By Sue Suchyta
Area theaters – both collegiate and community – are offering seasons for the coming year that appeal to both their patrons and actors. This is often a difficult balance to strike.
The Players Guild of Dearborn, a non-profit arts organization in its 84th season, combines a mix of recently released shows with enduring classics.
“Crossing Delancey,” a romantic comedy by Susan Sandler, will hold auditions July 26 and 27, and will run for three weekends, Sept. 17 to Oct. 3.
Set in New York City, Bubbie, a lovable, feisty, sharp-witted grandma is contrasted by her “twenty-something” granddaughter Isabelle “Izzy” Grossman. When Bubbie and the matchmaker Hannah try to arrange a date for Izzy with Sam, the local pickle merchant, a generational and cultural clash erupts. Isabelle has ideas of her own but the conflict is resolved with a generous dose of humor, affection, and wisdom.
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” a musical comedy with music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin, will hold auditions Sept. 20 and 21, and will run for four weekends, Nov. 12 to Dec. 5.
Six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grownups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser. The hilarious tale of overachievers’ angst chronicles the experience of six adolescent outsiders vying for a spelling championship, where they can stand out and fit in at the same time.
“Boeing Boeing,” a farce by Marc Camoletti, adapted by Beverley Cross, will hold auditions Nov. 15 and 16, and will run for three weekends, Jan. 14 to 30.
Bernard, a successful Parisian architect, juggles three flight attendant fiancées: an American woman, a French woman and a German woman. He tracks their airlines’ timetables, and his long-suffering housekeeper, Bertha, reluctantly resets the menus and bedroom decor depending on the arrivals and departures. Bernard has been successful at convincing each girl that she is the only one.
Bernard’s old school friend Robert arrives unexpectedly, and Bernard proudly explains to his wide-eyed visitor how he makes his busy romantic schedule run smoothly. He also has a fallback plan for keeping his fiancées separate, involving his country house. Unfortunately for Bernard, a new, faster Boeing jet has been introduced, changing the timetable. Weather delays occur, and complications arise when the girls’ behavior does not match Bernard’s careful planning.
“Inherit the Wind,” a classic American drama by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, will hold auditions Jan. 17 and 18, and will run for three weekends, March 11 to 27.
In 1925 in Dayton, Tenn., schoolteacher John Scopes was put on trial for teaching evolution. The press dubbed it the Scopes Monkey Trial. The proceedings drew national attention, and pitted former Vice President William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow.
In the 1950s, playwrights Lawrence and Lee recognized a parallel to the anti-intellectual fervor of the anti-evolutionists to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Senate hearings to root out Communism in America, especially in the film and theater communities. Lawrence and Lee chose the, Scopes Monkey Trial to explore the clash between fundamentalists and intellectuals and to make a case for freedom of speech.
“The Drowsy Chaperone,” a musical within a comedy, will hold auditions March 14 and 15, and runs four weekends, May 6 to 29. The show features book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.
The curtain rises on a present-day musical theater fanatic eager to share his favorite Broadway musical — “The Drowsy Chaperone.” He’s the ultimate fan and “Drowsy” is his guilty pleasure.
As he begins listening to his rare cast recording, the show cleverly and magically blooms to life, telling the hilarious tale of a pampered Broadway starlet and her debonair fiance’, an overzealous producer, a dizzy chorine, a Latin lover and a pair of bungling gangsters. Ruses play out, high-jinks occur, and the plot spins the house into musical comedy euphoria.
For more information, go to the Guild’s Web site, www.playersguildofdearborn.org, or call (313) 561-TKTS.
WSU’S BONSTELLE THEATRE ANNOUNCES ITS 2010-11 SEASON
The Bonstelle Theatre, Wayne State University’s undergraduate theater, will launch its 60th season with shows that will challenge its actors and designers alike while appealing to audiences.
The 2010-11 season begins with Bertolt Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle.” In this imaginative retelling of the judgment of King Solomon, former village recorder Azdak has mistakenly risen to power and must decide the fate of a child two women claim. One woman had endured great risks to protect the child. The other woman is wealthy and able to provide for the child in ways the poorer one cannot. What does Azdak decide? The tale of danger, romance and political upheaval will run weekends Oct. 15 to 24.
Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” is next. Racial tensions swirl in the pressure cooker of 1935 Macomb, Ala. In the midst of this turbulent era, compassionate attorney Atticus Finch attempts to defend a black man who is falsely accused of rape.
Told through the memories of a grown up Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, the play explores the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class. Through her memories, Scout recounts the consequences of “doing the right thing” and illustrates how Lee’s ideas of hope, humanity, and justice are just as resonant today as they were when the novel was written. The drama will run weekends Dec. 3 to 12.
The season continues with “Flow,” a rhythmic fusion of drama and performance art conceived by Will Power. In the Michigan premier of the 2003 off-Broadway show, the oral tradition of American storytelling will take a fresh approach. Broadway veteran and Detroit native Aku Kadogo will direct an ensemble cast (a new spin to this previously performed solo work), to create a new-age tribe of American griots.
The heartwarming and energetic production explores six important life lessons intertwined with cultural and social commentary. Underscored with hip hop rhythms and rhyme, the family-friendly show will run Feb. 18 to 27.
The Bonstelle season closes with the award-winning musical “The Full Monty.” With book by Terrance McNally and music and lyrics by David Yazbek, the heartfelt story, adapted from the popular 1997 film, follows six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers suffering from the aftermath of economic turmoil as they contemplate creating a Chippendale-like male revue to earn money. Along the way they learn about themselves, manhood and brotherhood. The show will run weekends April 15 to 24, 2011.
Season tickets start at $60. The Bonstelle Theatre, 3424 Woodward Ave., is one block south of Mack Avenue at Eliot. The box office opens one hour prior to each performance.
Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Hilberry Theatre box office, 4743 Cass Ave. For more information or to order a season subscription, call the Bonstelle Theatre box office at (313) 577-2960 or go to the Web site www.bonstelle.com.