The local weather may be unpredictable, but one can count on local talent shining onstage as Henry Ford College, Trenton High School, Dearborn’s Edsel Ford High School and the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center in Trenton launch end-of-April productions.
HENRY FORD COLLEGE PRESENTS, ‘FIVE WOMEN WEARING THE SAME DRESS’
Anyone who has ever been a bridesmaid in a one-time gown can understand the setting for the five reluctant women in playwright Alan Ball’s show “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.”
Set during an ostentatious wedding reception at a family estate, the five reluctant bridesmaids congregate in the bedroom of the bride’s rebellious younger sister.
Each woman shares her reasons for avoiding the reception, and the five women form a bond, and find they have more in common than they realized.
Directed by Chris Bremer, the cast includes Cassandra Kalfa of Shelby Township as Frances, Kourtney Collins of Allen Park as Meredith, Emily Orellana of Lincoln Park as Trisha, Kaitlynn Shelton of New Baltimore as Georgeanne, Eve Leigh of Royal Oak as Mindy and Hani Hijazi of Dearborn as Tripp.
Bremer said he chose the play because he was looking for a show that would showcase the cast’s talent as well as reflect the changes occurring in society.
He said it is challenging to restart the theater program after the COVID-19 pandemic hiatus, but he is glad to be directing again.
“It is awesome to be back on stage,” Bremer said. “This is a period piece, and while the late 1980s may not seem that long ago, it actually is, and seeing the change in mores and social norms of the time as compared to today is actually pretty eye-opening.”
Hijazi, the lone male in the cast, said his biggest challenge was learning a southern accent, since, as a Lebanese immigrant, English is his second language.
He said the topics the characters broach – homophobia, sexual abuse, fat-shaming and addiction – are relevant today.
“I think this show is a great way to achieve diversity and cultural acceptance,” he said. “Not only the characters but the actors have different ideologies and backgrounds.”
Orellana said greatest test of her ability was learning to play a jaded, worldly woman who has had many more life experiences than she has had.
“What has been the most challenging is emulating a woman who is well-versed on the topic of love,” she said. “Personally, I have hardly any experience in that area of my life.”
Shelton said her biggest challenge was also learning to portray a character older than her, who is “emotional, vivacious and absolutely unfiltered.”
“I hope the audience sees a little of themselves in the characters, and uses what they see to grow and prosper,” she said.
Leigh, who plays the groom’s clumsy and outspoken lesbian sister, said her character is not afraid to speak her mind, and provides much of the comic relief.
She said rehearsals have been entertaining as well as challenging, with her character quickly going from goofball to serious.
“I hope people understand that this production is about acceptance and what they choose to tolerate,” she said. “Topics that were once uncomfortable to talk about are slowly being brought to light and accepted today.”
Showtimes are 8 p.m. April 28 to 30 and May 5 to 7, with 2 p.m. May 1 and 8 matinees at the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center on the Henry Ford College campus on Evergreen Road in Dearborn.
Tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for seniors and $7 for students, faculty and staff. The show contains adult language and content, and is intended for mature audiences only. To order tickets online, go to showtix4u.com/event-details/60392.
TRENTON HIGH SCHOOL PRESENTS ‘ALICE IN WONDERLAND’
Get ready to go down the rabbit hole on the way to adventure with the cast of Trenton High School’s “Alice in Wonderland,” based on the classic tale by Lewis Carroll, as adapted by Anne Coulter Martens.
The role of Alice is double-cast, with Katie Loger playing the role at the 7 p.m. April 28 and 30 shows, and Hannah Gilliand performing at the 7 p.m. April 29 and 2 p.m. April 30 shows.
The cast features 28 students, including two eighth-graders.
Featured performers include Gabrielle Fabela as the White Rabbit, Ava Cheff as the Mad Hatter, Anna Stenger as the Cheshire Cat, Madalyn Bailey as Tweedledee, Chelsea Kings as Tweedledum, Abbey Bullard as the Duchess and Fiona McCardell as the Knave.
Tickets are $5, and showtimes are 7 p.m. April 28 to 30, with a 2 p.m. April 30 matinee at the THS auditorium, 2601 Charlton Road.
EDSEL FORD HIGH SCHOOL PRESENTS ‘DISNEY DESCENDANTS – THE MUSICAL’
When Disney’s good guys taken on the villains, the stage is set for a fascinating tale, as told in the musical “Disney Descendants – The Musical” April 28 to 30 at the Edsel Ford High School auditorium.
In the kingdom of Auradon, where the beloved heroes live happily ever after, safe from the villains and outcasts, who are banished to the Isle of the Lost, Ben, the son of Belle and Adam (the Beast) offers the villains’ offspring a chance at redemption.
Thus, Malificent’s daughter, Mal; the Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie; Jafar’s son, Jay’ and Cruella De Vil’s son, Carlos, attend school on Auradon, a completely foreign way of life, and must eventually decide whether to follow in their parents’ evil footsteps or learn to embrace the opposite.
Directed by Robert Doyle, the cast includes Giana Lerini as Mal, Shanya Duncan as Evie, Hasen Alnakash as Jay and TaKarion Clay as Carlos.
Gioia Lerini plays Maleficent, with Kennedy Hill as Grimhilde, Ian Kuentz as Jaafar, and Margaret Carscadden as Cruella de Vil.
Mohammed “Moogie” Fawaz plays Ben, with Milena Hohl as Queen Belle, Jordan Edwards as King Adam, Maddie Norris as the Fairy Godmother, Oparebea Hull as Jane and Dylan Charles as Chad.
Molly Chinery plays Audrey, with Dashiel Greimel as Doug, Lauren Skidmore as a Royal Page, Jordan Garner as a Royal Guard, Ian Kuentz as Maurice, Olivia Draus as Coach, and Moriah Bartolomei as Snow White.
The ensemble, composed of elementary, middle and high school students, includes Natalie Attard, Maria Baker, Myrna Burkhalter, Alana Carter, Chastity Cannizzaro, Keira Catris, Amelia Danyliw, Olivia Draus, Jordan Garner, Lillie Hart, Donna Khalil, Caroline Kuentz, Victoria Lamb, Zachary Miller, Lydia Rouleau, Quinn Rouleau, Lauren Skidmore and Melani Zarate.
Giana Lerini and her younger sister, Gioia, are paired as Mal and Maleficent, a unique mother-daughter duo.
Gioia Lerini said the evil Maleficent has toned down a bit, since it has been years since she was at the peak of her villainous glory. One only imagines that being mother to a teen would do that.
Director Doyle said he’s enjoyed forming a cohesive cast of elementary to high school students, and seeing them add energy and life to the script.
“There is nothing more satisfying for a theater educator than to see students discover talents and skills within themselves,” he said.
Giana Lerini, who is helping her fellow cast members learn the songs, choreography and their lines, is a good example.
“Giana has truly stepped up as a leader and an artist,” Doyle said. “This is very much the equivalent of a senior project, and she has truly risen to the occasion.”
Fawaz said he connected to his character, Ben, because of the show’s theme about people from different backgrounds becoming friends.
Doyle credits the cast and crew parents and the Crescendo Club members who offered their time and talent to benefit the students.
“The value of their commitment and involvement is invaluable,” he said.
Showtimes are 7 p.m. April 28 to 30 at Edsel Ford High School, 20601 Rotunda Drive, Dearborn. Tickets are $12 for adults, and $10 for students and seniors.
DYPAC PRESENTS ‘LEGALLY BLONDE – THE MUSICAL’
The Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center presents “Legally Blonde – the Musical” April 22 to 30 at the Trenton Village Theater, 2447 W. Jefferson Ave.
The musical, based on the movie, follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes and scandal in the pursuit of her dreams.
As she enters to Harvard Law School, she grows as a person and realizes her own potential.
The show is filled with memorable songs and high-energy dance numbers.
Patrick Yeager is making his directorial debut, with choreography by Amber Kittle, musical direction by Audra Baas and vocal direction by Taylor Charboneau.
The cast includes Kylie Scarpace as Elle Woods, Nolan Swamy as Emmett Forrest, MacKenna Tocco as Paulette Buonofuonte, Kaya Shell as Pilar, Alicia Cotter as Margot and Madison Ganzak as Serena.
Caleb Litten plays Professor Callahan, with Matthew Smith as Warner Huntington III, Leah Andrysiak as Vivienne Kensington, Courtney Perttula as Brooke Wyndham, Tyler Zolynsky as Kyle B. O’Boyle, Gwen Ryan as Enid Hoops, Emma Small as Elle’s mother, and Kyle Cronan as Elle’s father.
Parker Forgach plays Kate, with Reagan Lewis as Leilani and the dance captain, Nina Lomas as the cashier at Hair Affair, Luke Markley as the colorist at Hair Affair, Noah Rodriguez as Sundeep Padamadan, and Isaac Clark as Aaron Schultz.
Jacob Maher plays Dewey, with Finn Jamison as Nikos Argitakos, Parker Watson as Carlos, Jack Durant as Grand Master Chad, Matthew Bond as Winthrop, Marisa Siakantaris as Whitney, Samantha Plunkett as Chutney Wyndham, and Kira Saiti as the judge.
The ensemble includes Emily Ascencio, Chelsea Kings, Cameryn Beaty-Burnett, Madison Konarski, Calleigh Butler, Chloe McMahon, Harper Clemons, Isabella Selburg, Lily Digna, Ava Sturgill, Paige Gilbert, Amelia Hachenski and Sophia Valchine.
Showtimes are 7 p.m. April 22, 23, 29 and 30, and 2 p.m. April 24 at the theater. Premium tickets are $18, and regular adult tickets are $16, with a $2 discount for seniors and students. To order online, go showtix4you.com/events/16162.
For more information about DYPAC, go to dypac.com.