HFCC’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a holiday treat; Hilberry’s ‘Midsummer’ is captivating fun.

Photo by Anne Suchyta

Photo by Anne Suchyta

Sara Hymes (left) as Mustardseed, Brian Sage as Theseus, Katie Lietz Flannery as Cobweb, Annabelle Young as Moth, Christina Flynn as Titania, and Lorelei Sturm as Peaseblossom perform in Wayne State University’s Hilberry Theatre production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The show runs in rotating repertory through Jan. 29. For tickets, call (313) 577-2972 or go to www.wsushows.com.

Photo by Anne Suchyta

Photo by Anne Suchyta

Christina Flynn (left) as Titania, Annabelle Young as Moth and Sara Hymes as Mustardseed perform in Wayne State University’s Hilberry Theatre production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The show runs in rotating repertory through Jan. 29. For tickets, call (313) 577-2972 or go to www.wsushows.com.

By Sue Suchyta
Need some holiday cheer? Whether you step into the magic world of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” or the yesteryear charm of, “A Christmas Carol,” local stages offer many choices to help make your holidays light-hearted, festive and fun.

From the enthusiastic cast, to Alex Carr’s impressive and versatile set, to Judith Fletcher’s Dickens-inspired costumes, you’ll enjoy the stage magic that takes audiences back in time to an England that looks like a Currier and Ives Christmas card.

Henry Ford Community College’s “A Christmas Carol,” which is an hour long to accommodate the weekday school matinee performances, is wonderfully performed and is full of the flavor of the classic tale.

Hayder Al-Shakarchi is marvelous as Ebenezer Scrooge, capturing well the many emotional levels of the character, from bitter isolationism and anger to the unbounded glee and enthusiasm when he embraces his new lease on life and rebirth into the brotherhood of man.

Technical director Gerry Dzuiblinski continues a delightful tradition, begun by default, of playing fascinating character roles with which he and audiences can have some fun. This time Dzuiblinski is Jacob Marley, the tortured ghost of Scrooge’s former business partner, a man trapped in a self-made purgatory of pain and regret.

Other interesting performances include James Dizmang as Bob Cratchit, Christian Plonka as young boy Scrooge, and Hasem Salem as both young man Scrooge, and the Ghost of Christmas yet to come.

The ensemble is versatile, and keeps the pace of the show brisk. And if the English accents are all over the map, from cockney to cultured, it just adds another interesting layer.

The houses lining the village square spin around to reveal interiors in remarkable detail, and include the humble Cratchit abode, Scrooge’s cold and sterile set of rooms, and his nephew Fred’s place, filled with friends and laughter throughout. The set pieces spin around to reveal new details throughout the show, like the daily countdown of an Advent calendar.

“A Christmas Carol” runs weekends through Dec. 6, with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend. Directed by Christopher Bremer, the play is based on the Charles Dickens novel.

Performances are 7 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $12, with $10 admission for students with identification. Tickets for children 12 and under are $5. Tickets are also $5 each when purchased in blocks of 10 or more. The show will be performed in Adray Auditorium in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center on the HFCC main campus, 5101 Evergreen in Dearborn. For more information, call (313) 845-9817.

The Hilberry, Wayne State University’s graduate theater department and Detroit’s theatrical jewel, performs the timeless magic of Shakespeare’s audience favorite, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” through Jan. 29 in rotating repertory.

Samantha Rosentrater as Helena offers a unique perspective on the role: No simpering miss, she brings the character to life as one who must overcome first impressions based on outward appearance and artificial standards of beauty. One will root for her and focus on her character’s impact based on Rosentrater’s determined portrayal of the feisty, do-or-die miss.

Alan Ball is delightfully entertaining as Bottom the weaver, who literally makes an ass of himself. Ball plays any role well, and it is fun to see him play a role that gives him something fun with which to work.

Christina Flynn, another standout in any cast, brings sparkle and elan to the role of Titania.

Kudos go out to the undergraduate actors for rising to the challenge of supplementing the large cast on the graduate stage, and making the most of a marvelous opportunity. Keep an eye out for Katie Lietz Flannery as Cobweb, and Annabelle Young of Dearborn as Moth.

Melinda Pacha’s set design is magical and delightful, rich in color and dreamy detail. Christina Koerner’s costume designs are visually delightful as well, adding magic to the play. Undergraduate costumers Madeline Greenwalt, Tracy Machak of Dearborn, and Anne Suchyta of Dearborn provided the delightful and whimsical faerie headdresses, based on the designer’s renderings.

For tickets, call (313) 577-2972 or go to the Wayne State University Box Office at 4743 Cass Ave. in Detroit at Cass and Hancock. For tickets and more information, go to www.theatre.wayne.edu and www.wsushows.com.