Dearborn Area Theatre Association Honors Outstanding Achievement

Photo by Sue Suchyta

The Players Guild of Dearborn performs “Toledo Surprise” from the musical comedy, “The Drowsy Chaperone” at the Dearborn Area Theatre Association award ceremony May 17 at the Michael Guido Theatre at the Dearborn Community & Performing Arts Center. The show received six outstanding achievement awards. Shown here are Christie Schauder (left), Tiffany Mullins, Tim Carney, Brian Townsend, Sydnee Dombrowski, Lindel Salow, Kimberly Elliot, Michael Moseley, Juliette Delabbio-Abbott, Paul Morgan, Paul Bruce, James Mayne and Michael Bollman.

By Sue Suchyta
When the actors in the audience vastly outnumber the thespians on stage, it can only mean one thing: It’s awards time.

The Dearborn Area Theatre Association, whose members adjudicate local community theater and high school productions in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights each season, gathered May 17 in the Michael A. Guido Theatre at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center to honor outstanding achievement in local productions.

Dale Van Dorp, known as the “Voice of Dearborn” for his Homecoming announcements, served as the master of ceremonies.

The group inducted Ray Alcodray into the Theatre Hall of Fame for his ground-breaking work with the Arab American theater community.

DATA awarded scholarships to two Dearborn High School graduating seniors, Joe Gabor and Natalie Joseph. Both were nominated for their scholastic-level roles in DHS’s “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940.”

Gabor was nominated for outstanding achievement by a featured actor in a play while Joseph received the award for outstanding achievement by a featured actress in a play. Both also received nominations for their leading roles in a scholastic level musical for the DHS production “White Christmas.”

The DATA board urged increased participation from the theater community as both adjudicators of local theatrical productions and as fundraisers for the scholarship fund. In the past the group has raised scholarship funds through gift wrapping at the Dearborn Borders location (which has since closed) and from donations collected when DATA members volunteered at coat check stations during events at the Guido Theatre.

For more information about DATA, a 501(c) 3 organization, go to its Facebook page or go to its website at

The crowd enjoyed cameo performances by local theater groups.

The Dearborn Heights Civic Theatre treated the house to Greg Gedert and Chris Washburn as they performed a very funny scene from Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” As older brother Stanley (Washburn) explains nocturnal emissions and self-gratification to his astonished younger brother Eugene (Gedert), the appreciative crowd roared with laughter.

The two later represented the West Side Theatre Project in a scene from “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” with Washburn as Picasso, Gedert as Einstein and Dylan Frabutt as Elvis. The theater’s lighting crew brought out more stars by projecting a celestial scene onto the auditorium ceiling.

Other performances enjoyed by the appreciate crowd were a “Damn Yankees” medley presented by Edsel Ford High School students and “Friendship” from the Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes” performed by the Divine Child High School cast.

“It’s Your Wedding Day” from “The Wedding Singer,” was performed by Crestwood High School student actors, while DHS thespians performed “Happy Holidays” from the musical “White Christmas,” which showcased Carol Boyke’s colorful award-winning costume designs.

The highlight of the evening was the number “Toledo Surprise” from the Tony Award-winning musical “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which runs through Sunday at the Players Guild of Dearborn. Director and choreographer Paul Bruce slipped skillfully into the role of The Underling to fill in for a cast member unable to leave work to perform, offering an unexpected treat to his friends and fans in the house.

Crestwood High School was the most recognized play in the scholastic division, receiving nine awards for “Noises Off.” Crestwood received top honors for outstanding achievement by a featured actor in a play (Ben Sniezek), for sound and lighting (Ryan Wisniewski) and scenic design (Steve Hasse), property design (Dani Smith), leading actress (Korrine Sauve) and actor (Jad Alame), direction (Cayla Kobusz) and for the play itself.

Divine Child High School received the most recognition for its scholastic level musical entry “Anything Goes,” which took home seven honors. DC was recognized for featured actor in a musical (Jeffrey Grybel), choreography (Sara Rydzewski), orchestra direction (Robert Bush), musical direction (Christopher Urbiel), a tie for leading actress in a musical (Haley Willman), lead actor (Nicholas Swider) and for the musical itself, which was produced by Bush.

DHS received an award for featured actress in a play for Natalie Joseph’s performance in “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” and two awards for the musical “White Christmas:” featured actress in a musical (Camille Charara) and costume design (Boyke).

Edsel Ford High School’s scholastic level musical was recognized in the leading actress category for Michelle Kerr’s performance in “Damn Yankees.”

Three community theaters vied for recognition for their members’ talents: The Players Guild of Dearborn, Dearborn Heights Community Theatre and the West Side Theatre Project.

Valerie Haas received nominations for her work with all three groups: for leading actress in both “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” (WSTP) and “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” (DHCT) and an award for producing PGD’s “Inherit the Wind.”

“The Drowsy Chaperone,” the PGD spring musical, garnered six awards.

Lindel Salow was first to the podium for his hysterically funny portrayal of Aldonzo the Latin lover, which earned him the top spot for a supporting actor in a musical.

“Drowsy” also received awards for outstanding achievement in makeup design (Tony Badalamenti and Sydnee Dombrowski) and lead actress in a musical, also Dombrowski, who thanked the cast for arriving early for makeup call so she could fulfill both her onstage and offstage roles.

“Drowsy” also earned the leading actor nod for Brian Townsend’s endearing portrayal of “The Man in the Chair.” Bruce was honored for his direction of the musical, for which producers Stan Guarnelo and Frann Stempek accepted the outstanding achievement in a musical honors.

“Inherit the Wind” (PGD) received awards for featured actor (Bill Spurlin as Reverend Brown), Sean Greimel for his mesmerizing lead actor performance as Henry Drummond, and for outstanding achievement in a play, which was accepted by producer Haas.

The British farce “See How They Run” received awards for supporting actress (Katie Suchyta as the Cockney maid Ida) and lead actress (Keri Geftos as Penelope). Suchyta once more stepped into the role of loyal stage servant and accepted the award for Geftos, who was unable to get time off from work to be at the ceremony.

Sara Mayne received best supporting actress in a musical honors for her role as the lisping, politically precocious Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” the Guild’s fall musical comedy.

DATA also announced some of the summer auditions and productions of its member organizations.

Casting for the Guild and Heights summer youth theater productions already have occurred. The Guildlings’ production of Marlo Thomas’ “Free to be You and Me” will run at 7 p.m. July 15 to 17 and 22 to 24 at the playhouse at 21730 Madison near Monroe in Dearborn.

Maurice Sendak and Carol King’s “Really Rosie” will be performed with three casts on a rotating basis by the DHCT Summer Youth Theatre at 7 p.m. July 22, 23, 29, 30 and 31 at the Berwyn Center, 26155 Richardson in Dearborn Heights.

The Players Guild of Dearborn, in cooperation with The Henry Ford, will hold auditions for the Civil War musical “Shenandoah” at 7:30 p.m. June 6 and 7 at the playhouse. The show will be performed at 8 p.m. Aug. 12, 19 and 20 and at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 14 and 21 in Anderson Theatre in the Henry Ford Museum.

The Guild will also hold auditions for “On Golden Pond” at 7:30 p.m. July 25 and 26, with performances weekends from Sept. 16 to Oct. 2, with 8 p.m. performances Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees.

For more information call (313) 561-TKTS or go to

The West Side Theatre Project will hold auditions for the rock musical “Rent” from 6 to 9 p.m. July 7 and 8 at Dearborn High School, 19501 W. Outer Drive. Mike Mosallam will direct the show, which will be performed Oct. 6 to 8 and Oct. 13 to 15 at the school. Call (313) 827-1647 for audition information.