Guild announces cast for ‘Free to Be … You and Me’

Photo by Jillian Zylinski

Vanessa Sawson (left) of Royal Oak as Wilbur and Laura Heikkinen of Livonia as Fern rehearse a scene from “Charlotte’s Web,” the Hilberry Theatre’s summer family play. The show will be performed at 10:30 a.m. June 21 to 24, June 28 and 30, and July 1, and July 5 to 8. For more information call (313) 577-2972 or go to

By Sue Suchyta
The Players Guild of Dearborn announced the 37-member cast of its summer Guildling youth musical production, “Free to Be … You and Me,” conceived by Marlo Thomas and friends.

The show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. July 15 to 17 and 22 to 24 for a two-weekend run. Tickets are $5, with open seating.

The ensemble includes 26 Dearborn children, including: 10-year-old Benjamin Blessing, 10; Nathan Booth, 15; Molly Boudreau, 9; Anthony Cieri, 18; and Austin Clark, 14.

Other Dearborn youth in the cast are Grace Doverspike, 10; Stella Doverspike, 8; Steelie Dowgiallo, 7; Bella Fothergill, 17; and Miranda Fothergill, 15.

Also from Dearborn are Jillian and Megan Gencarelli, both 6; Noah Goddard, 10; Amy Golembiewski, 23; and Maddie Kaplan, 12.

Other Dearborn children in the show are Kayla Katona, 11; Allison Koehler, 7; Jessica Koehler, 5; Olivia McPherson, 8; and Peter Moore, 9.

Also in the cast are Dearborn residents Sarah Randall, 12; Emma Scott, 12; Ryan Shameri, 11; Tim Smith, 17; Adriana Viscomi, 8; and Maria Viscomi, 12.

Dearborn Height cast members include Rhiannon Flores, 11; Liliana Greimel, 8; and Scout Greimel, 10.

Others in the cast include Rachel Hatfield, 8, of Taylor; Joseph and Nicholas Atkins, both 9, of Canton; Cole Haas, 9, and Ian Haas, 11, of Inkster; Madison Schroka, 8, of Brownstown; Quinn Higgins, 10, of Northville; and Jade Reynolds, 12, of Oxford.

The book by the same title, “Free to Be … You and Me” was conceived by Thomas and features the contributions by Judy Blume, Dan Greenberg, Carol Hall, Sheldon Harnick, Bruce Hart, Edward Kleban, Elain Laron, Stephen Lawrence, Betty Miles, Shelly Miller, Carl Reiner, Mary Rodgers, Shel Silverstein, Peter Stone and Charlotte Zolotow.

It was adapted for the stage by Douglas Love and Regina Safran, and is produced in cooperation with Rodgers and Hammerstein Theatricals.

The show helps children explore all the possibilities in their lives without limiting themselves to traditional roles and stereotypes. It blends music and humor to help children explore all the possibilities in their lives.

The Hilberry Theatre will present Joseph Robinette’s dramatization of the E.B. White classic “Charlotte’s Web” as its summer family-friendly production.

Set on a farm during the Great Depression, 8-year-old Fern Arable begs her father to spare the life of a little pig, the runt of the litter. Fern agrees to bottle feed the pig she names Wilbur, who soon grows big and healthy. Soon Wilbur goes to live at Fern’s Uncle Homer’s farm and befriends Charlotte the spider. When Wilbur finds out he’s on the menu for Christmas dinner, Charlotte weaves words into her web to tell the world what a special pig he is, demonstrating a very special bond of friendship.

The cast includes Vanessa Sawson of Royal Oak as Wilbur the pig, Carollette Phillips of Detroit as Charlotte, Laura Heikkinen of Livonia as Fern, a goose and a spectator; Alexander Schott of White Lake as Templeton the rat, Arable and Lurby; Dave Toomey of Lansing as Homer, a sheep, spectator and Avery; and Samantha Rosentrator of Geneva, Ala., as the narrator, a gander, reporter, uncle, and the president of the fair.

Jesse Merz of Royal Oak is the show’s director, with Fred Florkowski of Redford as the technical director.

The show will be performed at 10:30 a.m. June 21 to 24, June 28 and 30, and July 1, and July 5 to 8. For more information call (313) 577-2972 or go to

Mitch Albom’s popular new play “Ernie,” a remembrance of longtime Detroit Tigers radio broacaster Ernie Harwell, will extend its run through July 31 at the City Theatre in Detroit, inside the Hockeytown Café, which is next to the Fox Theatre and across the street from Comerica Park.

“This play was always about honoring a man we all loved in this town. And we’re blessed with a deeply talented cast and crew on this show,” Albom said. “We’re grateful to have a chance now to extend the show’s run into the mid-summer, and offer even more fans the chance to visit with the voice of summer.”
 The play is set during Harwell’s last night at Comerica Park, where the Hall of Fame broadcaster is about to give a moving thank you speech to his hometown fans. Just before Harwell walks onto the field, he meets an unusual young boy who urges him to give one final broadcast – the “broadcast of his life.”

“Ernie’s story transcends sports,” Albom said. “It’s a story of 20th century Americana and a love affair with baseball and a childhood sweetheart. Ernie went through the Depression, World War II, the segregation of sports – he also called some of the grandest moments ever witnessed on a ball field. It’s an honor to bring such a rich character to the stage – especially for so many fans who loved him.”

The play features classic footage from historic baseball moments, supplied courtesy of Major League Baseball, and includes many Harwell calls.

Directed by Tony Caselli, the show stars Will Young as Ernie and TJ Corbett as the boy.

Albom insisted that the play feature a basic $20 ticket price and show times that coincide with Tiger games. A portion of the proceeds from “Ernie” will be donated to several of Harwell’s favorite charities.

Tickets may be purchased at all Ticketmaster locations, and at the City Theatre box office. To order tickets by phone, call (800) 745-3000. For additional information, call (313) 471-6611 or go to