Jeff Daniels is known around the world for being a professional, award-winning, actor. He has made us laugh, made us cry, and has entertained us to no end throughout his career. But in Michigan, Daniels falls under a different category; he is one of us. He used to shout “Fire up Chips!” or “Go Blue!” like some of us do today. He has received numerous Michigan awards, and was even honored by the State of Michigan that proclaimed October 4, 2000 “Jeff Daniels Day.” What’s cool about Jeff Daniels is that he returned to his roots in Chelsea, Michigan and chose to help sustain the city where he was raised, instead of gallivanting off to California where most actors take refuge.
In 1991 Daniels created a professional theatre company called Purple Rose in his hometown of Chelsea. He wanted to create a “place where theatre professionals could work to start, or continue, their career in Michigan.” The name Purple Rose comes from Daniels’ own launch of his career through the movie Purple Rose of Cairo. Alan Ribant, the Managing Director of the Purple Rose Theatre Company, has been involved since the very beginning. He explains what makes the Purple Rose so great, “We provide top-notch, quality entertainment at a reasonable price. The Theatre pumps money into surrounding businesses in Chelsea, which create jobs throughout the community.” Not only is the theatre a leading American theatre dedicated to its audience, but it also contributes to the local economy and is a “charitable organization with no stocks and Jeff doesn’t collect a dime.”
Daniels also produced Purple Rose Films in 1998. To satisfy his desire to act, this Michigan based Production Company was formed by Daniels so he could write and direct independent films. One of his famous plays he had written, Escanaba in da Moonlight, was transformed into a film that was loved by all Michiganders. In honor of the Purple Rose Theatre Company’s 20th anniversary, they are bringing back their most popular show with a revival of Escanaba in da Moonlight this fall.
As well as producing productions, the Purple Rose Theatre Company has an education program that Ribant says “train(s) the audience and actors of tomorrow.” They offer theatre classes including acting and directing, an apprentice program that gives a full professional production experience, and FREE backstage tours of the theatre. The Purple Rose also offers an off-site acting camp called the Young Actors’ Academy for grades 3-12 in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.
Daniels is joining the Northern Michigan University Alumni foundation and putting on a free concert event in downtown Marquette June 24th beginning at 6:30pm. In August he is going to continue his adventure around Michigan, hitting Grand Rapids, Curtis, Petoskey, Mt Pleasant, and more. Daniels has made millions of people laugh throughout his career as an actor. Now it’s time for you to witness him live as a singer/songwriter making you laugh, giggle, or even snort along with the rest of the audience. You can find out more information about Jeff Daniels at www.jeffdaniels.com or about Purple Rose Theatre Company and their current shows and education programs at www.purplerosetheatre.org ~Mel Libby, Regional Director
Here’s a clip of Jeff Daniels discussing the journey of his film Escanaba in da Moonlight provided by Chris Barrett.