Death – or the undead – takes to the stage in the Downriver Actors Guild production of “Evil Dead – The Musical,” St. Dunstan’s “Bonnie and Clyde” and the Hilberry’s “Blithe Spirit.” Can Halloween be far behind?
The Downriver Actors Guild’s “Evil Dead – The Musical” is back by popular demand, with last season’s cast and a realistic “splatter zone” for those wishing a truly interactive experience.
The show runs 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at the Catherine A. Daly Theatre on the Avenue, 2656 Biddle, Wyandotte.
Directed by Denny Connors, by cast includes: Jaavon Arnold as Ed; Bryan Aue as Ash; Melanie Aue as Cheryl; Jake Davis as Shemp; Kimberly Elliott as Shelly and Annie; Leo McMaster as Scott; Sam Ramirez as Jake and Kayla Younkin as Linda.
Connors said DAG took a chance when it brought “Evil Dead – The Musical” to the stage last year, but the risk paid off, and the show was well-received. Since its initial run, patrons have asked when “Evil Dead” would return.
“The show falls into the ‘horror’ genre, but it is one of the funniest shows that you will see,” Connors said. “Theatergoers will be treated to a night of tricks and treats, a few scares, and a lot of laughs.”
He said the production’s unique twist is the “splatter zone.”
“The ‘Evil Dead’ movies were well known for their use of blood, and since the musical is a sendup of all three movies, the show follows suit with a gratuitous use of blood,” Connors said. “There isn’t a cast member that isn’t covered in blood by the end of the show.”
He said the splatter zone lets audiences in on the fun, if they wish.
“When the guns start firing and the chainsaw starts buzzing, the guests in the splatter zone will be splattered,” Connors said. “You will get wet on this ride.”
He said the show is a one-of-a-kind experience.
“If you want a great night of music and hard belly laughs, this is the show,” Connors said. “You will be surprised at how much you will love the show.”
McMaster said show is fast-paced and hilarious, with cutting inuendo and clever asides to the audience.
“The buzz for this show is the level of talent returning,” he said. “We’ve come back and hit the ground running, and worked to tighten up what we did last year, and added more jokes to make it even more of a fun and bloody night out.”
He said the closing dance numbers add an extra treat.
“The last three dance numbers will hit the audience in all the right spots and make their toes curl,” McMaster promised.
Younkin said the humor in the songs will leave the audience in stitches.
“The whole purpose of ‘Evil Dead – The Musical’ is to poke fun at the movies we know and love,” she said. “Even if you are a diehard fan of the original films, this show is great at keeping the audience guessing at what crazy stuff is going to happen next. And singing and dancing zombies – who doesn’t want to see that?”
The production is not for everyone, though – those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The show deals with mature themes and contains adult language, sexual situations, violence and gore.
Tickets are $18, with a $2 discount for students and seniors. For tickets or more information, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.
HEIGHTS ACTOR PLAYS CLYDE BARROW IN ‘BONNIE AND CLYDE’
Crestwood High School theater alumnus and Schoolcraft College student Nour Sanif, 18, of Dearborn Heights takes to the stage as Clyde Barrow in the St. Dunstan Theatre Guild production of the musical “Bonnie and Clyde.”
The show runs 8 p.m. Sept. 27 and 28 and Oct. 4, 5, 11 and 12, and 2 p.m. Sept. 29 and Oct. 6 and 13 at the St. Dunstan Theatre Guild of Cranbrook, 400 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Hills.
The Tony Award-nominated musical follows the Depression-era saga of waitress Bonnie Parker and small-time crook Clyde Barrow, who long to escape the poverty of their lives. As Clyde teams up with his brother, Buck, their crimes grow in notoriety, Bonnie joins them, and the robberies escalate to murder. As the young lovers go on the run, they make it to the top of the headlines and Public Enemies list.
The crime spree is interwoven with a love story and musical numbers, with songs ranging from gospel, blues and rockabilly. Images from the real Bonnie and Clyde are projected onto the set to tie the show to the actual events of the era.
Sanif said he is working in community theater and local films to become a stronger actor, and has appeared onstage with the Village Players of Birmingham and the Lakeland Players.
He said Clyde Barrow was seeking a life during the Great Depression that would set him apart from others.
“He didn’t want to end up like his father, but only knows guns, stealing and fast cars,” Sanif said. “Clyde wasn’t viewed as a bad guy, but a hero. To understand his motivation, you must understand the economic hopelessness.
“However, my favorite part of playing Clyde Barrow is feeling alive and understanding what the iconic man of the Great Depression was thinking at the time. Come and see the story come to life.”
Tickets are $20, with a $2 discount for seniors and children. For more information, or to order, call 844-DUNSTAN or go to StDunstansTheatre.com.
HILBERRY’S ‘BLITHE SPIRIT’ CUTS CRUCIAL PLOT ELEMENTS, ENGAGES STEREOTYPE, INAPPROPRIATE SLAPSTICK
Despite the talent in the Hilberry graduate theater company at Wayne State University, its opening show, Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” cuts key plot elements, as well as engaging in stereotype and slapstick totally inappropriate to the playwright’s sophisticated, dry wit.
Directed by Hilberry alumnus James Kuhl, the show, in which a séance brings back the ghost of a writer’s first wife, which in turn brings havoc upon his second wife and the household, totally cut all the plot references which outline the infidelities of the first wife, Elvira, and of her husband, Charles, as well.
Spoiler alert: In the closing scene, Charles is supposed to provoke both his ghostly wives into trashing the house by taunting them with tales of his own indiscretions, in trademark Coward style, which Kuhl totally eliminated. Instead, Charles breezily bids his wives adieu, and the crashing destruction of the house obliterate his few remaining lines.
The show is set in England during World War II, but the Hilberry, which has always had colorblind casting, turns Madame Arcati, the medium, played by black actress Jasmine Monet Roosa, into a Jamaican caricature, wearing Kente cloth, which is associated with Ghana. Roosa could have played an English-accented, sophisticated if eccentric medium, in 1940s dress, but for unknown reasons Kuhl placed a modern-day stereotype into a World War II storyline.
Edith, the maid, was turned into Edward, a houseboy, played by Quint Mediate. The character is supposed to be nervous and clumsy, but every time Edward went off-stage, the sound effects crew produced a loud, extended crash, which is totally incongruous with Coward’s sophisticated fare.
The scene changes were performed by the cast, in double time, with frantic, fast-paced music, which, again, was totally out of tune with the sophisticated style of the show.
The characters of Dr. Bradman, played by Jacob Chapman, and Tori Leigh, as Mrs. Bradman, the dinner guests, were totally under-developed and bland, missing a great opportunity to add some color to the scenes.
With the elimination of the snarky sexual innuendo and tension, the roles of Charles, played by John Bergeron, Ruth, played by Lani Call, and Elvira, played by Sarah Summerwell, lacked the licentious spark that make Coward’s characters more flawed and fascinating.
In an odd twist, Kuhl took a closing scene in which the female servant, Edith, is shocked to think the master of the house has taken advantage of her sexually, and turned it into a scene in which the male servant, Edward, thinks Charles is flirting with him, in which Edward indicates delighted interest, which is totally inconsistent with what little of his character has been developed.
For theater lovers who know and love “Blithe Spirit,” you will be disappointed by the Hilberry’s rendition. The talented cast tries its damnedest to deliver the story, but it falls short of expectations.
The show continues its run at 8 p.m. Sept. 27, 28, and Oct. 4 and 5; 2 p.m. Sept. 28; 7 p.m. Oct. 3; and 3 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Hilberry Theater, 4743 Cass, Detroit.
Ticket are $29, with a $5 discount for seniors, alumni, faculty and staff, and a $12 discount for students. For more information or to order, call 313-577-2972 or go to theatreanddanceatwayne.com.