Brian Vander Ark, shown here fronting his band The Verve Pipe, performs a solo show at the Box Factory for the Arts.

Weekend Worthy is a weekly roundup of visual & performing arts highlights in Southwest Michigan written by Jeremy D. Bonfiglio in conjunction with the weekly entertainment podcast, Breaking Character, which he co-hosts with Paul Mow. Read on for details about events happening the weekend of July 26-28, 2019.


Brian Vander Ark at the Box Factory for the Arts

Grand Rapids-based musician Brian Vander Ark, who still may be best known for his alt-rock band The Verve Pipe, returns to the area at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for his debut concert at the Box Factory for the Arts, 1101 Broad St., St. Joseph.

The show, billed as “An Evening with Brian Vander Ark,” is a night of rarities, classics, and storytelling in an intimate listening room setting. While The Verve Pipe’s hits “Photograph” and “The Freshmen” were era-defining staples in the mid-1990s, Vander Ark’s more recent creative output includes 2016’s “Planet Sunday Sessions, Vol. 1,” a solo album of acoustic covers; The Verve Pipe’s “Overboard” (2014) and “Parachute” (2017), the band’s first two rock albums in nearly a decade-and-a-half; as well as “Simple Truths,” his 2017 duo album with actor/musician Jeff Daniels.

Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. For details, call 269-983-3688 or visit boxfactoryforthearts.org.


Leo Carmody portrays Tony in the upcoming production of West Side Story, July 26-27 at the Shadowland Pavilion.


“West Side Story” at the Shadowland Pavilion

It’s summer musical time! This weekend marks the 10th year that stage director Paul Mow and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra have collaborated on staging a big summer musical.

In addition to reaching that milestone, this year is extra special for several reasons. First, the production is “West Side Story,” a musical with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Second, the partnership is now the SMSO in conjunction with The GhostLight Theatre. And third, there will be not one, but two performances.

That’s right, “West Side Story” is being performed at 7:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night at Shadowland Pavilion on Silver Beach in St. Joseph.

The story is set in the Upper West Side of New York City, a blue-collar neighborhood in the mid-1950s. It explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The members of the Sharks, from Puerto Rico, are taunted by the Jets, a white gang. The young protagonist, Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the gang’s leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks.

The cast includes Leo Carmody as Tony, Fafa Shaeffer as Maria, Danny LeMache as Bernardo, Carina Kanzler as Anita and Josh Blair-Boger as Riff. In addition to Mow and Fountain, the crew includes choreographer Lea Lehmann, rehearsal accompanist Joshua Goins, assistant director Aiden Ankli with costumes by Julie Smiy and set design by Meredith Best George.

Tickets are $30 for reserved seating, $20 for lawn and $10 for children age 12 and younger. Ticket prices increase to $35, $25 and $15 the day of the show. For more details, call 269-982-4030 or visit smso.org.

Mezzo-Soprano Holly Schroeder will perform during “The Broadway Bucket List,” the latest concert by Harbor Country Opera at The Acorn Theater.


“The Broadway Bucket List” at the Acorn Theatre

Come treat yourself to a little Bernstein, a little Sondheim, maybe a little Cole Porter as Robert Swan and his Harbor Country Opera presents “The Broadway Bucket List” at 8 p.m. Saturday at The Acorn Theater, 107 Generations Drive, Three Oaks.

Harbor Country Opera has previously staged shows featuring selections from Broadway staples such as “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Misérables,” but this time the singers themselves have chosen selections from those iconic shows plus their bucket lists of songs they’ve always wanted to sing.

Tenor John Concepcion, soprano Susan Nelson, mezzo-soprano Holly Schroeder are among those performing and will be accompanied by Paul Hamilton on piano and Dick Bunn on bass.

Tickets are $30. For more information, call 269-982-4030 or visit acornlive.org.

To learn more about local arts & entertainment events, listen to the Breaking Character podcast each week at www.BreakingCharacterPodcast.com. You can also subscribe to Breaking Character or listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn or your favorite podcast app and find current news and updates on our Facebook page.

Jeremy D. Bonfiglio