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The University Wit's production of "Escanaba in da Moonlight" opens at Dog Story Theater

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When the Soady clan reunites for the opening day of deer season at the family's Upper Peninsula camp, thirty-five-year-old Reuben Soady brings with him the infamous reputation of being the oldest Soady in the history of the Soadys never to bag a buck.

/Uni Wits

Performance and ticket information

Friday, October 7: 8 p.m.
Saturday, October 8: 8 p.m.
Sunday, October 9: 3 p.m.
Friday, October 14: 8 p.m.
Saturday, October 15: 8 p.m.

Sunday, October 16: 3 p.m.

REUBAN SOADY: James Ricklefs
REMNAR SOADY: Mike Nichols
JIMMER NEGAMANEE: Michael F. H. Cunningham

Producer & Director: Chuck Fortenbacher
Assistant Director: Anessa Johnson
Stage Manager: J. J. Lindke
Sound Design: Sean Francis
Costume Design: Betz Lund
Properties Design: Janelle Yahne

General Admission: $17.00
Student Rush: $12.00 Available at the box office, one hour before the performance, with a valid student ID

/Uni Wits

/Uni Wits

The University Wits, a Grand Rapids-based theater production nonprofit, is kicking off its 2016 – 2017 season with the classic Yooper comedy “Escanaba in da Moonlight." The play, which follows the hilarious antics of four Michigan hunters trying to bag a buck on Opening Day of Deer Season, opens at Dog Story Theater this Friday for a two weekend run.

“Escanaba in da Moonlight” was written by Emmy-winning, Hollywood star and Michigan native Jeff Daniels, who also starred in the play’s 2001 film adaptation. 

It’s a play Director Chuck Fortenbacher has wanted to bring to life ever since he was in college.

“I saw the film version when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite comedies growing up, and still is,” he said. “There are aliens, demons and other supernatural elements. Our Michigan audience is really going to appreciate all of the Upper Peninsula humor that the show is riddled with.”

The Yooper comedy is especially fun for Calumet native Anessa Johnson, the play’s assistant director. Her favorite thing about “Escanaba in da Moonlight” is the way it captures the language and characters that she grew up with in the Upper Peninsula.

“This play truly speaks to my Yooper heart, but you don't have to be a native to enjoy it. The script itself is hilarious, and our cast has put their heart and souls into these buck-loving guys,” she said.

“I think our Grand Rapids audience is going to have a blast. Whether or not they've experienced hunting season, they're going to find the humor. We've been having a great time bringing this production to life, and I think the audience is going to feel that energy as well.”

The play runs October 7 – 9, and October 14 – 15 at Dog Story Theater, located at 7 Jefferson Ave. SE, downtown Grand Rapids. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. and Sunday performances are at 3 p.m.

The box office will open one hour before each performance. General admission tickets are $17, and student rush tickets, which are available at the box office one hour before the performance, are $12. Tickets can also be purchased online at

“This cast has really brought this show to life. Every rehearsal has been a new opportunity for comedic discovery,” Fortenbacher said.

“There are a lot of reasons that people are going to want to see this show, but the main one is that it's so damn funny. We've got some great talent in this show and they are going to have the audience rolling in their seats by the end.”

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