Players Guild announces cast for Mark Twain’s ‘Is He Dead?’

Photo by Kelly O’Connor

Photo by Kelly O’Connor

The Hilberry, Wayne State university’s graduate theater company, continues it season with Anton Chekov’s “The Seagull.” The show will run in rotating repertory through Feb. 11. Carollette Phillips (left) plays Nina and Jason Cabral plays Konstantin.

By Sue Suchyta
Rehearsals are underway at the Players Guild of Dearborn for the newly discovered and adapted Mark Twain comedy “Is He Dead?” The comedy will be performed at the Guild theater, 21730 Madison, southwest of the intersection of Monroe and Outer Drive.

A talented young painter, Jean-Francois Millet, is in love with Marie Leroux. The painter is also in debt to a villainous art dealer, Bastien Andre. Andre forecloses on Millet, threatening debtor’s prison unless Marie marries him.

Millet realizes that the only way he can pay his debts and save Marie and her family from Andre is to die, as it is only dead painters who achieve fame and fortune.

With the help of his faithful and crafty trio of assistants, Millet fakes his own death and prospers, all while passing himself off as his own sister, the Widow Tillou. Now a rich “widow,” the problems only continue to mount, and Millet realizes he must find a way to get out of the dress, return to life, and marry Marie.

The show is directed by Marybeth Kinnell, assistant directed by Tim Carney and produced by Stan Guarnelo.

The cast includes many Guild veterans, with Brian Townsend of Dearborn as Jean-Francois Millet. Others in the cast include Alex Gojkov of Redford as Agamemnon Buckner, Phil Booth of Dearborn as Phelim O’Shaughnessy, and Tom Sparrow of Allen Park as Papa Leroux.

Sydnee Dombrowski of Dearborn plays Marie Leroux, with Kori Bielaniec of Livonia as Cecile Leroux, Jim Kirwan of Dearborn as Bastien Andre, and Nancy Schuster of Livonia as Madame Bathilde.

Also in the cast are Paul Bruce of Dearborn as the Actor, John Hutchinson as the Sultan of Turkey, and Scott Rider of Lincoln Park as the Emperor of Russia.

Performances are Jan. 15 to 17, 22 to 24 and 29 to 31, with 8 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees. For more information, call the Guild ticket line, at (313) 561-TKTS, or go to the Web site

Hilberry presents Anton Chekov’s ‘The Seagull’
The Hilberry, Wayne State University’s graduate theater company, continues it season with Anton Chekov’s “The Seagull.” The show will run in rotating repertory through Feb. 11.

Chekhov’s famous work focuses on the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: the ingénue Nina, the fading actress Irina, her son the playwright Konstantin, and the famous middlebrow story writer Trigorin.

Chekhov’s first great play lays bare its comedy and its cruelty. Whether it is love, sex, fame or simply a trip into town, each character is denied the thing they most crave, and they are all symbolized in the seagull whose beauty is ended by Konstantin.

The cast includes Samantha L. Rosentrater as Irina Nikolaevna Arkadina, an actress; Jason Cabral as Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov, her son; Alan Ball as Pytor Nivolaevich Sorin, her brother, a retired county attorney; Carollette Phillips as Nina Mikhaílovna Zaréchnaya, a young girl and the daughter of a wealthy landowner; Erman Jones as Ílya Afanásevich Shamráev, a retired lieutenant and Sorin’s steward; Safiya Johnson as Polína Andréevna, his wife; Christina Flynn as Masha (Márya) Ilyínishna, his daughter; Dave Toomey as Borís Alekséevich Trigórin, a literary man; Brian P. Sage as Evgény Sergéevich Dorn, a doctor of medicine; Rob Pantano as Semyón Semyónovich Medvedénko, a schoolteacher, Andrew Papa as Yákov, a laborer; Sara Hymes as a cook; and Lorelei Sturm as a housemaid.

For tickets, call (313) 577-2972 or go to the WSU Box Office at 4743 Cass Ave. in Detroit. For tickets and more information, go to and

JET presents ‘The Big Bang’
The Jewish Ensemble Theatre has launched its second show of the season, the entertaining musical farce “The Big Bang.” Imagine putting on a pitch for a 12-hour, 10-act, $83.5 million staging of the history of the world for a group of investors in a “borrowed” Park Avenue apartment. Now imagine all that being done by two men, as they play every character, making more than 30 costume changes with found objects, and packing it all into 90 minutes.

With its energetic pace and playful “let’s put on a show” mentality, “The Big Bang” is sure to leave audiences rolling in the aisles.

“The Big Bang” will run through Jan. 3. For information, call the JET Theatre box office at (248) 788-2900. The theater is at 6600 W. Maple in West Bloomfield. For more information, go to the Web site at