Heights present Neil Simon’s ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’

Photo by Sue Suchyta

The Dearborn Heights Civic Theatre will present Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical play “Brighton Beach Memoirs” for three weekends, Jan. 28 to Feb. 13 at the Berwyn Center, 26155 Richardson in Dearborn Heights. During a rehearsal Thursday Eugene, played by Greg Gedert (third from left) of Dearborn, receives quick and effective feedback from his mother, Kate, played by Valerie Haas (left) of Inkster while his cousin Nora, played by Molly Menter (second from left) of Dearborn, his cousin Laurie, played by Marissa Compitelle (fourth from left) of Inkster and his Aunt Blanche, played by Margaret Winowiecki (right) of Dearborn look on in amusement. For more information see the DHCT Facebook page or go to www.dhctstage.org.

By Sue Suchyta
The Dearborn Heights Civic Theatre will present the Neil Simon comedy “Brighton Beach Memoirs” for three weekends Jan. 28 to Feb. 13 at the Berwyn Center.

The show, the first of a semi-biographical trilogy about the playwright’s life, is a heart-warming comedy set in Brighton Beach, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1937.

A “coming-of-age” comedy, the show centers on 15-year-old Eugene (Simon’s alter ego) a Polish-Jewish teenager in the throes of puberty. While dealing with his own teenage awkwardness, Eugene also humorously observes life with his parents, older brother, widowed aunt and two female cousins.

To complicate matters, he has a fascination with and inappropriate crush on his female cousin, Nora, who is a year older than him.

At the same time his family is worried about making ends meet in a country still in the throes of the Great Depression. They are also worried about getting their Jewish relatives out of Nazi-threatened Europe.

Marc Walentowicz is the director, and Patrick Coon is the producer. Both are Garden City residents.

The talented cast includes many community theater favorites, including Valerie Haas of Inkster as Kate Jerome, Eugene’s mother, and Margaret Winowiecki as Blanche Morton, Eugene’s widowed aunt.

Greg Gedert of Dearborn will play Eugene Jerome, while Chris Washburn of Dearborn Heights will play his older brother Stanley Jerome. Brian Tillman of Dearborn will play Jack Jerome, Eugene’s father.

Molly Mentor of Dearborn, a senior at Edsel Ford High School, will play Nora Morton, Eugene’s older cousin. Marissa Campitelle of Inkster, a freshman at Allen Park Cabrini High School, will play Laurie Morton, Eugene’s younger cousin.

“Brighton Beach Memoirs” opened on Broadway in 1983, with Matthew Broderick playing the role of Eugene, which earned him a Tony for best performance by a featured actor in a play. It also won a Tony for Best Direction and a New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play.

The play will run for three weekends, Jan. 28 to 30, Feb. 4 to 6 and Feb. 11 to 13, with 8 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday matinees.

The Berwyn Center is at 26155 Richardson in Dearborn Heights.

For more information, see the DHCT Facebook page, or go to www.dhctstage.org.

“Mary Poppins – The Musical” will open at the Detroit Opera House Thursday and run through Jan. 2.

Based on P.L. Travers’ cherished stories and the classic 1964 Walt Disney film, the stage play features the Academy Award-winning music and lyrics of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.

The show, which has four productions running on three continents, is one of the biggest musical stage successes to emerge recently from London or New York.

Original UK tour star Caroline Sheen will reprise her role as Mary Poppins while original Broadway company member Nicolas Dromard will assume the role of Bert.

“Mary Poppins” is a co-production of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh. It launched a three year run in London in December 2004. It opened on Broadway on Nov. 16, 2006.

The Detroit performances of “Mary Poppins” will run Dec. 16 through Jan. 2, 2011 at the Detroit Opera House, located at 1526 Broadway in Detroit. There will be no performances on Mondays or on Dec. 24.

Ticket prices for the Detroit engagement of “Mary Poppins” start at $25 and are on sale at the Fisher Theatre box office and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets are also available for purchase online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.BroadwayInDetroit.com, and by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 982-2787.

For group sales (20 or more) call (313) 871-1132 or e-mail groups@broadwayindetroit.com.

For additional information, call (313) 872-1000 or go to www.BroadwayinDetroit.com.