As the Guild enters its 95th season amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Encore,” a one-of-a-kind cabaret performance, features its members delivering show-stopping, toe-tapping tunes from PGD’s last two decades as the Raise the Roof fundraiser helps ensure that the theater is safe and dry for years to come.
The performers include Jackie Abercrombie, Josh Beurer, Madeleine Bien, Janeen Bodary, Molly Boudreau, Julie Ballantyne Brown, Paul Bruce, Tim Carney, Juliette Delabbio-Abbott, Joe Donovan, Maura Donovan, Sally Hart Goodman, Ken Kilgore, Carissa Lokken, Mike Moseley, Jeff Ostrowski, Colleen Meade Ripper, Brian Townsend, Tom Varitek and Marc Walentowicz.
Madeleine Bien of Southfield, who is performing in a number as Yonah from Stephen Schwartz’s “Children of Eden,” said being in “Encore” is providing her with the pleasure of reuniting with past cast members.
“I recently had the pleasure of watching all the solos and duets at a rehearsal and loved being able to watch everyone step back into a character they once played on the stage,” she said. “The Guild feels like a second home to me and I met my boyfriend there.”
“Encore,” which was originally scheduled to run last December, was delayed due to the pandemic, and Bien said waiting for the show to be rescheduled was tough on the cast.
“Singing is freeing to me, and I hope our audiences are transported with the music to a place where they forget about their everyday struggles,” she said. “There really is a wide range of selections from past shows and I think there is something for everyone, no matter what your musical tastes may be.”
Paul Bruce of Dearborn, who is reprising the role of the Minstrel in “Once Upon a Mattress” by singing “Many Moons Ago,” said it has been a delight to work on “Encore.”
“I love listening to the numbers,” he said. “The Players Guild is one of the first theaters in which I performed locally, in 1986, and I have been a member ever since.”
Bruce said the cast and crew have carefully followed pandemic precautions and worn masks whenever Wayne County’s COVID threat risk level increased, and the result is a safe, high-quality performance.
“Audiences can look forward to a contagious amount of enthusiasm and energy,” he said. “It’s like having an entire cast of leads entertain you all night.”
Performer Ken Kilgore of Dearborn said he is enjoying seeing cast members recreate numbers they performed in the past.
“It is so fun to work with people you have worked with before and reconnect with them,” he said. “You remember what you went through and how good the art was.”
Longtime Dearborn resident Sally Hart Goodman, who is currently living in Toledo, is making the long commute to perform in the show and sing one of Desiree’s songs from Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.”
She said the Guild feels like home to her and songs from musicals like “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Shenandoah” bring back special memories.
“PGD means community to me,” she said. “It’s a wonderful group of people who care about and support one another during both delightful and difficult times.”
She hopes as audiences remember past shows during “Encore,” they look forward to seeing future Guild productions, and may consider becoming season ticket holders.
Julie Ballantine Brown of Dearborn, who is musically reprising her role of Leah in the Richard Rodgers musical “Two by Two,” said audiences will enjoy the heart behind “Encore.”
“There are some absolutely wonderful performers in the cast,” she said. “Being able to connect and interact with all of this amazing talent is fulfilling yet humbling.”
Brown said she enjoys all of the musical numbers in the show.
“It’s really a nice spectrum of the Guild from the past 20 years,” she said. “It’s a place where people can be themselves, and we have so much to celebrate – 95 years is an incredible accomplishment.”
“Encore” runs 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 17, 23, 24 and 30, and Oct. 1, and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 18 and 25 and Oct. 2 at the theater, 21730 Madison in Dearborn.
Tickets are just $5, with the hope that audiences will donate more toward the Raise the Roof fundraiser.
To order tickets, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.