Hilberry ‘Beaux Stratagem’ is entertaining, romantic romp

Photo by Janine M. Pixley

Photo by Janine M. Pixley

Jordan Whalen (left) as Archer and Sara Hymes as Cherry perform in the Hilberry’s production of “The Beaux Stratagem.” The show will run in rotating repertory through May 15. For tickets, call (313) 577-2972 or visit the Hilberry box office at 4743 Cass Ave. at Hancock. For more information, go to the Web sites at www.theatre.wayne.edu and www.wsushows.com.

By Sue Suchyta
As theater companies close out their seasons, there are many tempting shows on local stages. So whether you head to the theater to dodge April showers or avoid too much sun, make sure you take time to enjoy local talent on area stages, and the reasonably priced tickets they offer.

The “Beaux Stratagem” at the Hilberry Theatre on the Wayne State University campus follows two young men who have used up their money by living beyond their means. They leave London and head for the countryside, where they each hope to find a wealthy woman for at least one of them.

However, end up improvising, as their hearts dictate their plans much more than their plan to wed for wealth.

The Beaux Stratagem” has been through three playwrights. Written in 1707 by George Farquhar, in 1939 award-winning playwright Thornton Wilder tried – but never completed – a rewrite. Wilder’s estate contacted popular and talented playwright Ken Ludwig in 2004, and the third time was the charm, as he produced a fun and laughter-inspiring comedy and satire.

The Hilberry’s talented graduate company stands out onstage with their technical talent.

Sara Hymes is full of energy and sassy charm, and seems poised to fill the very big void that will be left when the talented and charismatic Christina Flynn leaves at the end of the season.

Christina Flynn and Loreli Sturm are fun to watch as the close friends determined to keep their wits about them and turn the tables on the likable yet lying Lotharios.

Christopher Ellis, as Aimwell and Jordan Whalen as Archer are resourceful rakes. Whalen, in particular, knows how to turn on the charm. One wonders how many times he’s used his disarming grin to get himself out of a scrape.

Samantha Rosentrater is hysterically funny as Lady Bountiful, the healer from hell. She makes the most of a very funny role.

Christina Koerner’s costumes are both visually pleasing and flattering to each cast member, while Pegi Marshall-Amundsen’s modular set facilitates fast paced scene changes while the costumed ensemble crew shares some well deserved credit as well.

The fight choreography of Michael Brian Ogden creates some fast-paced swordplay worth the price of admission. And when the ladies get a chance to fence, you’ll be delighted at their talent as well. Playwright Ludwig has added modern quirky humor to the show to humanize it without letting the actors stray too far from their time period.

The show is running in rotating repertory through May 15. Remaining performances are at 8 p.m. April 24 and 30, May 6, 8, 13, 14 and 15. There is a 2 p.m. matinee May 8.

For tickets, call the Hilberry Theatre box office at (313) 577-2972. For more information, go to the Web site: www.hilberry.com.

TRIPLE PLAY: Bonstelle’s ‘Pippin’ Dearborn Heights’ ‘Godspell’ and HFCC’s ‘Tommy’ now playing
Three great musical shows opened this weekend: “Pippin” at the Bonstelle, Wayne State’s undergraduate theater; “Godspell” in Dearborn Heights, and Henry Ford Community College’s production of Peter Townsend and the Who’s “Tommy.”

Wayne State’s undergraduate theater company will perform the Stephen Schwartz musical “Pippin” at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Bonstelle Theatre.

Schwartz wrote the music for “Pocahontas,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Wicked” – so set aside your preconceived notions about the longtime musical and see it through the fresh eyes and perspective of a high-energy, creative college-age cast.

Of local interest, Dearborn’s Annabelle Young will perform the role of Berthe in the production.

For tickets, visit or call the box office, at (313) 577-2960. Tickets are also available online through www.wsushows.com.

The Bonstelle Theatre is at 3424 Woodward Ave. in Detroit, near Orchestra Hall and the Medical Center. Regular tickets are $20, or $15 for seniors 62 years and older. Student rush tickets are $10 the night of the performance. There are also discounts for WSU alumni, professors and staff.

Henry Ford Community College presents Peter Townsend and The Who’s “Tommy” for one more weekend, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.

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

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 e-mail gadzuiblinskihfcc.edu. Adult admission is $15, and students with ID are $10. Groups of 10 or more pay $8 per ticket. “Tommy” will be performed in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center, Adray Auditorium, at 5101 Evergreen Road.

“Godspell” opened at the Dearborn Heights Civic Theatre this weekend and will run through Sunday. Conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak, with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, “Godspell” is one of the biggest off-Broadway and Broadway successes of all time. Based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, and drawing from various theatrical traditions, such as clowning, pantomime, charades, acrobatics and vaudeville, “Godspell” is a groundbreaking and unique reflection on the life of Jesus, with a message of kindness, tolerance and love.

Directed by Marc Walentowicz of Garden City, “Godspell” features the musical direction by Brian Londrow, set and lighting design by Bill Brezina of Dearborn Heights, and choreography by Laura Tyler. The cast includes Leah Paige Cooley of Taylor, Sarah DeGrave of Royal Oak, Emily Gedert of Dearborn, Greg Gedert of Dearborn, Jennifer Gorsline of Allen Park, Jonathon Kernick of Southgate, Kaylen Ivory of Detroit, Paul Morgan of Dearborn, Tarana Stewart of Detroit, Jared Schneider of Commerce Township and Rebecca Whyte of Grosse Ile.

“Godspell” runs for three performances, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The group performs at the Berwyn Senior Center, 26155 Richardson in Dearborn Heights. Tickets are $15 adults, $13 students and seniors. For more info or to purchase tickets online go to www.dhctstage.org.