‘Be a Good Little Widow’ at Open Book; ‘Back to the 80s’ at DYPAC
Grief is as personal as each individual who experiences it, yet society places conflicting demands on how one should handle loss, putting more stress on people already struggling to cope.
Trenton’s Open Book Theatre Company’s production of Bekah Brunstetter’s “Be a Good Little Widow” looks at the messy, funny and sad stages of dealing with the death of someone dear to us.
The show runs 8 p.m. Oct. 27, 28, Nov. 3, 4, 10, 11, 16 to 18, and 2 p.m. Nov. 5 and 12, with matinee post-show discussions with the artists at the playhouse, 1621 West Road, Trenton.
When 26-year-old Melody is widowed, Hope, her mother-in-law, tries to teach her the “proper” way to grieve, while Melody’s late husband’s assistant is trying to cope with his loss. The show is billed as a sad comedy.
Directed by Adriane Galea of Allen Park, the show features Meghan VanArsdalen of Jackson as Melody, Diane Hill of Wolverine Lake as Hope, Joshua Brown of Brownstown Township as Craig and Tim Pollack of Wyandotte as Brad.
Galea said she is a sucker for “tragic, heavy, witty, powerful” plays.
“Anyone who has lost someone or felt pain, or wants a good laugh or cry should come see this show,” she said. “Grief is such a unique, personal experience. It serves as a reminder that life can’t be taken for granted.”
Hill, whose character initially comes across as stoic and rigid, said Hope is “boiling and bubbling” beneath the surface.
“She eventually buckles under the magnitude of her loss and becomes so much more human,” Hill said. “It’s a wonderful character arc to experience.”
She said the show is both funny and sad.
“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll love these very real people who make you do it,” Hill said.
VanArsdalen said the characters are not only vivid and real, but they show the shift that occurs in relationships after a tragedy.
“It offers a unique perspective on the grieving process and the things we remember during that time,” she said. “I love how the script jumps around in time through the character’s memories.”
VanArsdalen said audiences will identify with the need to find comfort when one’s resiliency is under duress.
“It reminds us to learn from each other during hardship,” she said. “Loss is an extremely relatable human experience. This play does a beautiful job demonstrating how to put differences aside during trying times and be open to connection.”
She said the show’s characters discover hope amid tragedy.
“It’s a roller coaster, and it’s real, human and relatable, a really cathartic experience for anyone who has experienced loss,” VanArsdalen said. “It’s gentle and funny, and the silliness/awkwardness offers a great balance to the heartbreaking parts.”
She hopes audience members will relate to the characters and recognize moments in their own past.
“I hope audiences will take away a sense of commonality, remembering that they are not alone,” VanArsdalen said. “What a wonderful feeling to associate with seeing a play.”
Tickets are $30 for the opening night and afterglow, and $20 all other performances, with a $5 discount for students and seniors. For tickets or more information call 734-288-7753 or go to openbooktc.com.
‘BACK TO THE 80s’ OFFERS MUSICAL NOSTALGIA
A “totally awesome” journey through the music and trends of the eighties with a class of high school seniors will energize the stage in “Back to the 80s” Nov. 10 to 18 at the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center.
The show runs 7 p.m. Nov. 10, 11, 17 and 18 and 2 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Trenton Village Theatre, 2447 W. Jefferson, Trenton.
Directed by Mary Zaleski, the show follows the William Ocean High School senior class as it navigates the world of Rubik’s Cube, Max Headroom and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in an era in which the big screen featured hits like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “The Karate Kid.”
The musical hits of the era follow the teens as they experience fun, heartbreak and first loves, brought to the stage by a talented and energetic teen cast.
Tickets are $10 and $15, and are available by calling 734-771-7945 or online at dypac.com.