DHCT opens Neil Simon’s ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’

Photo by Sue Suchyta

The Dearborn Heights Civic Theatre presents Greg Gedert plays Eugene Jerome in the Dearborn Heights Civic Theatre production of the Neil Simon comedy “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” The show opens Friday and runs for three weekends through Feb. 13 at the Berwyn Center, 26155 Richardson in Dearborn Heights. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees. For more information go to www.dhctstage.org.

By Sue Suchyta
The Dearborn Heights Civic Theatre will open Neil Simon’s, “Brighton Beach Memoirs” on Friday for a three weekend run.

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 dealing with his own teenage awkwardness while humorously commenting on life with his parents, older brother, widowed aunt and two female cousins.

His family is worried about making ends meet in a country still in the throes of the Great Depression and getting their Jewish relatives out of the Nazi-threatened Europe.

Director Marc Walentowicz of Garden City says the show is a comedy and a drama. “It’s mixed so wonderfully, and even though it’s a period piece anyone can relate to it. Even today’s youth can relate to these characters from 1938.”

The cast includes 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.

Washburn said people should see the show because “it’s a nice blend of comedy and drama. I think it shows the good parts of a family and the bad parts of a family and that no one’s perfect. No family’s perfect — they all have their problems but in the end there’s always good parts.”

Molly Menter of Dearborn, a senior at Edsel Ford High School, will play Nora Morton, Eugene’s older cousin. This is her first major role in an adult production, and she darkened her hair for the role.

“When I auditioned for this show I had bleached blonde hair, and nobody else (in the cast) did,” Molly said. “And low income Jewish girls in the 1930s don’t normally have bleached blonde hair so at Marc’s suggestion I went very, very dark.”

Her hair is not the most radical change she’s ever made for a show, though. Last year she was Francis Flute, one of the “mechanicals” in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and she spent the show playing a man, then in the last scene a man playing a woman.

“So I’m going to have to say that being a Shakespearean drag queen is probably one of the most radical things I’ve ever done,” Molly said.

Marissa Campitelle of Inkster, a freshman at Cabrini High School in Allen Park, will play Laurie Morton, Eugene’s younger cousin.

The play will run Friday through Sunday through Feb.13, with 8 p.m. shows on Friday and Satruday, and 2 p.m. Sunday matinees. The show will be performed at the Berwyn Center, 26155 Richardson in Dearborn Heights.

For more information, go to the DHCT Facebook page, or go to its Website at www.dhctstage.org.

The Players Guild of Dearborn announced the cast for “Inherit the Wind” last week. The drama, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, will open March 11 and run for three weekends. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees.

Debbie Pletzer of Canton will direct the show, which will be produced by Valerie Haas of Inkster.

The cast includes Sean Greimel as Henry Drummond, Chris Chavez of Allen Park as Matthew Brady, Kirk Haas of Inkster as E.K. Hornbeck and Bill Spurlin of Garden City as the Reverend Jeremiah Brown.

Kori Bielanic of Livonia will play Rachel Brown, while Tom Varitek of Dearborn will play Bertram Cates.

Morris Goodman of Dearborn will play the judge, while his real life wife, Sally Hart Goodman, will play Mrs. Brady.

Rick Town will play Meeker, while Emily Pletzer of Canton will play Melinda Loomis. Donte Verriel-Huffman will play Howard Blair, while Beonka Brooks will play Mrs. Blair.

Patricia LaFramboise of Northville will play Mrs. Krebs, while David Wood will play Mr. Bannister. John Hutchinson of Dearborn will play Elijah, while Tom Sparrow of Allen Park will play the Mayor.

Others in the cast include Thomas Hissong of Canton as Tom Davenport; Tim Carney of Livonia as Harry Esterbrook and the photographer; Michael Kinnell of Wayne as Jesse Dunlap; Jeff Bartos of Dearborn as Sillers; and Chuck Bollman of Dearborn as Bollinger and a witness.

Scott Rider of Lincoln Park will play Platt; Val Sisto of Taylor will play Hawker, and Loretta Bullock of Southgate will appear as Mrs. McClain.

Michael Bollman of Dearborn plays Timmy, and Patrick Denyer of Dearborn plays Goodfellow. In addition Mark Ripper of Northville portrays Reuters, and James Mayne of Redford is an organ grinder and a witness.

Erin Ostrowski of Dearborn plays a court reporter, while John Klopp is a witness.

Appearing as townspeople are Molly Boudreau, Scout Greimel and Melissa Ripper.

For more information go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org. For ticket information call the Guild’s hotline at (313) 561-TKTS.

Three Men and a Tenor will be the featured performers at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 at a fundraiser at the Wayne Community Center, 4635 Howe in Wayne to raise funds for the victims of the William C. Franks Furniture store explosion.

The one night variety show, sponsored in part by the city of Wayne parks and recreation, theater and dance department will feature local performing artists, an auction and a raffle. The $18 admission also includes pizza, pop and salad, and there will be a cash bar.

Sponsors include the 82nd Airborne, Incredibly Convenient LLC, Seasons Hospice, U.S. 12 Bar and Grill, and Mark Chevrolet.

All of the proceeds will be donated to the William C. Franks Furniture disaster fund.

For more information, call (734) 721-7400, Ext. 1324. Tickets are also available at the Wayne Community Center.