As thespians return to live theater, it bears noting that the pandemic still has an impact on everyday life, including stage plays. Trenton’s Open Book Theatre Company has delayed the opening of “Too Heavy for Your Pocket” by a week – until May 20 – due to a breakthrough COVID case.
Other groups continue to take precautions during rehearsals by masking up, and even modifying blocking, when possible, to minimize close contact.
Two young casts open shows next week, as Melvindale High School presents “Beauty and the Beast” and the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center presents “Musicville” and “The Claw.”
MELVINDALE HIGH SCHOOL PRESENTS ‘BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’
“Beauty and the Beast” comes to life May 20 to 22 at Melvindale High School, 18656 Prospect St., which director Nathan Vasquez felt was a good choice with which to welcome back his students to the stage and audiences to the auditorium.
“Our drama club had to shut down during the pandemic, and during this time our club offered several online productions,” he said. “We came back this school year to having an audience with our fall production which was very limited.
“This spring, we decided that Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was a great choice, because of its well-known name, to attract students to audition and to welcome audiences back.”
The students have, in turn, entertained Vasquez at every rehearsal.
“They are hilarious, and definitely a great pick-me-up,” he said. “I enjoy seeing the whole process from beginning to end, especially how they improve through all the rehearsals and how far they grow as actors by the time they take their last bow – it’s exciting.”
Vasquez said their goal is to thoroughly entertain and wow their audiences.
“You are going to see a group of talented thespians who have worked hard to put on a very difficult show,” he said.
The cast includes Aurora Maggard as Belle, Ryan Long as the Beast, Connor Johnson as Gaston, Louis Diaz as LeFou, and Suruli Kelly-Powell as Maurice.
Tony Deiri plays Lumiere, with Julian Tomsha as Cogsworth, Kathleen Jakey as Mrs. Potts, Alyson Lomas as Madame de la Grande Bouche, and Isadora Lucero as Babette.
The Silly Girls are played by Bea Fredericks, Sierra Vega and Ash Chiello, with Jason Hamowitz as D’Arque, and Joseph Jackson as the prince in the opening scene.
Jada Young plays the Enchantress, with Isiah Strange as the baker, and Claudia Lennis and Nevaeh Faulknor-Janz as wolves and ensemble members.
Maggard said she had fun developing Belle’s sass.
“She is mostly kind, but with Gaston and early scenes with the Beast we get to see this sassy side of her character,” she said. “The most challenging aspect to develop would have to be her bravery. I myself am not necessarily brave, so it was challenging to set aside how I would react to the situations Belle is put into and bring her character out.”
Johnson, as Gaston, said it also tested him to play a character so unlike himself.
“The most challenging was trying to make the character my own,” he said.
Lomas’ challenge as Madame de la Grand Bouche was more pragmatic.
“The most challenging part is moving around in a large wardrobe costume,” she said.
Maggard said the show is a classic musical with all the fairytale favorites, including talking objects, a prince and princess, magic spells and a happily-ever-after.
“The costumes are amazing, and the dance numbers will leave you tapping your toes for more,” she said. “The mob song will leave you on the edge of your seat, and ‘Be Our Guest’ can make anyone feel welcome.”
Kelly-Powell agreed that the story and dances are amazing.
“It’s a fantastic production,” he said. “You will want to see it several times.”
Both Johnson and Maggard said learning the dance numbers has been fun.
“We get to show off our characters in a fun and exciting way,” Maggard said. “It will entertain any audience.”
She hopes that audiences are impressed by the cast’s storytelling as well.
“I want them to truly feel as if they just saw Belle, Lumiere and LeFou,” she said. “I want them to be enthralled by the show, and if we, as a cast, can leave an audience excited to see more, then we will have succeeded.”
Deiri, as Lumiere, agreed.
“I hope the audience buzzes about the amount of effort the cast, crew, producer and director have put into the show, and I hope they enjoy everyone’s characters and songs,” he said.
The show runs 7 p.m. May 20 and 21, and 3 p.m. May 22 at Melvindale High School. Tickets are $5 in advance, and $10 at the door.
DYPAC PRESENTS ‘MUSICVILLE’ AND ‘THE CLAW’
The Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center showcases its 5 to 13-year-old actors in two musicals by Beat the Beat Press: “Musicville” and “The Claw” at 7 p.m. May 20 and 21 and 2 p.m. May 22 at the Trenton Village Theater, 2447 W. Jefferson Ave.
Directed by Mary Zaleski, “Musicville” takes audiences on a quest with Maiden Melody and Radical Rhythm as they save their city from the Sorcerer of Silence. Along the way, they travel to the Castle of Composition, pass through the Desert of Doo-Wop, the Ocean of Opera and the Terrible Terrain of Tango, meeting musical friends and foes along the way, learning about new types of music, how to overcome obstacles and the importance of teamwork.
“The Claw” is filled with ecstatic toys who come to life when their defunct game is restored to functioning order. However, Dot, a terrified cow, is afraid until she tackles her fear of the unknown with the help of the Flair Bears, the Mighty Mutant Power Turtles, Beanie Elders and a mystical Eight Ball.
The cast includes Isaac Clark of Allen Park; Nicholas and Matthew Bond, and Evan Langlet of Brownstown Township; Lexi Pitock of Carleton; Brooklyn Harris of Ecorse; and Liv Harrison, Noh Rodriguez and Hudson Veltman of Flat Rock.
Also, Grosse Ile Township residents Crosby Ferguson, Harlow and Sloan Hasler, Delia Henderson, Evelyn Howes, Gracie Pearce and Alainna Sworst; Lola Burk of Lincoln Park; Sophia Dauzy of Newport; and Riverview residents Ciana Litten, Maggie Lozowski and Teagan Taylor.
Also, Georgia Boyd of Romulus, Genevieve Dassow of Southgate, Kaylee Johnson of Taylor, and Woodhaven residents Mara Everidge and Zachary Klavinger.
Also, Trenton residents Sloane Cannon, Kash Crabb, Zane Every, Layton Gonsalez, Lolamoon and Pearl HaleDelcamp, Rex Lustig, Chloe Srabian, and Aurora Zmijewski.
Tickets range for $10 to $14, and are available at the door or online at dypac.com.
GUILDLINGS HOLD AUDITIONS FOR SUMMER YOUTH THEATER
The Players Guild of Dearborn will hold auditions for its summer youth shows May 16 to 18 at the playhouse, 21730 Madison St. in Dearborn.
“Zombie Prom,” for ages 13 to 18, will hold auditions at 6:30 p.m. May 16 and 18, with performances July 21 to 24.
Those auditioning should wear comfortable clothes and shoes for a dance audition, and can expect to do a cold reading from the script. Those auditioning should also prepare a song in the vocal range of the character for which they are auditioning. A selection from the show will be taught as well.
Kristen Campbell will direct the show, with Jamee Perryman as the music director and Emma Garber as the choreographer.
Auditions for “Madagascar Jr.” for ages 6 to 13, will take place at 6:30 p.m. May 17, with performances Aug. 11 to 14 at the Guild.
There will be a movement audition, cold readings from the script and a vocal audition consisting of singing a song in one’s vocal range and learning a piece from the show.
Nathan Vasquez will direct and choreograph. For more information, go to playersguildofdearborn.org.