By any definition, Ann Arbor resident, author, theatre professional, teacher, lecturer, mother and wife, Jacqui Robbins is a veritable renaissance woman, and this summer has been no exception. A founding board member of Ann Arbor's Penny Seats theatre group, Robbins just directed her third production with the troupe - the musical "She Loves Me" - which opened to capacity crowds at the West Park Band Shell this past weekend. Robbins also has two successful children's books in print "The New Girl...and Me" and "Two of a Kind," and she has just had a poem published in the compilation "Dare to Dream...Change the World."
The publisher of "Dare to Dream" describes the book this way: "From Jonas Salk to Steven Spielberg, the subjects of these biographical-inspired poems invented something, said something, stood for something, did something, changed something. They dared to dream. Thirty of our nation's most prestigious poets focus their creative vision on people who not only changed their own lives, but the lives of people all over the world. The book can be ordered at www.myubam.com/p/1585/dare-to-dream-change-the-world."
Editor and fellow contributor Jill Corcoran writes on her blog, "The poets included were chosen not only for their talent, but because they too have informed, inspired and engaged young people throughout their careers with both their actions and their words. I was thrilled to work with thirty top American children's poets."
Jacqui's sister Alyson Robbins observes, "I adore everything my sister writes, but her poem in this collection might be my favorite…the poem is so good."
Jacqui herself commented, "I am truly fortunate to have such wonderful family and friends who support my work. This summer has been remarkable. I am so honored to be part of 'Dare to Dream.' And the opportunity to direct a smart, fun, fizzy musical like 'She Loves Me' this summer with such a talented cast has been a gift beyond measure."
"She Loves Me," a musical by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, who also wrote "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Fiorello," tells the tale of two workplace rivals who spend their days bickering and their nights falling in love as secret pen pals, while their quirky coworkers deal with a spate of other problems. The show is based on the play "Parfumerie," by Miklos Laszlo, which was also adapted cinematically three times: "The Shop Around the Corner" with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, "In the Good Old Summertime" with Judy Garland and Van Johnson, and "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
"This is just such a fun show – anyone who has had a relationship, professional or personal, of any kind with any person will see themselves or someone they know in this show! If you've been in love, if you've had that co-worker you love to hate or that colleague who is a complete sycophant or that boss for whom you can't seem to do anything right…you will enjoy this show. And the music and this cast are just stellar," comments Robbins, who hails originally from Greenwich, Connecticut and is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.
She adds, "Writing and directing might seem like very different pursuits, but in the end they are both about collaborating to tell a story, and making a connection with the audience or reader. I'm so lucky to have gotten to work with Jill and the other poets on 'Dare to Dream' and to get to be part of this southeast Michigan community of theater and book lovers."
Penny Seats Theatre presents "She Loves Me," July 26-28, August 2-4, and August 9-11 at West Park Band Shell, between Miller and Huron. For more information, please visit www.pennyseats.org. Find out more about Jacqui at www.jacquirobbins.com.