PuppetART premieres ‘The Snow Queen’

Photo by Jan Cartwright

Joseph Albright (left) as Michael, Sarab kamoo as Veronica and Phil Powers in “God of Carnage” at the Jewish Ensemble Theatre through Jan. 1.

By Sue Suchyta
PuppetART presents Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen” with life-size puppets and special effects on select mornings and afternoons now through Jan. 28 at PuppetART, located at 25 E. Grand River in Detroit.

“The Snow Queen” is a musical retelling of the classic children’s tale. First published in 1845, it focuses on the struggle between good and evil as experienced by a little boy and girl, Kai and Gerda.

The show is recommended for ages 5 and up, and offers fantasy, magic, laughter and mystery.

The puppets are hand-crafted and made for the production, and feature an original music score.

PuppetART was founded by three Russian puppeteers in 1995, and toured throughout Michigan and other nearby states until 1998 when they established a theater in Detroit.

Remaining performances for “The Snow Queen” are at 10 a.m. Dec. 22 and Jan. 19, and 2 p.m. Dec. 26, 27, 28 and Jan. 14, 21 and 28 at 25 East Grand River in Detroit.

Tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults. Optional puppet-making workshops after performances are available for an $8 material fee.

For more information, call (313) 961-7777 or go to www.puppetart.org.

The Jewish Ensemble Theatre presents the 2009 Tony award-winning best play “God of Carnage” through Jan. 1 in the new Berman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 6600 W. Maple Road in West Bloomfield.

Christopher Hampton’s translation of Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage” is a mixture of drama and comedy. Two sets of parents meet to discuss a fight between their 11-year-old sons which caused painful injuries to one of the boys.

What starts out as a civilized discussion quickly disintegrates into a heated verbal battle, but it’s not limited to the topic of their children: lifestyle choices, attitudes, parenting styles and personal peccadilloes take center stage.

Sides change quickly and unpredictably as well: one of the fathers, a high-powered attorney, won’t stop taking cell phone calls from his office staff, while the other, a businessman, is criticized for his callous removal of a family pet.

The four adults drink, the conversations become heated, and they change direction frequently and unexpectedly. One almost feels present in the room, overhearing a very discomforting series of arguments. It feels real, not part of a play.

Suzi Regan and Phil Powers play parents Annette and Alan, while Sarab Kamoo and Joseph Albright portray parents Veronica and Michael.

All four are strong actors. Kamoo exudes an agitated energy while Regan convincingly portrays her character’s physical vulnerability to stress.

Powers epitomizes the cell phone addict we love to hate, while Albright plays the impulsive dad who doesn’t have a clue about his kids’ emotional needs.

The story unfolds like a conversation one shouldn’t be overhearing, but you just can’t turn away because it draws one in. The characters are so proud of their civility, but by the end of the evening we’ve seen the worst in all of them.

The play is more than a drunken argument, though, showing how people struggle to “do the right thing” and be “civilized” when we really haven’t strayed far from our primitive ancestors’ “fight or flight” instinct.

Some of the more interesting lines from the play include Michael’s comment about how no one warns you about starting a family when you get married, saying “Children consume your lives then destroy them.”

Alan, the cell-phone addicted lawyer, says “Society tells us to control our impulses,” but can’t stop himself from paying more attention to his phone than the people in the room, which drives his wife Annette to an act of device desperation.

Annette is disgusted by how some men are “wedded to their gadgets,” tellingly saying that “a man ought to have his hands free,” and “should show he’s capable of being alone.”

If you like well-written, provocative plays and fast-paced, well-acted drama interspersed with humor, “God of Carnage” is a must-see production.

The show is about 75 minutes long and runs without an intermission. For more information, call (248) 788-2900 or go to www.jettheatre.org.

The Southgate Community Players will hold auditions for its Youth Theatre production of “The Princess and the Pea” on Jan. 9 and 10 at the Corner Playhouse at 12671 Dix-Toledo Road in Southgate. Registration will start at 5:30 p.m., with auditions beginning at 6 p.m. for the show. The production will run March 9, 10, 16 and 17, 2012 at the playhouse.

For more information, go to www.scponstage.com.