Ford Center announces professional season

Photo by Debbie Pletzer

Dearborn actors Lindel Salow (left) as Norman and Nancy Wolter as Ethel will perform in the Players Guild of Dearborn production of “On Golden Pond.” The show, which opens Friday, will run for three weekends, Sept. 16 to 18, 23 to 25, and Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, with 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday shows and 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees. For more information, call (313) 561-TKTS or go to

By Sue Suchyta
The Ford Community & Performing Arts Center will begin ticket sales next week for its 2011-12 professional season performances. From tribute to big bands, the selections will appeal to a wide range of tastes.

• Motor City Doo Wop — 8 p.m. Oct.14, tickets $40 to $55: Performers include Lou Christie with “Lightning Strikes” and “Two Faces Have I;” Shirley Alston Reeves (original lead singer of the Shirelles) with “Soldier Boy,” “Mama Said,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and “This is Dedicated to the One I Love,” the Marcels with “Heartaches” and “Blue Moon,” and The Reflections with “(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet” and “Poor Man’s Son.”

• In the Mood: 1940s Big Band Revue — 7 p.m. Nov. 11, tickets $29 to $35: The big band revue features the music of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, The Andrews Sisters and Frank Sinatra.

• Golden Dragon Acrobats – 7 p.m. Nov. 19, tickets $20 to $34: The acrobats defy gravity and amaze with their displays of balancing, tumbling and gymnastic wizardry.

• “The Nutcracker” – 8 p.m. Dec. 2; 1 p.m., 7 p.m. Dec. 3, tickets $15 to $24: The timeless Yuletide fantasy features the Taylor Ballet Americana Dance Company, with principal dancers from the New York City Ballet.

• Moscow Festival Ballet – 8 p.m. Jan. 21, tickets $39 to $55: The Moscow Festival Ballet presents “Les Sylphides” set to the music of Chopin, and “Romeo and Juliet,” featuring Tchaikovsky’s score.

• The Music of ABBA – 8 p.m. Feb. 11, tickets: $29 to $49: The Swedish tribute band recreates the ABBA Experience with hits like “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia” and “Take a Chance on Me.”

• ABBA Dance Party – 10 p.m. Feb. 11, Hubbard Ballroom, tickets $15: The dance party in the Hubbard Ballroom follows the concert and includes a light show, a disc jockey playing ABBA and other popular dance music. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres with a cash bar.

• DRUM! – 8 p.m. Feb. 25, tickets $29 to $39: Part Riverdance and part Stomp, DRUM! is growing in popularity with audiences.

• The Irish Rovers – 7 p.m. March 3, tickets $35 to $45: The Irish Rovers have been ambassadors of Irish music for more than 40 years, delivering a timeless, rollicking performance with good cheer.

• Clifford the Big Red Dog – Live! — 4 p.m. March 17, tickets $24 to $29: Clifford, celebrating his 50th anniversary, embarks on a new adventure with his friends Emily Elizabeth, Cleo and T-Bone from Birdwell Island.

• The Red Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble – 8 p.m. March 23, tickets: $24 to $29: The troupe of 60 singers, dancers and musicians perform traditional Russian Folk songs and dances.

• Comedian Mike Birbiglia – TBA, tickets: $28 to $39: Comedy central favorite Mike Birbiglia performs stand-up comedy, including his critically acclaimed routine, “What I should have said was Nothing.”

• Let’s Hang On! – April 27, tickets: $29 to $39: The Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons tribute group performs a mix of the group’s best songs, including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Who Loves You” and “Let’s Hang On.”

For tickets, call (313) 943-2354 or go to

“For our budget we try to get a variety of shows,” said Martin Zbosnik, theater manager. “There’s everything from the ballet, comedy, music … we try to stay away from plays because they are just really expensive. And nobody wants to come for just one night, and we can only afford (to book) one night. So obviously, when you see things at the Fox or the Fisher or wherever, those are three-week runs, four-week runs. They spend more than we do in a whole year.”

He said that it is hard to predict what shows will do well, because sometimes they coincide with popular sport events or occur when the weather is bad.

“I wish I had a crystal ball and could answer that because you never know,” Zbosnik said. “We’ve done really well with the ballets – it seems to be a strong contender. Comedy does really well – it’s just trying to get comedians that you’ve heard of in our price range.”

He said that 90 percent of their tickets are sold within two weeks of a show opening.

Season subscriptions will be available to patrons on a mix and match basis.

“You buy five shows, you get like 10 percent (off), you buy 10 shows you get 20 percent (off),” Zbosnik said. “Because our shows are so different… we let them mix what they would like.”

“I hope everyone comes out and enjoys our shows,” Zbosnik said. “I think we have a pretty good variety this year.”

The Michael A. Guido Theater in the Ford Center is at 15801 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

Photo courtesy of the Jewish Ensemble Theatre

Scott Norman (left) as John, Rusty Mewha (second from left) as Caleb and Council Cargle as Simon perform in the Jewish Ensemble Theatre’s production of “The Whipping Man.” The show runs through Oct.2 at the Aaron DeRoy Theatre at Maple and Drake in West Bloomfield. For more information, call (248) 788-2900 or go to

The Jewish Ensemble Theatre opens its season with a powerful and riveting performance of Matthew Lopez’s “The Whipping Man,” produced in collaboration with the Plowshares Theatre Company.

The strong acting and intense storyline make it a show worth seeing.

The production, which opened last Wednesday, will run through Oct. 2 at the Aaron DeRoy Theatre in the Jewish Community Center, 6600 W. Maple Road at Drake in West Bloomfield.

There will be no performance on Sept. 29, the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

Set in Richmond, Va., in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War, three men gather in a half-destroyed house to hold a Seder on the first night of Passover.

A defeated Confederate soldier and two recently freed slaves, who are all Jewish, use hardtack and collard greens as part of the Passover ritual.

As the story progresses, we learn how and why their lives are intertwined and how the Seder ritual has become profoundly personal to each of them.

Gary Anderson directed a superb three-person cast: Council Cargle as Simon, Rusty Mewha as Caleb and Scott Norman as John. All three produce strong, riveting performances.

The actors bring the show convincingly to life, from the pain in Caleb’s gangrenous leg to the anguish over lost loved ones expressed by all three.

Mewha convincingly brings the horrors of the battle field and trenches to life, while Norman leaves no doubt in the audience’s mind about the humiliation and agonizing pain of a whipping.

Cargle convincingly portrays the abject grief of a newly freed slave heartbroken over the assassination of President Lincoln.

Melinda Pacha’s set design captures both the actual and symbolic destruction of the South’s pre-Civil War slave economy and white aristocracy.

Mary Copenhagen’s costumes reflect both the historical period and the hardships of the characters with a seemingly effortless believability.

The superb make-up artistry which created Caleb’s gangrenous leg with frightening realism, a vital component of the plot, is unfortunately not credited in the program.

Harold Jurkiewicz is the show’s production stage manager, assisted by Mary Anne Davis, with technical direction by Adam Crinson. AeJay Mitchell is the intern assistant stage manager.

For tickets or more information, call (248) 788-2900 or go to

The Players Guild of Dearborn will hold open auditions for the Royal Shakespeare Company version of musical “The Wizard of Oz” Sept. 19 and 20 at the theater at 21730 Madison in Dearborn. Registration will run from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., with forms available on the Guild’s website,

Those auditioning should be prepared to list all possible rehearsal conflicts on the audition form. Actors of all ages are encouraged to audition. Children should only be present (with a parent or legal guardian) if they are auditioning, and must remain quiet during other’s auditions.

Selected readings from the play will be used for the auditions. Audition songs will be announced at a later date. For perusal copies or additional information, contact casting governor Kim Donovan at

The show will be directed by Bob Jones of Dearborn, with choreography by Laura Tyler of Canton Township and musical direction by Paul Abbott of Allen Park.

The show will run for four weekends: Nov. 11 to 13, 18 to 20, 25 to 27 and Dec. 2 to 4, with 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday performances and 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees.

Detailed character descriptions are available on the Guild website. The roles include: Dorothy Gale, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Glinda the Good, the Wicked West of the West and the Wizard.

Other roles include Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, Professor Marvel and Miss Gulch.

Character roles include the Winged Monkeys, the Witch’s Winkie Guards, and a host of Munchkins, Ozions and other chorus character roles.