Guild opens season with romantic ‘Crossing Delancey’

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta


Matchmaking Hannah (left) played by Patricia LaFramboise of Northville, and Bubbie (right), Izzie’s grandmother, portrayed by Diana Reynolds of Dearborn, bring Izzie (second from left) played by Sydnee Dombrowski of Dearborn and Sam the pickle merchant (third from right) played by Alex Gojkov of Redford to the table to discuss their future, much to the unwitting couple’s discomfort. “Crossing Delancey” runs weekends now through Oct. 3 at the Players Guild of Dearborn. For more information call (313) 561-TKTS or visit their Web site at www.playersguildofdearborn.org.

Stagecrafters_Midsummer_photoweb
Two couples find that the course of true love does not always run smoothly in William Shakespeare’s comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Lysander (left) played by Tony Castellani of Berkley, tries to elope with a willing Hermia (second from left) played by Sarah Leahy of Dearborn. Demetrius (third from left) however, played by John Lewis of Royal Oak, has Hermia’s father’s promise that he may wed her. Helena (right) played by Julie Spittle of Rochester Hills, is in love with Demetrius, who ignores her until Puck, at Oberon’s request, starts sprinkling the Athenian gentlemen with a love potion as they sleep. Stagecrafters will present the show weekends now through Oct. 3 at the Baldwin Theatre, 415 S. Lafayette in Royal Oak. For more information call (248) 541-6430 or visit their Web site at www.stagecrafters.org.

By Sue Suchyta
“Crossing Delancey,” Susan Sandler’s delightful romantic comedy, opened the Players Guild of Dearborn’s 84th season Friday. The show will run weekends through Oct. 3.

Many will recall the 1988 movie of the same name, for which actress Amy Irving earned a Golden Globe nomination for best performance by an actress in a motion picture comedy/musical.

Set in the 1980s in New York City, the story focuses on Isabelle “Izzy” Grossman, a modern yet romantic young woman who daydreams about a sophisticated author whose works are featured in the bookshop she manages. Although her shop has hosted his book signings, he hardly knows she exists until he discovers her rereading his latest (and slow-selling) novel.

Since Izzy’s parents have retired to Florida, she maintains a close relationship with her beloved Bubbie, an endearing Jewish grandmother.

Izzy is amused with her Bubbie’s Old World ways until she enlists the help of a matchmaker to pair Izzy with a nice Jewish boy. Fate appears in the form of Sam, a pickle merchant from their traditional neighborhood.

Izzy quickly discovers that things are not always what they appear to be, and you can’t judge a book by its cover. She also learns that sometimes you have to “try on a new hat” to get a fresh perspective on your life.

Stan Guarnelo of Dearborn Heights directed the production, which is co-produced by Tim Carney of Livonia and James Mayne of Redford.

Talented Guild actress Sydnee Dombrowski of Dearborn brings her sparkling charm and appealing vulnerability to the forefront as she leads the cast as Isabelle “Izzy” Grossman with her heart on her sleeve. She makes the most of her character from a very basic and simple yet endearing storyline.

A favorite with Guild audiences, Dombrowski is paired with a wig and wardrobe that should have been left in the ’80s. As a young woman in New York City Izzie would possess a much more sophisticated hairstyle and wardrobe, even with a tight budget and ties to her ethnic neighborhood – after all, she can’t be far from the Garment District, and Bubbie likes to slip her unsolicited extra cash. Dombrowski’s opening outfit looks like a distant cousin of what Lori Singer wore in the 1984 movie, “Footloose.”

Guild grand dame Diana Reynolds of Dearborn brings her strong, unique personality and humorous skill set to center stage as Izzie’s “Bubbie” or grandmother. It’s easy to see why Reynolds has been a Guild favorite for years, having performed in coveted roles ranging from Yente in “Fiddler on the Roof” to Mona in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

Patricia LaFramboise of Northville, another established Guild actress, will make you laugh with familiarity as you recognize the eccentric aunt, cousin or neighbor lady everyone knows and loves while wincing at their oddly practical yet unsolicited advice.

Alex Gojkov of Redford, a longstanding supporting character and comic actor on the Guild stage, gets to try on a romantic lead as well as several styles of suits. His dry wit serves him well in the role of Sam Posner the pickle merchant.

Chris Boudreau of Dearborn, a newcomer to the Guild stage, performs the role of sophisticated author Tyler Moss, Izzy’s modern male ideal. The script did not flesh out his character, and Moss did not add anything to the role to make it memorable, let alone sympathetic.

Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students with identification. For tickets or more information, call (313) 561-TKTS, or go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org. Season tickets are also still available for purchase.

The theater is at 21730 Madison, southwest of the intersection of Monroe and Outer Drive in Dearborn. The theater is handicap accessible.

DEARBORN ACTRESS STARS IN STAGECRAFTER’S ‘A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM’
Stagecrafters at Royal Oak’s Baldwin Theatre has taken a leap of faith by presenting its first Shakespearean play in its 55-year history. Its upbeat and very original interpretation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is filled with fantasy and original music sure to be a hit with everyone from high school students to Shakespearean scholars.

The cast is as diverse as it is talented – and the director and producers have a technical team that deliver a stellar production.

The updated classic keeps Shakespeare’s literary gems from the script intact while making them easy to understand and full of emotion. A magical soundtrack of electronic music is added as androgynous faeries seem to suffuse the shadows as if flitting in and out of a netherworld nightclub.

Two star-crossed young couples, defying their parents in a familiar Shakespearean theme, have their personalities and visages stripped to their most basic level in a manner both literally and symbolically reminiscent of what Brad and Janet underwent in the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The faeries – though invisible to the couples — even look like the guests at the Frankenfurter castle – and have a sneaky habit of disrobing the disoriented duos.

“Midsummer” is a “play within a play,” and several storylines overlap. When the local royals – Theseus, played by Tony Battle of Royal Oak, and Hippolyta, played by Stephanie Bonin of Rochester, plan the entertainment for their wedding feast, they engage a traveling troupe to put on a play.

As the amateur actors seek privacy in the woods to rehearse their play for Theseus’ event, their storyline begins to overlap with the mischievous and androgynous techno-faeries, who are visible to the audience but seemingly not by the onstage humans.

Nick Bottom, the weaver, who has sorely tried the patience of his company with his eccentricities, is turned into an actual ass through Oberon’s spell and Puck’s complicity.

Titania, thus under Oberon’s spell, falls in love with Nick Bottom in the visage of an ass upon wakening. Seeing her and the faeries dote on Bottom is always an amusing scene.

Edmond Guay, who plays Nick Bottom the weaver and amateur actor, steals the show, though, with a comic delivery that reminds one of John Lithgow, well known for “Third Rock from the Sun.” A high school drama teacher, many of his students filled the house opening night, laughing heartily at the onstage antics of their teacher.

The glittery and garish techno-faeries are ruled by Oberon, played by Desmond Walker of Royal Oak and Titania, played by Shelly Fager-Bajorek of Fraser.

Fager-Bajorek has an appealing stage confidence. Walker wears Oberon’s mantle of power with ease and just enough patience and humor to keep the character from becoming a cliché. They believably capture the power couple caught up in a power struggle of egos and one-upmanship.

Meanwhile, when two mortal couples stumble noisily into his quiet woods with their own problems, Oberon decides to manipulate their love lives, again using the impulsively careless Puck to carry out his orders. Jeff Weiner of Troy captures the frenetic energy of Puck.

Sara Leahy of Dearborn plays Hermia, who wants to marry Lysander, played by Tony Castellani of Berkley. Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius, played by John Lewis of Royal Oak. Helena, who dotes on Demetrius, is played by Julie Spittle of Rochester Hills. They gave their character modern gestures, body language and tone of voice that made it easy to relate to them. Their roles required an enormous amount of dedication, with blocking as physically intense as the weight of the dialogue.

There is a reason Shakespeare’s works are as popular today as they were when he wrote them. By bringing Shakespeare to more people and making the plays appealing to a mainstream audience, more people will not only discover but come to treasure his plays.

The production runs through Oct. 3, with 8 p.m. shows Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sunday matinees.

The Baldwin Theatre is at 415 S. Lafayette. For more information, call (248) 541-6430, or go to www.stagecrafters.org.

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