Photo by Gordon Mosley
Chris Chavez (seated, front left) of Allen Park as prosecutor Matthew Brady is cross examined by Sean Greimel (standing, center) of Dearborn Heights as defense attorney Henry Drummond in the Players Guild of Dearborn’s “Inherit the Wind” weekends through March 27. For more information, call (313) 561-TKTS, or go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org.
By Sue Suchyta
With a riveting script, a compelling courtroom drama and strong acting talent, the Players Guild of Dearborn’s production of “Inherit the Wind” is a theater performance you won’t want to miss.
The Lawrence and Lee work will run for three weekends March 11 to 27, with 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday shows and 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees. The Players Guild Theater is at 21730 Madison, southeast of the intersection of Monroe and Outer Drive in Dearborn.
“Inherit the Wind,” set in Tennessee in 1925, is a fictional account of the Scopes “monkey” trial, in which a teacher was convicted for teaching evolution to his high school science class.
The play debuted in 1955 at the height of the Communist “witch hunts” of Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy that many believe threatened the intellectual freedom of Americans. The show attracts more attention today for focusing on the free expression of ideas and the right to think, as opposed to being a platform for religion versus scientific debate.
The show comes to Dearborn at a time when Christian fundamentalists have been in court themselves for allegedly disturbing the peace by preaching their beliefs at a local Arabic festival attended by many of the Islamic faith.
The show’s cast is talented and strong. The performance of Sean Greimel of Dearborn Heights as defense attorney Henry Drummond is superb and on its own is worth the price of admission. The Guild newcomer, who earned appreciative laughter as a visiting vicar in its recent production of “See How They Run,” delivers a strong, captivating performance.
Chris Chavez of Allen Park also turns in a compelling performance as prosecutor Matthew Brady. Together, he and Greimel are a director’s dream team.
Kirk Haas of Inkster as journalist E.K. Hornbeck also is superb as the self-important big-city journalist covering the trial.
Kori Bielaniec of Livonia as Rachel Brown delivers her best performance to date in an emotionally moving portrayal of the beleaguered teacher’s love interest. It has been gratifying to watch this talented young actress grow and mature in her craft.
A strong cast directed by Debbie Pletzer of Canton Township also includes Bill Spurlin of Garden City as the ranting Rev. Jeremiah Brown, and Dearborn residents Tom Varitek as teacher Bertram Cates, Sally Hart Goodman as Mrs. Brady, and Morris Goodman as the judge. John Hutchinson of Dearborn is noteworthy in a character role as Elijah, the town loony tune.
The large ensemble cast creates a believable, cohesive community and convinces audiences in the middle of March that there is a sweltering summer heat wave onstage.
The set design attempts to allow the town’s action to occur upstage behind the courtroom, with a raised platform running the width of the stage. However, the heavy courtroom furniture downstage and the judge’s bench tend to block the view of the upstage action to some of the house, particularly those in the coveted rows closest to the stage.
The layout onstage also makes it difficult to see the reactions of all jurors and townspeople during the trial. The design concept would fare better in a house with arena seating.
Tickets for “Inherit the Wind” are $15, with student and group discounts available. The theater is handicapped-accessible. For more information call (313) 561-TKTS or go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org.
WSU’S Studio Theatre to present ‘Doubt’
John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt, A Parable” will continue Wayne State University’s Studio Theatre season. The show will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday March 24 through April 2 for a two-weekend run.
With Studio renovations still under way, “Doubt” will be performed in the Hilberry Theatre rehearsal studio on the fourth floor of Old Main.
“Doubt” is the story of Sister Aloysius, a strict Catholic school principal from the Bronx, who suspects Father Flynn, a new, well-liked, charismatic priest of having an improper relationship with one of the male students. She will stop at nothing to have Father Flynn removed from the parish. However, her suspicions may not be correct, and she has reason to doubt.
“Doubt, A Parable” is less about scandal and more about moral uncertainty; it leaves audiences feeling unsure of what really is “the truth.”
The cast includes Annabelle Young of Dearborn as Sister Aloysius, Andrick Siegmund of Pleasant Ridge as Father Flynn, Alyssa Lucas of Garden City as Sister James and Bridgette Jordan of Southfield as Mrs. Muller.
For tickets and more information call (313) 577-2972 or go to www.wsushows.com.
Hilberry to present two-part ‘Cider House’
The Hilberry, Wayne State’s graduate theatre company, will present the two-part epic adventure “The Cider House Rules” March 31 to May 14 in rotating repertory.
Matinees will be at 1 p.m., with 7 p.m. evening performances.
The enormous undertaking, with a huge cast, spans many decades. Special ticket pricing will allow audiences to see both shows.
The show is set in an orphanage, where a gruff obstetrician is careful to maintain an emotional distance from the orphans so they can easily transition into adoptive families.