Set your theatrical TARDIS for 15th century Paris, as Crestwood High School takes a journey back in time with the the musical “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
The show runs 7 p.m. April 27 and 28, and May 3 to 5, at the high school auditorium, 1501 N. Beech Daly, in Dearborn Heights.
As the Feast of Fools brings revelers to the city, Quasimodo, a hunchbacked, deformed bell ringer, who has been hidden in the Notre Dame cathedral his entire life, uses the cover of the masquerade to join the festive crowd. However, when the unmasking occurs, all but the beautiful Gypsy, Esmeralda, scorn him. Esmeralda is also sought by Captain Phoebus, and by the dark-hearted Frollo, who plots to purge the other Gypsies.
The high school will use a live orchestra with the musical for the first time in 20 years, and will feature a choir of current students, alumni and Riverside Middle School students.
Director Cayla Kobusz said she chose this show because she believes it is as relevant to people today as it was in the past.
“At some point, I think everyone has felt different, or like an outcast,” she said. “It is important to remember that the things that make us unique are also the things that make us beautiful.”
Kolbusz said that in her nearly 15 years of directing, the “Hunchback” cast and crew is one of easiest and most positive with which she has worked.
“They work as a team, and you can see that on stage in the production,” she said. “The most challenging part has been including the orchestra, alumni and middle school students. Sometimes everyone’s schedules do not mesh. People that have never been part of the theater world have no idea how many moving parts there are in a production.”
Ghena Nachar, who plays Esmeralda, said she is a strong, confident and driven character.
“She isn’t afraid to stand for what she believes in, even if it means sacrificing her life for it,” Nachar said. “Connecting to Esmeralda has been enjoyable and challenging. Esmeralda brought out some of my own traits, and I noticed some of Esmeralda’s traits in myself throughout the process.”
She said children will be glad Esmeralda saw the best in Quasimodo, despite his differences, and it may encourage them to do the same.
Nachar said adults will like the evolution of the characters throughout the show.
“Each character goes through personal changes,” she said. “By the end of the show they are willing to make sacrifices that they initially wouldn’t have.”
Nachar said she hopes audiences leave appreciating the differences in others, and are more willing to approach people to whom they might not have otherwise spoken.
Karim Hazime, as Quasimodo, said his character is both vulnerable and kind-hearted.
“He just wants to fit in and be loved,” he said. “I have enjoyed being able to bring a story from my childhood to life on stage.”
Hazime said the music is upbeat and fun, and there are comedic aspects children will enjoy.
“The core of the story will appeal to adults – it isn’t just a Disney story,” he said. “It’s raw, real and beautifully powerful.”
He said the story will make audiences laugh and cry.
“It isn’t just a show to entertain, but to learn from, and to understand that everyone is the same no matter what physical or internal differences they may have,” Hazime said.
Markus Monolidis said Phoebus, a veteran, and the Captain of the Guard, is different from the characters he normally plays.
“The difficult thing about this role is playing someone who is very tough on the outside but still very genuine on the inside,” he said.
Monolidis said children will enjoy the touching story and lovable characters, while adults will enjoy how it reflects on their lives and behavior.
“It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen at Crestwood before,” Monolidis said. “I hope the audience leaves a bit nicer to everyone than they were before.”
Adam El-Zein said that while his character, Frollo, is the villain, he is conflicted, and he doesn’t think he is a bad person.
“I enjoy trying to convey different emotions through each line and action,” he said.
El Zein said in the past, he has played mostly comedic characters.
He said he tells people about the amazing music and story.
“The songs are beautiful, the lyrics are genius, and they convey the story beautifully,” he said. “Our society needs a message like this in the times we are going through.”
Ronin Castoreno, as Clopin, agrees.
“This show tells a story that must be told,” Castoreno said. “Being able to see its relevance in our society is a task in which we must all take part.”
Also in the cast are Savannah Kramer as Madam, Noureddin Sanif as Jehan Frollo, Madison Minarik as Florika, Ebraham Awad as Saint Aphrodisius and an official, Austin Thomas as Lieutenant Frederic Charlus, Mason Hinawi as Father Dupin and King Louie XI, and Liliann Fezzani and Hayat Nachar as Gargoyles.
The ensemble includes Hannah Anttila, Alyssa Balish, Jennifer Gladkowski, Serena Irani, Bobry’el Jones, Lauren Littlejohn, Valencia Morgan and Ayla Sudorowski.
Kolbusz said she hopes audiences leave touched by the show’s message.
“I hope they feel a little less alone, and even see themselves in a more positive light,” she said.
General admission is $10, with limited $15 VIP tickets, which includes seating in the front rows, and a voucher for free popcorn and soda. Both tickets offer a $1 discount for Crestwood district staff and students with identification, and seniors. To purchase tickets, call 201-500-8587, contact [email protected] or go to go to tickets.vendini.com.
DEARBORN HIGH SCHOOL PRESENTS ‘KISS ME KATE’
It’s double trouble and twice the fun at Dearborn High School, as a leading lady and her ex-husband battle onstage and off during a production of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” in the Cole Porter musical, “Kiss Me, Kate.”
The double cast show runs 7:30 p.m. April 26, 27 and 28 and 3 p.m. April 29 at the DHS Valentine Auditorium, 19501 W. Outer Drive in Dearborn.
Director Greg Viscomi said “Kiss Me Kate” is a favorite show.
“It is tremendous musical theater, bringing together Shakespeare, a great musical score and wonderful comedy,” he said. “I hope they go out the door humming Cole Porter’s great music and laughing about the great performance.”
Viscomi said he likes introducing his students to productions and composers, like Cole Porter, that are new to them, while combining the challenge of a musical comedy with Shakespearean performance styles.
Graham Dallas, who shares the role of Fred Graham and Petruccio, said playing an actor who is playing another role within the play is a fun challenge.
“I not only have to think about playing Fred, but about playing Petruchio as Fred, and getting the two to work at the same time,” Dallas said.
He said “Kiss Me Kate” has stood the test of time.
“It has all the elements of a great musical,” Dallas said. “It has fantastic music, fun dance numbers, comedy, drama, and there’s something to like about every character.”
Case deKoning, who alternately plays the roles of Gangster No. 1 and General Harrison Howell, said while neither role is difficult, switching from one to the other has proven to be a challenge.
“I’ve learned to manage this balancing act by assigning voices and movements to the characters that are unique to them, which in turn allows me to stay within the mindset of that character.”
Heather Slanec, who shares the role of Lilli and Kate, said her character’s quick wit contributes sharp comments to many scripted conversations.
“The humor is witty,” Slanec said. “The costumes are stunning, and the songs are catchy. I hope that after the show the audience will still be humming its tunes.”
Matt Apostle, who shares the role of Bill Calhoun and Lucentio, said “Kiss Me Kate” was the first musical to win a Tony, which it was awarded in 1949 during the third annual Tonys.
“The humor in the show has many different levels, from slapstick physical comedy, to historical allusions,” Apostle said. “This helps to engage audiences of all ages. ‘Kiss Me Kate’ is an excellent show, has stood the test of time, and can be done over 70 years after its release and still have the same reception of its great music and beautiful story.”
The 7:30 p.m. April 26 and April 28 cast includes Graham Dallas as Fred and Petruchio, Scout Greimel as Lilli and Kate, Matt Apostle as Bill and Lucentio, Olivia Palise as Lois and Bianca, Case DeKoning as General Howell, Brandon Hestand and Sam Joachim as the gangsters, Andrew Blankenship as Hortensio, and Madison Brodoski as Rhonda the stage manager.
The 7:30 p.m. April 27 and 3 p.m. April 29 cast includes Devin Young as Fred and Petruchio, Heather Slanec as Lilli and Kate, Sam Joachim as Bill and Lucentio, Katie Garber as Lois and Bianca, Matt Apostle as General Howell, Case DeKoning and Andrew Blankenship as the gangsters, Brandon Hestand as Hortensio, and Tessa Nickles as Rhonda the stage manager.
At all performances Anna Karoub plays Hattie, Tristan Nunez plays Baptista, and Ryan Chatila plays Paul.
Familiar Cole Porter songs include, “Too Darn Hot,” “So In Love,” “Wunderbar,” “Tom, Dick or Harry,” “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” and “Another Op’nin, Another Show.”
Tickets are $13, with a $2 discount for college students and a $5 discount for children and seniors. Call 313-827-1647 for tickets.
‘CABARET’ AT RIVER RAISIN CENTRE FOR THE ARTS
Dearborn actress Carolyn Sohoza will play Sally Bowles in “Cabaret” April 27 to May 6 at the River Raisin Centre for the Arts.
The show runs 7:30 p.m. April 27 and 28 and May 4 and 5, and 3 p.m. May 6 at the theater, 114 S. Monroe St. in Monroe.
The cast includes LeeAnn Bass of Monroe as Fraulein Schneider, Dwight Grifka of Temperance as Herr Schultz, and Toledo residents Justin Bays as the Emcee, Matthew Pettrey as Clifford Bradshaw, Rachel Schneider as Fraulein Kost and Aaron Smith as Ernst Ludwig.
Tickets are $25, with a $2 discount for seniors and a $7 discount for students. To order, call 734-242-RRCA or go to riverraisincentre.org.
DAG AUDITIONS FOR ‘THE WIZARD OF OZ’
The Downriver Actors Guild will hold auditions for “The Wizard of Oz” at 7 p.m. May 14, with auditions for Munchkins, age 8 and older, and 5 feet or shorter, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 12 at the Catherine A. Daly Theatre on the Avenue, 2656 Biddle, Wyandotte. Call backs are at 7 p.m. May 15.
Michael Gravame is directing, with Sarah Noble as music director and Kimberly Elliott as choreographer. For more information, go to the downriveractorsguild.net.