REVUE - February 2020

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THE t e e swISSUE

Max Golczynski, Mokaya

ALSO INSIDE: Pastry Stouts The Lumineers Nikki Glaser Valentine’s Day












Sunday Brunch Buffet

10 a.m. - 2 p.m.


Including custom-made omelettes, oatmeal station, fresh fruit, salad, soup and a dessert bar. Some Gluten-free items are available as well.









Bloody Marys


ONE FREE WITH THE PURCHASE OF 2 BEVERAGES | 4 East 8th Street, Holland | (616) 393.2111


Coupon valid Sunday only 10 a.m. - close. Not valid with any other offers, promotions, or discounts. Not valid in combination with bonus certificates. Expires 2/23/20.





February 2020 |

Volume 32, Issue 2

SCENE: 14 What’s Going On 16 Biz Beat 18 Potshots

SOUNDS: 20 The Lumineers 22 Whitney 24 Rosanne Cash

REVUE ARTS: 1A Visual arts, classical and jazz music, theater, arts event previews, and more. (See the center of this issue)


THE SWEET ISSUE: 26 Mokaya: Behind the Chocolate 28 Frozen Fun 30 Pleasant Pastry Presents 32 Candy for Your Crush 34 Valentine’s with Your Sweetie

SIGHTS: 36 Nate Bargatze 38 Nikki Glaser

DINING & DRINKING: 42 Drink Your Sweets



44 Pastry Stout Taste-off 46 Room for Dessert





hat’s in a name? That which we call an Issue by any other name would be as Sweet. Welcome to our first ever Sweet Issue, a celebration of all things sugary, fruity, chocolatey and lovely. I’ve often said that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but putting this magazine together, my body told me otherwise. Looking at pages of decadent desserts, snacking on leftover holiday candy, standing in Mokaya surrounded by delicious smells — it all starts to rewire your brain. I never fully realized how vibrant the sweets scene is in West Michigan, from bakers and pastry chefs to chocolatiers, candy makers, cake artists, and fro-yo joints. Treats abound wherever you look. You might be thinking, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly! I promised to avoid sweets this year.” But we all know resolutions were for January — it’s time to let go of the past and embrace the present. It’s time to treat yourself ! In this issue, we take a look at all those sugar-coated shops, with a special behind-the-scenes view of Mokaya, one of the greatest chocolate shops anywhere. They’ve turned the craft into an art, with truff les and peanut butter cups that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the mouth. It’s almost hard to convince yourself to eat them! Imagine if the Sistine Chapel was one huge bonbon — would you take a bite? We also have some excellent interviews this month, including some of our writers’ favorite bands, like The Lumineers and Whitney, and amazing comedians, like Nate Bargatze and Nikki Glaser. Expect more of that with next month’s Funny Issue. In the meantime, I’m going to Le Bon Macaron. ’Til next time,

President/Publisher, Kasie Smith

EDITORIAL Editorial Director, Amy L Charles Managing Editor, Josh Veal

DESIGN Art Director, Courtney Van Hagen

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Abi Safago Andy Balaskovitz Dana Casadei Eric Mitts Elma Talundzic Jack Raymond Amy McNeel

John Kissane Marla R. Miller Megan Sarnacki Michaela Stock Missy Black Allison Kay Bannister

ADVERTISING / (616) 458-8371 Media Sales Manager, Kelli Belanger Media Sales Coordinator, Haleigh Beasley


Josh Veal, Managing Editor

UPCOMING ISSUES MARCH: Funny Issue We shine a spotlight on the growing local comedy scene, including the funniest people around, new comedy venues and the biggest comedy events.

Revue is published monthly by: Serendipity Media LLC 535 Cascade West Parkway SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546 (616) 458-8371 ©2020 Serendipity Media LLC. All rights reserved.


APRIL: Cannabis Issue Assuming the kinks are worked out, we’ll take a look at West Michigan’s budding cannabis industry, talking to advocates, sellers and buyers about how far we’ve come and what’s next.

TO ADVERTISE: Call (616) 458-8371 or email Space reservation is the 15th of the month before publication.






/// SCEN E

WHAT’S GOING ON THIS MONTH |  Compiled by Revue Staff The Go Rounds. PHOTO BY ANDREA TK





Grand Rapids Public Museum 272 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m. If you haven’t been the planetarium in a while, this is the perfect reason to head back. Concerts Under the Stars brings local musicians to the museum along with a local video artist creating a shifting visual experience in real time. It’s extra special with a band like Coffin Problem, a loud, atmospheric, “cavernous and cathartic” rock group that will launch you to the stars.

The Intersection 133 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Feb. 14, 5:30 p.m., free or $10 donation at the door The Jammies are back once again to celebrate the best in local music and raise money for Feeding America West Michigan. More than 20 bands will take over three stages at The Intersection, putting on a whole night of shows. Then, WYCE will present awards to the Best Album of 2019, Song of the Year, Listeners Choice Awards and much more, with an afterpar ty put on by Grand Rapids Soul Club. It’s a party that happens to work for a great cause.

ALL LOVE BALL Bell’s Eccentric Café 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m., $10



Celebrate a day of every kind of love with friendship, romance and music. The Go Rounds and Earth Radio are coming together to create an evening of endearment in Bell’s Back Room. The Go Rounds will give you psychedelic, twangy, poppy Americana, while Earth Radio serves up boundar y-pushing, modern neo-soul. That’s amore!

POST MALONE Van Andel Arena 120 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids Feb. 12, 8 p.m. Post Malone has been running in circles, and now he’s ended up in Grand Rapids at the Van Andel Arena on the Runaway Tour. The singer and rapper blends a bunch of genres together, including pop, hip-hop, folk and rock. His latest album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, features hit singles like “Circles” and “Enemies.” This show features special guests Swae Lee and Tyla Yaweh.


cider. The most important part, however, is marching into the apple orchard and hanging pieces of toast soaked in cider on the tree branches. If you’ve ever wanted to put on a mask and perform a sacred ceremony, this is the place to be.

2/16 TASTE OF SOUL Grand Rapids Public Library 111 Library St. NE, Grand Rapids Feb. 16, 1-4:30 p.m., free It’s Black History Month, the perfect time to celebrate African American history and culture, which the library does every year with Taste of Soul. Listen to live music from The Gospel Believers, Serita’s Black Rose, Lady Ace Boogie and more. Learn about culture with presentations and theater. Create your own tote bag or crafts for kids. Eat free food from Daddy Pete’s BBQ, Boston Soul Café and more.

2/22 WINTER BEER FEST Fifth Third Ballpark 4500 W. River Drive NE, Comstock Park Feb. 22, 1-6 p.m., $55 The Winter Beer Fest is back once again with roughly 150 Michigan breweries

and more than 1,100 beers. Your ticket gets you 15 tasting tokens, and you’d be surprised how long those will last you. The fun is in walking around and taking in the incredible range of beer styles, while listening to live music, watching performers, and warming up by the fire pits. All with a brew in hand, of course.

CATVIDEO FEST UICA 2 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids Feb. 22, 8 p.m., $10 We all know cat videos are the best part of the internet — this has been true since its inception. But what’s amazing is that the videos are only getting better and better as time goes on. CatVideo Fest compiles some of the best cat videos of the modern era — including animations and music videos — for an incredible communal experience of cuteness and laughter. Plus, a portion of ticket sales go to Carol’s Ferals.

5TH ANNUAL WASSAIL Virtue Cider 2170 62nd St., Fennville Feb. 15, 12-8 p.m. vir

WHISKEY BUSINESS DeVos Place Convention Center 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Feb. 28, 7-11 p.m., $50 Single malt, Scotch, Irish, bourbon, C a n a di a n — a ll t h e w hi s ke y y o u can imagine is here in one room at Whiskey Business. This convention, benefiting Detroit Art Initiative, featur e s m o r e than 10 0 w his key s to sample alongside whiskey-inspired appetizers. Your ticket gets you 10 tastes, a commemorative glass and a keepsake photo.

2/29 COCKTAIL NIGHT II The Pyramid Scheme 68 Commerce Ave., Grand Rapids Feb. 29, 8 p.m., $10 Cocktail Night is back, this time with Death Rattle Hot Sauce and dizzybird records on board. Enjoy some amazing specialty cocktails from guest bartender Teresa Malmquist of Donkey, featuring spirits from Copper & Kings Dis tiller y. While you sip, P yramid Scheme will be playing top-tier vinyl selections and vintage films to set the mood. Now that’s how you celebrate a leap day.

Wassail is a traditional beverage of hot mulled cider that’s drunk during a special ceremony to ensure a bounteous apple harvest. Expect sleigh rides, food, mask-making, ice sculptures, live music, a huge bonfire and, of course, tons of Wassail. COURTESY PHOTO









A Roundup of Openings, Closings and Other Local Business News

OPENED: Bro’s Doughs arrived in full force with dozens of mini doughnuts in hand. The shop at at 2042 E. Beltline Ave., Grand Rapids is owned and operated by Brodie “Bro” Hock and his wife, Meghan. They offer all kinds of premade creations — or make your own, choosing from more than 50 flavors, including monthly specials. They may be small, but they pack a flavorful punch.

2020 POLL S OPEN IN A PRIL! Visit us online to see who was voted the best in 2019!

If you’re already starting to fade on your New Year’s resolutions, Lunar Cycle is the place to kick you back into high gear. The indoor cycling joint opened in Midtown at 601 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids, offering all kinds of classes. You can lose yourself in the cycle with Hypnos, or party hard with Moonbeats, or train for a marathon with HIIT! It’s a great place to spin all winter, without spinning out.

The owners of Carvers and Fish Lads decided to carve out some more space in the Downtown Market with High Tide Soda, featuring more than 900 craft sodas. Grab one to go or make your own six pack — beer drinkers don’t get to have all the fun.

Brunch Lounge arrived in Grand Rapids at 122 S. Division Ave., serving up super affordable breakfast, brunch and lunch. Head there for dishes like the Farmhouse Benedict, with chipotle corned beef carnitas on toasted ciabatta bread, spinach mélange, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.

Speaking of pop, POPantics is a new tattoo shop at 5424 S. Division Ave., Kentwood. The shop is full of pop culture lovers and art, making it the perfect place to go for a tattoo of your favorite videogame, anime or superhero. Don’t worry though: They do all kinds of tattoos; it’s not just for nerds like me.

Studio Park keeps filling up, now with Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse opening a new location in the district at 122 Oakes St. SW, Grand Rapids. Head there to stretch, sweat and let it all out. Then you can take your blissful self for some juice at Malamiah or catch a movie at Celebration.

CLOSED: Grand River Cigar Lounge closed rather unceremoniously. According to a post on Facebook, former owner Rob Day did everything he could to keep the cigar lounge at 144 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids open, but it just wasn’t in the cards. If you want to smoke a claro in West Michigan now, there are precious few places.

Home and Company, a gift and home décor store in Holland, just closed its doors after 14 years of business. The owners also own a clothing store, though: Jean Marie’s, and they plan to convert the space at 190 S. River Ave. to a third location of that concept, in order to make their lives easier. Whatever works!

– Compiled by Josh Veal

If you have closings, openings or other business news for REVUE, e-mail






A monthly roundup of marijuana news and notes.

YOU KNOW THE STEREOTYPE: Burned out and overweight in the basement, playing video games, half-eaten pizza and bong on the coffee table. It’s an image long used to portray cannabis consumers as lazy and lacking ambition. It’s also the state of Michigan’s official strategy to keep kids off grass.

In late December, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services unrolled a series of online advertisements — using $300,000 in federal grant funding — warning about the dangers of teenage marijuana use. One ad in particular features a man alongside his “future self ” who’s unshaven, jobless and overweight. “Don’t let a high hold you back,” the ad warns. Cannabis-reform advocates in mid-January called foul, saying the ads employ “inappropriate and well-disproven tropes,” one activist told the Lansing City Pulse. Within days of negative media coverage and public outrage, DHHS removed f ive of the six ads and disabled public commenting on the remaining “future self ” ad. W hile the state notes research has documented cannabis’ negative impacts on brain development, messaging with such laughable stereotypes seems … lazy. The embarrassing campaign comes as Michigan’s recreational cannabis market comes to fruition, and f inally in West Michigan where several retail options opened over the past month. Park Place Provisionary started recreational sales on

Bella Sol Wellness Centers. COURTESY PHOTO

Jan. 17, while Bella Sol Wellness Centers received its recreational license but is delaying sales as supply needs are met. Both are in Muskegon, while two others in Battle Creek have also been issued recreational retail licenses. As of mid-January, the state had approved 35 retailer licenses while 16 of those were making sales. The state had also netted nearly $1.7 million in tax revenue off of $10.1 million in sales. Estimates say sales could reach $1 billion when the market is fully matured, which we certainly hope drives down the outrageously priced options so far. W hile the state is making progress on licenses, off icials are taking steps to keep unlicensed stores from operating. In late December, state off icials had been pressing popular website Weedmaps to stop advertising cannabis businesses that haven’t been licensed. Company off icials have reportedly assured the state that as

of the New Year, Weedmaps would require proof of a state license. Marijuana Regulatory Agency Director A ndrew Brisbo has said the move would be benef icial for Weedmaps as regulated sales overtake the “illicit market.” Advertising or not, $120 quarter-ounces on the regulated market isn’t going to stop consumers from looking elsewhere. – Compiled by Andy Balaskovitz

Park Place Provisionary. COURTESY PHOTO

18 | REVUEWM.COM | FEBRUARY 2020 Michigan Supply & Provisions Dispensary.




Three sides to every story Frontman Wesley Schultz pieces together the story of The Lumineers’ third album | by Michaela Stock




ut of dusty cardboard boxes and old, forgotten notebooks came the f irst drafts for III, The Lumineers’ third album, released in September of 2019. “I was thumbing through some old journals because I moved about a year ago,” said Wesley Schultz, frontman of The Lumineers. “I found this old lyric book and journal, kind of a mixture of lyrics and just thoughts I had. One of them was to write three EPs that form one LP, but they also stand alone.” Though the band didn’t plan to turn their latest album into a storybook of EPs, Schultz’s idea eventually came to life when he and co-writer Jeremiah Fraites composed III, a 12-song record split into four parts. The f irst three chapters on the album tell a story of alcohol addiction passing through a family over the span of three generations, beginning with grandmother Gloria Sparks, her son, Jimmy Sparks, and her grandson, Junior Sparks. The fourth EP features bonus tracks. After launching their career with a self-titled, triple platinum album featuring the hit song “Ho Hey,” The Lumineers’ sophomore LP, Cleopatra, topped charts at Billboard and was nominated for two Grammys in 2013. However, The Lumineers’ third album is quite different from its predecessors in its sound, feel and length. The record favors longer, more intense ballads over neat-and-tidy pop writing, with tracks reaching nearly seven minutes in length. “An audience kind of has to be willing to go on the ride with you,” Schultz said. But The Lumineers hoped that their listeners would be ready to pack their toothbrush and favorite blouse, and give these longer songs a listen. “It felt really exciting because we had this faith that people had listened to enough of our songs that they might give it a chance,” Schultz said. Fans of The Lumineers will notice that their album’s narratives aren’t completely unrelated, however. “Sleep on the Floor,” the debut track on their second album, and “Life in The City,” released on III, “are sort of like cousins or sister songs.” The two songs share a section of lyrics and melodies, and while “Life In The City” was released after “Sleep On The Floor,” it’s the original home of the repeating stanza found in both songs. “If the sun don’t shine on me today/And if the subways f lood and bridges break/Will you just lay down and dig your grave?/Or will you rail against your dying day?” Even the song titles feed off of each other, not to mention their similar storyline. “You make a pact to yourself to move to a big city, and then when you get there you kind of get crushed, and then chewed up, and spit out,” Schultz said. “It’s about trying to hold onto hope against that shock to your system of having all those expectations and dreams, and then thinking it’s going to happen like in the movies, and then it doesn’t.” For many, the biggest difference between III and The Lumineers’ earlier releases is intensity, but Schultz was always writing story songs like these behind the curtains and before the fame.

“We started out and made music that I think a lot of people would be surprised at the tone of. “This was about 14 or 15 years ago, and no one was really paying attention. That was a gift because then you could experiment a lot and kind of f igure out what you like to play, and no one’s judging it or saying anything about it.” Through a commission to write for a f ilm by M. Night Shyamalan and inspiration from songs like Jack W hite’s “Carolina Drama,” Schultz recently picked up story songs he’d shelved years ago. This resulted in the tracks “Salt And The Sea,” “Jimmy Sparks,” and enough of a storyline to turn III into a short f ilm. The 44-minute short f ilm, directed by Kevin Phillips, is composed of music videos that can be watched separately or in the order of the album. It creates a visual mosaic for the record’s complex themes of love, fear and generational addiction, using only the music for dialogue. “Our goal was pretty modest. It was to try and make something that resembled a f ilm, but we actually ended up making a f ilm,” Schultz. “I still can’t believe it worked out.” There’s no doubt that III centers around a tough topic. Listeners and critics alike wonder why The Lumineers chose to create a large project around a struggle like addiction, but Schultz wants to move past talking about the topic like it’s taboo, “in the same way that you can have a tattoo and still get a job.” “This particular subject can be upsetting to people, but I don’t think that makes it not worth singing about,” Schultz added. “I was just proud of us for making the record we wanted to make in the time we wanted to make it, and not trying to

make a decision around fear but around wanting to express and explore this.” W hile some songs in III may be diff icult to swallow and its f ilm is a blood-chilling accompaniment, addiction is not just a story on a record. It’s a reality for Schultz and Fraites, as they both had relatives who struggled with it. Some of the anecdotes behind III and the rest of The Lumineers’ albums are shared in their live performances, as Schultz tells real-life stories about their songs like he’s on the couch next to you instead of on an arena stage. “When we play, we try to win the audience over genuinely by our own merit, and not by a parlor trick or something. You want to just keep hitting them with good songs and putting your heart into it.” Creating III wasn’t a time-bound, straightforward process. Instead, The Lumineers uncovered the album through surprises hidden in hard times and ordinary life — tucked in forgotten notebooks, f ilm commissions and moving boxes. “We didn’t set out to make an album that was a big story arc. It more emerged out of what we already created,” Schultz said. “It was a happy accident.” ■

THE LUMINEERS Van Andel Arena 130 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids Feb. 11, 7 p.m., $36+



Turning it all around Whitney change gracefully during uncertain times | by Jack Raymond

FOREVER TURNED AROUND SOUNDS MORE IMPRESSIONISTIC, ORCHESTRAL AND MOODY. IN THE THREE YEARS SINCE YOUR FIRST ALBUM, HOW HAVE YOUR MUSICAL INCLINATIONS CHANGED? I think we wanted to look inward and take the sound that we found on the first record and explore it even further; playful, happy melodies with sad sounding lyrics. We’ve been listening to a lot of Neil Young. I feel like we’ll stray away from that on the third record. THE NEW RECORD FEELS MARKED BY THIS WISTFUL REFLECTION OF YOUR 20S DISAPPEARING. HOW DO YOU RECKON WITH GROWING UP? I think that’s pretty accurate. I don’t know how to reckon with it. I don’t feel like aging is something we get stressed out or anxious about. We just love to keep working and I think that’s mainly what this record conveys. After Light Upon the Lake, things could’ve spun in a million different ways, but just continuing to work was all we really cared about.


ou scrub the last drops of lake from your skin, body buzzing from a long afternoon beachside and the 8 o’clock August rays disintegrate into puff. Drive away sharing laughs with friends, windows down and air melting on your arm. W hitney distill these halcyon days into sound. Drummer/vocalist Julien Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kakacek, musicians with pasts in seminal indie groups (Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Smith Westerns), came together for their 2016 breakthrough, The Light Upon the Lake. The record was universally praised for its delicate rock that could veer into anthemic choruses, notably on tracks like “Golden Days” and “Polly.” W ho knew sing-a-longs were the best medicine? Their latest, Forever Turned Around, is a more melancholic balm. Lush melodies from backing strings and horns support Ehrlich’s falsetto singing songs about giving up, growing lonely, changing. Thematically, it feels like coming to terms with their successes and searching for stability in the ever-shifting nature of life. Introspection aside, it’s plainly beautiful music and Ehrlich and Kakacek have never sounded more in sync. To hear Ehrlich yearn to fade into the sunset is comforting in a way a lot of modern music isn’t. Maybe we shouldn’t f ight change, but feel it. A head of their show at Grand Rapids’ Fountain Street Church, Revue talked with Ehrlich about friendship, living in the Midwest, and staying optimistic during troubling times.


A LOT OF THE ALBUM’S LYRICAL THEMES DEAL WITH PERSONAL TURMOIL AND CHANGING RELATIONSHIPS. HOW HAS THE ANXIETY OF MODERN LIFE AND POLITICS AFFECTED YOUR WRITING PROCESS? It def initely did when it came time to fully solidif y the lyrical content. We wanted to ref lect the mood of 2018 and 2017 when we were writing this, but both as straight white dudes we didn’t necessarily know if our explicit opinion on everything is what people needed. But it did end up affecting the mood, injecting our true anxieties into the music instead of calling out the man and the system. ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE FUTURE? Obviously with the bushfires in Australia, there’s a hell vibe going on right now. As far as Max and I personally and musically, I think we do feel more positive moving forward. Following up Light Upon the Lake was such a tough time. We were so deep inside our own brains, probably in an unhealthy way. Now even the voice memos we’ve been sending back and forth to each other have been really positive. We’re psyched to make another record.

YOUR FRIENDSHIP WITH MA X SEEMS LIKE BOTH THE FUNCTIONAL AND EMOTIONAL GLUE TO THIS BAND. HOW WOULD DESCRIBE YOUR CHEMISTRY? It goes really deep. I think we’ve spent so much time together; every moment really for the past f ive years. So we’re just at the point where we can f inish each other’s ideas. I don’t want to say it’s like telepathy but… HOW DOES THAT FRIENDSHIP FACTOR INTO THE SONGWRITING PROCESS? I think more than ever, on Forever Turned A round, those roles got blurred. With Light Upon the La ke, it was usua lly Ma x coming up with a guitar-based musica l idea and I’d come in with the melody and focus more on the words. I feel like we’ve crossed over, and tried to build a song from the ground up. Still, we ver y much work on ever y part of things together. I KNOW YOU GREW UP IN OREGON SO THIS IS PROBABLY REACHING, BUT THE RECORD HAS THIS MIDWESTERN NICENESS TO IT. HAS LIVING IN THE MIDWEST AFFECTED YOUR PSYCHE? Def initely. The only ot her place I’ve lived ot her t ha n Oregon is Chic a go. The winters traumatize you but honest ly, t here’s a sense of communit y in t he Midwest t hat I don’t t hink is rea lly riva led or replic ated a nywhere else. WHAT CAN FANS EXPECT FROM THE FOREVER TURNED AROUND TOUR? A bunch of dudes who are really grateful to be on stage and who enjoy playing their instruments. I’m sorry if that’s a boring answer, but it’s true. ■

WHITNEY WSG. CHAI Fountain Street Church 24 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids Feb. 13, 7 p.m., $30





Memories and Moving on Rosanne Cash talks about her long, illustrious career | by John Kissane


ince the release of her debut album 41 years ago, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash has made a career of literate, sometimes aching songs. She has won four Grammy Awards, 11 of her songs have gone to number one on the country charts, and in 2015, she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The term “country music” may be misleading, or at least too small to contain her work, which is clear-eyed, wise and often sad. Cash is currently on tour for her latest a lbum, She Remembers Everything. We ta lked with the eldest daughter of Johnny Cash about her impressive career and upcoming show at St. Cecilia Music Center this month. SHE REMEMBERS EVERYTHING CAME OUT A YEAR AGO. DOES IT FEEL LIKE IT? No, it really doesn’t. It’s hard to believe it was 13 months now. YOU HAD AN INTERESTING LIVE PREMIERE FOR THE ALBUM. It was a product of what was going on in the community at the time. What we did was have women writers read pieces by other prominent women writers between the songs. We wanted to mirror what was going on in the songs in prose. Maybe it was rough-edged, but it went well. I loved doing that. Although afterward I got a note from a man who said, “I can’t believe you’d participate in all this man-bashing.” (Laughter). It was because it was all women reading. Whereas if it had been all men, he wouldn’t have noticed. Exactly. YOU’VE BEEN TOURING ON THIS ALBUM FOR A WHILE NOW. HOW HAVE THE SONGS CHANGED, OR HAVE THEY? What’s interesting is that the songs do change over time. That’s fascinating to me. They change in terms of musical dynamics, the nuances of the lyrics. “Seven Year Ache” I’ve been singing for 40 years. Sometimes it seems heartbreaking, sometimes it seems full of light-hearted humor. It depends on what I’m bringing to it at the time, I guess. The song “She Remembers Everything” has gathered power over time. THAT TITLE, “SHE REMEMBERS EVERYTHING.” IT SEEMS BOTH CONFRONTATIONAL AND MAYBE A LITTLE SAD. OR AM I JUST READING TOO MUCH INTO IT? Oh, sure. I see it as both a warning and a seduction. But it’s also sad. It intimates that she’s left. Left the relationship. Well, yeah. Or that she died. (Laughter). THIS ALBUM FEELS NOT JUST PERSONAL BUT ALSO A BIT MORE NAKED POLITICALLY THAN YOU’D BEEN IN THE PAST. I did feel a lot more urgency. This time around, the election affected me profoundly. One of my daughters cried


and said to me, “I feel like I don’t matter.” But she does. We matter. I don’t feel any point in holding back anymore, or trying to make myself palatable. It isn’t an overtly political album, but in a way all art is political. Even when W hitman wasn’t writing about the Civil War, he was being political. CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT YOUR INFLUENCES? Tom Waits. What he’s been able to accomplish. His freedom. Leonard Cohen. Always. Dylan, always. Lucinda (Williams), always. But I also think I appreciate really simple songs more than I used to, even the three-chord “Moon/ June” stuff. The simplicity there. There’s something about people who can jettison everything that’s extraneous. YOUR OWN LYRICS HAVE THIS QUALITY OF BEING BOTH TRUE AND SURPRISING. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? I take that as a great compliment. I don’t know. There’s a mystery at the heart of songwriting. If you could explain it, it wouldn’t be songwriting. I’ve heard people say that they write to know who they are. There’s truth to that. SPEAKING OF SONGWRITERS, YOUR FATHER WAS A MAJOR ONE. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO PLAY MUSIC WITH JOHNNY CASH AS A FATHER? It was a big shadow to step into. I had to keep steeling myself for the comparison, all these headlines saying, “Daughter of Johnny Cash …” I’m in the fucking Hall of Fame! (Laughter). The part that was great was that he gave me a template of a way to use imagination as a profession. Your creativity could sustain yourself. It didn’t have to be a hobby. That’s a tremendous gift. DO YOU LOOK BACK AND THINK, “WOW, I’VE MADE IT INTO SOME PRETTY RAREFIED AIR?” Oh, God no. I hope not. That takes all the air out of everything. I don’t look back. I really don’t. I want to keep getting better. That’s the hope, anyway. WHAT CAN AN AUDIENCE MEMBER EXPECT FROM YOUR SHOW? I hate to say what you should expect to experience. But the audience gives something and gets something. There’s an exchange of energy. Some shows are different than others, but that’s always true: You get something and you give something. ■

ROSANNE CASH St. Cecilia Music Center 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m.







PAGE HAVING A BALL WMCAT celebrates imagination, innovation, inspiration


PAGE LET THEM EAT CAKE Farmers Alley Theatre explores tolerance and love



Takรกcs Quartet connects with REVUEWM.COM/ARTS | FEBRUARY 2020 | the audience




[education] President /Publisher Kasie Smith EDITORIAL Editorial Director Amy L Charles Managing Editor Josh Veal DESIGN Art Director Courtney Van Hagen CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Dana Casadei John Kissane Marla R. Miller Megan Sarnacki


EYE CONTACT WMCAT’s iBall supports and celebrates the organization’s extensive work in the community

For advertising, subscription and distribution inquiries, e-mail: Revue is published monthly by: Serendipity Media LLC 535 Cascade West Parkway SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546 (616) 458-8371 ©2020 Serendipity Media LLC. All rights reserved.


HUMANAE Explore the incredible diversity and complexity of all people.

BY JOSH VEAL At the end of 2018, the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology made a big move, taking over more than 20,000 square feet of space in the building that houses the Bridge Street Market. The move meant more studios, a recording booth, dark room, ceramics studio and far more, all assisting with the nonprofit’s mission to support people’s transitions. WMCAT’s president, Daniel Williams, told Revue the nonprofit takes a “multigenerational approach,” supporting young people in their transitions through school and adults in their transitions through employment. This manifests in their Workforce Development programs, their Step Year program for recently graduated students, and their Teen Arts and Technology Program, which is “isn’t necessarily about creating a whole army of professional artists. It’s about using the arts and technology as a platform to help young people explore the world around them.” The organization works hand-in-hand with Grand Rapids Public Schools to give students access to professional equipment and copious opportunities to make art. The Teen Arts and Tech Program follows students as they make the big leaps from each stage of schooling, from middle school to high school and college, guiding them along the way and supplementing the experiences their schools already provide. WMCAT keeps in touch with students after they leave, following up on how

they’re doing. Williams said it’s definitely rewarding, citing an example of three young men of color who went right from WMCAT to Ferris State University’s videogame track. They told him they feel extra prepared because they’ve already had access to those experiences. Last year, the group put together a project centered on bullying in the LGBTQ community that brought many of the departments together — scriptwriting, costume design, fashion design, photography, graphic design, filmmakers and more — all resulting in an ’80sstyle horror movie called Weed Killer. The program’s real goal is to “build creative confidence” in students, teaching them that “it’s OK to try things and it’s OK to fail, and it’s OK to make and it’s OK to explore, and that all of that, that helps us grow as humans,” Williams said. That ability to understand people, to slow down and observe and ask questions, to be willing to try things, is a skillset that is transferrable to anything we do, especially when innovating. “If we’re innovating things without thinking about the impact that it has on people, whether intentional or unintentional, without thinking about what that means in the broader society, we’re missing so many opportunities to do so many really great things.” Whoever it’s helping, WMCAT does important work — and they do a lot of it. To help support this work, the organization throws its annual iBall, a huge party at 20 Monroe Live involving live music, fun art-based activities and awards for excellent community partners.

The idea isn’t just to have dinner and a speech, but to get people involved and connected. This year’s iBall, on March 5, will feature KJ & The Good Time Family Band, with awards going to Urban Core Collective for Imagination, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Innovation, and Joshua Peoples Inspiration. Last year, nearly 400 went and screen-printed their own T-shirts, worked together on communal ar t, and made connections over drinks and appetizers. “It’s about getting to know somebody, and it’s about creating and making, and I think that really comes across when you come to the event,” Williams said. “And having live music, having artists there making things and you can do stuff alongside them, it’s something that I think is unique to our program and is really fun. “It’s a great opportunity to come in and get connected and build social capital and see what’s happening in the community.” ■

WMCAT'S 9TH ANNUAL iBALL 20 Monroe Live 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids March 5, 6-9 p.m.




[visual arts]



Last month, an exhibition titled Translating Valence: redefining black male identity opened at UICA. Consisting of work by black male artists, it focuses on black masculinity: both how it’s seen from the outside and the way it feels from within. This month will see the debut of a similar exhibition, A Beautiful Struggle: Black Feminist Futurism. While it shares some similarities with Translating Valence, it also incorporates magical realism and technology. We talked with Juana Williams, curator of both exhibitions, about how these shows came together and what they mean in the modern context.

HOW DID YOU DETERMINE WHAT ARTISTS, AND WHICH PIECES, TO INCLUDE IN TRANSLATING VALENCE? When I decided on the theme of Translating Valence, I wanted to be sure to include artists whose work was different aesthetically, but more importantly, I wanted to feature the artwork of artists who were portraying very different narratives through their work. I used a similar process when deciding on which specific works to feature. However, I also focused on which works most aligned with the theme of the exhibition. I know I can’t be all-encompassing when discussing a group of people, but I keep in mind the importance of sharing multiple narratives, always maintaining a connecting thread through the works.

THE EXHIBITION COMMENTS ON BLACK MASCULINITY, INCLUDING STEREOTYPES OF IT. IS THERE A PIECE YOU FEEL IS PARTICULARLY EFFECTIVE IN ITS INTERROGATION OF THOSE STEREOTYPES? It’s sometimes difficult to understand the underlying meaning of works by simply viewing them. Although all of the works touch on this idea in some way, Devan Shimoyama’s work is visually


most obviously in contrast to ideas of hypermasculinity. One visual element that he uses in many of his works are tears. “Crowned” includes tears coming out of the figures’ eyes. He uses a teardrop motif to celebrate vulnerability. Through his work, he creates spaces for males, especially queer Black males, to decompress and be themselves. While those opportunities may necessitate crying, the motif is not literal or only to be understood as representational of tears. He simply attempts to celebrate sensitivity in Black males and the desire for more of it to be visible.

IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT OUR CURRENT HISTORICAL MOMENT THAT MAKES THIS EXHIBITION PARTICULARLY RELEVANT? WOULD IT HAVE BEEN A DIFFERENT EXHIBITION FIVE YEARS AGO, OR 10? The overall theme of the exhibition and the underlying elements of each work are not new ideas. I would argue that Black male identity historically and even in more contemporary times has been predicated on Eurocentric ideas that have intensely permeated our culture and society. Black men, throughout time and across the globe, have made efforts toward self-defined


identities and highlighting narratives that negate stereotypes, at least since the Colonial era. However, these efforts have been reflected in numerous ways throughout time. There are periods of time in history that I would expect a related exhibition to be portrayed differently. During the Black Arts Movement and Civil Rights era, for example, the idea of unity within the Black community was a much more prevalent focus than individual narratives. The underlying idea of Black Nationalism, while not inherently gendered, encourage some stereotypes of Black masculinity. So, some of the specific themes in the works included in Translating Valence may not have been portrayed in an exhibition during that time period.

HOW HAVE MODERN EVENTS AFFECTED THE CONVERSATION AROUND THOSE STEREOTYPES THEN? The murder of Trayvon Martin and development of the Black Lives Matter activist movement seemingly created a renewed spotlight on the issues. The current political climate seems to have also increased perpetuations of racist ideas and acts of violence against Blacks. These more contemporary oc-

Two UICA exhibitions are celebrating the black experience from different perspectives

currences have shifted the sociopolitical climate in the U.S. and play a role in the relevancy of Translating Valence during this time period.

ALTHOUGH THE EXHIBITION ISN’T RUNNING EXACTLY CONCURRENTLY WITH A BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE, THERE’S SOME OVERLAP OF DATES. WHAT WILL THE EXHIBITIONS GAIN FROM BEING SEEN SEPARATELY AND FROM BEING SEEN TOGETHER? My hope is that the audiences will answer this question. I will say, there was intentionality in scheduling the exhibitions to overlap for a period of time but I think explaining why may influence experiences of the viewers in a way that I don’t believe is wise. I’m curious how the exhibitions are understood in connection to one another, and separately.

TO WHAT EXTENT IS A BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE A CORRECTIVE, AND TO WHAT EXTENT A CELEBRATION? Of course, the hope is that self-defined identities of Black womanhood, even with a focus on Afrofuturism, can spring solely from a place of celebration. However, there are so many elements in

our experiences that can’t be ignored when expressing experiences. The exhibition is meant to explain how identity can be celebrated without intentionally focusing on negative stereotypes or instances of marginalization. I wouldn’t say the exhibition is wholly celebratory or wholly corrective but I don’t know that I can accurately measure to what extent it’s either. The two topics can work hand-in-hand; one can result from the other. A Beautiful Struggle is meant to focus on unique characteristics of Black womanhood and experiences of Black women. In turn, it may disavow racist white normative ideology but that is not the overall objective of the exhibition.

women’s self-defined identities without necessarily being responsive.

REPRESENTATION OF BLACK CULTURE IN ART MUSEUMS HAS LEFT SOMETHING TO BE DESIRED, HISTORICALLY. IS THIS CHANGING? It appears that more institutions are beginning to recognize the tremendous importance of discussing a variety of perspectives and narratives. However, in my opinion, the art world is not shifting enough.



I don’t believe blackness always has to be explained or examined in reference to whiteness or any other race. So, I was deliberate about not focusing on displays of oppression or otherness. Instead, I curated the exhibition with the understanding that Black women are complex. All is taken into consideration when explaining different experiences of people who are both Black and women, yet, this exhibition seeks to center Black

That’s a complex question that is somewhat out of my purview of expertise. I curate exhibitions for all audiences. I do have a special interest in understanding how to make UICA welcoming and inviting to individuals who may not typically visit art institutions because they don’t feel they belong. I think all art institutions should be concerned about their audiences and who is missing from those demographics. ■

Stephen Arboite, “Keambiroiro (Mountain of blackness),” coffee, charcoal, mixed media collage on paper, 2019. PHOTO COURTESY OF N’NAMDI CONTEMPORARY Devan Shimoyama, “Crowned,” oil, color pencil, jewelry, sequins, collage, acrylic and feathers on canvas, 2017. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALAN SHAFFER Nate Lewis, “cosmic petition,” hand sculpted paper inkjet print, india ink, pen, pencil, 2018. PHOTO COURTESY OF FRIDMAN GALLERY Dawn Okoro, “Roshi,” acrylic and metal studs on canvas, 2018. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST Tawny Chatmon, “Deeply Embedded/Three,” photography with manipulation, 2018. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST



[visual arts]

OH, THE HUMANITY With 'Humanae,' SCA explores the incredible diversity and complexity of all people BY MARLA R. MILLER At first glance, viewers may think the portraits in Humanae focus solely on skin color. The internationally traveled p o r t r a it p roj e ct by p h oto g r a p h e r Angélica Dass, making its Midwest premiere at Saugatuck Center for the Arts, features a collection of images that reveal diverse skin tones and facial features with precisely matched Pantone backgrounds. The proje ct challenges the my th of race and promotes dialogue and s e l f- ref le c t i o n a ro u n d b e a u t y a n d ethnic identity, but the most important information about the exhibition is the lack of information, said Whitney Valentine, SCA’s education and exhibitions manager. “ We as viewers don’t know who is poor, who is rich, what the person’s sexual options or beliefs are, who is a migrant or not, who is local or not, who has disabilities,” Valentine said. “The simple and profound idea is to celebrate diversity.” Dass is an award-winning photographer living in Madrid, and Valentine reached out to her last year to see if S C A co u ld h o s t H u m a n a e. T h e exh ib it i o n ha s b e e n to 63 U. S . citi es , including New York, Boston and San Francisco. It’s al so an ongoing project. Dass started in 2006 and continues to take portraits of various subjects during her travels. The images were created in 33 cities across 19 countries and countin g . Th e p e o p le re p res e nt a b ro ad cross-section of humanity in a showcase of diversity: an occupant of the Forbes list, residents of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, Swiss students, refugees who



have crossed the Mediterranean, newborns and the terminally ill. Dass’s philosophy: “I strongly believe black and white don’t exist.” BEYOND LABELS The project captures the color wheel of humanity, Valentine said. The coll e c t i o n o f s i m p l e p o r t r a i t s s h ow s humanit y’s true colors are far from black and white. According to Dass, “Humanae represents a sort of mirror for those who cannot find themselves reflected in any label." Dass has amassed more than 4,000 portraits so far, and the SCA’s display includes 160 of them. There are dozens that have never been exhibited before, including portraits Dass took this past December. The pictures line the room, creating a visual embrace, with eight mobiles floating throughout. A r r a n g i n g t h e p o r t r a it s i n a m o bile-like fashion invites the viewer to interact with the subjects in each photo and reflect on their own sense of self and their connection to others. “ Mobiles are connected to childhood, a time when we begin to build stereotypes about what is dif ferent from ourselves,” Valentine said. “This way of displaying the work connects us to a sense of both play and pain, as we subconsciously make a return to a time in life before our minds actively assessed the differences among us.” Valentine said the exhibition “beautifully celebrates our relationships with


one and other.” SCA wanted to bring the thought-provoking show to West Michigan to celebrate race, religion, color and the diverse beauty of human colors. “ We are all connected,” Valentine said. “ We are all much more similar than we often recognize.” As a community arts center, SCA’s gallery space sparks a ripple effect of education, conversation and connection for the community, and especially for youth. The Humanae project has a spinoff nonprofit institute and outreach program, empowering global educators to be a voice for change and stand against discrimination. The program helps educators create safe spaces for students and the communities in which they reside to discuss issues around identity, race and inclusion. “We are honored to bring an exhibit and message of this caliber to our city and the larger Midwest community,” Valentine said. “It’s so important to cultivate our resources, time, talents and energy into creating space to reflect on our identities while nurturing our youth to be more empathetic citizens.” SEEKING BELONGING In conjunction with the exhibition, Valentine invited Artist-in-Residence H e c to r Ac u n a to d i s p l ay h i s wo r k , Alien Nation, in the Corridor Galler y. He will lead area school workshops, encouraging creative expression and authentic conversations around race, cultural identity and ethnicity, and help

bring Humanae’s message and mission to life for local youth. “Through a lot of my work, I am trying to represent the complexities of the influences in my own life and how that relates to my own sense of belonging and my own place in the world,” Acuna said, adding that he’s excited and honored to participate. Acuna has faced his own challenges as a Mexican-American who grew up on a farm and lived with his mother’s family in Wisconsin. Many of the school s ser ve d by SCA are in e co nomically challenged rural areas with migrant populations. Acuna’s Mexican-born father was incarcerated for most of his life, and while Acuna does get looks and questions about where he’s from, he said he had a traditional, middle-class American upbringing. “That rural landscape is definitely the backdrop of a lot of work I create. My whole memories growing up are without my father, and yet my physical features and my name lead people to assume I have a different background.” Acuna's work comes from a ver y personal, autobiographical perspect i ve a n d ex p lo re s “ t h i s c o nf l i c t i o n between who you are and who people assume you are going to be and the positive and negative agency within that.” Alien Nation includes a mix of two-dimensional representational and surrealist works.

“There is quite a bit of range in terms of media and style,” Acuna said. “The figure as subject is in everything. A lot of them are self-portraits or portraits of people in my family.” FINDING IDENTITY Acuna continues to come to terms with his own identity — and frustrations around how he is perceived by others — and hopes to offer insight and inspiration to the students served by SCA’s outreach programs. “Through the drawing process, each of the students will gravitate toward some sort of representation that they like,” he said. “In general, my hope is it allows the students just another way of creating artwork that allows them to speak from their own experience. A never-ending source of inspiration is our life and our experiences and our own histories.” In the workshops, students will create thre e - dimensional self-por trait puppets and display them during the Feb. 28 reception. “ Th e SCA i s excite d to p rovi de a platform for local youth to share their personal voices in a vulnerable and creative way,” Valentine said. Much like Dass, Acuna creates artwork from his own truth, and he does so in a thoughtful and pl ay ful way, Valentine added. “ We h o p e H u m a n a e a n d A l i e n Nation invite viewers to rethink how we see each other; to actively engage, question, and wonder … ‘What do I make of this, how do I feel about i t , w h a t m i g h t I d o i n re s p o n s e? ’,” Valentine said. Acuna will attend the Feb. 28 reception that features the students’ artwork and a public concert by The Reminders. The acclaimed musical duo are making their West Michigan debut, p e r fo r m i n g a m i x o f s p o ke n -wo rd rhymes and reggae hip-hop beats in the center’s theater. It’s the perfect day to see the exhibition and get the most out of your visit, enjoying the art with others in the community. ■

HUMANAE & ALIEN NATION Saugatuck Center for the Arts 40 Culver St., Saugatuck Through March 7 Free reception and concert 5-9 p.m., Feb. 28



[visual arts]


There aren’t too many new exhibitions opening this month, yet there are still plenty to see! Two of those are at the Grand Rapids Art Museum and both prominently feature the museum’s permanent collection, taking a look at glass and finding the beauty in everyday objects. Another upcoming show is an annual competition to display works by artists from lower West Michigan. Get out there before these shows close up shop. BY DANA CASADEI

BROAD ART MUSEUM 547 E. Circle Dr., East Lansing, (517) 884-4800



CALVIN UNIVERSITY CENTER ART GALLERY 1795 Knollcrest Circle SE, Grand Rapids, (616) 526-6271



FREDERIK MEIJER GARDENS & SCULPTURE PARK 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, (888) 957-1580


GRAND RAPIDS ART MUSEUM 101 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids, (616) 831-1000

BILLY MAYER: THE SHAPE OF THINGS Through Feb. 2 A NEW STATE OF MATTER: CONTEMPORARY GLASS Through April 26 LOOKING (AT•INTO•THROUGH) GLASS Through April 26 Pieces in this exhibition — which runs concurrent with the glass exhibition A New State of Matter — come from the GRAM’s permanent collection, and are both art and design works. As the title suggests, Looking (at•into•through) Glass has been organized to explore glass by looking at it, into it and through it. The collection won’t just be a bunch of wine glasses or bowls either — the color ful pie ces range from still-life paintings to glass-shaded lamps. DESIGN HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PERMANENT COLLECTION Feb. 29-Aug. 2 The GRAM’s permanent collection is really stepping into the spotlight this winter! This exhibition al so features works from the permanent collection, but is mixed together with a selection of art loaned to the museum. With more than 100 pieces on display, the design highlights here include furniture, glassware, ceramics, cameras, and other electronics, all focusing on finding the beauty in objects that surround us in our everyday lives.

KALAMAZOO INSTITUTE OF ARTS 314 South Park St., Kalamazoo, (269) 349-7775





LOWELLARTS! 223 W. Main St., Lowell, (616) 897-8545

THE ART OF CHANGE Through Feb. 15 WEST MICHIGAN ART COMPETITION Feb. 29-April 8 For more than 30 years — this will be the 34th — this annual competition has taken place. Ar tists who work in any and all mediums and are at least 18 are able to apply. This competition and resulting exhibition highlight works by artists who live in a 25-county region around the lower West Michigan area. Multiple awards are handed out, five all totaling $2,500. The reception and awards presentation will take place in early March.

MUSKEGON MUSEUM OF ART 296 W. Webster. Ave., Muskegon, (231) 720-2570


SAUGATUCK CENTER FOR THE ARTS 400 Culver St., Saugatuck, (269) 857-2399

HUMANÆ Through March 7 ALIEN NATION Through March 7

URBAN INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS 2 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, (616) 454-7000




[theater] My Fair Lady. PHOTOS BY JOAN MARCUS

FAIR PLAY A thoughtful, inspired rendition of ‘My Fair Lady’ is coming to Wharton Center

BY DANA CASADEI If L aird Mackintosh was going to see only one show this year, he would make it My Fair Lady. Conveniently, he get s to se e the show multiple times a week — and from the stage at that. Mackintosh is currently starring as Professor Henry Higgins in the musical’s national tour, which is making a stop at the Wharton Center at the end of the month. When we spoke, the production was at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the first real stop on the tour, and that newfound enthusiasm to finally be in front of an audience was evident. “It’s been absolutely great, because one thing you never have when you’re rehearsing the show is an audience,” said Mackintosh, who began his career as a dancer in the National Ballet of Canada. “The audience is kind of like the other character in the show, especially in a show like My Fair Lady that has a lot of comedy in it,” he said. “You get the response of the audience, which is terrific to hear. “That is such a gift when you’re an actor, because it picks you up so much and it motivates you.” T h e reviva l , d i re c te d by B a r tlet t S h e r, follows Hi g gins , a l in guis ti c s professor who takes a bet to turn a struggling Cockney flower seller, Eliza


Doolittle (played by Shereen Ahmed), into a proper lady at the turn of the 20th century. Even though the musical takes place in 1912, Mackintosh said it’s unbelievably relevant today. “To be honest, you look at the story and think, ‘Wow, nothing has changed. We’re in exactly t h e s a m e pl ace,’ ” said Mackintosh, who has also played The Phantom and Monsieur André on Broadway. My Fair Lady — which first premiered on Broadway in 1956 and is based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion — discusses class distinction, how men treat women, e qualit y, and, maybe most importantly, how a young woman can make it in the world and gain the same opportunities as men. As anyone who knows My Fair Lady will tell you, it’s a musical filled not only with laughs and relevant topics, but beautiful and memorable music as well, including classics like “The Rain in Spain,” “I Could’ve Danced All Night,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Lovely.” “Every song in this show is so memorable,” he said. “That’s another thing that’s wonderful about performing in My Fair Lady. Almost every single person in the audience knows the music in this show and has a very strong memory of this show.” That goes for Mackintosh, too. When he was about 12, his parents —


who weren’t musical theater buffs by any means — enjoyed the musical so much that his dad used to quote Professor Higgins’ lines. Since the album was played so often, Mackintosh found himself falling in love with the music and even more in love with musicals. “That’s what I mean when I say it’s part of people’s DNA,” Mackintosh said. “It’s almost like a cultural landmark. It’s a bookmark that people can point to a certain time in their life and they have a memory of My Fair Lady.” Mackintosh is learning quickly from s p e a k i n g w it h a u d i e n ce s af te r t h e show that many have memories from the 1964 film with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. Knowing that does add a particular challenge to the role for Mackintosh, e s p e c i a l ly w i t h g e t t i n g p e o p le o n board with his version of the brutally honest professor. But with so many different interpretations of Henry Higgins out there, how does he make it feel familiar yet authentic? “ It ’s automatic ally your own, b e c ause you c an’ t really pl ay anyone else,” Mackintosh said, adding that he wasn’t trying to do his best impression of Rex Harrison. “I think you can’t help but make a character your own. It’s you, up onstage playing it so the audience automatically gets something

very different.” I n re g a rd s to t h e p ro d u c t i o n , h e thinks this version focuses more on Eliza than previous works. As an actor, Mackintosh felt this experience was different because the show’s director was really trying to pull back the layers and get under the surface of the material, delivering a very thoughtful interpretation. “That’s what I think will make this show different, that it has been very deeply and carefully examined,” he said. “What that means for the audience is they get something that is very rich and layered.” It also, hopefully, means audiences will leave the show and think and discuss the themes in it. If they have a song or two from the musical stuck in their head, that’s just a bonus. ■

MY FAIR LADY Wharton Center for Performing Arts 750 E. Shaw Ln., East Lansing Feb. 26-March 1




[theater] BY DANA CASADEI Theater may be a form of escapism, but it’s also a great way to ignite difficult conversations. Terry D. Williams, director and member of the Farmers Alley Theatre’s Play Selection Committee, hopes to do just that with their Februar y production, The Cake. “That’s how we in the theater addres s controve rsial is sues , p ut tin g them onstage, presenting both points of view and then maybe the audience will feel differently after they experience the show,” Williams said. T h e C a k e w a s w r i t t e n by B e k a h Brunstetter, who works on the tearjerker This Is Us. In the play, Christian baker Della is asked to make a cake for an upcoming wedding. While excited at first, the feeling quickly disappears after finding out it’s for two women. She then declines the request. If this situation sounds familiar, it’s based on a true story from a few years ago, when a Colorado baker refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs. That famous case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, made it all the way to the Supreme Court in 2018 before they ultimately sided with the baker. Brunstetter started the first draft of this in 2015 , way before the case got that far. The Cake takes a similar story but adds another element that complicates this decision for Della: One of the women in said wedding is the daughter of her best friend, who died five years ago. Given her love for the young woman, Jen, this decision makes Della take a look at her own life and her own relationships, including the one with her husband, Tim. “I think that just all of a sudden this makes her think about things she’s never really truly thought about,” said Zoe Vonder Haar, who plays the baker. “She’s just gone along with her religion and her husband’s feelings, and now she’s starting to think for herself.” Throughout the show, Della’s eyes are opened more and more, and she st ar t s to se e the world a little less black and white. Farmers Alley wants The Cake to do the same for audiences. “I hope we get patrons that aren’t necessarily traditional theatergoers, who are curious about this issue, and want to see how it’s played out,” said Williams. Eve n t h o u g h v i e we r s m i g h t n o t agree with the Christian baker's choic-



At Farmers Alley Theatre, a Christian baker decides whether same-sex couples people can have her cake es, Brunstetter’s play asks that viewers try to see both sides of the story. Williams mentioned that one of the best parts of The Cake is how believable these characters are — they’re people you could easily run into on your day-to-day. “I think the beauty of this play is the willingness to have these discussions and debates onstage because they care about each other,” he said. “Otherwise, they would just say, ‘Well, that’s what I believe,’ and walk away. “They’re willing to confront the issue i n a re s p o n s i b le, s o m et i m e s a rg umentative way, but never to the point where they would avoid the topic and run away from it.” Vonder Haar agreed and said her character may be opposed to the rel ationship, but throughout the pl ay — w h i c h e n d e d i t s O f f- B r o a d w ay stint l ast spring — she realizes the l ove b e t we e n t h e m . S h e b e l i eve s understanding others’ opinions, especially in today’s political climate, is very important. “One doesn’t have to agree to be empathetic,” she said.


Simply listening to the opinions of others can make a world of difference. Even though one of the play’s main topics is rather serious, Williams and Vonder Haar said it’s quite comedic. “It’s so beautifully written,” Vonder Haar said about the show, which runs 90 minutes with no intermission. “It’s basically a comedy with really deep issues. I think the comedy of it all helps lighten it up. It’s not a preachy kind of play. “It’s truly bringing up issues that we all have to deal with ever y day that sometimes we just block out because you don’t want to deal with it until it truly affects you.” The play will feature real cake made by Sarkoz y Baker y, alongside other community par tnerships. There will be four talkbacks during the show’s run, each with a dif ferent organization, including WMU Office of LGBTQ Services, Out Front Kalamazoo, Queer Theatre Kalamazoo, CARES, and WMU Dept. of Gender and Women’s Studies. The cast and director also will participate in the Q& As following those four specif ic per formances . Like much el se aroun d this pro ducti on,

these talkbacks will hopefully inspire some tough conversations outside the theater. “I think that’s one of the important things of the theater; not necessarily to change your mind at that performance or immediately after, but start pondering both sides of the issue in a way that maybe you couldn’t or wouldn’t have done if you hadn’t seen the show,” said Williams. “I think she has a line about how everybody can come together for a piece of cake,” Vander Haar said. “So it’s kind of an icebreaker, mayb e. S it down, have a piece of cake, let’s just talk.” ■

THE CAKE Farmers Alley Theatre 221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo Feb. 7-23





There’s near endless theater premiering this month to help you kick those winter blues. We have tons of plays, with subjects ranging from hope to race to kick-butt women who weren’t recognized nearly enough in their day. There are also a few musicals if that’s more your thing, including one based on a Roald Dahl tale. Go take a look and get yourself to a stage! BY DANA CASADEI

ACTORS’ THEATRE 160 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids, (616) 234-3946

MARY JANE Through Feb. 2, Feb. 6-8, $24+ SECOND SPACE: “BLANK:” Feb. 14-23

BROADWAY GRAND RAPIDS 122 Lyon St. NW, Grand Rapids, (616) 235-6285

HAMILTON Through Feb. 9, $129+

CALVIN THEATRE COMPANY 3201 Burton Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, (616) 526-6282

LABORATORY THEATRE “SHORTS” Feb. 6-8, $16+ Onstage will be a collection of one-acts created by Calvin University students. Each short is directed by students, some are designed by them as well, and all fall under this season’s art theme: “Create, Unite, Renew.” The CTC is looking specifically into the themes of home and hope.

FESTIVAL PLAYHOUSE, KALAMAZOO COLLEGE 1200 Academy St., Kalamazoo, (269) 337-7333

SILENT SKY Feb. 27-March 1, $15 Keeping with the theater’s 56th season theme of forgotten female figures is Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson. The play tells the story of a woman you may not know but should: Henrietta Leavitt. She worked at the Harvard Observatory in the early 20th century, where she and a group of fellow female astronomers discovered hundreds of stars. But because the world is a totally unfair place, most of her findings weren’t taken seriously until long after her death. Get to know and honor this kickass lady with Silent Sky.

GILMORE THEATRE/ WMU THEATRE 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, (269) 387-3227

BLOOD AT THE ROOT Through Feb. 9, $20

24 HOUR THEATER Feb. 1, $11 Within a 24-hour period, five writers, five directors and all the actors they can get will put together five new plays. You heard right: They’re going to write, rehearse and produce five works in just 24 hours. That’s a far more productive day than we’ve ever had.

RESTORATION COMEDY Feb. 7-16, $20 Loveless — an appropriate name given where this story goes — has recently returned to London. Why does he come back now? Well, the unfaithful husband has been spending time traveling the world getting his cheat on, but he just found out his wife, Amanda, has died. That means it’s safe for him to come home, except that when he does show up, Amanda is very much alive in this Amy Freed play. Watch as Amanda tries to woo back her husband by learning (cough!) the art of “lewdness.”



221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo, (269) 343-2727

341 Ellsworth Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, (616) 454-4771

THE CAKE Feb. 7-23, $29+

ETERNAL DESIRE Feb. 14-16, $30+

DOG STORY THEATRE 7 Jefferson Ave., Grand Rapids, (616) 425-9234



GRAND RAPIDS CIVIC THEATRE 30 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, (616) 222-6650

MATILDA THE MUSICAL Feb. 28-March 22, $22+ This 2013 Tony Award-winning musical is coming to the Grand Rapids stage. It has all the characters from the beloved Roald Dahl stor y, including Matilda, Miss Agatha Trunchbull and Miss Honey, who is the absolute best. Matilda’s home life isn’t great, her mom is super self-absorbed, her dad is basically a crook, and the headmistresses at her school is downright mean. But with the help of her new classmates, Miss Honey, and a touch of magic, Matilda might be able to take her destiny into her own hands.

GVSU THEATRE 290 Lake Superior Hall, (616) 331-2300

WORKING Feb. 7-16, $17


i n at i o n s — h a s c re ate d a p l ay t h at focuses fully on the titular social construct: Race. When a new case comes up at a law firm regarding a wealthy white man who has been charged with assaulting a black woman, the lawyers must decide whether or not they’re willing to defend him. The team behind the case includes one black lawyer and one white, and when a new legal assistant gets involved, the lawyers’ true opinions come to the surface.

MICHIGAN BALLET ACADEMY 1595 Galbraith Ave. SE, Grand Rapids

ROSE ADAGIO GALA Feb. 29, $50 Support the Michigan Ballet Academy at this special benefit auction featuring a student performance, food, drinks and live music.

MILLER AUDITORIUM 2200 Auditorium Dr., Kalamazoo, (269) 387-2300

LES MISÉRABLES Through Feb. 2, $48+

50 W. 9th St., Holland, (616) 396-2021


SYLVIA Through Feb. 15, $18

425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon, (231) 722-3852

JEWISH THEATRE GRAND RAPIDS 2727 Michigan NE, Grand Rapids, (616) 234-3595

THE ACCOMPLICES Feb. 27-March 8, $28


OUR TOWN Feb. 14-29, $26.50 Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play follows the citizens of Grover’s Corners. Guided by the Stage Manager throughout the production, audiences get a close-up glimpse of their everyday lives from 1901-1913 in the small New England town.


359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 205, Kalamazoo

134 E. Vine St., Kalamazoo, (269) 381-3328


THE BELLE OF AMHERST Feb. 28-March 14, $26 If you want to know more about poet Emily Dickenson, William Luce’s play is a great place to start, taking viewers into her Amherst, Mass., home as the poet recollects her past through her own works, diaries and letters.

KALAMAZOO CIVIC THEATRE 329 S. Park St., Kalamazoo, (269) 343-1313

BORN YESTERDAY Through Feb. 15, $27.50



750 E. Shaw Ln., East Lansing, (517) 353-1982

RACE Feb. 28-March 14, $27.50 D av i d M a m et — w h o wo n t h e 19 8 4 Pul it ze r Prize for D rama and ha s received numerous awards and nom-

MY FAIR LADY Feb. 26-March 1, $47+





EXCHANGING ENERGY Takács Quartet celebrates 45th season of connecting with audiences

BY MEGAN SARNACKI Entering its 45th season, the Takács Quartet has impressed audiences all over the world — Europ e, A sia and a whole list of Nor th Americ an eng a g e m e nt s . O n Fe b r u a r y 2 1 , We s t M i ch i g a n d e rs c a n g et a n u p - clos e listen to this string quartet at Western Michigan University’s Dalton Center Recital Hall. Formed in 1975, the Takács Quartet consists of Edward Dusinberre (violin), Harumi Rhodes (violin), Geraldine Walther (viola) and András Fejér (cello), who perform together in around 80 concerts a y ear. While Fejér was an original member, Walther joined 15 years ago after playing with the San Francisco Symphony for al mos t 3 0 years. A fan from the beginning, Walther still feel s honored to be welcomed into this quartet after all these years. “It’s a very special quartet,” he said. “I used to listen to all of their recordings before joining. I just loved the way they played.” Aiming to maintain its original style, t h e Ta ká c s Q u a r tet p e r fo rm s e a ch song with a mix of vitality and sincere


honesty, expressive character work and a deep rich sound. “ We’ve ke pt t h e s a m e im p o r t a nt qualities over all the years,” Walther said. “We try to make the music come alive for the audience. We f ind the beauty in the deep meanings that the composer was trying to impart in our own way. We are trying to be a voice to the composer who wrote the piece and do it to the best of our ability.” Pres e nte d by t h e Fo nt a n a M u s i c Chamber, the Takács Quar tet’s performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. and tickets range $30-$40. The program c o n s i s t s o f Fa n n y M e n d e l s s o h n ’ s String Quartet in E-flat Major, Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4, and Beethoven’s String Quartet in C Major and Opus 59 No. 3. O n Fe b. 20 at 5 p. m ., t h e Ta ká c s Quartet will hold a Strings Master Class at Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s Stryker Theatre, in conjunction with its performance. This master class is open to the public and no tickets are required to be part of the audience. “It doesn’t really matter what level the students are for the master class. We always try and relate to whoever plays for us so that they can benefit from our experience with the piece.


We can go from wherever they are. Everybody can learn something and have fun,” Walther said. Compared to the rehearsal s, performances are a whole dif ferent experience for each member of the quartet. “We work on details in the rehearsal s . In the concer t , while we tr y to do those details too, you have to play for th e audi e n ce, so we a re n ot a s careful in the current series. We tr y to give of f our expressions and our imaginations and play in the moment to create something beautiful and to connect with the energy of the audience,” Walther said. Th e audi e n ce’s e n e rgy level c an impact their entire performance, he notes. “The audience changes everything. It matters what kind of audience is out there. It affects how we play and even changes the sound a bit.” With only four members onstage, audiences can expect a more person-

al performance from string quartets as well. “You get to know them if you come hear them play. You form a relationship with those four players, and you’ll remember how you felt. String quartets are a very intimate medium. It makes people feel very special.” It’s this one-of-a-kind connection that all performing arts productions s h a re , i n Wa l t h e r ’s v i ew. W h e t h e r it’s a dance, theater or musical perfo r m a n c e, s e e i n g a s h ow l i ve i s a drastically different experience than watching it on a screen. “If you see something live, it’s going to be different from any other performance that those people have given,” Walther said. “It reaches you in a different place when you make yourself open to the music and to the art form. It’s such a beautiful thing that a lot of people get hooked on live performances because that’s where it all happens.” ■

TAKÁCS QUARTET Fontana Chamber Arts / Dalton Center Recital Hall Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m. / Master Class on Feb. 20, 5 p.m. /




MELODIES IN THE MUSEUM BY MEGAN SARNACKI Say farewell to the snowflakes outside and spend your Sunday afternoons basking in the warmth of classical music this winter. Presented at the Cook Auditorium on Sundays at 2 p.m., the Grand Rapids Art Museum produces the Sunday Classical Concert Series as a way for attendees to witness up-close performances of world-renowned musicians. “Set amidst the beautiful architecture and atmosphere of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, concerts are held in the museum’s auditorium because of its relaxing and comfortable setting,” said Elizabeth Payne, communications manager at the GRAM. While the series started out with more humble beginnings, it has now grown a dedicated and loyal fan base. “ T h e S u n d ay C l a s s i c a l C o n c e r t Series began modestly in the fall of 2008,” Payne said. “Today, the concerts attract hundreds of guests on Sunday afternoons during the fall and winter. Held as a favorite for many of GRAM’s visitors and members, guests often love attending multiple concerts in the series.” Among the lineup of its 10 performances, the Sunday Classical Concert Series in February will feature an Opera Grand Rapids Soloist; Ensemble Montage; trombonist Christopher Houlihan; and The Crispin Campbell Quartet. All GRAM members receive free admission to the concerts and nonmembers can enjoy the series free with the price of GRAM’s general admission ticket.

O n ce th e con ce r t is ove r, Payn e encourages visitors to use this performance to fill their entire weekend with art by discovering the latest exhibits at the GRAM. “What’s particularly unique about the Sunday Classical Series at GRAM is that it combines the visual and performing arts. Visitors on Sunday afternoons can enjoy a live classical concert, and then head to the galleries to explore the works on view, including GRAM’s current exhibition, A New State of Matter: Contemporary Glass,” Payne said. Accompanying A New State of Matter: Contemporary Glass, the GRAM also has curated a selection of art and design objects from its permanent collection, ranging from colorful still-life paintings to glass-shaded lamps. The concur-

The GRAM’s Sunday Classical series brings master musicians to the galleries

rent exhibition, Looking (at•into•through) Glass, aims to showcase works of art that explores glass as a material one can look at, into and through. Because art is about connections, the GRAM’s main purpose for this concert series is to create relationships with the community and help visitors develop bonds with all artistic measures — whether it be walking through an exhibition or listening to a classical performance. “GRAM’s mission is to connect people through art, creativity, and design, and in that spirit, the museum celebrates all forms of art,” Payne said. “This series also provides us with the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with musicians from local performing arts organizations in our city, including the Grand Rapids Symphony and Grand Rapids Opera.” ■

SUNDAY CLASSICAL CONCERT SERIES Grand Rapids Art Museum 101 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids Sundays in Februar y, 2 p.m. Feb. 2: Opera Grand Rapids Soloist Feb. 9: Ensemble Montage Feb. 16: Christopher Houlihan, trombone Feb. 23: The Crispin Campbell Quartet Free for GRAM members. General admission for visitors.






It’s the perfect weather to go see a live performance and warm up a little, instead of staying at home and watching another episode on Netflix. And if you’re looking for Valentine’s Day date night plans — or Friday night plans in general — there’s an option for that too. Few things say romance like a night at the orchestra! BY DANA CASADEI

FONTANA CHAMBER ARTS 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 200, Kalamazoo, (269) 382-7774

TAKÁCS QUARTET Feb. 21, $30+

GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY 300 Ottawa NW, Grand Rapids, (616) 454-9451, ext. 4

SCHUBERT’S “GREAT” Feb. 14-15, $18+ Austrian composer Franz Schubert, may have only lived to be in his early 30s, but his pieces left quite the mark on the world, including the beloved piece that will be performed at this February show: Symphony No. 9, known as the “Great.” Schubert wasn’t able to hear his own piece performed as he passed before it would premiere, but Grand Rapids audiences will be lucky enough to hear it in full. The evening also includes a new concerto by Andrew Norman with acclaimed Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan, and Brahms’ Tragic Overture. HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE Feb. 21-22, $46+ CELEBRATION OF SOUL Feb. 29, $150 SYMPHONY WITH SOUL FEATURING TERENCE BLANCHARD Feb. 29, $18+ The 19th annual Symphony with Soul will feature special guest Terence Blanchard on trumpet as well as his group, The E- Collective, vocalist Quiana Lynell, and the GRS Community Chorus. The Grammy Award-winning jazz musician has collaborated with Academy Award winner Spike Lee on multiple projects. This performance will feature those musical collaborations as well as scores and songs from other Spike Lee films, such as Malcolm X, BlacKkKlansman and Miracle at St. Anna’s.

HOPE COLLEGE GREAT PERFORMANCE SERIES Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts 221 Columbia Ave., Holland, (616) 395-7222


KALAMAZOO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 359 Kalamazoo Mall Ste. 100, Kalamazoo, (269) 349-7759

CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS Feb. 2, $5 Done through a combination of storytelling, music, drumming, and dance, this winter performance aims to be an evening to celebrate the community and family while honoring world traditions. The symphony will be performing Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals,” a comical musical suite of 14 movements. This special collaboration includes the Westhuizen Piano Duo, Rootead Enrichment Center and Djembe Yaru. If you get there early enough, feel free to participate in the instrument petting zoo! This is an ideal performance to bring the kiddos to.

Houston — who is among the six Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees for the class of 2020 — will be performed by Belinda Davids, a legend in her own right. The South African singer reportedly beat out 15,000 other hopefuls to take on the role. The beautiful tribute to the icon includes Davids, a live band, backing vocalists, and choreographed dancers, plus stateof-the-art sound, lighting, vision and theatrical effects. Houston had so many epic hits, best of luck not dancing to at least one. Sidenote: This performance is not associated with the estate of Whitney Houston.

THE INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS Feb. 6, $30+ The Grammy Award-winning quintet — Andy Falco, guitar; Chris Pandolfi, banjo; Andy Hall, dobro; Jeremy Garrett, fiddle; and Travis Book, double bass — is bringing their All-American bluegrass and rock sound to Grand Rapids. Their unique style mixes those genres with jazz, funk, country, old-time, and more. Their ninth and most recent album, Rise Sun, came out last spring to high acclaim.

PIANO BATTLE Feb. 7, $35+ There are two pianos and two pianists, Andreas Kern and Paul Cibis, who will hopefully still like each other by the end of this battle. Kern and Cibis go head-to-head with a variety of classical pieces performed over several rounds, each featuring a certain musical style — think Chopin vs. Liszt, or Debussy vs. Schubert. This battle will have an actual winner, selected by the audience. So, if nothing else, go to give your opinion on things; everyone loves to do that. I wonder if there’s a trophy.

RAUL MIDÓN Feb. 27, $40+

ST. CECILIA MUSIC CENTER 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids,, (616) 459-2224

CHRIS THILE Feb. 25, $55


LISTENING ROOM AT STUDIO PARK Feb. 9, $15 The VPO will host a night of classical music while featuring local musicians, including all of the night’s soloists. The evening’s program includes Folias Duo, which consists of flutist Carmen Maret and guitarist Andrew Bergeron; The West Michigan New Music Collective, a group specializing in living composers; and the VPO, who will perform six pieces.

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH FREE COMMUNITY CONCERT Feb. 4, Free VALENTINE’S MUSIC: SOUNDS OF LOVE Feb. 14, $24+ We were destined to get a little sappy this month, considering Valentine’s Day is upon us. This performance is going to make you feel the mushy and lovey feels. The greatest romantic standards — from jazz to Broadway to opera to film — will be played, including “My Funny Valentine,” three pieces from Puccini’s La Bohème, and selections from West Side Story and Carousel. The evening will feature soprano Antonina Chehovska and tenor Cooper Nolan. CLASSICS UNCORKED: WINTER FRIDAY Feb. 21, $45 CLASSICS UNCORKED: WINTER SATURDAY Feb. 22, $45

MILLER AUDITORIUM 2200 Auditorium Dr., Kalamazoo, (269) 387-2300





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Life is short: might as well make it sweet while you’re here. Decadent delicacies abound in West Michigan, from pastries and cakes to chocolate, candy, frozen yogurt, and much more. Even if you think you don’t have a sweet tooth, there’s a treat out there you’d eat every day if you could — you just have to find it. In this issue, we take a look at all the sugary, fruity, chocolatey food you can imagine, while also enjoying the fact that February is a great month to spend time with your sweetie. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or Pal-entine’s Day, we have some ideas on how to spend time with your loved ones. Just try to get through this issue without a serious craving for your favorite indulgence.




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A family-run chocolate shop is creating delicious art in Grand Rapids | by Elma Talundzic Before you even enter Mokaya, the first thing you notice is the heavenly smell of chocolate waf ting through the door — it’s enough to pull you right in. Once you enter, the smell intensifies and you’re greeted by the beautiful creations of Chocolatier and Owner Charles Golczynski. At a glance, Mokaya is a chocolate boutique serving up unique and delicious pieces of edible art. From the specialty painted truffles to the ultimate chocolate chunk cookies, you’ll walk away with a fantastic dessert and a delightful experience. When you look behind the chocolate, you find a family-owned shop that puts ever y ounce of passion they have into their product. Ever y thing is made fresh, on-site and with the best ingredients — with the whole family working together to make Mokaya a neighborhood favorite. Charles Golczynski’s main focus is to create. When you look behind the case that houses the chocolates and various desserts, you’ll be amazed at the creativity and unique combinations. Golczynski loves the versatility of chocolate, the flavors it can carry and the many ways it can be molded. Revue sat down with Charles’ son, Max, who also acts as general manager and owner, to get a closer look at all that goes into making Mokaya so magical.



WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE TASTING PRODUCT? It depends on what the product is. (My dad’s) number one thing is, he always — no matter what truffle he does or whatever kind of product — he always wants chocolate to be the first thing that you taste and that you enjoy. That’s why he loves natural flavorings, because they’re not overpowering. They don’t leave flavors in your mouth. We always look for chocolate to be the first thing. DO YOU STILL HAVE A SWEET TOOTH? I have more of a sweet tooth now than when we opened the shop. I want sweets all the time, but my problem is nothing quite holds up to this. WHAT IS ONE THING HERE EVERYONE SHOULD TRY? HOW DID MOK AYA COME TO BE?


My father’s a chocolatier. He was a chef for a really long time and got into chocolates about 25 years ago. It was always his passion and it took a backseat to being a regular executive chef. This is retirement for him. He’s the kind of person that can’t stop working. Mokaya is a perfect representation of his creative side because he loves chocolate and just loves creating. He’s constantly putting new things out and there’s always experimental things happening. Mokaya came about just to appease his creative side with chocolate. My goal is to always do everything else so he can just focus on producing because that’s what he really excels at.

We don’t produce chocolate ourselves. We’re getting chocolate in from big, high-end producers of it. We mainly use Guittard out of California. They have a professional series that is really lovely and it’s one of my favorite chocolates.

IS THE SHOP COMPLETELY FAMILY OWNED AND RUN? Yeah, for the most part. Dad and Mom are the main owners. Mom still has a regular job, but she runs the books and helps out when she can here. I run all the front-end, f iling and doing the accounting. My little sister has a regular job, but she still helps out. She works weekends and comes in because we’re all a bunch of workaholics, apparently. My uncle helps out quite a bit and my wife is here doing design for us. Our two employees that work behind here were the f irst two non-family-member employees. LOOKING AHEAD, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS MOK AYA’S MAIN GOAL? The goal is always to be just as big as we can in this space. We don’t want to have another location. We don’t want to get too big. The goal is to get this space to be run as optimally as we can. WHAT GOES INTO RUNNING A GOURMET CHOCOLATE SHOP? Everyone helps out with everything at this point. The only one thing is we try to let Dad just create. He def initely helps out with big picture things but my goal for him is just to purely create. WHERE DOES YOUR DAD GET HIS INSPIRATION? Honestly, everything and anything. A lot of it is updating classic things. He watched a Hubble Telescope documentary and that’s where he got his inspiration for our peanut butter cups. The peanut butter cups look spacey and ethereal. Every piece out there has its own story behind it.

SO THEN YOU’RE SHAPING AND MIXING THAT WITH NATURAL FLAVORS AND FILLINGS. WHERE DOES THE CHOCOLATE COME FROM IN ITS FIRST STAGES? We use all South American and all sustainably sourced chocolate. We’re part of the World Cocoa Foundation, so we’re very diligent about where it comes from and make sure everyone gets paid appropriately down the supply chain. Chocolate has a very big negative world around it right now that doesn’t get talked about. You don’t see a lot of high-end chocolate coming out of Africa because (larger chocolate companies) own 98% of the cocoa farms there and they don’t care about making better product. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE MOK AYA TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER BEEN HERE BEFORE? What I honestly tell people is that you have to come in. Seeing and trying it is the explanation of itself. I found that trying to describe it to people, it never quite works. There are so many things that we do. I think people have a very specific view of chocolate and their experiences with chocolate. Most people aren’t accustomed to this style of chocolate or this quality.

It kind of changes based on the day. I always tell people to just go with your gut. Get whatever looked good f irst. For me, when I go into a chocolate shop, I get a dark chocolate truff le, because I feel like that should be the thing. If you can’t do that well, there’s no hope for anything else. WHAT’S THE MOST UNDERRATED ITEM IN THE WHOLE SHOP? We do a sundried tomato jelly bonbon that people get hesitant about because of what’s in it, but I think it’s the best. It’s so tasty! WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF HELPING TO MOK AYA HAPPEN? I love being with my family. I love that I get to have this time with my parents. I feel lucky that I get to be with them so much. I love being able to meet and talk to people. The connections and relationships that I’ve gained personally from being at the front is gratif ying. Those are the best parts for me. It’s great being a part of making really good product and trying to explore things. It’s nice to have touched people’s lives in chocolate. It’s nice to be able to bring a little bit of enjoyment to people’s lives and have that connection with them. ■

HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU FIRST OPENED? I was nervous when we first opened up. But I honestly believe that if you do something with good intentions and you put out good products, people will come find you. People will support you. If you put something out genuinely that is done the right way, people will want that, which is incredible. WHAT IS UNIQUELY MOK AYA? I think the overarching thing is there’s no weak link in what we do. I think everything you choose over here is the best version of it you’ll find. I think that’s what makes us stand out over all. There’s no bad. We don’t take shortcuts on anything. I think everything is done the right way. That, and I think there wasn’t really this type of chocolate in Grand Rapids before us. I think the painted style (of our chocolate) is what attracts people. There’s not many of them in the country.


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frozen FUN

Make your own dessert with tailor-made fro-yo

| by Amy McNeel

Whoever said ice cream shouldn’t be eaten in the winter is all kinds of wrong. There’s nothing quite like eating an icy treat on an icy night — indoors, that is. But if you aren’t a huge fan of ice cream, or just like to make your dessert exactly the way you like it, we’ve got something equally as yummy that will tickle your fancy: fro-yo. The frozen yogurt craze hit Grand Rapids quite some time ago thanks to its near endless customization, and it isn’t leaving any time soon. This February, treat yourself with some of West Michigan’s most beloved fro-yo shops to see what the craze is all about. If you need some guidance, we’ve got you covered.






This sweet wonderland is focused on community, comfort and atmosphere. “The Pump House is your sweet spot for date night, a celebration or your everyday frozen treat,” said owners Jim and Karen Avery. “Make your own sundae with your choice of 100 toppings, including house-made cookie dough, and snuggle on the indoor porch swings, no matter the weather.” With a plethora of f lavors and oh so many toppings, this shop has something for every sweet tooth. The chain currently has three locations in West Michigan, with a new Grand Rapids shop coming soon.

This beloved frozen yogurt chain is all about serving quality food with natural ingredients. The company uses fresh fruit and real milk to make the tastiest treats around. Artif icial f lavoring and coloring? You won’t f ind those here. Head to one of two Grand Rapids locations — with an Ada location opening in April — to try out their many frozen yogurt f lavors or other treats, including gelato, custard, sorbetto, cake, and more.

W hen you pull down that frozen yogurt lever and let the sweet treat form into a tasty mountain, that right there is called a bloop. And you know what makes a bloop better? A whole bunch of toppings, called bloopers, that make every mountain of yogurt a custom indulgence. “W hat sets us apart is some of our new renovations,” said manager Theresa Olszewski. “We have seven machines and now have Açaí Bowls, so it’s not just yogurt anymore. We offer more than 50 toppings in a clean and simple environment.” Enjoy a custom fro-yo or your choice of Açaí Bowl for the best way to top off your day.

Sometimes, you just really need to treat YOself, and that’s what Sweet Yo’s is all about. This family-owned and -operated chain provides a rotation of eight to 12 f lavors each day, along with more than 65 mouthwatering toppings. From fresh fruit to peanut butter sauce, Sweet Yo’s gives you a chance to be creative with your sweet treat. They have three locations in West Michigan, each with its own special touch.

West Michiganders, it’s time to get peachy. Or chocolatey. Or fruity. At Peachwave, the choice is all up to you. “You will be delighted with a variety of made-freshdaily, super-creamy frozen yogurt, gelato, smoothies, nondairy Dole W hips (like those found at Disney), locally roasted Simpatico coffee, seasonally homemade hot cocoa and more than 70 toppings, including homemade whipped cream,” said owner Boyd Feltman. “You can enjoy your masterpiece in a cozy park, upbeat café or cozy f ireplace settings.”

Spoonlickers 1971 E. Beltline NE, Grand Rapids 1551 Wealthy St., Grand Rapids

The Pump House 2090 Celebration Dr. NE #120, Grand Rapids 20 N. Harbor Dr., Grand Haven 30 N. Main St., Rockford 123 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids


Bloop Frozen Yogurt 6333 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Grand Rapids

Yodels Frozen Yogurt | 1971 Holton Rd., Muskegon | Notties Frozen Yogurt | 109 Bulter St., Saugatuck | Y’OPA Frozen Yogurt | 165 W. Centre Ave., Portage |


Sweet Yo’s 134 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids 820 Forest Hill Ave., Grand Rapids 3072 44th St. SW, Grandville

Peachwave 6 W. 8th St., Holland



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The best sweets from local bakeries and cafes | by Abi Safago

You might think you know what to give your significant other or best friend for Valentine’s Day, but we have a surefire home run for you: a sweet gift from a local bakery or cafe. Here’s our little guide to sweets with big flavor that will help you make the best impression with someone else, or even as a lovely treat for yourself.

FIELD & FIRE BAKERY AND CAFE 435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids The Pain Au Chocolat here is a must-have, made with amazing flaky croissant dough and imported French chocolate batons from Valrhona. Worried about what’s inside? Try the vegan and gluten-free double chocolate muffin. It has an incredibly rich moist texture, plus Belgian chocolate, which melts away any problem. LE BON MACARON 951 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids A wonderful balance of a delicious, f luffy, and light can be found in these famous macarons. For a sweet f lavor for your sweetie, try their raspberry or strawberry swirl macarons. NANTUCKET BAKING CO. 615 Lyon St. NE, Grand Rapids Incredibly soft and creamy texture with intensely delicious chocolate cheesecake can be served up on a plate and eaten right there or, better yet, put it in a box to go so you can enjoy it again at home. VICTORIAN BAKERY 512 N. Park St., Kalamazoo Powerful f lavor comes in these deliciously moist cake bites — try their classics: carrot, chocolate, pistachio and vanilla. For this season, they have lemon and raspberry-chocolate as well. RISE AUTHENTIC BAKING CO. 1220 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids A throwback to the best parts of childhood: buckeyes, magic cookie bars and more. Always nostalgic f lavors, always fresh, and always vegan and gluten-free. SWEETIE-LICIOUS BAKERY 435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids / 108 N. Bridge St., DeWitt

Lemon-blueberry muffins — a wonderful balance of classic f lavors with the sweet blueberry and a refreshing hint of lemon to pucker you up perfectly. ■


Field & Fire Bakery and Cafe, Le Bon Mararon, Nantucket Baking Co., Victorian Bakery, Rise Authentic Baking Co., Sweetie-licious Bakery. COURTESY PHOTOS

T H E B E S T H I D D E N - G E M D E S T I N AT I O N I N S O U T H W E S T M I C H I GA N !



HOURS M O N DAY- F R I DAY 6 : 3 0 A M – 9 P M S AT U R DAY 8 A M – 9 P M S U N DAY 9A M – 7 P M

76 4 2 S . W E S T N E D G E AV E . , P O R TAG E , M I 4 9 0 0 2 1 M I L E N O R T H O F C E N T E R AV E | P : ( 2 6 9 ) 9 0 3 - 2 47 7

We make everything in-house, from Scratch! 6504 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 • 616.957.2122



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Where to buy sweet treats for your loved one

Valentine’s Day is coming. And whether you’re celebrating love, friendship, family or even yourself, nothing says it better than a little something sweet. This is not the time to pick up a generic box of chocolates from the convenience store; not when Grand Rapids is overflowing with candy shops that cater to every taste imaginable. Find that special treat, with recommendations from these area shops.

| by Allison Kay Bannister

KOEZE 1971 E. Beltline Ave. NE Ste 101, Grand Rapids 2577 Burlingame Ave. SW, Wyoming

A Grand Rapids institution since 1910, Koeze may be known for its cashews, but its candy business is just as booming — and most of their chocolate specialties are made right in house. Pick up a curated gift bag or put together your own. Beyond chocolate and nut concoctions, they also have a large selection of bulk candy to add to the mix. Their pick for your sweetheart? The Milk Chocolate Caramel Pecan Clusters, an eternal Valentine’s favorite. MOSBY’S POPCORN 15 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids

Mosby’s, a new transplant to downtown Grand Rapids, is a gourmet popcorn shop offering 60-plus flavors, all made onsite. Fill a heart-emblazoned box with your choice of candy-coated popcorn in an assortment of reds, from cherry to cinnamon, or a blend of savory and sweet. If you can’t decide, they have grab-and-go boxes made too, and also range of loose candy, including old-school faves.

CHOCOLATES BY GRIMALDI 219 N 7th St, Grand Haven

This lakeshore chocolatier makes all of their confections in-house, with a focus on using local and Michigan-made ingredients. They offer velvet, heart-shaped boxes for your Valentine that they’ll fill with your half-pound, hand-picked selection. Or, take the guesswork out with a pre-packaged heart or rose-embellished box. And their chocolate-covered strawberries are always a gift-giving hit.

COSMIC CANDY COMPANY 3700 Rivertown Pkwy, Grandville

Step into a Cosmic Candy Company store and you’ll be met with an explosion of sweets from retro f inds to newfangled creations. There literally — and that word is not used lightly — is candy from wall to wall and every space in-between. They make pre-made gift baskets, but recommend building your own for a personalized touch. For Valentine’s Day, there are two custom options to f ill with popcorn and candy to suit small or larger budgets.



There’s more to Love’s than ice cream and gelato. Their space in the Downtown Market has handcrafted chocolates, thoughtfully made with intentionally sourced ingredients. For Valentine’s Day or any special gift, choose their bonbons filled with luscious caramel, ganache, praline, or pâté de fruit in gift boxes sized for two, four, nine or 18. Top it off with an assortment of gourmet candy bars to “show your sweetie some true Love’s.”

DR. JOHN’S HEALTHY SWEETS 5320 West River Drive NE, Comstock Park

Looking for something sweet without the sugar? Dr. John’s has you covered. Ideal for those cutting out sweets or with sugar-restricted diets, the doctor’s offerings are naturally sugar-free with no artificial colors or flavors. Their Assorted Candy Gift Box, filled with hard candies, lollipops, a chocolate box, a pecan caramel bar, caramels, and mints is a best seller for Valentine’s Day and all year round. Order online and pick up at their corporate office.

ROCKET FIZZ 2090 Celebration Dr., NE, #122nd, Grand Rapids

Part candy, part soda pop shop, Rocket Fizz puts a sparkling spin on the classic gift box with ready-made sets in fun, sour, nostalgia, Rocket Fizz signatures, and even gag gift themes. To truly make it personal, they suggest creating a custom basket with two sodas and candies of your choice. With an out-of-this-world stock of sodas and bins upon bins of packaged and bulk candy, it’s easy to make a one-of-a-kind gift.

KILWIN’S 2226 Wealthy St. SE, East Grand Rapids | 146 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids

Petoskey-based with two Grand Rapids locations, K ilwin’s is known for its highend chocolates. Though pre-filled and custom boxes in a traditional heart shape are the standby, their chocolate-covered strawberries are a delicious and decadent treat for gift giving. For the freshest taste and presentation, they should be ordered 24 hours ahead and presented promptly.

WORTH THE CALORIES! 3979 West River Drive, NE Suite A2, PO Box 404 Comstock Park, Mi 49321 616-552-9510

SWEETLAND CANDIES 5170 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids 9 North Main St., Rockford

Another turn-of-last-centur y Grand Rapids anchor is fourth-generation confectioner Sweetland Candies. W hen Valentine’s Day approaches, gift-givers opt for Sweetland’s truff les, with raspberr y being the most sought after f lavor. With the notion that “it’s what’s inside that matters,” they offer a minimalist box with a see-through top, made locally in Holland. If raspberr y or chocolate or truff les aren’t your thing, they also have cases and boxes of other sweets to choose from. ■

Chocolates by Grimaldi, Kilwin’s, Love’s Ice Cream and Confectionary, Sweetland Candies. COURTESY PHOTOS



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House of Wine, Blandford Nature Center, Wax Poetic. COURTESY PHOTOS

valentine’s WITH YOUR SWEETIE | by Kelly Brown

Life’s not a sitcom: You don’t have to dress up and go to a fancy restaurant to enjoy Valentine’s Day in West Michigan. Whether you’re single, dating or married, there are a ton of unique things to do and places to visit to guarantee a totally sweet day. We’ve got the scoop.

joying 28 beers on tap and excellent food. Pro-tip: Visit between the hours of 6-8 p.m. for a chance to meet adorable, adoptable puppies.

Visit Long Road’s facebook for more information and reservations. PASSION AND ART AT THE GRAND RAPIDS BALLET 341 Ellsworth Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Feb. 14-16


Explore the timeless themes of love and desire through the powerful medium of dance with the Grand Rapids Ballet. From the classic scenes of Romeo and Juliet to the contemporary takes on love and loss in Wild Sweet Love, the Eternal Desire show is a fresh look at humanity and our innate desires. Featuring a world premiere of Artistic Director James Sofranko’s take on the Romeo and Juliet Pas de Deux; the return of Trey McIntyre’s Wild Sweet Love; and music by Queen, Roberta Flack, and The Partridge Family; it’s a night full of hopes, dreams, and the passion of dance.

1715 Hillburn Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Feb. 13-15, $25 for non-members

MISSING U: A ROBYN VALENTINE’S PARTY AT PYRAMID SCHEME 68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Feb. 14, 9:30 p.m., $10

SIP AND SAMPLE AT HOUSE OF WINE 53 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids

Skip the steakhouse and discover more than 70 great glasses of wine at one of West Michigan’s hidden gems: House of Wine. Create your own charcuterie board and wine f light to explore wines from all over the world, including local and Michigan wines. They’ll also have a special cocktail just for Valentine’s Day! Then, bundle up and f inish your evening with a walk around Rosa Parks Circle.

A full night dedicated to Robyn’s music is back at the Pyramid Scheme! Whether you’re single and looking for love or want to dance the night away with your date, you should wear your best outfit, strap on comfortable dancing shoes, and show your love for Robyn on Valentine’s Day. Tickets are $10 and proceeds benefit the Grand Rapids Pride Center. SAVE PUPS WITH PINTS AT KALAMAZOO BEER EXCHANGE 211 E. Water St., Kalamazoo Feb. 14, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.

Kalamazoo Beer Exchange is generously donating 25% of proceeds on Feb. 14 to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Southwest Michigan. Bring your friends, family or signif icant other and support your love for pups while en-


Bundle up and hit the trails with your sweetie for a candlelit snowshoe hike through Blandford Nature Center. This event is beginner friendly and will take place regardless of snowfall, but it’s also for ages 21 and older, because after your hike, you’ll cozy up by the f ireplace while enjoying a bite of chocolate and refreshments. Bring your own snowshoes or borrow a pair. SPIRITS, CHOCOLATE AND COCKTAILS PAIRING AT LONG ROAD DISTILLERS Feb. 14, $50 for two adults 537 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids

Nothing pairs better with Valentine’s Day than chocolate — except for chocolate and cocktails. Loosen up with some tasty libations from Long Road Distillers, perfectly paired with handcrafted chocolates from Mokaya Chocolate Boutique. Hang out at the private R ickhouse Bar Event Space and be guided through four unique pairings. Each pairing features a chocolate, a spirit, and a cocktail sample. The Valentine’s Day event is offered at four different times.


W hether it’s conscious or subconscious, we attach smell to memories, events and people. Wax Poetic offers a unique opportunity to craft your own custom scent at their Candle Bar. Select the size, container, and up to three scents to mix into the wax and your candle creation is ready for pickup the following day. Plus, on Valentine’s Day, you can pay a tad extra for two cupcakes and a bouquet of f lowers! ■




Home Run Kid

Many of his most loyal fans, including fellow comedians like Jim Gaff igan and Chris D’Elia, can’t explain why Bargatze’s mix of carefully paced storytelling, relentless self-deprecation, and surprisingly clean comedy resonates with so many people either, but it just does. “I’ve never made a big thing out of the fact that my comedy’s clean,” Bargatze said. “I think starting in New York, I would be clean at shows that were midnight shows, shows that were billed as uncensored comedy shows, and I would be clean on those shows and everybody else would be dirty. And I really just don’t address it. A lot of people don’t even

out his childhood. “I think I felt like magic was just something that was out there, like I thought everybody saw magic more than they did,” Bargatze said. “(So) she’s kind of like how I was. I don’t think she thinks it’s that crazy.” On The Tennessee Kid, Bargatze turns to his extended family and mines out even more comedy gold, which he’s continued to develop in his new hour. He also looked to his family experience as material for a sitcom pilot he worked on last year alongside fellow comedian Jerrod Carmichael. A lthough that show didn’t ulti-

Following breakout Netflix success, Nate Bargatze turns to his family for even bigger laughs | by Eric Mitts

There’s an absolutely priceless story on standup comedian Nate Bargatze’s 2015 comedy special, Full Time Magic, in which he remembers when he got walked as 13-year-old aspiring baseball player, and how that walk almost turned into a home run. A lmost. To this day, it remains the crowning achievement of his short-lived athletic career. Thankfully, he found his way to comedy, f irst moving from his native Tennessee to Chicago, where he worked brief ly with the world-renowned Second City Theatre, before relocating to New York and launching his stand-up career in 2002. He’s since released two comedy albums — Yelled at By a Clown and Full Time Magic — and has appeared multiple times on Conan, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron. In 2017, he appeared on the Netf lix comedy series The Standups, which lead to his own hour-long special, The Tennessee Kid, which premiered on the streaming service last year. The special has changed everything for Bargatze, who has slowly worked his way up the comedy ladder with his distinctly understated delivery. “It’s been the biggest leap I’ve had in my career,” said Bargatze. “You’re always just plugging along, moving along, and before it came out we were selling out some clubs. The Standups did great, but then this came out and now we’re doing these theaters. And I talk about it onstage, because it’s not like I’m getting recognized every where. But you can just slowly tell that it’s happening. Every week someone comes up and says something. So that’s the gauge. “We’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s been huge.” Naming his latest theater tour The Good Problem To Have Tour, Bargatze is def initely appreciating his moment. Even if he doesn’t know exactly why it’s happening now.



notice, and that’s the best thing. That’s what I’m going for. I’m going for someone not to notice. Like, that’s the best compliment I can get.” Even without making a big deal of it, some people certainly notice and appreciate it. “I love when a family comes to a show, or I get messages of like dads being like, ‘You’re the only thing that me and my teenage daughter can listen to together.’ Because it’s true, there’s a point where your kids become teenagers, and they’re not your little buddy like they were, and they don’t want to hang out with their parents, so if you can give them something they can enjoy together, then it’s an awesome thing.” Despite his own 7-year-old daughter announcing him at the start of his Netf lix special, he said she probably doesn’t thinks it’s anything special that he’s a comedian. After all, he didn’t think it was anything special that his own dad was a clown and a world-class magician through-

mately get picked up, he’s grateful for the experience. “T V is almost like winning the lottery,” he said. “I was really proud of what we did. But it ended up going away, like most T V stuff that happens. But we’re trying to make another one for somebody. That’s the great thing with standup, is that you always have standup. You can always be doing that and continue to try to make these shows, even if all you get told is no. “A lmost every answer is no, so you just keep trying it until you get that one yes.” ■

NATE BARGATZE: GOOD PROBLEM TO HAVE TOUR Kalamazoo State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo Feb. 29, 7 p.m., $35-$49.75,, 269.345.6500




Since her debut special, Bangin’, recently debuted on Netflix, stand-up comedian Nikki Glaser hasn’t had a day off. Her tour, which stops at 20 Monroe Live this month, is packed with new, edgy bits about her most intimate moments — an honest style that’s made her a comic superstar. In between performing comedy on a daily basis and hosting her radio show, You Up, Glaser chatted with Revue from her home in New York City.

Nikki Glaser:

The Stand-Up Who Never Sits Down | by Rich Tupica LIVING IN MANHATTAN, DO YOU KEEP BUSY TRYING OUT NEW JOKES AT THE COMEDY CLUBS? Yeah, I’m constantly working. I don’t take a night off. Either I’m on the road on the weekends, doing hour-long shows, or I’m in New York doing multiple sets. Last night I did four sets, each were 15 minutes. I just hop around from club-to-club. I do any where from two to six sets a night when I’m in New York. I’m addicted to it, and I’m going on this theater tour, so I wanted to have all of this new material really ready to go and sharpened. I feel like I’m training for a marathon, I can’t take a day off.

JUGGLING SO MUCH COMEDY, RADIO AND TELEVISION WORK — DO YOU HAVE TIME TO ENJOY THE SUCCESS? It’s been a struggle for me, and a goal for me, as my schedule has gotten busier and busier, to be able to enjoy it. But I’m a workaholic. I overexert myself, but I’ve gotten really good at stand-up from it. Do I deserve a night off ? Oh, hell yes. But I’m scared to stop. Scared it will go away. Scared I won’t know what to do with myself. I am having to pull back, but it’s hard to do get a head. Usua lly, it just ends up with me showing up to a club cr ying because I’m so exhausted and I just don’t k now what to even feel anymore. It’s just, “Go! Go! Go!” and then I overschedule myself. But that’s a lso why I have this success now. A s I approach the last ha lf of my 30s, I am rea lly going to tr y to enjoy myself a bit more.

YOU FIRST HIT THE COMEDY STAGE BACK IN COLLEGE, CORRECT? Yeah, I went to college and in order to make friends, I kind of reinvented myself. I was a lot louder than I was in high school, I was kind of quiet and shy in high school. In college, I f inally spoke up for the f irst time and that’s when I f irst heard, “You’re really funny, you should be a stand-up comedian.” I was never told that before, so I thought, “I’ll check that out.” I wa s luck y f inding it ea rly on. There wa s no ot her pla n. The ot her pla n wa s to k ill myself. I didn’t wa nt to be a mom, I didn’t wa nt to be a teacher, I didn’t wa nt to work in a n of f ice. I wa s rea lly depressed at t hat time in my life, actua lly. I t hought, “Oh, one day I will k ill myself bec ause I just don’t k now what to do.” So, a s da rk a s t hat seems, t hat’s t he da rk ness t hat lead me into sta nd-up a nd having t he point of view I have — which is prett y da rk sometimes.

DO YOU RECALL WRITING YOUR FIRST COMEDY SET? I remember it. I was a freshman in college and everyone in my dorm took over the cafeteria as like a study hall. I went in there and instead of studying I just looked at them, judged them and tried to think, “W hat would Sarah Silverman say about these people?” I didn’t know how to write jokes — I just knew the stand-ups I knew. I wrote from the perspective of my favorite stand-ups because I didn’t know what my perspective was yet. Now, I don’t sit down


with a pen and paper ever, I just live my life and if I say something funny, I jot it down in my phone. I never really construct jokes anymore — they just happen onstage.

AFTER WHAT HAPPENED WITH K ATHY GRIFFIN AND DONALD TRUMP, WERE YOU MORE CAUTIOUS ABOUT WHAT YOU SAY ON STAGE? Politically, I definitely watch what I say, because I believe if the president had his way, we’d be a lot like North Korea. So, I honestly do not like to talk about the president onstage because I am genuinely scared of retaliation. That’s me being scared for my own life, in a world where it seems like anything can fu****g happen. It’s not even that I don’t want to get cancelled. I don’t want to go to prison for the rest of my life or an

internment camp because I said I disagree with the president — which is really what I think he would do if he could do it. But in terms of (getting cancelled by the public), I just have to trust that I’m a good person. I’m not racist. I’m not sexist. I’m not ageist. So, if I say something that was misinterpreted with one of those things, it was obviously for humor, and if people don’t understand that, that’s on them. ■

NIK K GL ASER: BANG IT OUT TOUR 20 Monroe Live 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Feb. 7, 6 p.m.

6pm • $20






114 E Main St. Fennville, MI 49408



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Drink your


If chocolates aren’t your thing, there’s another way to indulge this February: Celebratory cocktails. When Holland native Kate Bolt decided to write down all the cocktail recipes she’d ever made on her own, it came out to be more than 100 recipes. That list snowballed into a blog, a social media presence (Living Lark) and ultimately a cocktail cookbook. “Creating drinks is a way that I can share what I love with the world — in my home and in the homes of the lovely people making my cocktail recipes,” Bolt said.

BAR CART GOALS Everyone knows you can’t serve amazing drinks in lackluster glasses. This hand etched decanter set is equal parts home décor and serving suggestion, available at The Counting House in Grand Rapids, $108.


She encourages people to open their homes and host friends and strangers through a big, easy batch of something that unites people and slows down the pace of life, distilling it into a few lovely sips. Her cookbook showcases batches to serve groups, mini cocktails and even nonalcoholic punch options. The end of the book offers up a gem in the Lark Loves section, which is a treasured compilation of Bolt’s recommendations and favorite sources. From Aperol Spritz, to Beet Mezcal Margarita for a full house,

A local mixologist can help you indulge two vices at once | by Missy Black

to a hot date for two with a W hiskey Sour with Campari ice, Bolt’s creations will have everyone dusting off their barware. If you love sweet drinks, the Rosé All Day Gimlet is Bolt’s favorite and includes rosé, limes, and peppery gin. “It’s perfect for any season, with all kinds of food and the sweetened lime juice balances the tangy wine and boozy gin so well.” Other sweet concoctions include The Pom Pom and Jenever Cassis. Still thirsty? For more information, check out @livinglark on Instagram or visit ■

IF YOU COULD ONLY MAKE AND DRINK ONE COCKTAIL FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I would have to choose the French 75! I would make it with premium Champagne, an interesting cava or inexpensive prosecco to mix things up. I would also experiment and make the simple syrup with other things than tarragon, maybe pine needles at Christmas, lavender in spring, with celery in the summer — just for kicks. Sparkling wine is always festive and fun for me and the French 75 is a beautiful and complex marriage when it meets simple syrup, lemon and gin. It’s super drinkable.



17 S. 2ND ST., GRAND HAVEN, MI | 616.414.7822




Bonbons & Beer: A pastry stout taste-off

| by Jack Raymond

More of ten than not, I eat desser t in shame — a scoop of mint chip in private, a doughnut in the crawl space while the beady eyes of rats illuminate the glaze upon my face. Sugar is the devil I cannot deny, but thanks to pastr y stouts, I can come out of my cave to drink sweets amongst the normal people. A pastr y stout is a made-up thing. Somebody put cake bat ter inside a stout one time and journalists called it a “movement.” Folks took note, and now ever ybody wants one. The defining ingredients are adjuncts (sources of fermentable sugars) like cookies, pie, goody gum drops, Cap’n Crunch, who cares. The more outrageous, the bet ter. Some brewers deride these confections as stones thrown at the altar of “Proper Beer.” I’d like to remind them of the time they got piss drunk on pilsner and inhaled a sleeve of Twinkies. Don’t forget, we’re drinking alcohol here, not clarified holy water. Bad decisions are par t of the fun. And so we went ahead and tried a bunch of these. Unlike other Revue tastings, we chose not to go it blind. All our selections (barring one exception) use such distinctly different adjuncts, it’d be impossible to grade them on an even plane. That said, we quieted our biases toward specific flavors (curse you peanut butter haters) and attempted to meet each beer on its own terms. Some satisfied the sweet tooth, others gave us cavities. If any of these intrigue you, buy a single and see how it stacks up against our scores.





Saugatuck Brewing Company, Douglas 10.5% ABV | Score: 90

ROAK Brewing Co., Royal Oak 8.3% ABV | Score: 71

More than the rest, BA Neapolitan sticks to the premise of its name. The trio of flavors don’t vie for attention but rather luxuriate together in the hot tub that is your mouth. It’s even better than a cone of the stuff, and hey, this one makes you feel funny. Macerated strawberry hits the nose, chocolate lingers about the tongue, and vanilla says hello as the sip rolls away. The barrel-aging — big ol’ bourbon — is the coup de grâce, adding a depth of char and molasses. This is without a doubt our desert island dessert beer.

It tastes exactly like those Eggo French Toast Sticks you’d eat while watching Saturday morning cartoons in your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle matching pajama top and bottoms. One of our reviewers who tanked the score evidently did not share this childhood memory. The maple syrup plays well with the oatmeal stout’s base that’s burly enough to keep the sweetness from becoming sickly. Kind of a harsh aftertaste though.



Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven 12.7% ABV | Score: 86.8

Grand Armory Brewing, Grand Haven 6.9% ABV | Score: 64.6

Bacon, bourbon, coffee, maple syrup, rye: Rye Hipster Brunch Stout’s moving parts are a chainsaw juggling act — fall off-balance and there goes an appendage. Fortunately, there is harmony in the preponderance of everything. I think the pig is the secret weapon. One panelist noted the aroma was like “bacon on the stove at your neighbor’s place.” It would pair nicely with a short stack, a couple over easy eggs, and an afternoon of nothing to do.

Peanut butter and marshmallow fluff: the pinnacle of the food pyramid. This riff on Grand Armory’s Nutter Your Business ups the ooey gooey with a decadent, nutty stout that drips with melted chocolate. It’s solid, but we docked it some points for the lack of marshmallow flavor. We detected a hint of toasted mallow on the nose but when you line your can with the puffs, you ought to make them more apparent.



Saugatuck Brewing Company, Douglas 6% ABV | Score: 74.4

Foundation Brewing Company Collaboration w/ Brewery Vivant 7% ABV | Score: 48.8

Maybe double dipping in the Neapolitan bucket was unfair, but the first scoop was so good we needed a second. For Saugatuck’s flagship Neapolitan, there’s the same ice cream conceit, albeit in sessionable, canned form. Here, chocolate takes center stage while you have to tease out vanilla and strawberry with a couple tastes. Delicious, yes, but the mouthfeel was a bit limp and a strange acidity kept us from screaming for this ice cream.

Maine and Michigan meet in the middle with this crack at replicating a classic pastry. A whimper of dark chocolate arrives f irst and then wham! Cherry juice smacks you in the uvula. It’s not exactly pleasant; more like “a cup of juice someone forgot about,” as one taster remarked. And ultimately, does this even taste like Black Forest Cake? Maybe after dropping a tab of acid. ■


SUPER TROOPER Petoskey Brewing, Petoskey 7.3% ABV

BLUEBERRY MAPLE STOUT Saugatuck Brewing Company, Douglas 6% ABV

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY STOUT Cheboygan Brewing Company, Cheboygan 6.8% ABV

YOU FIGURE IT OUT Griffin Claw Brewing Company, Birmingham 6% ABV




/// D ININ G

Room for dessert Restaurants that give you a reason to stick around for the final course

| by Josh Veal

As a society, there’s perhaps nothing we’ve collectively said, “No, thank you,” to more times than the question, “Would you like to see a dessert menu?” It’s right up there with “Do you want to join our rewards program?” and “Can you fill out this feedback survey regarding your recent visit?” And yet, when someone at the table does indulge, rest assured the spoons will come out and everyone else is going to ask for a bite. When a decadent delicacy sits in front of us, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly!” quickly turns into, “Don’t mind if I do!” That’s why you should always leave room for dessert: You’re not going to regret it. Dessert gives your meal the satisfying ending it deserves. It’s the final note, a coda to the evening’s edible symphony. Dessert is closure. Some restaurants go out of their way to make sure you always consider diving into the final course, and we remember them fondly. The next time you’re at one of these thoughtful eateries, ask for the dessert menu ahead of time and you might find yourself skipping the steak altogether.

BISTRO BELLA VITA | 44 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids | W hen you’re looking for dessert that looks and tastes like art, Bistro Bella Vita is the place to be. Just check out the Dark Chocolate Mousse: a f luff y little slice of heaven on a plate. The cocoa of the mousse is complimented by the nutty hazelnut praline, zesty spiced orange and sweet caramel. Dessert is all about balance, and you’ll f ind it here.

FRIESIAN GASTRO PUB | 720 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids | Friesian teamed up with a pastry chef to develop one of the best dessert menus around. In fact, when the restaurant f irst opened, it was (somewhat unintentionally) one of the largest sections on the menu. They’ve since narrowed it down to the best of the best, including That Carrot Cake, a loaded walnut carrot cake with chai carrot custard, brown butter caramel, cream cheese cream and candied carrot dust. It’ll put your optometrist out of business.

SALT OF THE EARTH | 114 E. Main St., Fennville | All right, so you don’t want to make your own s’mores — Salt of the Earth will do it for you! They pile housemade marshmallow on milk chocolate pudding and toss that in the woodfire oven, then add graham cracker crumb and salted caramel. That’s how pros do it.

SAN CHEZ | 38 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids | Tapas are perfect for dessert — it’s easy to save room when you’re ordering your meal in pieces. You have to try the beautiful Tarta y Trufas, with a f lourless dark chocolate torte accompanied by chocolate ganache, semi-sweet chocolate truff les, raspberry sauce and roasted white chocolate. ¡Buen provecho! BREWERY VIVANT | 925 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids | Brewery Vivant has earned a special reputation for its dessert menu, thanks to pastry chef Katy Waltz. W hile she just left, Vivant is currently enjoying Ana Randall’s new treats and soon, they’ll have Amanda Barnett carrying the sweets forward. The point is, whoever’s at the helm, Vivant is creating some of the best dessert around and will continue to do so.


RUSTICA | 236 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo | If for some silly reason you’re feeling guilty about ordering dessert in front of everyone, sharing is the answer. Rustica’s L’assiette of House Cookies is a lovely assortment of freshly baked cookies that will easily please everyone. A recent plate included salted oatmeal raisin, kahlua bonbon, peanut butter chocolate chip and coconut macaroon. MA X’S SOUTH SEAS HIDEAWAY | 58 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids | It’s cold! Warm up with a tableside bonf ire at Max’s, where you get to make your own s’mores right at the table. They’ll bring out a dark chocolate pot de crème, house-made marshmallows and freshly baked graham crackers.

THE CHOP HOUSE – LA DOLCE VITA | 190 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids | The Chop House doesn’t just have a dessert menu, they have an entire dessert lounge: La Dolce Vita. Head below the steakhouse for bread pudding, tiramisu, cheesecake, lemon bars, crème brulee and more. KINGFISHER RESTAURANT & DELI | 1001 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids | This isn’t your typical dessert menu, but after your meal at Kingf isher’s restaurant, you can always stroll over to the deli for all kinds of take-home treats. Mini bundt cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pie — they have it all. AMORE TRATTORIA ITALIANA | 5080 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park | Amore has all kinds of Italian dessert, from cannoli to custards and gelato, but the real star here is the tiramisu. It’s Chef Jenna’s special recipe, so you know it’s top-notch. If you don’t believe me, head online to see all the reviews gushing over it! ■ Max’s South Seas Hideway, Salt of the Earth, Kingfisher Restaurant & Deli, Bistro Bella Vita, Brewery Vivant, San Chez. COURTESY PHOTOS




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