“Dunelawn” will play at WSU’s Studio Theatre weekends through Dec. 5. The cast includes Andrick Siegmund (left) as Dr. Jason Pepper, Joseph Gehart as Harry, Dearborn’s Kerianne Furgerson as Dolly, Derrell Jones as Francis and Zachary Hordynski as Hiram.
By Sue Suchyta
Wayne State University’s Studio and Bonstelle theaters both feature Dearborn actors in their current productions. At the Studio Theatre Kerianne Ferguson plays Dolly in “Dunelawn,” while Jacqueline Michnuk and William Turbett will perform in, “A Christmas Carol” at the Bonstelle.
DUNELAWN AT THE STUDIO
One may not recognize playwright Terrence McNally’s name, but most will recognize his work. He wrote the book for such well-known shows as “Ragtime,” “The Full Monty” and “Kiss of the Spiderwoman.” The Bonstelle had a successful run of “Ragtime” last spring, and the department seems willing to take on some of his lesser known works.
“Dunelawn” is the first of two one-act plays in “Bad Habits.” Its companion piece, “Ravenswood” will be performed later in the season. Both are places people go to solve their relationship problems, and while geographically close in the imaginary stage world, they are worlds apart in philosophy. “Dunelawn” encourages its patients to indulge in vices as part of their treatment, while “Ravenswood” lulls them into a chemical complacency while uncovering their personality peccadilloes.
The show is directed by first year WSU doctorate candidate Michael Butterworth.
Dunelawn is run by Dr. Jason Pepper, capably performed by Andrick Siegmund. The doctor is wheelchair bound due to his own relationship Armageddon. Otto, his Germanic, libido-driven butler, played by Robbie Dwight, earns many well-deserved laughs as the good doctor’s somewhat creepy sidekick.
Three couples advance the storyline: Hollywood newlyweds whose egos and insecurities are a train wreck waiting to happen, a frazzled wife married to an obsessive-compulsive, and two gay trust fund partners who seem content to be permanent “guests” of Dr. Pepper.
Zachary Hordynski and Derrell Jones are fascinating as the feuding fellows. Likewise, Ivy Haralson and Jonathan Hoopingarner capably exploit the comic foibles of sniping stars who put on a good game face for the public while in reality fooling no one but themselves.
Kerianne Furgerson, a 2007 graduate of Dearborn Edsel Ford High School, portrays the stressed out wife of an obsessive compulsive who might have pushed her to the point of contemplating homicide. However, when her spouse seems to have become a mellow slacker, she seems equally alarmed, seeking to keep the familiar with which she knew how to cope. Furgerson rises to the challenge of keeping her character sympathetic without becoming overly whiney.
Tracy Machak of Dearborn provides local technical talent as the show’s costumer. Her most unique challenge was perhaps finding Robbie Dwight (Otto) a “man bikini.” Rumor has it the Internet has a store devoted to such accruements. However, she also has a costumer’s worst nightmare to contend with, since select cast members deliberately roll around on ceramic powder during each performance.
“Dunelawn” will run for three more performances at 8 p.m. Dec. 3, 4 and 5. The Studio Theatre is located in the basement of the Hilberry, 4743 Cass Ave. in Detroit.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL AT THE BONSTELLE
The Bonstelle Company mounts, “A Christmas Carol” nearly every other year. This year insider reports indicate it will sport a punk look, which may enable audiences to see its parallels with our current economic crisis and lack of consistent medical care for the poorer members of society. As long as businessmen like Scrooge revere wealth over people-centric policies, the most vulnerable of society will continue to suffer at the hands of unchecked corporate greed.
William Turbett (as chorus) and Jacqueline Michnuk (as Flicher) of Dearborn will perform in the show.
“A Christmas Carol” opens at the Bonstelle Dec. 4 and will run for two weekends, closing Dec. 13. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. There will be two school matinees: 10 a.m. Dec. 4 and 10.
Tickets are available by phone, at (313) 577-2960, online at www.wsushows.com, and at the box office. The Bonstelle is at 3424 Woodward in Detroit. For more information, go to www.bonstelle.com.