Whether one seeks a Broadway tour, regional theater, college productions or high school talent filling local stages with theatrical magic, November continues to offer numerous options to escape into the magic that is live theatre.
The musical “Mrs. Doubtfire” arrives at the Fisher, while Open Book presents “Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley” Wayne State offers “The Wolves,” Divine Child High School presents “Clue” and Melvindale High School offers “Puffs.”
MHS PRESENTS ‘PUFFS’
Muggles beware: There’s another side to the story of seven years at a certain school of magic, as presented in the Potter parody, “Puffs,” the story of Hufflepuffs and their story.
Director Nathan Vasquez, a huge Harry Potter fan who identifies as a Hufflepuff, said when he discovered “Puffs” he was eager to bring it to life on the high school’s stage.
“The play covers seven years of time in under two hours, with a cast of 14 students who play more than 50 characters,” he said. “That is a lot to juggle and manage, while still trying to make sure the story is understandable to the audience.”
Vasquez said it has been fun coming up with creative ways to stage iconic moments from the books and movies.
“This is a great show for any fan of the wizarding world,” he said. “While laughing at the many moments of hilarity, the play has a wonderful message about loyalty, friendship and what it truly means to be a Puff.”
Isanel More, who plays Hannah and other roles, said you don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan to enjoy the show.
“It’s an amazing and funny show, with funny characters and an amazing set,” she said.
Ash Chiello, who plays Ernie Mac and other roles, agreed that the set is amazing and that audiences will find the characters entertaining.
“The show highlights the efforts of all involved, including the actors and crew members,” she said. “I hope the fantastic set and the entertaining characters have the audience in a frenzy.”
Bea Fredericks, who plays Leanne and other characters, said they were challenged to create a base costume that could be quickly and practically modified to distinctly represent each of their other roles as well.
She said that everyone associated with the show also helped in some way to create and build the set.
Onna Frederick, who plays the narrator, said that while the show is a funny and fast paced parody, she hopes people take the message to celebrate one’s own strengths to heart.
Peyton Mathes, who plays Susie Bones, Harry and other roles, said she’s had fun developing each character’s personality, voice and movements.
She said this is the first time she’s had to play multiple roles in a show.
“Sometimes, Susie Bones will accidentally have the accent of Uncle Dave,” she said. “You’re guaranteed a good time, but this show isn’t a typical comedy, and there are jokes everywhere, even when you least expect it.”
Louie Diaz, who plays Wayne Hopkins, said he’s enjoying stretching his creative limits developing his character.
He said the story is both humorous and inspirational.
“One minute you’re hearing unhinged jokes about the Harry Potter movies, and the next you’re tearing up because of the togetherness that the Puffs demonstrate,” Diaz said. “We are young, ambitious teenagers telling a story that hopefully touches the hearts of others.”
Kathleen Jakey, who plays Megan Jones, said she’s enjoyed the rehearsal process and watching the show come together.
“It gives me a sense of pride to help put a show together,” she said. “So much more goes into a performance than memorizing lines.”
The show runs 7 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18 in the auditorium of the former Melvindale High School (now Strong Middle School), 18656 Prospect St. in Melvindale. Tickets are $5 if ordered in advance online, at gofan.co/event/1164695?schoolId=MI100022 or $10 if purchased at the door.
DIVINE CHILD H.S. PRESENTS ‘CLUE’
Based on the board game and the 1985 movie, “Clue,” a combination farce and murder mystery, takes to the stage Nov. 16 to 19 at Divine Child High School, 1001 N. Silvery Lane in Dearborn.
When six mysterious guests arrive at a remote mansion for a mysterious dinner party, they discover that murder and blackmail are on the menu.
Director Kori Bielaniec said she encouraged the students in the cast to develop their own characterizations without trying to replicate the movie stars’ performances.
“We weren’t looking for an exact copy of Tim Curry’s performance as Wadsworth the butler,” she said. “First, because it’s impossible for someone to copy that brilliance, and second, because we believed that each of these students had their own brilliance and comedic timing that they could harness to bring their characters to life.”
Leah Katers, who plays Mrs. White, said the cast is funny and doing a great job during rehearsals to prepare for opening night.
“You don’t want to miss this one,” she said.
Ryan Thorp, who plays the unexpected cop, agreed that the cast is amazing, and rehearsals often leave her tired.
“I just take a nap every time I have to be dead,” she said.
OPEN BOOK THEATRE PRESENTS ‘GEORGIANA AND KITTY: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY’
Based on the characters from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” the show “Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley,” co-written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, which runs Nov. 24 to Dec. 17 at Trenton’s Open Book Theatre Company, is the final installment in the “Christmas at Pemberley” series.
Directed by Wendy Katz Hiller, the cast includes Anna Marck as Georgiana, Arianna Engnell as Kitty, Kryssy Becker-Krenitsky as Elizabeth, Joe Sfair as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Luciana Piazza as Jane, Annie Dilworth as Mary, Danielle Wright as Lydia, Tim Pollack as Henry Gray and Henry Ballesteros as Thomas O’Brien.
Two young women – Georgiana Darcy, a pianist wary of romance, and Kitty Bennet, an optimist and Georgiana’s best friend – are ready for adventures in life and love, which coincide with the arrival of an admirer and of a secret correspondent.
During the holiday gathering, the two must deal with interfering relatives and outmoded expectations as they seek to follow their own hearts.
Artistic Director Krista Schafer said each of the three shows in the “Christmas at Pemberley” series stand on their own, while also relating to Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and other works.
“The characters are smart, witty and relatable,” she said. “There’s love and forgiveness and a strong dose of female empowerment.”
Schafer said audience will love the lush costumes, grand sets and warm lighting, which includes realistic-looking electronic candles, which the playhouse has utilized in the past.
“Audience members were worried we would set the place on fire, they’re so realistic,” she said. “Rest assured that the flames are fake, but the warmth of the show is real.”
Becker-Krenitsky said the play shows women who are capable and bring much to the table.
“It’s a story of sisterhood and moving past traditions and expectations that don’t serve us,” she said. “Whether you are a Jane Austen fan or never heard of her, there’s something for everyone in this play.”
Marck said the female characters are complex, as well as unique in their approaches to life and love.
“Georgiana and Kitty remind us that powerful creations emerge when we pursue passions and follow our bliss,” she said. “And I love seeing stories where sisters – chosen or from birth – benefit from lifting one another up and supporting each other’s authenticity.”
Piazza added that the bond between sisters is something that she enjoys experiencing as an artist.
Engnell said that broken friendships between once close women can cause a lingering hurt.
“It is alarming how easy it is to repeat a pattern of harmful behavior to other people,” she said. “Kitty experiences various dynamics of sisterhood that I feel most people raised to be a woman can identify with.”
Wright, who is reprising the role of Lydia Bennet for the third time, enjoys revisiting the character, especially with other returning cast members.
“I have never felt so connected to a character before,” she said. “Every year at Pemberley, I have learned something new about her.”
She said rehearsals are akin to a family reunion.
“I’m very excited to be back with many of the original cast,” Wright said. “It’s like a family reunion every day at rehearsal.”
Showtimes are 8 p.m. Nov. 24 and 25, and Dec. 1, 2, 7 to 9 and 14 to 16; with 2 p.m. Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 10 and 17 matinees. Masks are required at the Nov. 25 and 26 performances, and are optional for other dates.
Tickets are $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors and $15 for students. There are also discounts for the purchase of four or more tickets to a performance.
To order, call the box office at 734-288-7753 or order online at openbooktheatrecompany.net. The theater is located at 1621 West Road in Trenton.
MUSICAL COMEDY ‘MRS. DOUBTFIRE’ COMES TO THE FISHER
The new musical comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire” brings the beloved nanny to Detroit Nov. 14 to 26 at the Fisher Theater.
The story follows Daniel Hillard, an out-of-work, actor who loses custody of his three children following a contentious divorce, who creates an alter-ego nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire, in an attempt to remain a part of his children’s lives.
Rob McClure, who originated the role on Broadway, plays Daniel Hillard and Mrs. Doubtfire, for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Musical.
Maggie Lakis, McClure’s real-life wife, plays Miranda Hillard, his stage ex-wife.
The two, who have appeared in seven shows together, including three tours, have brought their 4-year-old daughter on tour with them, for the first time, during “Doubtfire.”
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 to 18, 20 to 22, 24 and 25; 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 and 26; 2 p.m. Nov. 18 and 25, and 1 p.m. Nov. 19 and 26 at the Fisher Theater, 3011 W. Grand Boulevard, Detroit.
WSU PRESENTS ‘THE WOLVES’
Theatre and Dance at Wayne present the Sarah DeLappe’s coming-of-age story “The Wolves” Nov. 17 to Dec. 10 at the Hilberry Gateway’s Studio Theater, 4715 Cass Avenue in Detroit.
Nine high school female soccer players and one soccer mom talk about life, politics and what life holds for them as they prepare for their weekly sports battle on the playing field.
The theater will hold a drive for “I Support the Girls Detroit” by collecting period products and bras in the lobby before each performance.
The show, guest-directed by Sherrine Azab, co-founder of “A Host of People,” a Detroit-based performing arts group, as well as a part-time faculty member, guided 10 undergraduate theater students through polishing both their lines and their soccer skills.
Azab said the show follows young women who are discovering who they are, what they believe, what their opinions are and how they will approach life’s challenges, both big and small.
“The play focuses on a group of young women on the cusp of adulthood,” she said.
Showtimes are 8 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18 and Dec. 1, 2, 8 and 9; 7 p.m. Nov. 30; 2 p.m. Nov. 18 and 29 and Dec. 2 and 9; and 3 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Hilberry Gateway Studio Theater.
For tickets or more information, call the Hilberry Gateway box office at 313-577-2972 or go to theatreanddance.wayne.edu.