Photo by Maxwell Bolton
Topher Payne (fourth from left) portrays playwright Oscar Wilde in the Wayne State University Hilberry Theater production of “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde.” Annie Keris (left) plays Wilde’s lawyer, Sir Edward Clark, with Miles Boucher as George Bernard Shaw, Bevin Bell-Hall as the judge, Alec Barbour as Edward Carson and Brent Griffith as the Marquess of Queensberry. The show runs through March 22 in rotating repertory. For tickets or more information call 313-577-2972 or go to theatre.wayne.edu.
The production shows the hatred and homophobia that destroyed playwright and wit Oscar Wilde, who stood trial in 1895 during the Victorian Era for his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas for allegedly “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons.”
The script draws on authentic court documents, diaries and news sources, and shows the ongoing conflict between art and morality still present in the 21st century.
Wilde is one of the world’s greatest playwrights, and his entertaining, wonderfully witty works are second only to Shakespeare in the number of productions performed worldwide.
The drama, which runs in rotating repertory through March 22, deeply moved its audiences opening weekend if the subdued and somber post-show buzz is an accurate indicator.
Playwright Moises Kauffman directed the production.
The strong, talented cast includes Topher Payne in the title role, with David Sterritt as Lord Alfred Douglass. Both deliver stellar performances.
Annie Keris is superb as Wilde’s initial attorney, Sir Edward Clarke. She plays other roles with equal talent in successive scenes.
Alec Barbour, who stumbled over a few lines opening weekend, is nonetheless a strong, appealing actor who memorized a huge number of lines for the courtroom scenes as Carson, Queensberry’s defense attorney.
Most of the company performed multiple roles.
Bevin Bell-Hall was notable as the judge and Queen Victoria.
Brent Griffith plays the Marquess of Queensberry, the type of role one loves to hate.
Miles Boucher is most memorable as Wilde’s contemporary George Bernard Shaw.
Brandy Joe Plambeck stepped in and out of time to play many roles. He plays a contemporary professor analyzing Wilde’s conundrum so convincingly that some in the house thought he was the real deal and applauded, which he graciously and humorously acknowledged.
Dearborn Heights resident Brandon Grantz, a second year company member, showed great versatility as Parker and Harris, and in many other cameo roles.
Sarah Pearline’s scenic design is elegant and versatile, cast in black and white, in an ordered checkerboard, in marked contrast to Wilde’s world, which was richly colored and symbolically dependent on shades of gray and ambiguity.
Kudos to Mary Gietzen for her elegant and beautifully rendered costume designs. Her female costumes, which resemble Victorian riding habits, allows the women in the company to perform male roles without dressing in drag, maintaining their dignity and letting them enjoy some of the most challenging parts in the production.
The Hilberry Theater is at 4743 Cass inDetroit.
For tickets and more information, call 313-577-2972 or go to http://wsushows.com.
P.S. CENTER STAGE PLAYERS LAUNCH ‘SEE HOW THEY RUN’
The comedy “See How They Run” will jog your funny bone as P.S. Center Stage Players present the British farce at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 and 31 and Feb. 6 and 7 at Jo Brighton Auditorium, 4460 18th St. in Wyandotte.
Tickets are $12 for general admission and $8 for students and senior citizens. Group discounts are available with advance purchase of six or more tickets.
For more information or to order tickets call 734-285-8107 or go to http://pscenterstageplayers.com.
Set in a country vicarage in England during World War II, Phillip King’s three-act comedy combines tense comic situations and physical pratfalls with mistaken identity, slamming doors, too many vicars, an intruding spy and a nosy old-maid neighbor drunk on
Directed by Penny Lynn Siler, the cast includes Wyandotte residents Jessica Golema as Ida the maid, Kathy Bedikian as Miss Skillon, Toby Kmet as the Reverend Lionel Toop, Danielle Maniaci as Penelope Toop, Atam Bedikian as Corporal Clive Winton and Bryce Johnston as the Bishop of Lax.
Southgate residents include Angadbir Sandhul as the intruder and Alex Piscitelli as Sergeant Towers, and Tyler Goodwin of Lincoln Park as the Reverend Arthur Humphrey.
PLAYERS GUILD PLANS ‘A SWELL NIGHT FOR ROMANCE’ FUNDRAISER
If you are looking for a Valentine weekend date destination that might be tax deductable, reserve tickets now for the Players Guild of Dearborn’s Feb. 15 fundraiser, “A Swell Night for Romance.”
Set at Park Place Caterers, 23400 Park St. in Dearborn, the evening’s entertainment follows the humor and heartbreak as well as the highs and lows of romantic love through monologues, scenes and songs.
Guests can enjoy new takes on familiar love songs, plus a revue exploring first love, final straws, flirtation, proposals, happy-endings and hopeless romantics.
The evening begins at 7 p.m. with a light menu, open bar and romantic raffles, followed by an 8 p.m. performance, all for $50 per person.
For tickets, call 313-561-TKTS before Feb. 5 or reserve online at www.playersguildofdearborn.org.
The Players Guild of Dearborn is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
DAG HOLDS ‘THE AWESOME 80s PROM’ AUDITIONS JAN. 22, 23
The Downriver Actors Guild will hold auditions for Tony Award-winning producer Ken Davenport’s interactive dinner theater comedy “The Awesome 80s Prom” at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 and 23 at Out of the Box Theater, 1165 Ford Ave. in Wyandotte.
“The Awesome 80s Prom” is a blast-from-the-past prom for Wanaget High’s 1989 senior class. The characters represent hilarious stereotypical high school students from the era. They compete for the title of prom king and queen, with the dinner theater audience deciding the outcome.
The show, in the tradition of “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” treats audience members as guests in the interactive, improvisational comedy March 14, 15, 21 and 22 at Biddle Hall, 3239 Biddle Ave. in Wyandotte.
Director Denny Connors will have those auditioning read from the script and take part in improvisational exercises.
Teens auditioning must look old enough to be believable seniors, and must have parental permission to be in the show, which has some adult content.
The characters include the captain of the football team, the class president, nerds, Asian and Swedish exchange students, the bad boy, the head cheerleader and a flamboyant male drama queen.
The principal, the drama teacher and the DJ master of ceremonies are three of the “adult” roles.
Other roles include additional cheerleaders, football players, a freshman yearbook photographer and his twin sister, an ’80s impersonator mystery guest and a break dancer disguised as an audience member.
Presale tickets for the dinner theater are $30 for a single and $50 for a couple, and are available up to three days before each performance. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., with a cash bar, and a 7:15 p.m. dinner.
For more information, go to the group’s Facebook page or go to http://downriveractorsguild.net.