Britta Peele (left) plays Nurse Benson and Kelli Sarakun portrays Nurse Hedges in the Wayne State University Studeio Theatre presentation of “Ravenswood.”
By Sue Suchyta
Wayne State University’s Studio Theatre presents “Ravenswood,” the second of playwright Terrence McNally’s “Bad Habits” pair of one-acts at 8 p.m. Jan. 28 to 30 and Feb. 4 to 6.
The theater produced “Dunelawn,” the first show of the set, last fall.
Dearborn technical talents make important contributions to the production. Michael Thomas of Dearborn serves as the lighting designer, while Anne Suchyta, also of Dearborn, designed the costumes.
McNally, four-time Tony Award-winner, is best known for writing the books for the Tony Award-winning musicals “Kiss of the Spiderwoman” and “Ragtime,” and scripts for “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Master Class.” He also was nominated for a Tony for the book for the musical “The Full Monty.”
The “Bad Habits” plays are set in asylums. In “Dunelawn,” the eccentric Dr. Pepper treats his unhappily married patients by encouraging them to indulge in vices – like smoking, drinking and promiscuity – which has a surprisingly successful impact on patients.
“Ravenswood” is quite opposite – Dr. Toynee uses straight-jackets and chemicals to “calm” his patients, which is a polar opposite approach from his rival’s uninhibited and wild ways.
What both plays have in common are ordinary characters who have messed up their lives, but who still manage to be amusing and endearing to the audience. Perhaps it is because the characters make us feel so much better about our own lives – or perhaps it is because we recognize a piece of ourselves in their eccentricities, we begin to realize that we can laugh at our own faults as easily as we can laugh at the “Bad Habits” cast of assorted nuts.
“Ravenswood” is directed by first-year doctoral candidate Aaron Westlake. The ensemble features Alexandre Bleau of Montreal as Bruno, Steve Carson of Detroit as Ponce, David Cowan of Grosse Isle Township as Blum, Britta Peele of Harrison Township as Nurse Benson, Justin Sandelin as Dr. Toynbee, Kelli Marie Sarakun of Grosse Pointe as Nurse Hedges, Andrew Sheldon of Milan as Hugh Gumbs and Justin Wagner of New Baltimore as Yamadoro.
Susan Campbell of Marysville designed the set, Anthony Karpinski of Grosse Pointe Woods is the Properties Master, and Colin Mallory of Lansing is the stage manager.
The theater is at 4743 Cass, in the lower level of the Hilberry, on the WSU campus in Detroit. Tickets range from $10 to $15.
For tickets and more information, call (313) 577-2972, go to www.wsushows.com, or visit the box office at the corner of Cass and Hancock.