Kate Wallace as Cinderella and Ken Kilgore as the Prince create stage magic with their vocals and romantic charm in “Cinderella” at the Players Guild of Dearborn weekends through Dec. 6. Call (313) 561-TKTS or visit www.playersguildofdearborn.org for more details.
By Sue Suchyta
What better entertainment during a recession than optimistic escapism? Whether it’s the classic tale of netherworld magic in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the feel-good innocence of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical “Cinderella,” or a morality play like “A Christmas Carol” with a satisfying ending, local theatres offer a more intense experience than any wide screen television or home entertainment system ever could.
‘Cinderella’ at the Guild
The Players Guild of Dearborn opened its run two days earlier than usual with a benefit performance of “Cinderella” Wednesday for Megan’s Miracles, a charity that helps pay the medical bills of a young local girl with serious, unexplained medical challenges. The remainder of the run — four weekends — will feature Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. matinees through Dec. 6.
Baby Boomers may remember Julie Andrews and Leslie Ann Warren in the title role, while GenXers will identify with Brandy as the maligned miss. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote their sole musical for television in the late ’50s.
While today’s children are accustomed to a faster pace and amazing special effects, “Cinderella” harkens to a time when a show could be savored, and songs could be sweet without being considered corny.
Director and choreographer John Luther and musical director Paul Abbott brought out the best in their talented cast.
Kate Wallace brings enthusiasm and a sparkling talent to the role of Cinderella. Watching young girls meet her after the show provided a special treat: Her performance was so believable some of the young ladies needed a moment to overcome their star-struck awe. Ken Kilgore is her handsome prince onstage and off. Their vocal duets are a treat.
You’ll laugh and chortle at Patti Jones as the Stepmother, Juliette Abbott as stepsister Portia and Meg daPonte as stepsister Joy. You’ll also enjoy the clever banter of the royals, with Patrick Landino as the King and Sally Goodman as the Queen.
Audiences will be thoroughly entertained by the talented ensemble, who do the lion’s share of the dances. Ross Grossman as the Herald has fun with the shoe-frenzied ladies eager to be the “right fit” for the prince. Keep an eye on Rae MacIntosh, the Godmother, too – she has plenty of stage magic with which to enchant.
The delightful wigs and makeup, period costuming, and surprising special effects are icing on the cake. So are the familiar songs that remind us of why we like Rodgers and Hammerstein shows. The beautifully painted backdrops are a treat as well.
The talented ensemble includes Tim Carney, Lark Cederlind, Nicole Cooper, Susan DeNeau, Jake Dombrowski, Shelley Hook, Cjersti Jensen, Jeff Lokken, Lindsey MacDonald, Bill Spurlin, Katie Suchyta, and Benjamin Timpf.
The Guild Theatre is at 21730 Madison in Dearborn, southwest of the intersection of Monroe Street and Outer Drive. The venue is handicap accessible.
Tickets are $18. Student discounts (with valid identification) and group discounts are available. For more information, call the Guild ticket line at (313) 561-TKTS, or go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org.
‘A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM’ at the HILBERRY
The Hilberry, Wayne State University’s graduate theater department and Detroit’s theatrical jewel, performs the timeless magic of Shakespeare’s audience favorite “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” through Jan. 29 in rotating repertory.
Samantha Rosentrater as Helena offers a unique perspective on the role: No simpering miss, she brings the character to life as one who must overcome first impressions based on outward appearance and artificial standard of beauty. One will root for her and focus on her character’s impact based on Rosentrater’s determined portrayal of the feisty, do-or-die miss.
Alan Ball is delightfully entertaining as Bottom the weaver, who literally makes an ass of himself. Ball plays any role well, and it is fun to see him play a role that gives him something fun with which to work.
Christina Flynn, another standout in any cast, brings sparkle and elan to the role of Titania.
Kudos go out to the undergraduate actors for rising to the challenge of supplementing the large cast on the graduate stage, and making the most of a marvelous opportunity. Keep an eye out for Katie Lietz Flannery as Cobweb, and Annabelle Young of Dearborn as Moth.
Melinda Pacha’s set design is magical and delightful, rich in color and dreamy detail. Christina Koerner’s costume designs are visually delightful as well, adding magic to the play. Undergraduate costumers Madeline Greenwalt, Tracy Machak of Dearborn, and Anne Suchyta of Dearborn provided the delightful and whimsical faerie headdresses, based on the designer’s renderings.
Tickets are available at the WSU Box Office at 4743 Cass Ave. in Detroit at Cass and Hancock, by calling (313) 577-2972 or going to www.theatre.wayne.edu and www.wsushows.com.