A range of entertainment awaits on local stages, from the thought-provoking drama “Too Heavy for Your Pocket” at Trenton’s Open Book Theater, to family favorite “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” in Wyandotte, to the musical “Little Shop of Horrors” at Grosse Ile High School.
TRENTON’S OPEN BOOK THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS, ‘TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET’
In its commitment to present stories from diverse viewpoints, Trenton’s Open Book Theatre Company presents its first mainstage play by a Black author, Jireh Breon Holder’s “Too Heavy for Your Pocket.”
The show, which runs May 13 to June 12, is set in Nashville in 1961, during the height of the civil rights movement and the era of the Freedom Riders, and explores the balance between security and risk.
Artistic Director Krista Schafer Ewbank said the show focuses on two couples, whom audiences come to know and love.
“We see how much they are affected by Bowzie’s decision to join the Freedom Riders,” she said. “He understands the risk he is taking, but feels he needs to be a part of the change.”
Ewbank said the story resonates with what Americans are experiencing now with the Black Lives Matter movement, as people weigh the benefits and risks of protests.
“It’s a very personal story about a very big moment in history,” she said.
The show, directed by Lynch Travis, features Craig Ester of Detroit as Tony, Ashley Kay of Livonia as Sally Mae, Justin Montgomery of Dearborn as Bowzie and Maegan Murphy of Ann Arbor as Evelyn.
Travis said the show is about the struggle to take a stand for what is right, knowing that it may impact not only you, but those you love.
“I am excited to help bring different voices to the theater and tell a story we may not know much about,” he said. “Against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, it is important now because we have an opportunity to delve into social issues, learn about our sub-cultures, and how they intersect and diverge.”
Kay said the play provides her with challenges as an actress.
“I am always looking to be a part of projects that force me to reveal the parts of me that I usually don’t like to share with a lot of folks,” she said. “It’s scary, but it’s a reminder of how far I have come not only as an artist, but as a person.”
Kay said the story reinforces the freedom of choice we all face, and the impact it has on our lives.
She said that faith is as important to her personally as it is to the character she portrays.
“This show is a reflection of the joy, pain, laughter, sorrow and wisdom that I am able to incorporate into my work, and hope to connect to those that see the show,” Kay said. “It’s the reintroduction to who I am as not only as a person, but as a storyteller.”
Murphy said her character, in contrast, is very different from her own personality.
“There is that challenge, but it is an exciting one,” she said. “I definitely connect to Evelyn as a singer, but I also connect with the ways in which she tends to be stubborn.”
Murphy said the show sheds light on a part of history that isn’t explored as often as it should be.
“We see the impact that the Freedom Riders have on all four characters,” she said. “The overarching theme is one of love and forgiveness.
“There are different points throughout the play where each character forgives another, and it is the love they have for each other that enables them to do so.”
Murphy said she also sings during the show.
“I can’t wait for audiences to see it,” she said. “I think they’ll have a great experience.”
Show times are 8 p.m. May 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28, and June 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11, and 2 p.m. May 15, 22 and 29, and June 5 and 12 at 2 p.m. at the playhouse, 1621 West Road in Trenton.
Tickets are $30 for opening night, and $25 other nights for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for students. To order, call 734-288-7753 or go to openbooktc.com.
WYANDOTTE’S P.S. CENTER STAGE PLAYERS PRESENT ‘YOU’RE A GOOD MAN,CHARLIE BROWN’
P.S. Center Stage Players capture the timeless magic of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts characters May 12 to 20 in the 1967 musical “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” with songs about kites, blankets, baseball games, book reports and American’s beloved beagle.
Whether it’s Snoopy challenging the Red Baron, Linus loving his blanket, Schroder playing the piano or Charlie Brown optimistically trying to fly a kite, the Peanuts gang captures the nostalgia of childhood and a snippet of a simpler time.
Penny Lynn Siler of Southgate directs the show, with vocal direction by Jamie Krause of Wyandotte and choreography by Ava Chef of Trenton.
The cast includes: Brendan Johnson of Taylor as Charlie Brown, Jenna Krauser of Wyandotte as Sally, Ava Chef of Trenton as Lucy, Parker Watson of Wyandotte as Linus, Lily Wilson of Wyandotte as Schroeder and Lydia Cuthbert of Taylor as Snoopy.
The chorus includes Julianne Moreno and Addison Sauve of Wyandotte, Meghan Perkins of Allen Park and, as swing, Aurora Fisher of Southgate.
Show times are 7 p.m. May 12, 13, 19 and 20 at Jo Brighton Auditorium, 4460 18th St., Wyandotte.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students, seniors and military personnel, and $8 for children ages 2 to 12 years old. Tickets sales are cash only, at the door, from 6:30 p.m. to curtain. Call 734-771-0590 for group discounts.
GROSSE ILE HIGH SCHOOL PRESENTS THE MUSICAL ‘LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS’
As the lights dim in the Grosse Ile High School auditorium May 13 and 14, a voice will warn all present of what they are about to witness, as it sternly intones, “In an early year of a decade not too long before our own, the human race suddenly encountered a deadly threat to its existence.”
As it warns not about pandemics, but mean, green man-eating plants from outer space, “Little Shop of Horrors” launches into its campy, delightful musical journey about a sadistic dentist, a ditzy blonde with a heart of gold and a nerdy florist’s apprentice trying to win the girl – but at what cost?
As the audience is cautioned to never feed the plants, it travels to Skid Row on a journey with lessons to be learned about greed and the price for fleeting fame, as it listens to high-energy songs like, “Skid Row,” “Dentist” and “Feed Me,” and ballads like “Somewhere That’s Green,” and “Suddenly Seymour.”
Cheyla Bashore Wagner directed the show, with student director Lexi Yager, assistant director Dylan Buzimkic, vocal director Raquel Searles and music director Katie Baynes.
The cast includes Luke Markley as Seymour, Cecily Noonan as Audrey, Josh Baxter as the Voice of Audrey II, and Jayden Roos as Mr. Mushnik.
Nolan Swamy plays sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello, with the urchins played by Emily Bailey, Sophie Calcut, Madison Sandel, Chloe Lash and Urvi Vaya.
The show runs at 7 p.m. May 13 and 14, and 2 p.m. May 14, with tickets $12 for adults and $10 for students at Grosse Ile High School, 7800 Grays Drive.