HFCC presents Peter Townsend and The Who’s ‘Tommy’

Photo courtesy of Henry Ford Community College

Photo courtesy of Henry Ford Community College

Henry Ford Community College will present Peter Townsend and The Who’s “Tommy” for two weekends, Friday through April 25. Tommy will be played by James Dizmang (left) of Dearborn Heights as the adult Tommy, Stephen Fraser of Redford as the 4-year-old Tommy, and Mel Marks of Dearborn as the 10-year-old Tommy.

By Sue Suchyta
Henry Ford Community College presents Peter Townsend and The Who’s “Tommy” for two weekends, Friday through April 25 in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center, Adray Auditorium, 5101 Evergreen. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees.

“Tommy” is The Who’s groundbreaking rock opera. Originally a 1969 album, its first North American stage production was in the late ’80s by the Players Guild of Dearborn, before the show hit Broadway. The pace is fast – if you blink you’ll miss something.

The show begins in England at the end of World War II. As a young boy, Tommy Walker witnesses the accidental murder of his mother’s lover by his father, whom they thought had died during the war. Young Tommy is so traumatized that he retreats into his own shell, not speaking or interacting with others.

As he wanders through life in a catatonic state in post-war England, he is abused by sadistic relatives and neighbors. Tommy’s life is rocked from his foundation, however, when he discovers a passion for pinball.

His rise to fame and the choices he makes create a compelling story. The music heightens this emotion, and sweeps its audience along on an epic journey.

“Tommy” is an excellent vehicle for student actors and technicians, providing them with a rich and unique theatrical challenge. Audiences become mesmerized by the music, story and action as well.

HFCC’s production is directed by Gerry Dzuiblinski, who is assisted by Angela Lai. Sean Gillaspie takes on the daunting role of stage manager; Nicole Spreitzer is the choreographer, and G. Kevin Dewey is the musical director.

The cast includes Chris Gorno of Brownstown as Captain Walker, Shardai Davis of Dearborn as Mrs. Walker, Scott Wilding of Dearborn Heights as Uncle Ernie and Miekyle Turner of Romulus as Mrs. Walker’s lover.

Four-year-old Tommy is played by Fraser Stephen, with James Dizmang of Dearborn Heights as adult Tommy and the narrator, and Mel Marks of Dearborn as 10-year-old Tommy. Steve Nazarek of Plymouth is Cousin Kevin, Paris Butler of Detroit is the Hawker, Stephanie Leon of Dearborn is the Gypsy Queen and Mandy Nameth of Dearborn is Sally Simpson.

The ensemble features the talents of Carolyn Cajas, Lila Gaddar, Angie Lai and Christian Plonka of Dearborn; Reshonda Alston, Shevonne Clark, Mauricio Rosas and Stephanie Sulis of Detroit; Julissa DeLeon of Melvindale; Dennis Mason Jr. of Oak Park; Mary Hawthorne of Redford; Tim Beson and Liz Cianfarani of Riverview; and Nick Jarvis of Trenton. For tickets or reservations, call (313) 845-9817, or send an e-mail message to gadzuiblinskihfcc.edu. Adult admission is $15, and students with ID are $10. Groups of 10 or more pay $8 per ticket.

The Players Guild of Dearborn presents the Tony Award-winning musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie” April 30 to May 2, 7 to 9, 14 to 16, 21 and 23. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees.

The show features book by Richard Henry Morris, music by Jeanine Tesori, and new lyrics by Dick Scanlan.

Directed and produced by Kim and Joe Donovan, respectively, of Farmington Hills the shows stars their daughter Maura in the title role of Millie.

The show is choreographed by Jennifer McPherson, with musical direction by Ken Pletzer.

The cast includes Sebastian Adams of Toledo in the ensemble, Michael Bollman of Dearborn in the ensemble, Ebony Bradley of Flint as Cora, Christina Brown of Farmington as Gloria and Tim Carney of Livonia as Ching Ho.

Emily Champoux of Dearborn plays Rita, Nicole Cooper of Dearborn is in the ensemble, Kenyada Davis of Detroit is Jimmy Smith and Susan DeNeau of Redford is in the ensemble.

Sydnee Dombrowski of Dearborn is Miss Flannery, Maura Donovan of Farmington Hills is Millie Dillmount, Alan Ellias of Farmington Hills is Bun Foo and Jeff Flannery of Lincoln Park is Trevor Graydon.

Also performing are Kenneth Gibson of Albion in the ensemble, Amy Hendrickson of Garden City in the ensemble, Sara Kornacki of Dearborn as Ruth, Jennifer Lizbinski of Detroit in the ensemble and Jeff Lokken of Livonia in the ensemble.

Sara Mayne of Redford is Alice, Melody Nimmo of Livonia is Dorothy Parker, Bree Rafferty of Dearborn is Miss Dorothy and Scott Rider of Lincoln Park is the policeman.

Fran Stempek of Taylor is Daphne, Katie Suchyta of Dearborn is Ethyl Peas, Denise Kowalewski-Tucker of Livonia is Mrs. Meers and Angela Keller-Pelc is Muzzy Van Hossmere.

The Guild is handicapped accessible, and is at 21730 Madison, south of the intersection of Monroe and Outer Drive.

For tickets, call (313) 561-TKTS. For more information, go to the Web site: www.playersguildofdearborn.org.