From outrageous auditions to disastrous opening nights, the Players Guild of Dearborn’s production of the comic farce “Laughing Stock” will have the house howling in amusement as theatrical mayhem ensues.
The show runs 8 p.m. Jan. 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25, and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 12, 19 and 26 at the theater, 21730 Madison, Dearborn.
“Laughing Stock” follows a summer repertory theater which schedules a season of “Dracula,” “Hamlet” and “Charley’s Aunt,” and follows the company from auditions, through rehearsals and technical nightmares, to disastrous opening nights and the satisfying and nostalgic closing night. The comedy will hold a special appeal to anyone who has ever followed the lure of stage lights or crewed a show.
Director Kori Bielaniec said “Laughing Stock” is a story about the people for whom community theater is a passion.
“Some of the characters are a little cliché, but a lot of them are similar to people we know and love, and that makes the show so hilarious,” Bielaniec said. “The first time I read the show, it made me feel like someone understood how I felt about theater.”
She said at first, she wanted to audition for “Laughing Stock,” but since she knew she might not be cast, she decided she to apply to direct the show.
“The first time I read it, I laughed out loud, which is definitely not an everyday occurrence,” Bielaniec said. “Seeing it come to life, with some of the funniest people I know, I laugh every single rehearsal, and I can’t wait for others to see it, too. I know the audience is going to laugh themselves silly.”
She said the show really depicts what it is like to be part of a community theater.
“This is a fun representation of everything, from goofy auditions to the bitter-sweetness of a show closing,” Bielaniec said. “I think audiences will love seeing that complete journey with these characters.”
David Zolotarchuk of Ypsilanti plays Tyler Taylor, one of the fore-mentioned characters, whom he describes as a diva, the type of actor most cast members recall having seen behind-the-scenes. He said the cast is enjoying honing the comedic scenes.
“Even though there is a lot of action depicting things behind the scenes, the comedy is still accessible to people who have not had that experience,” Zolotarchuk said. The characters are so large that the comedy still comes through regardless of your personal frame of reference.”
Emily Kaltz of Dearborn, who plays Mary Pierre, said her character is quite the opposite: endearing and sweet, if not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
“The basic premise is a summer theater troupe performing three shows in repetition, and as any actor can tell you, this is no easy task,” Kaltz said. “Missteps, errors and comedy abound as the cast and crew perform each show.”
Julie Ballantyne Brown of Dearborn plays Sarah McKay, a character she describes as abrasive but with a soft side.
“If anyone has ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a small theater, this is the show for them,” she said. “They will laugh, but people will also be surprised at its heart. It’s a comedy, and a hilarious one, but the characters are relatable and real.”
William McCloskey of Monroe plays Vernon Volker, whom he describes as a “crank and a curmudgeon.”
“‘Laughing Stock’ touches the funny bone as well as the heart,” he said. “The show successfully combines a heavy dose of comedy with a touch of pathos. If you like farce, you will like this play.”
Kaitlyn Cross of New Boston plays Karma Schneider, a character she said she would like to have as a friend.
“Come see ‘Laughing Stock’ and see some characters everyone seems to already know,” she said. “Be prepared to laugh until your stomach hurts.”
Also in the cast are: Nick Szczerba of Brownstown Township as Richfield Hawksley; Dearborn residents Ken Kilgore as Craig Conlin, Adam Lynch as Henry Mills, Jazzmin Sharara as Susannah Huntsman and Andrew St. John as Jack Morris; Casey Coulter of Dearborn Heights as Ian Milliken; Sue DeLosier of Lincoln Park as Daisy Coates; Alex Gojkov of Southgate as Gordon Paige; and Michael Stec of Wyandotte as Braun Oakes.
Tickets are $18, and are available by phone at 313-561-TKTS or online at playersguildofdearborn.org.