. FREE GENERAL ADMISSION Handicapped accessible. Sign language interpreters may be scheduled with a minimum of two weeksâ€™ notice. Assisted listening devices are available in the Stryker Theater and planetarium.
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is governed by its Board of Trustees
269.373.7990 | 800.772.3370 kalamazoomuseum.org 6A
| REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019
PREVIEW We won’t lie: With all the holiday happenings, there aren’t too many new exhibitions opening this month. But that doesn’t mean the galleries and museums are closing down! There are plenty of ongoing shows to check out as well as a few newcomers, including one focused on an artist considered to be among the most underrated of the mid-20th century and another an annual, international juried fiber arts competition. And if you’re behind on holiday shopping, we suggest taking a look at the holiday markets happening at galleries. BY DANA CASADEI
BROAD ART MUSEUM
547 E. Circle Drive, East Lansing broadmuseum.msu.edu, (517) 884-4800
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ART IN SPACE, Through Dec. 8
THE EDGE OF THINGS: DISSIDENT ART UNDER REPRESSIVE REGIMES, Through Jan. 5
FIELD STATION: BEATRIZ SANTIAGO MUÑOZ, Through Jan. 26 THE SCHOLAR’S GARDEN, Through Feb. 9
KATRÍN SIGURÐARDÓTTIR, Through March 1
CALVIN UNIVERSITY CENTER ART GALLERY
GRAND RAPIDS ART MUSEUM 101 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids artmuseumgr.org, (616) 831-1000
WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS: STORYTELLING WITH GRAM’S COLLECTION, Through Jan. 12 RELEVANT: ABSTRACTION FROM GRAM’S COLLECTION, Through Jan. 5 DAVID WIESNER & THE ART OF WORDLESS STORYTELLING, Through Jan. 12 BILLY MAYER: THE SHAPE OF THINGS, Through Feb. 2
KALAMAZOO INSTITUTE OF ARTS 314 South Park St., Kalamazoo kiarts.org, (269) 349-7775
1795 Knollcrest Circle SE, Grand Rapids calvin.edu/centerartgallery/studio, (616) 526-6271
BLACK REFRACTIONS: HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STUDIO MUSEUM IN HARLEM,
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON: SELECTIONS FROM THE PERMANENT COLLECTION,
WHERE WE STAND: BLACK ARTISTS IN SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN, Through Dec. 8
Through Jan. 28
DAVID WALLACE HASKINS, Through Dec. 14
FACULTY EXHIBITION: CHRIS FOX, Through Dec. 14
FREDERIK MEIJER GARDENS & SCULPTURE PARK
1000 East Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids meijergardens.org, (888) 957-1580
METRO HEALTH CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY TRADITIONS, Through Jan. 5 REBECCA LOUISE LAW: THE WOMB, Through March 1
Through Dec. 8
RESILIENCE: AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTISTS AS AGENTS OF CHANGE, Through Feb. 2 NATURAL FORMS: CONTEMPORARY ART BY JAPANESE WOMEN, Through March 22 DAVID PARK: A RETROSPECTIVE, Dec. 21-March 15 Organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, David Park: A Retrospective is the first Park exhibition in a major museum in more than 30 years and the KIA is its only Midwest stop. Way to go KIA! This show features nearly 100 works by the artist, considered one of the most underrated of the mid-20th century. Park played a large role in the Bay Area Figurative Movement with only one year of formal art education and a career spanning from the 1930s until he died in 1960. He was wellknown for lush, paint-laden brushstrokes exploring everyday subject matter in portraits, landscapes
Coffee Pot. BY DAVID PARK
and interiors. While he worked throughout multiple decades — the exhibition will take a look at his painting evolution over the years — the bulk of the works shown will be from the 1950s. There will also be a series of gouaches (a painting style that uses opaque pigments ground in water and thickened with a glue-like substance) and paper-based works made from when he was too ill to create larger-scale work. Fun fact: Park was diagnosed with profound vision loss as a child. That doesn’t seem to have affected his ability to make fantastic art.
KIRK NEWMAN ART SCHOOL FACULTY REVIEW, Dec. 21 - March 8
UNDYING TRADITIONS: MEMENTO MORI, Through Jan. 5
THE LAND: THE ART OF BILL HOSTERMAN AND ED WONG-LIGDA, Through Dec. 15 FESTIVAL OF TREES, Through Dec. 1 EXCELLENCE IN FIBERS V, Dec. 12 - March 15 THE ART OF MAKING: SCULPTURE AND FIBER FROM THE PERMANENT COLLECTION, Dec. 19-March 29
It’s back! The biannual exhibition marks its return this December. Expect artwork in a variety of mediums and styles as the exhibition showcases the talents of the art school faculty, who regularly share their artistic talent with their students, those lucky ducks. This exhibition also serves as a way for guests to see the diverse range of media and courses available at the KIA. Maybe you’ll be inspired to take a class or two.
SAUGATUCK CENTER FOR THE ARTS
URBAN INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS
223 W. Main St., Lowell lowellartsmi.org, (616) 897-8545
HOLIDAY ARTISTS MARKET, Through Dec. 22
MUSKEGON MUSEUM OF ART
400 Culver St., Saugatuck sc4a.org, (269) 857-2399
FLOW, Through Dec. 20 LUMINESCENCE, Through Dec. 20
2 Fulton W., Grand Rapids uica.org, (616) 454-7000
SPECTRA, Through Dec. 20 LARRY COOK: ON THE SCENE, Through Jan. 26
296 W. Webster. Ave., Muskegon muskegonartmuseum.org, (231) 720-2570
MARK RUMSEY: MEMORY MAP: ROOF LINE - STATE STREET, Through Jan. 26
WEST MICHIGAN ARTIST SERIES,
KENNEDY YANKO: BEFORE WORDS,
Through May 10
Through Jan. 26
REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019 |
West Side Story. COURTESY PHOTO
The Grand Rapids Ballet gained a new artistic director in the 2018 – 2019 season with James Sofranko, while they continued their years-long tradition of premiering new works in the MOVEMEDIA series. MOVEMEDIA: Handmade pushed boundaries exquisitely in its mixed two-hour program of dances from Choreographer-In-Residence Penny Saunders, The Joffrey Ballet’s Nicolas Blanc and several Grand Rapids Ballet dancers themselves. Though the dances spoke to political and environmental upheaval, they were terrifically distinct and diverse and also elegant and beautiful, consistently shot through with impeccable technique and artistry. While the Grand Rapids Ballet is the only professional ballet company in Michigan, Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers touts itself as the only professional modern dance company in the state. For 39 years, they have brought Erick Hawkins-style dance and collaborations with musicians and other artists to Kalamazoo audiences. Last spring, they breathed new life into some reprised dances and offered new works in Eyes Back, Feet Forward. It was made even better with the performance of the terrific Last Gasp Collective, a 10-piece hip-hop/jazz/soul fusion band with “a vision of bringing people together to create a moving culture of fearless artists who believe in the spirit of collaboration.” The seven dances and 11 songs showcased in Eyes Back, Feet Forward felt alive in the ways only live performance at its best can be. It was so dynamic, in fact, it made even the well-worn and familiar new again. Musical theater, of course, relies heavily on dance and music to bring stories to life with flair. There was no shortage of extraordinary musicals in 2019, particularly in the summer season. Our Best of 2019 list includes two musicals from summer theaters at the lakeshore: Hope Summer Repertory Theatre’s exceptional West Side Story and Mason Street Warehouse’s phenomenal A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder. Directed by Mary MacDonald Kerr with an eye for detail, and with a talented cast and excellent design elements, HSRT’s West Side Story maximized its power as a classic. While the depth of theme — love, hate, belonging — is always relevant, this production was especially poignant in this cultural moment, through the particulars of immigration, intolerance and injustice.
best of theater BY MARIN HEINRITZ
In any given year, West Michigan has more arts and entertainment offerings than any one person could take in. From national tours to local professional theater, dance and community theater, excellent performances abound all year long. A look back on 2019 reminds us how truly fortunate we are to have access to such world-class artistry right here. We were absolutely wowed by the Best of 2019 that includes locally produced, life-affirming theater and dance.
Steel Magnolias. COURTESY PHOTO
| REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019
A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder. COURTESY PHOTO
In Mason Street Warehouse’s glorious A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, murder never looked more gorgeous, sounded more tuneful, or made people laugh so hard and feel not one whit of guilt about it. This multiple 2014 Tony Award-winning, subversive Edwardian tale, in the hands of Director Kurt Stamm, was astounding in all the right ways. With brilliant performances and design, this operetta cum farce, also a kooky killing spree, was utterly gentlemanly, not at all gruesome, and a wickedly smart, gorgeous period piece that delightfully satirized colonialism. Though grand musicals are the purview of both Farmers Alley Theatre in Kalamazoo and The Barn Theatre in Augusta, the shows from these theaters that make the Best of 2019 list are plays. Farmers Alley’s production of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, the brilliant adaptation of the 2003 novel, invited the audience into a heightened sensory experience of what it’s like to be on the autism spectrum. Through tremendously imaginative staging and gripping yet also comedic performances, this show, directed by J. Scott Lapp, created an extraordinary achievement in storytelling that undoubtedly deepened audience members’ understanding and empathy. Another astounding piece of storytelling came from The Barn Theatre last summer with their all-star cast in the beloved Steel Magnolias, the now classic period piece set in a small-town Louisiana beauty parlor in the 1980s where six of the biggest, funniest, realest women ever written banter, bicker, share extraordinary intimacies, and wreak havoc with sass together. The Barn’s production, directed by Hans Friedrichs, was perfect in every way and therefore created the conditions in which the audience was utterly transported — to that time and place, yes, but also deep into the rich emotional landscapes of this intergenerational tribe of women. This year offered a vast array of performances that surprised and delighted us; however, the homegrown professional dance and theater from Grand Rapids Ballet, Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, Mason Street Warehouse, Farmers Alley Theatre, and The Barn Theatre went above and beyond in their artistry and technique to create experiences we’ll never forget. ■
A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. PHOTO BY BECKY KLOSE
REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019 |
Creating CULINARY LEADERS Careers include baking and pastry chef, catering, executive and personal chefs, dietary managers and more. Ty M. Culinary Arts 2018
It all begins here.
Apply today! www.kvcc.edu/register
| REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019
How Aladdin’s Genie found himself making musical magic BY DANA CASADEI Korie Lee Blossey is coming home. Well, close to home. Blossey, who lived in Bay City, will be in East Lansing at the Wharton Center when the national touring production of Aladdin arrives in December. Blossey will be easy to spot, as he’s playing the famous Genie. “That’s the dream come true,” he said of returning for this production. “That’s the ‘I did it’ moment.” Over the course of the two-and-ahalf-hour musical, audiences will watch as Blossey taps, sings and cartwheels across the stage, while rocking a whole lot of glitter. The role, Blossey said, “is both the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the greatest thing I’ve ever done. To realize your wildest dreams eight times a week is one of the greatest feelings ever.” Especially when you get to perform show-stopping numbers with direction and choreography created by a legend himself, Casey Nicholaw, who won a Tony Award for his work on the smashhit Book of Mormon. It all starts with Blossey’s tour-de-force performance of Act I’s “Friend Like Me.” “You’ve been trapped in a lamp for 10,000 years, you want to show what you got.” And Blossey does just that. Easily one of the biggest numbers to make its way across the stage of the
Great White Way, “Friend Like Me” is almost eight minutes long. When you’re singing, dancing and moving the way Blossey does, it’s a huge feat to perform for that long. “ Yo u’re c o n s t a nt ly b u s y, yo u’re constantly thinking, you’re switching channels, you’re changing characters at the drop of a hat … all trying to catch this guy’s eyes.” That doesn’t mean the song isn’t fun though. “It’s amazing. It’s such a joy.” As a kid, Blossey was kind of like the Genie in that number, always trying different ways to catch somebody’s attention. If one thing didn’t work, he would try another. As far back as he can remember, he’s been deep in musical theater. If there was an audition somewhere, he was there. Blossey performed in Saginaw and Midland before moving to New York in 2003, where he did the whole waiter/
ALADDIN Wharton Center for Performing Arts 750 E. Shaw Lane Lansing Dec. 4 - 15 whartoncenter.com
PHOTOS BY DEEN VAN MEER
bartender thing while working jobs here and there before getting cast in regional theater productions. From there, the theaters only got bigger. “I just kept pushing. I kept investing in myself and being the best I could be and selling the best product I have to give.” That hard work finally led to Aladdin, where Blossey made his national tour debut. The musical premiered on Broadway in 2014 and has since become one of the highest-growing Broadway productions of all-time, with a total gross so far of more than $400 million. For those who somehow haven’t seen the 1992 Disney animated film the musical is based on, the story follows Aladdin, a poor young man who is granted three wishes by a genie in a lamp. Aladdin uses his wishes to try and woo Jasmine, the Princess of Agrabah. In order to gain her love, the street-smart commoner has to become someone he isn’t and deal with Jafar, who is — simply put — the absolute worst. Blossey was a huge fan of the movie as a kid, watching his VHS copy so many times it broke. With a book by Chad Beguelin, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin, Aladdin on Broadway took the timeless Disney tale and added new songs as well as songs that were cut from the film and restored for the musical.
Aladdin was nominated for five Tony Awards and received one, which went to James Monroe Iglehart for his portrayal of the Genie. Iglehart’s performance at the Tony’s ended up having a huge impact on Blossey. On the night of the award show, Blossey was doing a production in Brooklyn. At the same time, Iglehart performed a “Friend Like Me” onstage and Blossey’s phone blew up. “People thought that was me and started texting and calling. I was like, ‘No, that’s not me.’” But it did ignite a fire in Blossey to play the role. “I started thinking, ‘I have to do that, I’m going to do that role someday,’” he said. “Then, when I got the call to be the standby, I was like, ‘I’m doing it.’” Blossey was the standby for both the Genie and the Sultan on the tour before eventually being called to his current position as the full-time wish-granter. He began those performances in September of this year. Before fully taking on the role, he was able to work with prior Genies to help him perfect his own. He’s figured out what works best for his version of the role, which impacts not just his performance but his own personal experience onstage. “Just being full of heart. I try to get as much heart as I possibly can. “I really enjoy making Aladdin my best friend.” ■
REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019 |
ALL PHOTOS BY RAY NARD IMAGEMAKER
tough nut to crack
Grand Rapids Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ is a huge undertaking of artistic collaboration
Main and Inset picture: Yuka Oba-Muschiana and Josue Justiz.
BY MEGAN SARNACKI Over 75 years, The Nutcracker has become a holiday tradition and showcase of talent for ballet companies and families across the nation. Yet while nearly every dance company performs a production for the holidays, it’s no easy feat. “It’s probably the hardest full-length performance any choreographer can do, especially in North America, because there’s such an anticipation behind it,” said Val Caniparoli, choreographer for the Grand Rapids Ballet rendition of The Nutcracker. “There’s so much riding on The Nutcracker because it’s yearly. You can’t go too crazy with the story since it’s got to appeal to children as well as adults, you’ve got to work with children’s schedules, and it’s something that everybody wants to come to every year and bring their children.” James Sofranko, artistic director of Grand Rapids Ballet, notes that work for this show starts earlier than Halloween, even amid other performances. As the ballet simultaMatthew Wenckowski.
| REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019
neously practiced Nutcracker and the recent Firebird Sofranko was left with a deep appreciation for the artistic variation and balance these shows give the company. “There’s a sense of urgency for a show like Firebird and an air of excitement around it. With The Nutcracker, you know it’s coming every year like clockwork. But that being said, there’s a familiarity with The Nutcracker that you don’t get with Firebird,” Sofranko said. “For a show that comes once a year or every so often like Firebird, there’s a bit of a learning curve — you don’t know the story or the music — but with The Nutcracker, you know the story and the music, so you can really start the first rehearsal on your artistry.” Some returning dancers may be able to do some of the routines in their sleep, though that doesn’t mean The Nutcracker remains the same each year. Caniparoli, who has contributed to the repertories of more than 50 dance companies around the world, returned to Grand Rapids Ballet for about two weeks to revise the production. “When you’re practicing in the studio, you’re so close to it. But when you’re in the theater, you can look back at the whole picture and think of ways to tweak it and revamp different aspects,” Caniparoli said. “It’s not like it’s a ballet you do once every five years. This is a ballet done every year, so you have the opportunity to make it better and better every year.” W i t h t h e m u s i c o f P yo t r I ly i c h Tchaikovsky performed live by the Grand Rapids Symphony, this year’s production adds the character of a male Cavalier to dance the pas de deux with the Sugar Plum Fairy. This new variation will move toward the end of the ballet, instead of its previous place at the beginning of Act 2. “I’m using Lew Christensen’s base as a model, so there’s tradition and history in it, but there’s also my own stamp on it as well.” Caniparoli said. Every year, the production and set design are a huge part of the show, joining the forces of Chris Van Allsburg, author of The Polar Express and Jumanji, and Tony Award-winner Eugene Lee. The set design utilizes innovative projected images that create special 3D effects, which are “downright magical and provide utterly seamless transitions and unprecedented narrative clarity in a rather complex story,” according to Revue’s own dance critic.
Working with Lee and Van Allsburg is a remarkable get for the ballet, though the latter grew up in Grand Rapids and even attended East Grand Rapids High School. “It’s really nice when a production has a tie to its hometown,” Sofranko said. “This is a perfect collaboration between this illustrator and The Nutcracker, since the story is so magical and fanciful. There’s just so many theatrical elements and fantastic storybook elements that when you toss in really great dancing on top, it’s a show for everybody — both kids and adults.” With an average of 75 to 80 student dancers and more than 30 professional company dancers, apprentices, and trainees, The Nutcracker is a unique opportunity where dancers of all ages achieve a culminating moment of validation for everything they’ve worked for. “Every time you sit in the audience, you’re witnessing somebody’s entire lifetime of work up there onstage, whether it be the principal dancer in the front or the dancer in the row of Flowers,” Sofranko said. Between the dancers, symphony, chorale singers, choreography, costumes, and set design, the amount of effort, hard work, and talent it takes to produce a successful performance like The Nutcracker is vast. Yet the Grand Rapids Ballet understands the important impact a show like this can have on the local community. “When you’re in the audience, you feel the focus of each dancer up on the stage and you know that what you’re seeing is a performance created specifically for this night, for this performance and for this community,” Sofranko said. “It not only binds you with the dancers, but it also binds you with the whole community when you’re sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with people from your city who are also wanting to celebrate culture, music, art and dance.” ■
THE NUTCRACKER Grand Rapids Ballet DeVos Performance Hall 303 Monroe Avenue NW Grand Rapids Dec. 13 - 22 grballet.com
THE TONY® & GRAMMY® AWARD-WINNING
Last of the Red Hot Lovers
Middle-aged and married Barney wants to join the sexual revolution before it’s too late. He arranges three seductions: the first proves to be a foul-mouthed bundle of neuroses; the next, a 20-ish actress who’s too kooky by half; finally, a gloomy, depressed housewife who happens to be married to Barney’s best friend. This is pure Neil Simon at his best. Performances at GRCC’s Spectrum Theater. Wed. Thurs. & Sat. at 8 p.m. Sun. at 3 p.m.
JANUARY 15 & 16
By Neil Simon December. 4-15, 2019 Tickets: 616-234-3946
to be Jeweish n’t have atr You doove Jewish The to L
MillerAuditorium.com or call (269) 387-2300 (800) 228-9858 • Groups of 10+ call (269) 387-2312
REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019 |
Seduction malfunction ‘The Last of the Red Hot Lovers’ is a guidebook for how not to cheat BY JOHN KISSANE
Barney Cashman: middle-aged, happily married, sure; but to the only woman he’s ever been with, staring down mortality, gray and endlessly anchored — is it so wrong that he should get into trouble? For once, or maybe more, depending on his luck?
EXHIBITION OPENING RECEPTION
Friday, December 20, 6-8 pm, free David Park: A Retrospective Kirk Newman Art School Faculty Review
FREE ART HOP
Friday, December 6, 5-8 pm Say goodbye to Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem
FREE ART DETECTIVES Saturdays, December 14 + January 14 10:30 am-12 pm for kids 4-8 w/adult
DECEMBER 1: MUSEUM STORE SUNDAY Open 7 days/week through December 23
GIFT GIVING AT THE KIA
Give a membership, class or gift certificate
WINTER ART CLASSES
It’s a great time to get out of the house and get creative. Classes for children, teens, and adults start in January. Scholarship applications welcome by Dec 3. Look for one-day workshops to try something new! Free parking. Open Tuesday-Sunday. Children are always free at the KIA.
KALAMAZOO INSTITUTE OF ARTS 435 W. South Street
| REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019
In 1969, Neil Simon’s The Last of the Red Hot Lovers premiered. It tells the story of Cashman, a restaurateur who does his best to seduce three women, none of them his wife. He’s practical, making his moves in his mother’s apartment while she’s away. Fifty years after its premiere, the play remains bracingly funny and sad. Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids will put it on Dec. 4 – 15 at Spectrum Theater. Shane German, who plays Cashman, sees the character as a man in the grip of a midlife crisis. His attempts to sleep his way out of it are less than successful. “Every encounter he tries, he fails miserably,” German said. “Whether it’s his own doing or the neuroses of the women he chooses.” The women: Elaine, bold and upfront; Bobbi, a batty hippie; Jeannette, depressed and the best friend of Cashman’s wife. Jeannette tells him, “I think you’re sweet. I think you’re basically a good person. I do not think you’re physically attractive.” Talk about sparks! Kristin Tomlin plays Jeannette. Asked if Simon writes women well, she said, “I feel like it depends. There are elements that are believable, but there are types, or tropes might be the right word. But all of those have elements where you say, ‘Oh my goodness, I know someone like that.’ Or ‘I’m like that.’” “I think this play is unique because he made these three characters so extreme, to fuel the humor,” Director G.M. “Bud” Thompson said. “Is this necessarily Neil Simon’s take on women in general? I don’t know if I’d go that far.” The humor is undeniable. Even on the page, the language crackles and fizzes.
Still, there are sad, resonant moments. Cashman, frustrated by his lack of success, lets out a cri de coeur. He wants to live, and he’s not certain he will get to. At one point, Jeannette describes how her husband tapped her on the shoulder in the middle of the night to let her know he was having an affair. “When he tapped me on the shoulder ... I thought he wanted me.” “That has to be a moment for drama,” Thompson said. “We can’t play that as comedy. We have to let that moment be real and we have to feel her pain. And we have to bring the audience back to where there is some sunlight before we call it quits.” In the end — to spoil the play, if a 50-year-old play can be spoiled — the lover calls his wife and invites her to the apartment. Perhaps she’ll come. “The very end of the play is the Wizard of Oz ending: ‘If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire, I’ll look no further than my own backyard,’” Thompson said. “Maybe what he had with his wife was just nice, but nice is nice!” ■
LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS Jewish Theatre GRCC Spectrum Theatre 160 Fountain Street NE Grand Rapids Dec. 4 - 15 jtgr.org
preview If you’re itching to see The Nutcracker, Elf the Musical, or A Christmas Carol, you could see them at multiple theaters this month and then compare. It could be fun! But if you aren’t in the mood to see a show totally dedicated to the holidays — which are quickly approaching — there’s also a Disney classic or an annual cabaret event. Sorry to the Scrooges: 98% of this month’s productions have at least a little bit of holiday cheer. BY DANA CASADEI
CENTRAL PARK PLAYERS
421 Columbus Ave., Grand Haven centralparkplayers.org, (616) 843-3906
LITTLE WOMEN, Dec. 12 – 15 Adapted from Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel of the same name, this rendition was written by Thomas Hischak. For those who didn’t read the book in their high school English class, Little Women, set during the Civil War in Concord, Mass., focuses mainly on the March family and its daughters, Amy, Jo, Beth, and Meg, who have been struggling since their dad joined the Union to fight the war. The play begins on Christmas Eve 1863 and travels over the years as the four March sisters deal with heartbreak, sickness, and a lot of other difficult times in the war’s aftermath. Don’t worry: The play does have some happier moments, but maybe grab some tissues anyway.
with a rugged man from a small town falling in love with the event planner who is determined to make this the best Christmas ever?
FARMERS ALLEY THEATRE
221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo farmersalleytheatre.com, (269) 343-2727
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY, Through Dec. 22, $39
FUNNY GIRLS SLAY-A HOLIDAY, Dec. 13, $10 24 HOUR THEATER: WINDS OF WINTER, Dec. 14, $10 Over the course of 24 hours, five new short plays will be written, rehearsed and produced. What will the playwrights come up with? We have no idea, so we can’t spoil anything for you. Maybe one will have a killer snowman? A queer holiday romance? Or will they play out like the best Hallmark films
MICHIGAN BALLET ACADEMY
THE NUTCRACKER, Dec. 13 – 15 & 20 – 22, $36+
THE NUTCRACKER, Dec. 6 – 8, $22
341 Ellsworth Ave. SW, Grand Rapids grballet.com, (616) 454-4771
30 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids grct.org, (616) 222-6650
ELF THE MUSICAL, Through Dec. 22, $28+
HOLLAND CIVIC THEATER
7 Jefferson Ave., Grand Rapids dogstorytheater.com, (616) 425-9234
This holiday variety show is being presented by Curiosity Theatre. The evening of lighthearted humor and heartwarming tales is centered around winter and the holidays and will include four original short plays, three soaring vocalists, two hilarious stand-ups, and a drag queen. Sounds pretty festive to us!
GRAND RAPIDS BALLET COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS CIVIC THEATRE
DOG STORY THEATRE, NO ROOM AT THE AIRBNB: MODERN HOLIDAY TALES, Dec. 5 – 7, $12
A Christmas Carol at the New Vic Theatre. COURTESY PHOTO
Cady Huffman. COURTESY PHOTO
GILMORE THEATRE/ WMU THEATRE 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo wmich.edu/theatre, (269) 387-3227
NEXT STOP, BROADWAY, Dec. 5 – 7, $20+ Cady Huffman — actress of both stage and screen — will join the Music Theatre Performance Class of 2019 at WMU’s annual cabaret revue event, featuring a variety of musical theater. Huffman is probably most well-known for her Tony Award-winning role in The Producers. Or maybe it’s her role in La Cage aux Folles. Or when she originated the role in The Will Rogers Follies, which also earned her a Tony nomination. OK, you get the point. Sshe’s been in a lot of theater productions.
50 W. 9th St., Holland hollandcivictheatre.org, (616) 396-2021
1595 Galbraith Ave. SE, Grand Rapids michiganballet.org, (616) 710-1666
Under the direction of Irina Vassileni, this show will feature Michigan Ballet Academy students alongside Dance Theatre of Harlem’s current and former principals, Crystal Serrano and Francis Lawrence. With a score by Tchaikovsky — and adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King — The Nutcracker follows a young girl named Clara as she befriends a nutcracker who comes to life on Christmas Eve and fights the super evil Mouse King. Performances will take place at the Jenison Center for the Arts.
MUSKEGON CIVIC THEATRE
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE,
425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon muskegoncivictheatre.org, (231) 722-3852
Through Dec.14, $12
JEWISH THEATRE GRAND RAPIDS
A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Through Dec. 1, $26.50
NEW VIC THEATRE
2727 Michigan NE, Grand Rapids jtgr.org, (616) 234-3595
134 E. Vine St., Kalamazoo, thenewvictheatre.org, (269) 381-3328
LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS, Dec. 4-15, $28
A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Through Dec. 28, $28
KALAMAZOO CIVIC THEATRE
WHARTON CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS
329 S. Park St., Kalamazoo kazoocivic.com, (269) 343-1313
750 E. Shaw Ln., East Lansing whartoncenter.com, (517) 353-1982
ELF THE MUSICAL, Through Dec. 8, $25
ALADDIN, Dec. 4 – 15, $35+
REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019 |
PHOTO BY TERRY JOHNSTON
Christine Van Loo and Alexander Streltsov. COURTESY PHOTO
Music in the air
GR Symphony’s ‘Cirque de Noel’ is a showcase of acrobatics and holiday favorites BY AMY MCNEEL
Classical Christmas music and flying acrobatics might not be the most obvious duo, but it turns out whimsical circus acts and our favorite holiday songs really are the perfect pair. For its 10th consecutive year, Cirque de Noel is coming to Grand Rapids, featuring holiday classics performed by the Grand Rapids Symphony and circus acts performed by Cirque de la Symphonie. Together, these art troupes produce an exciting, unexpected performance of music and mystery. Cirque de la Symphonie is a company composed of talented and established acrobats, jugglers, contortionists, and aerialists. Included in their star-studded cast is nationally renowned acro-gymnast and aerialist Christine Van Loo. A seven-time consecutive National Champion and a previous Female Olympic Athlete of the Year, Van Loo brings years of experience and training to the company, which only rehearses once before each performance. “The rehearsal is not for us to learn the show, because we already know our routines,” Van Loo said. “It’s basically to accomplish two things: It’s to get the orchestra used to having people flying over their heads, because it can be a little daunting and scary, and it’s also for us to hear the music, because sometimes orchestras play faster or slower or have
a different ending. It’s really just to get us in alignment with each other.” Although one rehearsal doesn’t seem like much, Van Loo said the performances are already choreographed and the performers are highly experienced, making for a fairly easy transition from one orchestra to the next. With so much practice under her belt, Van Loo said her performance is second nature; the movements are practically done by muscle memory. “It’s kind of like your brain turns off and your body turns on. Your body starts thinking for you,” Van Loo said. “It’s almost like if you would think too hard, you wouldn’t know what you were doing. When I’m doing my aerial act, I’ve repeated it so many times that it’s as natural as walking. So I don’t think. And when I do think, I kind of mess myself up. I just kind of let myself feel what’s going on and connect with the audience and let myself feel the movements and express myself. So it’s not really a lot of intellectual thought, it’s more like feeling.” Van Loo was born in Grand Rapids and lived in the city until the age of 3. Although she travels with the company across the states, performing in Grand Rapids is special because her family watches the show. For her, performing in West Michigan is like coming full circle. Van Loo has been a part of the show for 12 years, only a couple of years longer than the company has been performing in Grand Rapids. While the theme and tone of the performance are the same as in the beginning, the details are in a constant state of change. Not only does each show feature different acts from one year to the next, but
each orchestra brings a different sound. When it comes to intertwining the two art forms, Van Loo notes the symphony and the circus are a flawless match. “As an aerialist, it’s not just doing an aerial act with music as background,” Van Loo said. “It’s like the perfect marriage of the two art forms. We choreograph to the music, so it’s not just an orchestra playing in the background. They are completely part of our show. It wouldn’t be the same show without the orchestra.” While the show’s primary purpose is to entertain and bring forth holiday spirit, Van Loo ultimately hopes it leaves people feeling inspired. “ I j u s t w a nt p e o p le to fe e l l i ke anything is possible and that they are capable of anything they put their minds to. “I want them to go there and feel inspired and alive and excited, and just leave and be like, ‘Wow, if they can do that, what can I do?’” ■
Christine Van Loo with Shana Lord. COURTESY PHOTO
Christine Van Loo. COURTESY PHOTO
DECEMBER PERFORMANCES Cirque de Noel: Dec. 18 - 19 Holiday Pops: Dec. 5 - 8
GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY DeVos Performance Hall 303 Monroe Avenue NW, Grand Rapids devosperformancehall.com
| REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019 PHOTO BY TERRY JOHNSTON
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shop & studio 952 Fulton st e tdinteriordesign.com (616) 581-1748 REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019 |
Liquid Note Specials Every Day! Show Times - Th - 7pm, Fri/Sat - 8:30pm, Sun - 2pm
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| REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019
DECEMBER 12-1 12-5 12-6 12-7 12-8 12-8 12-12 12-13 12-14 12-15 12-19 12-20 12-21 12-27 12-31
Steve Pesch Open Mic w/ Dan Agne Marci Lynn Band The Real Fantastics Jake West 1-3 Susan Parr Trio 4-7 Schlitz Creek DC90 The Distractions Shelby O Open Mic w/ Dan Agne Karaoke Koz and the Effects The Marsupials New Year’s Eve Party! Comedian Marty DeRosa See our Facebook event page for more information or call 269.685.7849
JANUARY 1-02 1-03 1-04 1-05 1-09 1-10 1-11 1-12 1-16 1-17 1-18 1-19 1-23 1-24 1-25 1-26 1-30
Open Mic w/ Dan Agne Amays and Blue Dylan Tolbert Band Jersey Pete & Java Joe Brandino Trapped on Mars Downriver Dan Chicken Pecks the Keys Lexi Adams Harper & Midwest Kind CD RELEASE! TacoMania 2 Patty PerShayla The Whiskey Charmers Karaoke Project 90 Dan Agne Open Mic w/ Dan Agne
117 & 119 EAST ALLEGAN STREET ~ OTSEGO, MICHIGAN 269.692.3377 (69-BEERS) 269.692.2337 (692-BEER) maudestaphouse.com ~ liquidnotebrewing.com
PREVIEW We hope you’re in the mood for some holiday tunes, because that’s largely what’s on the calendar for December. No, wait: That is all that’s on the calendar for December. There are a variety of shows happening with the Grand Rapids Symphony, multiple chances to watch children sing adorably, and a few opportunities to listen to the music from The Nutcracker. Go do something fun to enjoy the season, in between all your holiday shopping. BY DANA CASADEI
GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY 300 Ottawa NW Ste. 100, Grand Rapids grsymphony.org, (616) 454-9451, ext. 4
WOLVERINE WORLDWIDE HOLIDAY POPS, Dec. 5 - 8, $18+ The Grand Rapids Symphony’s holiday pops are a seasonal favorite in West Michigan, thanks to collaboration between the orchestra with the GR Symphony Chorus and the Youth Chorus. You’ll hear nostalgic holiday favorites like “Sleigh Ride,” “Joy to the World,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and many more. It’s a timeless holiday experience, made even better by pre-concert music in the lobby.
GRS YOUTH CHORUS: HOLIDAY CONCERT, Dec. 13, $15 THE NUTCRACKER, Dec. 13 - 15, 20 - 22, $36+ OLD NATIONAL BANK CIRQUE DE NOËL, Dec. 18-19, $32+
HOLLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 96 W. 15th St., Suite 201, Holland hollandsymphony.org, (616) 796-6780
Mario Diaz-Moresco, Holland Symphony Orchestra. COURTESY PHOTO
at both performances, so we advise getting there a bit early, especially if you have a large group or enjoy sitting really close to the stage.
KALAMAZOO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 359 Kalamazoo Mall Ste. 100, Kalamazoo kalamazoosymphony.com, (269) 349-7759
HOLIDAY MUSIC: SOUNDS OF THE SEASON, Dec. 13, $24+ The KSO’s annual concert will consist of an evening of holiday favorites, Bach and Tchaikovsky. The latter wrote three ballets, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, and you can probably guess which one the symphony will perform. Julian Kuerti is conducting the show featuring a variety of musicians, including the KSO Youth Soloist Winner, the Bach Festival Chorus and the Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus. They also invited Santa Claus, but we all know how busy that guy is during this time of year; I guess you’ll have to see if he shows up.
WEST MICHIGAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 360 W. Western Ave. #200, Muskegon westmichigansymphony.org, (231) 726-3231
HOLIDAY CONCERT: SEASON’S GREETINGS, Dec. 14, $22
SOUNDS OF THE SEASON, Dec. 13 & 14, $29+
As the title suggests, get ready for a performance of seasonal light classics, traditional carols and holiday pops. With two performances throughout the day — one at 3:30 p.m., the other at 7:30 p.m. — the HSO will be joined by Mario Diaz-Moresco. The young baritone is recognized for his versatility and strong stage presence, as well as his ability to sing not only opera but newer music and art song. Seating is general admission
Hey look! An evening of hard rock and techno hits! Just kidding: It’s another holiday show — and this time, the West Michigan Symphony has gathered a group of youths between ages 8 and 18 to sing along. Few activities are more adorable during the holidays than watching little kids sing and throughout the evening will be seasonal favorites, from holiday classics to beloved carols. Who knows? Maybe you can even sing along! Or at least hum.
Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops. COURTESY PHOTOS
REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | DECEMBER 2019 |
/// REARVIEW MIRROR | by Jack Raymond
class of 2019
2019: Wow, what a year! As we inch ever closer to our political and environmental collapse, at least we can take pride in our food and drink. Pat yourself on the back, West Michigan. We’ll pat you, too. We hosted a mock election (in our minds) and now we’re recognizing our local classmates with the superlatives they so deserve.
THE MITTEN BREWING COMPANY Surprise! The baseball-themed brewery knows a thing or two about teamwork. Earlier this year, The Mitten Brewing Company made headlines for paying off $2,700 of student lunch debt in the Suttons Bay school district. Other charitable acts include donations to the West Michigan Veterans Assistance Program, fundraising for Autism Support of Kent County, and more than $25,000 raised for Feeding America at their annual golf outing. Now if they’d just comp our outstanding bar tab …
TEAM SPIRIT HAUTE AT NEW HOTEL MERTENS
ROAM This win is obvious given the name, but ROAM earns Carmen Sandiego status thanks to its unexpected stops around the globe. Look to the Chebureki (Croatian flash-fried empanadas) and Nakji Horong (South Korean skewered octopus tentacle) for cuisine to blow your West Michigan mind.
SS E D
MOST LIKELY TO TRAVEL THE WORLD
Haute couture: Only the coolest of cool can pull off a dress that looks like a sea anemone. New Hotel Mertens’ rooftop lounge gives patrons the chance to f launt their finest duds. Technically, there’s no dress code— but you don’t want to get caught looking like a scrub. After all, you gotta stunt on the peasants at ground level.
GRAND RAPIDS BREWING COMPANY RIVER NORTH PUBLIC HOUSE
SS A L C
( formerly known as Citizen) This switch-up is like a double take at the high school reunion: Whoa, the hippie sells car insurance now? The former tiki bar lost the lei and now serves more traditional pub fare — wings, burgers and the ilk. It’s a safe bet but, admittedly, we miss the hula vibes.
M OST CH
WN O L C
W hile there’s nothing out wardly funny about GR’s namesake brewery, check the beer board for some good ol’ fashioned trolling. Names include “Sportsball Contest Watching Drink” and “Princess Unicorn Pineapple Party Punch.” Also, Grand Rapids Brewing Company made a pumpkinspiced glitter hard seltzer. Clearly these goofballs are having a gas.
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28 | REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019
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/// REARVIEW MIRROR
BUTCHER’S UNION Butcher’s has your back. The service, ambiance, food and beverage are fine-tuned as a Swiss watch. It’s classy, not stuffy; quality without the price tag. Since opening in 2017, they’ve secured a legion of repeat guests thanks to routinely satisfying meals. There’s no better spot to take out-of-towners when showing off our city’s restaurant chops.
M OST RELIABLE
LATE TO G
THE SOVENGARD When a plate of brussels sprouts looks like a painting, it feels wrong to stab and divide with fork and knife. The Sovengard’s menu eschews Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Their food is a feast for the eyes. More so, their ability to adapt seasonally to some unbecoming vegetables shows a commitment to the craft.
LONG ROAD DISTILLERS If you haven’t heard the Long Road buzz, tune in. Their spirits consistently rank as some of the best in the world. They’re one of the few distilleries in the state producing great absinthe and aquavit and any bar worth its weight in gin should keep Long Road’s stocked. After opening another location in Grand Haven, expect the brand’s reputation to grow into a household name.
F FE O
RTY A P E
QUIETLY M OST LIKELY TO WORLD TAKE OVER TH E
MAX’S SOUTH SEAS HIDEAWAY
M OST LIK
ELY TO S
Offering avenues to get in trouble ever y day, Billy’s is the pa rt y animal we’re not sure if we should love or be worried about. Between BassBin Mondays and Throwback Thursdays, throwing back a case of beer at their bar isn’t out of the question. Once, I accidentally ended up at a Fuego Latin Dance Party and it was one of the best parties I can remember.
RISHI’S INTERNATIONAL BEVERAGE/CIRILLA’S
Tiki people are a breed best seen to be believed. This Hawaiian-shirt-clad posse will travel cross-country to scratch a rum itch and Max’s delivers the tiki experience full stop. The soon-to-be Airbnbs on the top floor should ensure a rotating base of tourists bent on drinking Zombies until they literally become one.
IDC (I Don’t Care) has nonchalance baked into its name. Without even a googleable way to find the address, if you don’t know about this cocktail bar, chances are you’re not supposed to. Instead of slumming it in the stands with fellow graduates, IDC has other plans namely with a martini, up, extra olives.
A bottle of sloe gin and a blowup doll: The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. Rishi’s and Cirilla’s are the racy pair indulging mankind’s oldest vices. While you may need more courage to visit one shop than the other, the two are best patronized in one fell swoop. Just sport a pair of Groucho glasses if you want to stay incognito.
REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
holly jolly HOLIDAYS T
he holidays are finally here! You better enjoy it while it lasts, because December always flies by. No matter what holiday you celebrate, we all like to party. In this issue, we help you host the ultimate party, find the best holiday events, buy some last-minute gifts, and create some new traditions. Our Guide to Holiday Parties will help you plan ahead with drinks, food, snacks and much more. Then we have a big list of events all around West Michigan, ranging
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from artisan markets to classic holiday film screenings. If youâ€™re feeling stressed, decompress with our relaxing gift guide full of presents that will bring comfort to you or the person you buy them for. Finally, we asked a few of our favorite local people what their December traditions are, so feel free to glean some new ideas from them. p.s. We also have a special section called the Rearview Mirror, looking back on some of 2019â€™s finest moments. Check it out!
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PEACEFUL PRESENTS A comforting last-minute gift guide | by Missy Black
Price is no matter when you can buy someone the gift of peace. Serenity is in high demand, now more than ever. Instead of stressing out about holiday shopping, take your pick from our elysian treasures that bring beauty, inspiration and calm back into someone’s life.
Guided journals bring contentment, at Pursuit Gift Shop in Ada, $34 – $39.
Round up some greenery for this planter and the room feels calm, at Speckl Goods in Grand Rapids, $28 for the small black planter with tray and $48 for the large green planter.
Find tranquility with Jana Blankenship’s Wild Beauty, which explores wisdom and recipes for natural self-care, at Rebel in Grand Rapids, $18.
Believe in the power of crystals with this overflowing hamsa tray, at Endora Bohemian in Douglas, $60.
PHOTO BY SAMANTHA RUTH PHOTOGRAPHY
Reclaim your time and drop out of the rat race with this cheeky canvas bag, at Gezellig Home in Holland, $20.
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Peace of mind comes from mindfully sourced coffee in compostable bags that really give us zen vibes, at The Sparrows Coffee & Tea & Newsstand in Grand Rapids, $17 – $16.
Harmony comes in the form of days of divine wine with the 12 Nights of Christmas advent-inspired wine gift box at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, found locally in Kentwood, $99.99.
Solitude is sweet with this My Cup of Tea candle featuring scents such as ginseng, ginger and mint tea, at Wax Poetic Candle Bar in Grand Rapids, $27.
The Best Gift Ever!
White Cranberry Christmas Tree Bottles $20 Plus tax
www.hudsonvillewinery.com|616.662.4589|3768 Chicago Dr, Hudsonville, MI 49426
REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
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REVUE’S ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HOLIDAY PARTIES
How to plan a festive night to remember | by Josh Veal
ello, welcome! Thanks for coming! Did you have any trouble finding the place? Oh, good! Well, we’re so glad you could make it. Can I get you anything? We have water and, uh, hmm, maybe juice. Dinner will be ready in a few hours, so feel free to snack on some saltines. Oh, you didn’t bring any drinks? Well, there’s a party store right around the corner. Anyway, happy holidays!” We’ve all been there: the unprepared party. Maybe you were attending it, maybe you hosted it — I've certainly done both. Either way, there’s nothing worse than a group of people coming together to awkwardly stand around and wait for something interesting to happen. The good news is, it can easily be avoided. Even if you’ve never been to a party in your life, plenty of places in West Michigan are specially equipped to hold your hand through the process. This doesn’t mean hiring event planners or anything like that — just talking to people with years of experience. To start, Revue talked with Amy Ruis — of Aperitivo in the Downtown Market and Art of the Table on Wealthy Street — for her insight. Her shops are practically made for party planning, whether you’re seeking out specialty foods, unique wines, kitchenware or an expertly made charcuterie board. You could almost say her expertise is hereditary, going back to her grandmother, “the consummate entertainer.” “My family has always had great meals and had fun around the table or in the living room. I grew up with that,” Ruis said. “With my first career, I ended up working in a kitchen store and I started learning about pots and pans, dinnerware, gadgets, all the stuff. I've always enjoyed putting those things together for friends to come over and throwing as lavish of a dinner party as I can muster up.”
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APERITIVO. PHOTO BY SETH THOMPSON
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Continued from page 35
PREPARE TO PREPARE After all these years, Ruis’ biggest tip for throwing a great party is quite simply to be prepared. You don’t want to spend the entire evening “hosting.” The more you have planned ahead of time, the more you can be part of the fun! This is especially key if you’re bringing together a group of people who don’t know each other well. You don’t want to leave people to socially fend for themselves. “It doesn't need to be that you've got every minute planned, but just thinking about the tablecloth, the candles, what's going on the table — even if it's a cocktail party, what glasses am I going to use, what drinks might I serve?” Ruis said. “If it's a dinner party, try to have things pre-prepped that are already in the oven, or a salad that's already made and plated, or the vegetables are washed and cut. “Those kinds of things I try to think about so when it comes time, I can be a little more relaxed about whatever party I'm having.”
OUTSOURCING HORS D’OEUVRES Of course, the easiest way to be prepared is to buy something that’s ready and waiting for you to put it on the table, like the time-tested cheese and charcuterie board. At this point in my being, I’m convinced that a cheese platter is the life of every party. It gets people excited the moment they walk in the door, it’s a conversation starter, it’s a place to congregate, it’s a decoration in and of itself, and it supplies energy throughout the night. If you’re Midwest born and raised, you might be used to those plastic trays of diced deli meat with some cubes of white cheddar and colby jack. The shocking truth is: You can put together a solid board of brie, gouda, aged cheddar, and summer sausage for the same price as a big pile of processed cheese and meat. It'll be more impressive — and people will actually eat it. Still, putting all that together can be intimidating your first or even second time. That’s where places like Aperitivo come in. You can walk in and tell them what kind of party you’re throwing, how many people will be there, and what your budget is, and they’ll help you find the perfect platter. The key, Ruis said, is variety. “The biggest thing we try to do is have an array of cheeses and/or meats, because you don't want just one taking up a whole tray.” You can start with sourcing your spread from all over the farm — cows, sheep and goats all make pretty different kinds of cheese. After that, you can start to think about having different textures, from a firm aged cheddar to a creamy brie. Then there’s a whole world of flavors to explore, whether you want the cheese itself to be the star or have a slice infused with spices, herbs, or fruit. For the holidays, you can ask specifically for
those seasonal flavors like cranberry, cinnamon, butterscotch, clove, and so on. The same principle applies to meat. A thick, seasoned salami is vastly different from a thin, moist prosciutto, which is why they go great together. Obviously, you don’t need to bring the whole deli home with you! Having three to five main components is a good starting point. Then, Ruis says, they’ll fill in the blanks with an array of jams, honey, olives, and nuts — not to mention the near infinite possibilities of crackers and bread. It’s a lot to think about it, which is fun for some and overwhelming for others, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one at the party needs to know.
WINING AND DINING If you can, providing your guests with some social lubricant is always nice. When it comes to dinner parties, it’s nice to break away from the deluge of craft beer we Michiganders often experience. You can plan a festive cocktail if you’re a master mixologist, but it’s typically cheaper and easier to go with wine. Ruis likes to pair her wine with the cuisine, if possible. The simplest way is to match the wine and meal’s origin, so French wine goes with a French-style meal, for example. Again, the best thing you can do is have a variety — at least be sure to offer a white and a red, as many people will only drink one or the other. If you’re doing cheese and charcuterie, though, the best way to open the party is with a bottle of bubbly. “It cleanses the palate. It's fresh and flavorful, like a brut or a prosecco,” Ruis said. “I love, for example, Mawby's Blanc de Blanc. It's just across-the-board happy. I'll drink that with any plate.”
APERITIVO. PHOTO BY JEFF HAGE
WATCH AND LISTEN No one wants a helicopter host, constantly breathing down your neck and asking if you’re OK. But we don’t want to be left to float adrift either. Especially if you’re hosting a dinner party, make sure to keep the drinks flowing. “I think it's helpful when you're cognizant of what the guests need,” Ruis said. “It's not necessarily anticipating what they need but knowing you can't just sit there all night. Bring more beverages, so it's not just everybody sitting there wishing they had more, but no host offered it.”
THINK IT THROUGH Really, the key to throwing a great party is to be thoughtful — before and during the party. Plan the little details ahead of time, so when your guests have arrived, you’re focused on them. That way, they’ll want to come back and you won’t go to bed worrying over whether everyone had a good time. After all, a party should be fun!
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AMY RUIS, OWNER OF APERITIVO. PHOTO BY SETH THOMPSON
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WHERE TO SUPPLY YOUR PARTY ONE-STOP SHOPS When the holidays roll around, time is a precious commodity. Keep your shopping short by heading to one special spot!
435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids The Downtown Market was built specifically to be a one-stop shop for nearly everything you could need. Hit up Carvers for some of the best quality meat around town, Spice Merchants for your seasonings, Old World Olive Co. for your vinaigrette, Bliss & Vinegar for your produce, and Love’s for your sweet treats. Plus, the Market has classes throughout the month that will perfectly prepare you to host or contribute to a party: n
German Christmas Market (mulled wine, currywurst, doughnuts), Dec. 6 Field & Fire: Stollen (fruit bread), Dec. 7 Holly Jolly Cookies (leave with 8 dozen cookies), Dec. 8, 14, 15, 21 Cocktails to Leave Santa, Dec. 17
Forest Hills Foods
4668 Cascade Rd. SE, Grand Rapids This grocery store has a huge deli that is more than happy to do most of the prep work for you. There are more than 20 different platters, ranging from meat and cheese to sandwiches, dips, veggies, and sweet treats. You can also
get a deluxe ham dinner with enough ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and pie for six to eight people, and it costs only $54.99.
Kingma’s Market & Butcher
2225 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids Kingma’s is chock-full of holiday treats, truffles, and stocking stuffers from all over the world, as well as housesmoked ham and other meats from the butcher. What’s more, you can head there early in the month for fresh-cut Christmas trees and wreaths.
200 Union Ave. NE, Grand Rapids Martha’s is known all over West Michigan for its amazing selection of specialty cheeses, wine, and snacks, but the deli is also full of unique sides you won’t find anywhere else. Altogether, they make dinner and dessert easy and delicious.
Eastern Kille Distillery
700 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Never hurts to warm up with straight bourbon or make a refreshing cocktail with barrel-finished gin.
Long Road Distillers
537 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids Try the apple brandy, cherry liqueur, aquavit, or Nocino: a green walnut liqueur with holiday spices.
New Holland Spirits Multiple locations
Brighten up your cocktail with the Clockwork Orange liqueur or get boozy with the Beer Barrel Bourbon.
WINE Crushed Grape
2869 Knapp St. NE, Grand Rapids
Leon & Son
972 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids
Tiffany’s Wine & Spirits
There are a million party stores all over, of course. Still, some shops have become trusted experts in a specific field for a reason.
SPIRITS Bier Distillery
5295 West River Dr. NE, Comstock Park There are tons of flavors to choose from here, including Forbidden Apple Brandy, Spunkin Punkin Pumpkin Spice, and Billari Amaro Americano.
1714 W. Main St., Kalamazoo
HOLIDAY PARTY IDEAS MUSIC Whatever holiday you’re celebrating, put together a curated playlist ahead of time with your favorite versions of songs that fit the party's atmosphere. Kenny G’s “Silent Night” will set a very different mood from Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Either way, don’t be afraid to turn the volume up a bit.
PARTY FAVORS If you really want to go all out, give your guests a little bag with fancy holiday candy, chocolate or even ornaments. At her parties, Ruis likes to celebrate with Christmas crackers — not the kind you eat, but the kind you pull apart to find a small gift or joke inside. They’re a hot commodity at Art of the Table.
3839 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids
You don’t want to force your guests to do something that makes them uncomfortable, yet if you’ve got a good group, you can always put together a special holiday game or some admittedly cheesy prompts like, “What’s your favorite holiday tradition?” or “What does the holiday mean for you?” For Ruis, her friends host an annual party where everybody writes and reads poems for each other. “Some people go all out, and others make it really funny or short,” she said.
Let your personality shine!
Bellavinos Party Shoppe
3920 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
Craft Beer Cellar
404 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Rishi’s International Beverage
2840 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids
REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
SERVING UP STOCKING STUFFERS & DELICIOUS HOLIDAY PACKAGES For every $25 in gift cards, get a $5 bonus card! Want to enjoy your holiday out of the kitchen? Order our phenomenal holiday dinners that feed 6-8 guests. Contact our store for details. Events@SlowsGR.com | 435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 | 616.454.1588
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REVUE'S GUIDE TO HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS | by Elma Talundzic
Fill your holiday season with festive fun, from start to finish! While there will surely be even more events announced as the time approaches, Revue has you covered with a bunch of the best happenings to leave you feeling merry and bright.
EAT Murder Mystery Dinner
Henderson Castle 100 Monroe Street, Kalamazoo Dec. 13, 6 – 9 p.m., $87 hendersoncastle.com This event invites you into Santa’s Workshop to prepare you for the chaotic season of being a mall Santa — but being Santa might not be as jolly as you think. The eighttime winner of Best Mall Santa, Christopher Kent, and his assistant, Jingle, will provide you with all the skills to make you a successful mall Santa. Yet somehow, based on this event’s title, we think the night might not end so merrily.
Frederik Meijer Gardens 1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids Dec. 4, 6 – 10 p.m., $150 meijergardens.org Christmas Cabaret brings you a night of jazz and holiday fun. Guests kick off the evening with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, while viewing the Metro Health Christmas and Holiday Traditions exhibition. After cocktails, sit down to a gourmet meal prepared by Meijer Gardens Hospitality. Edye Evans Hyde and the Terry Lower Trio will fill the evening with jazz and good feelings. After
the performance, guests can enjoy a coffee or espresso from the coffee bar and specialty hot chocolate.
DRINK 12 Bars of Xmas
Tin Can 206 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Dec. 14, 4 – 11:59 p.m., $15 crawlwith.us Put on your best holiday costume and get ready to crawl. An event ticket gets you one or two complimentary drinks at participating venues, drink and food specials, free cover, professional photographers, access to the crawl map, and a costume contest with a $500 prize.
BYOB Christmas Lights Tour
Vegan Holiday Pop-up Market
Grand Rapids Beer Trolley Nov. 29 – Dec. 28, $50 grbeertrolley.com Brews and Christmas lights: What could be more magical? Now entering its third year, the holiday light tour has become the beer trolley’s most anticipated event of the season. Start your night at Craft Beer Cellar and grab your free flight before hopping on the trolley. This BYOB experience takes you through some of the most breathtaking lighting installations Grand Rapids has to offer.
BYOB CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TOUR. COURTESY PHOTO
Spoelhof Center 1820 Knollcrest Circle SE, Grand Rapids Dec. 14, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. vegangr.com The vegan pop-up shop is the perfect place to shop for food and holiday gifts that are free of all animal products. Shop more than 30 vendors without worrying what the items are made from.
Uptown Shop Hop
Grand Rapids Dec. 5, 4-10 p.m. facebook.com/uptowngr
Every year, shop owners in four Grand Rapids neighborhoods come together to provide one day of allout holiday shopping, including free shuttle services. Wealthy Street, East Hills, Eastown and East Fulton are all packed full of stores perfect for gifts, including Rebel, Woosah, Dime & Regal, Blue Bridge Games and many more.
shop ’till you drop at the holiday artisan market. Santa will be in the greenhouse!
Winter Wonderland at Downtown Market
Cheer the holiday season with some great wine while you shop unique gifts at the annual Fenn Valley Vineyards artisan and craft market. Meet more than 16 local artisans and crafters displaying treats, jewelry, locally sourced honey, maple syrup, woodwork, metalwork and more.
Grand Rapids Downtown Market 435 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids Dec. 4, 4 – 8p.m. downtownmarketgr.com, (616) 805-5308 Don’t miss out on special offers from market hall merchants — and
Sip and Shop, Artisan and Craft Market Fenn Valley Vineyards 6130 122nd Ave., Fennville Dec. 14, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. fennvalley.com
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CHRISTMAS AT CRITTERS. PHOTO BY ELLE PELLEGROM
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WATCH Jane Lynch’s A Swingin’ Little Christmas
20 Monroe Live 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Dec. 17, 7 p.m. 20monroelive.com Jane Lynch is more than just a hilarious actor and comedian; she’s apparently a musician as well, releasing A Swingin’ Little Christmas in 2016. Also featured on the album are Kate Flannery (Meredith Palmer on The Office), singer Tim Davis, and the Tony Guerrero Quintet. It’s genuinely great Christmas music with a few comedic twists — and they’re bringing it to 20 Monroe Live this holiday season.
The Polar Express: Storytime + Pajama Party + Movie Screening UICA 2 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids Dec. 14, 2 p.m., $5-$10 uica.org
Join UICA for a story time and movie screening event of The Polar Express. Wear your best pajamas and cozy up with a warm cup from the hot cocoa bar. Those participating in the pajama party will be entered into a contest for best PJs. A few lucky winners will receive special prizes, including a signed copy of the Polar Express book.
Meanwhile Film Series: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Wealthy Theatre 1130 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids Dec. 17, 8-10 p.m., $6 grcmc.org
The weekly view and brew has been a favorite for more than 10 years. Watch a classic holiday movie while you enjoy a beer, a glass of wine or a mixed drink. Written by John Hughes, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation follows Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase)
and his family on their quest to have a perfect Christmas. Believe it or not, things don’t go as planned in this 1989 comedy.
LISTEN Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith Christmas 2019 130 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids Dec. 5, 7 p.m., $32+ vanandelarena.com
What better way to celebrate the holiday season than getting merry with the critically acclaimed holiday albums of Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. This event will feature a full symphony orchestra and special guest Marc Martel.
B93 Holiday Hoedown
The Intersection 133 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Dec. 6, 6:30-11 p.m., $15-$20 sectionlive.com, (616) 723-8571 This all-ages Holiday Hoedown features Blanco Brown, known for his crossover country-rap hit, “The Git Up,” a spiritual successor to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” Joining him are special guests King Calaway, a six-member countrypop band out of Nashville.
Christmas at Critter’s
The Intersection 133 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Dec. 20, 7 p.m. sectionlive.com, (616) 723-8571 It’s a party! This event boasts a night full of holiday music and Christmas cheer. Local musicians including Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys, Melophobix, The Legal Immigrants, Mark Lavengood, Elijah Russ Music, Zack Volkers Music, and many more will fill the night with merriment. Bring your friends and celebrate the season in your best holiday attire.
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20% OFF YOUR ENTIRE BILL
Not valid with any other offers, promotions, or discounts. Not available with Premier Seating Menu or Happy Hour. Expires 12/30/19.
WE OFFER PRIVATE ROOMS FOR HOLIDAY PARTIES & CATERING
COME CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITH ALPENROSE! alpenroserestaurant.com | 4 East 8th Street, Holland | (616) 393.2111
CHECK OUR WEBSITE FOR HOLIDAY HOURS
44 | REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019
GRAM WOODBLOCK HOLIDAY CARDS. COURTESY PHOTO
Continued from page 43
CRAFT Adult Workshop: Woodblock Holiday Cards
Grand Rapids Art Museum 101 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids Dec. 8, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m., $35 artmuseumgr.org
and a scoop of peppermint stick ice cream, and visiting booths for crafts, activities, and more. Don’t forget your ugly sweater!
Lowell Christmas Festivities 113 Riverwalk Plaza, Lowell Dec. 7, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., free discoverlowell.org
Add your own personal touch this holiday season with handmade greeting cards. This class gives you the tools to design, carve and print your own festive cards.
There’s an abundance of activities filling this day in downtown Lowell, so you might want to plan an itinerary. Enjoy Rogue River Artisans Shows, Santa visits on the Riverwalk, a pancake supper, Sweet Tooth Jubilee and more.
Holiday Arts and Craft Show
Clara’s Nutcracker Tea Party
Civic Center 150 W. 8th Street, Holland Dec. 14, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. holland.org, (616) 834-745
Calling all holiday shopping procrastinators: Grab all your gifts in one go at the Holiday Arts and Craft Show. With more than 110 vendors to shop from, you’re sure to find a gift even for the person who supposedly has everything.
Goei Center 818 Butterworth St. SW, Grand Rapids Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., free to attend Support some of the best local makers and pick up a gift made with love and consideration at one of the finest curated markets around. You can also grab some eats and drinks while there!
ECLECTIC Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Rosa Parks Circle 135 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids Dec. 6, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., free grandrapidsmi.gov Welcome the holidays with the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Rosa Parks Circle. The event will offer plenty of free family fun. Various cultural booths will demonstrate how holidays are celebrated all over the world, with visitors sampling delicacies, enjoying a steaming cup of cocoa
Forest Hills Fine Art Center 600 Forest Hill Ave. SE, Grand Rapids Dec. 7 – 8, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., $25 wmyb.org
Breathe in the aroma of our house made chai while exploring the selection of over 300 bulk herbs, spices and loose leaf teas. Always ethically sourced and responsibly grown, our handmade wares and goods for life are curated with care.
Old school burger joint located in downtown Rockford. Great for dining in or taking to go!
Celebrating 15 years of community this year! 143 Diamond SE Grand Rapids, MI 49506 616-776-9720 www.welovechai.com
GIFT CARDS AVAILABLE (616) 884-3166 51 E. Bridge Street, Rockford, MI 49341
Nutcracker fans get the chance to sit down with Clara and her friends from the land of sweets for a tea party. Sip tea and enjoy finger sandwiches, fruit and other sweet treats in the decorated tearoom. Younger guests can create a craft to take home as a souvenir. Get your picture taken with Clara and her friends, to remember the event for years to come.
Yoga Under the Holiday Trees
Frederik Meijer Gardens 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids Dec. 14, 8 – 9a.m., $7-$17 meijergardens.org, (616) 957-1580 It’s important to remember yourself during the holiday season. Unwind with a yoga session under the beautifully decorated trees at the gardens. This class is open to all levels. Make sure to bring a yoga mat and water bottle.
The Fun Spot 14 52nd St. SE, Kentwood Dec. 21, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. funspotgr.com, (616) 534-8106
Make your Home for the Holidays books · toys · games puzzles · café · events 2660 28th St. NE Grand Rapids SchulerBooks.com 616.942.2561
Lace up your roller skates and hit the roller rink (without the cold). Santa and his elves will be there for skating fun and pictures. n
REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
CALVIN UNIVERSITY PRESENTS 15 DAYS OF FREE LECTURES
January 8–28, 2020 | 12:30–1:30 p.m. calvin.edu/january
COMING NEXT MONTH:
50 THINGS TO DO IN 2020 Revue’s definitive guide to local happenings in the year ahead. We’ll create a West Michigan bucket list of hidden gems, concerts, restaurants, festivals and more. TO ADVERTISE: Call (616) 608-6170 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
46 | REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019
A few Rapidians’ favorite annual holiday activities | by Amy McNeel
Mayor, Grand Rapids I love Christmastime in Grand Rapids and have a number of traditions I participate in each year. I always start my holiday off by attending the Uptown Holiday Shop Hop and then the UICA Artists Market, which is where I get most of my holiday gifts while supporting local businesses and artists. My next favorite experience is walking around our beautifully decorated downtown, seeing families ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle and hearing the sounds of the season all around me.
GR 2nd Ward City Commissioner I enjoy waking up on Christmas morning and going to my parents where we have a small brunch, just my parents, sister and my husband and I. It gives us time to connect before all the cooking and traveling of the day. This year I am excited to create new traditions with my niece Luna Soledad for her first Christmas!
AB (Adrian Butler) DJ, Designer, Musician
Hanna Berry Owner, Lions & Rabbits
I love going to the UICA Holiday Market in December at Steelcase. It's full of my favorite artists and local people are stocking up on their holiday shopping. It's a sustainably perfect event.
I’m definitely ABout the holidays and I have a few traditions, both personal and with family that I like to observe. I’ll list them here: n
Elizabeth Payne Communications Manager, Grand Rapids Art Museum
One of the holiday traditions that I look forward to each year is gifting friends and family with items from local artists and retailers. I always find unique gift ideas at GRAM’s Museum Store and I also make stops at the UICA Holiday Market, Books & Mortar bookstore, and the Holiday Shop Hop along Wealthy Street and Eastown. Warming up with a festive cocktail is another tradition with friends — a few cozy spots are Buffalo Trader’s Lounge, The Sovengard and Long Road Distillers.
Watching the classic Wes Anderson film Fantastic Mr. Fox. Making the family tune into something I love doesn’t always work out well, but in this case, it has been a fantastic tradition dating back to 2010. The family gets together in the living room and does a Charlie Brown dance party. We literally bounce around with arms flailing like Charlie Brown while we listen to the Peanuts Christmas theme. My wife started this on our first Christmas together and we all laugh at each other and it’s slightly ridiculous and exceedingly fun.
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Whiskey. This is a personal thing. Christmas Night whiskey on the rocks is how I like to relax and reflect and appreciate things. Christmas Eve cookie baking. Because the kids love to bake and Santa still loves cookies. He dips them in milk, just like me.
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by Jack Raymond
X-MAS ALE ALTERNATIVES
Savoring the season without clove and cinnamon
hristmas always comes too early. The jingle bells on Halloween, the nativity scenes preceding Thanksgiving feasts — our capitalist machine thrives on yuletide fever. Breweries aren’t innocent in the madness, what with their ham-fisting of holiday cheer into pints upon first snowflake, but Christmas Ale itself is a somewhat nebulous style. Some point to origins in the monasteries of Europe, where strong dark beer was served to revelers during the holidays. Rich and divine, these historical examples are worth celebrating. Alas, modern riffs on the style often taste like Rudolph yacked fruitcake into an amber ale. This season, let’s do better. We’ve compiled a list of Christmas Ale alternatives: beers that break from the holiday mold while still warming the soul.
Go Juice Short’s Brewing Company - Milkshake IPA w/ Coffee After shoveling the 30th blanket of snow, the rigamarole grows old. Treat yourself to a bottle of Short’s Go Juice beforehand to spice up the chore. It’s kind of an oddball — a Milkshake IPA with coffee, marshmallow and vanilla. Call it a hophead’s cuppa joe. Milk sugar is the X-factor, mimicking the mouthfeel of a latte. Velvety and bracing ... Kind of like the snow you should get back to scooping.
Noel De Calabaza Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Malted Milk Ball
The Nightmare Before Christmas: Christmas or Halloween movie? Let the debate rage on while sipping on another conundrum: a holiday beer with a pumpkin on it. Imagery aside, this sour most closely replicates the Belgian classics with its effervescence, oakiness and stone fruit flavors. The house yeast culture gives it that inimitable Jolly Pumpkin funk — their signature stamp on tradition.
DINING SIGHTS | SOUNDS | SCENE
Perrin Brewing Company - BBA Imperial Porter It took at least eight maids a milkin’ to make this malt ball, and oh, how that milkin’ paid off. After nine months in bourbon barrels, this Imperial Porter is a gift to the mouth: heavy on the booze, decadence, and delicious. Chocolate is the star — imagine 1 million advent calendars crushed inside a black hole. At a whopping 12% ABV, you leave a bottle out for Saint Nick and he might not shimmy back up the chimney.
Cherry Angelina Brewery Vivant - Oak Aged Wild Ale Cherry: The winter cranberry’s successful sibling. The plump, tangy fruit suits a sour — and hey, red is a Christmas color. I have compliments aplenty for this remix of Vivant’s acclaimed Angelina. It pours a gorgeous mahogany. Scents of brown sugar and red wine vinegar allure. Acidity is the delicate tightrope that this walks with ease. Elegant, bubbly and complex, Cherry Angelina is the antidote to the garbage champagne your in-laws try to funnel down your gullet.
Lake Beer Big Lake Brewing - Light Beer This one’s the splash of sunshine in a fog of endless gray. Lake Beer is golden and unadorned. Lightly sweet with hints of graham cracker, but nothing storms the palate. It’s the perfect beer to not think about and I mean that in the best way. Evoking summer afternoons, it serves as a reminder that we trudge through this bluster for the season on the other side. The can claims this beer is best enjoyed by the lake. Anybody up for some ice fishing?
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Sweet Potato Soufflé Rye Ale Odd Side Ales - American Strong Ale Like Willy Wonka’s Three-Course Gu m, t his t hing cra ms a l l of Christmas dinner into a bottle. There’s a sumptuous play between sweet and savor y as f lavors of vanilla and nutmeg secede to the bitter grist of rye. In lieu of gravy, pour this all over your ham. The huge whiskey heat on the nose belies how smooth this is to drink, while that 11% ABV will knock you out sure as a tryptophan pill.
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by Abi Safago
SOUPS, STEWS AND BREWS, OH MY!
t’s finally that time of year, when the best comfort foods of all varieties come out. Yet as the weather dips below freezing, we especially turn to a seasonal favorite: soup. Warm, filling, and often thriving with flavor in a sweet little bowl, the best soups, stews, and brews of winter are here. You can often find a quality soup du jour around town, but there are some places in West Michigan that really know how to ladle up the liquid with extremely solid soups, every day of the season. If you don’t find something you like, we’ll be soup-rised. (Sorry.)
Golden Wok 1971 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids / goldenwokgrandrapids.com While this place is known for serving up some great Asian cuisine, you’ll definitely find soul-warming soup here. As a picky eater myself, I can say their classic egg drop soup is a winning dish. Classic veggies, egg flowers, and shrimp always hit the spot in this, which is super easy to pair with other great dishes the restaurant offers. If you’re looking for something a little different, try the sizzling rice soup. This one has a golden rice crust sizzled in a chicken broth full of mushrooms, bamboo shoots, shrimp and green peas. It’s absolutely amazing, especially when paired with their onion shrimp.
Grand Traverse Pie Company 3224 28th St. SE, Kentwood / gtpie.com
GRAND TRAVERSE PIE COMPANY BASIL BISQUE. COURTESY PHOTO
Multiple locations / hopcat.com
Multiple locations / russrestaurants.com
As far as food goes, HopCat is most known for its Cosmik Fries, which are absolutely addicting. With those fries you can get a cheese sauce that makes the experience out of this world. It’s tempting to just drink the stuff, but there’s a better solution: If you’re looking for something more filling that will have you dying for a second bowl, get the Cheese Ale Soup. Anyone who has had it can recommend going back for more, or even getting a second serving to eat later at home. This soup is creamy and thick, with fresh veggies like carrots, celery, and onions. Adding to it, they top it off with pretzel croutons. It’s one of the most affordable soups at just $5 a cup. And hey, you can even dip your fries in it.
Almost everyone in Grand Rapids has been to Russ’s — it’s a sweet neighborhood restaurant perfect for families, retired folks and high school theater crews. They’re known for their great snacks, wraps and, yes, soups. Currently, the Russ’s menu features three main soups served daily, including chicken rice, cheese and broccoli, and vegetable beef. They also have their soup-of-the-day specials, featuring chicken corn chowder, stuffed green pepper, Reuben, pea and potato, and more.
Olga’s Kitchen Coming here, you’ll be warmed up by much more than their bowls of soup. The staff is amazing and on top of their game, always ready for whatever you’ve got to throw their way. My personal favorite is the Olga’s Peasant Soup, loaded with rich veggies like green beans, peas, and carrots alongside seasoned beef and lamb, all in a thick tomato-herb broth. The real upside is that isn’t just super tasty — it’s packed with protein at 16 grams in a bowl! You’ll be ready for anything this winter has in store after defeating a bowl of this.
This place has so many options, you may never run out. You could go twice a week and try a new soup each time for a year, and still not finish all their soups. Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop has an extensive rotating menu, with 139 soups in full. They really are passionate about making great soups, for everyone’s palate. Even if you are a picky eater or have food sensitivities, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find something you love. A personal recommendation that will keep you warm as winter comes is the Texas Red. This soup is actually one of the house chilis, filled with amazing flank steak, fresh onions, chili peppers, garlic and tomatoes. It’s bound to fill you up and is full of flavor. n
OLGA'S PEASANT SOUP. COURTESY PHOTO
UNCLE CHEETAH'S SOUP SHOP. COURTESY PHOTO
3169 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids / olgas.com
Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop 1133 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids / unclecheetahs.com
OK, OK, hear me out: I know this is a pie company, but their soup is really good. The Grand Traverse Pie Company offers daily soup specials, of course, but one special recommendation is the tomato basil bisque. This one is a stunner, especially at only $5 for a bowl. You can really ball-on-abudget anytime of the year since it’s part of their normal menu. If you’re looking to make it an ultimate meal, consider pairing it with their lighthouse turkey cheddar sandwich, made with Michigan turkey, tomato, cheddar, and pesto mayonnaise. This combo is prime for wintertime as an affordable homestyle classic.
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REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2019 |
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