By SUE SUCHYTA
Acting Out Productions’ holiday show will entertain local families while collecting donations for a care package for a soldier with local ties and his company serving overseas.
At each performance of “Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Santa Smells” and the accompanying musical revue, the group will collect donations for a care package for U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Stover and the military personnel he serves with overseas. Stover’s family has been active in Acting Out Productions for the past year, and many of the children in the cast have met him.
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19, and 3 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Royal Majestic Theater inside Trillium Academy, 15740 Racho Blvd. in Taylor.
Tickets are $15 for adults, and $12 for students 18 and under. For ticket specials, go to actingoutdownriver.com/jazzhands.
For more information, call 734-558-3208, or go to actingoutdownriver.com.
The Junie B. show is based on the best-selling Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park, followed by a holiday-themed musical review.
“We really had a great time choosing music for this show,” music director Sarah Leonard said. “It’s not just a concert. There’s dancing, and the living nativity scene during one of the numbers is really beautiful.”
Cast members, age 4 to 18, include Ryan Boos, Bethany Fink, Kassie and Sophia Kozlo and Brendan Siddall of Allen Park; Adriana James of Lincoln Park; Grace Bock of Riverview; Ella Doddie, Madison Goethe and Trinity Yoscovitz of Southgate; Donte Bankston, Lucas, Julia and Sofia Klug and Joe Oliveri of Taylor; Josephine and Harper Clemons, Shayna Danyo, Melanie Hulslander, Nina Lomas, and Katie and Natalie Loger of Trenton; and Justin Hernandez and Jace Roscoe of Wyandotte.
Also in the cast are Aidan and Ava Gray, and Eva and Tessa Smith of Brownstown Township; Riley and Kennedy Klauza of Garden City; and L’Stasia Brantley of River Rouge.
Suggested donations for the overseas military personnel include holiday cookies and candy, travel-size hygiene products, black socks with no logos, coffee, beef jerky, energy shots, card games, AA batteries, hand sanitizer and wipes, sports drink powder, pens, pencils, pocket notebooks, microwave popcorn, lip balm, facial tissue, and Buffalo wings sauce.
MATRIX’S ‘THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN’ IS POWERFUL, POIGNANT
The Matrix Theatre Company’s production of Eric Coble’s “The Velocity of Autumn” is a powerful, poignant drama that runs for 80 minutes, without intermission, and never loses its focus or the audience’s attention.
Set in Brooklyn, Alexandra has barricaded herself in her brownstone with a lighter and mason jars full of highly explosive developing fluid, left over from her late husband’s darkroom, because her daughter and older son want her to move to an assisted living facility. When her younger son, long estranged, climbs a tree and slips in through a second floor window, a long overdue dialogue is launched which will change both of their lives forever.
Deftly directed by David Wolber, the show stars Jane MacFarland as Alexandria and Christopher Korte as Chris. Both are strong actors, and by the end of the play you feel like you know their characters, and will be on the edge of your seat waiting for the outcome as the clock ticks down.
Both protagonists keep the pace lively, and express a wide range of emotions, whether recalling happy memories from the past, or painful recent events.
The story moves quickly, even as we learn both characters’ back stories in an anecdotal manner. We envision a young mother and son running mischievously through a museum, and we feel their pain when Chris talks about a contemplated brush with death, and Alexandria talks about the frustration and agony of forgetting names, details and directions.
Christina Kilmar’s set is beautified by the vibrant orange back-lit autumn leaves at the window, while prop designer Megan Buckley-Ball rose to the challenge of providing numerous specific items key to the story.
“The Velocity of Autumn” runs at 8 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12, and 3 p.m. Dec. 6 and 13 at the Matrix Theatre Company, 2730 Bagley in Detroit.
Tickets are $20, with a $5 discount for students and seniors. To order, call 313-967-0599 or go to matrixtheatre.org.
ACTORS WILL ROAR OVER PLANET ANT’S ‘ORSON’S SHADOW’
If you’ve ever been on the stage, as an amateur or professional, you’ll laugh extra long and hard at Planet Ant’s production of Austin Pendleton’s “Orson’s Shadow.”
Set in London in 1960, Orson Welles, whose career is waning, is directing Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright in Eugene Ionesco’s theatrically absurd “Rhinoceros.”
Director Charles Reynolds rises to the challenge of directing a play within a play, in which the actors must express extremes, and break the third wall, all while endearing the audience to their wildly erratic and egocentric characters.
Dax Anderson is brilliant in an understated way as Ken Tynan, the theater critic trying to save Welles and Olivier from themselves by bringing their brilliant minds and abilities together, all while trying to ignore his own self-exacerbated emphysema.
Joel Mitchell as Welles hits all the notes between calm patience and agitated genius as a theatrical director trying to influence the brilliant but self-absorbed Olivier.
Jonathan Davidson as Olivier embodies every talented actor who has ever driven the rest of a cast crazy with his never-ending and long-winded quest for his character’s motivation. As the director and actor battle it out during blocking, and the rest of the long-suffering cast and crew stand by, the house hoots in laughter, having likely been in similarly frustrating circumstances.
Kelly Rossi exudes calm and quiet brilliance as Joan Plowright, Olivier’s love interest, and the only one able to administer a reality check to the great actor.
T. M. Rawlins is fascinating and seductive as Vivian Leigh, portrayed as a bi-polar nympomaniac past her prime and struggling with tuberculosis.
Bryan Spanger plays Sean, the stage manager and jack-of-all-trades who represents an ordinary man in the shadow of the creative and volatile company, providing valuable yet amusing perspective.
The show is fascinating and character driven, and the intimacy of the small theater adds to the intensity of the show’s focus.
In a serendipitous bonus, one of the founding partners of Planet Ant Theatre was in the audience Nov. 28, Detroit native and comedic actor Keegan Michael Key, who generously greeted fans and posed for photos after the show.
“Orson’s Shadow” runs at 8 p.m. Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19, and 2 p.m. Dec. 6 and 13 at Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff in Hamtramck.
Tickets are $10 to $20, and are available online at planetant.com and at the door.