From the diamond to the stage: Drama for every taste at local venues

Photo by Sue Suchyta
With two weeks to opening, the Players Guild of Dearborn rehearses for the Webber and Rice musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Joseph (center), played by Brandon Mace of Novi, reveals his identity to his brothers, who came to Egypt for food during the famine. Leah Cooley (left) of Lincoln Park and Sydnee Rider (right) of Dearborn sing the role of narrator in tandem. The production opens Nov. 9 for a four-weekend run. For more information call 313-561-TKTS or go to

Whether you seek your drama on a sports field or stage, there are many shows opening in November, with musicals, comedies and dramas gracing area venues.

Dearborn High School, 19501 Outer Drive, presents the comic farce “Lend me a Tenor” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 to 10 in the school’s Valentine Auditorium. Tickets are $7 for children and senior citizens, $9 for college students and $10 for general admission. Call 313-827-1647 after Nov. 1 to reserve tickets.

Edsel Ford High School, 20601 Rotunda Drive, presents “Arsenic and Old Lace” at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 to 17 on the school stage in a theater-in-the-round format. The cast includes Clare Russell as Abby Brewster, Joanna Frantz as Martha Brewster, Benjamin Timpf as Teddy Brewster and Nathaniel Booth as Mortimer Brewster. Michael Nelson plays Jonathon Brewster and Sarah Remily plays Elaine Harper.

The Southgate Community Players present the musical “Oliver!” at 8 p.m. on Nov. 2, 3, 9 and 10 at Davidson Middle School, 15800 Trenton Road in Southgate. Tickets are $13 for students and seniors, and $15 for adults. For more information, call 734-282-4727 or go to

The AKT Theatre Project, in collaboration with the Woodhaven High School Theatre Program, will present Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and 3 at the Wyandotte Art Center, 81 Chestnut, and the next weekend at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8 to 10 at Woodhaven High School, 24787 Van Horn Road in Brownstown Township.

Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. For tickets or more information, call 734-258-8370 or go to

The Downriver Actors Guild, 1165 Ford Ave. in Wyandotte, presents “Legally Blonde – The Musical” weekends from Nov. 9 to 18. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m., with 3 p.m. Sunday matinees, and 2 p.m. Nov. 17. For more information, call 313-303-5269 or go to

The Players Guild of Dearborn may be launching its first production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in 85 years, but for nearly one-third of the cast, their participation is a repeat performance.

Whether reprising a role, changing characters or graduating from the children’s chorus to adult ensemble, nearly one-third of the actors have performed in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at other venues: 10 of the 33 adults and four of the 15 children have been in the show before.

For Brandon Mace of Novi, who plays Joseph, it is his third time in the show, and the second time he has played the title role. He played Levi, one of the brothers, in a community theater in Springfield, Va., and he played Joseph for a 70- to 80-performance run at a dinner theater in 2001 in Fredricksburg, Va.

He said that Joseph connects with him because he was playing the role when 9/11 occurred, and he felt the show gave people hope, and because the friendships he makes during the run of the show are lasting.

“There’s other shows where there’s good guys and bad guys, and maybe there are love interests that go wrong, but in this show, the characters you play in this show, everyone gets along at the end,” Mace said. “And it just makes these connections that you can’t break with the other actors that you’re in with.

“Maybe it’s not the same for everyone, but for me, that’s why I came down and said I specifically want to play Joseph in this production because I have an emotional connection with that role that I want to share.”

He said audiences like the message of doing good and rising above when bad things happen in your life. Some people just want to hear good songs and dances, he added, while others come prepared to hear its message.

“They can leave with a spiritual experience if they want,” Mace said. “And I think that’s why the draw is so broad for people who aren’t even Broadway goers but they are church goers. This (show) appeals to them, it appeals to the kids, it appeals to adults – it’s just a really well-written, fun show.”

He said he plans to be in the show again, and hopes someday to share that experience with his 6- and 8-year-old children.

Sydnee Rider of Dearborn, who plays one of the narrators, said she would also like to do the show again, and would like someday to do the show with any children she may have.

She first did the show in 2002 as a 15-year-old ensemble member of the Motor City Youth Theatre.

She said people relate to the show because it is Biblical but it is also fun.

“People of any age can really connect with it because it tackles all kinds of issues like sibling rivalry, not fitting in, getting in trouble with the law and authority, so anybody can really get something out of it,” Rider said. “It’s just fun and it’s funny and it’s bright and happy and you just leave smiling.”

The choreography and music in “Joseph” encouraged Michael Parks, 17, of Taylor to audition and reprise the role of Benjamin, a part he played in the summer of 2011 with the Southgate Community Players.

“After the show I couldn’t get the songs out of my head, so I thought maybe if I did it a second time I’d finally ease my ‘Joseph’ dilemma,” Parks said.

The show’s music also appeals to Dominic Valentini of Livonia, who plays a brother, Asher, in the Guild’s production, and who played Simeon at University of Detroit Jesuit High School in 2012 during the spring of his senior year.

“There’s a lot of great music, and it’s just a really fun show – a lot of laughs to be had,” Valentini said.

The said the nostalgia factor also influenced him to do the show again, and it gives him a chance to stay involved in theater now that he is out of high school.

Tim Carney of Livonia is reprising the role of Simeon, one of the brothers, which he played in 2008 with the city of Wayne. He said he likes the show’s music and dance, and he likes shows that just involve music and dance.

He said the fun of getting to know new people make all the rehearsals worthwhile.

“We’re like one big family,” Carney said. “There’s 11 brothers in the show, 11 wives in the show, it’s like one huge family.”

Grace Bertucci, 12, of Dearborn, who is in the children’s chorus, was also in the city of Wayne show four years ago.

She said she met many nice people doing the show the first time, and it was a fun show to do, so when she heard the Guild, a theater she was familiar with, was doing the show, she decided to audition.

She said the show also appeals to her as a Catholic and it is fun to do, so it is a “two-in-one.”

Ryan Zanardelli of Southgate, who has been in the children’s chorus of “Joseph” with the Dearborn Family theater and who played Benjamin in a city of Wayne production of “Joseph” said the music appeals to him.

“I absolutely love the music,” he said. “I feel it’s got something that can appeal to everybody. I feel it’s got a story that everyone can relate to.”

Dale Zanardelli of Southgate, Ryan’s father, who played a brother, Reuben, in the same two productions, as well as now, said he likes the country and western song that he sings in the show, “One More Angel in Heaven.”

“It’s a fun story to tell and a fun story to act in,” he said, adding that he likes the time he spends with his son rehearsing shows and even driving to and from rehearsals.

“It’s a good story – a story of forgiveness and the consequences for your actions and stuff like that,” Dale Zanardelli added. “It’s presented in a very musical and fun way.”

Maddie Kaplan, 13, of Dearborn is pleased to have graduated from the children’s chorus, which she did with University of Detroit Jesuit High School during its spring 2012 production, to the adult ensemble now with the Players Guild.

She loves opera and singing, and she likes that this show takes a Bible story and makes it into an opera that makes it fun for the audience and the people in the show.

Leah Cooley, who plays one of the show’s two narrators, sang the role of the narrator in “Joseph” in 2008 with the city of Wayne’s production. She said the music from “Joseph” has been in her record collection since she was a kid.

“So it’s something that I’ve grown up with, it’s something that’s comforting, it’s a family-friendly venture and is has a really wonderful message in it as well,” Cooley said. “So when it came up to audition it was something that definitely appealed to me.”

She said the show’s theme of forgiveness is something we all need to look to as human beings.

“Not whether we’re Christian or not, but whether we’re humans and we can learn to forgive, and I think that’s a very important underlying message in ‘Joseph,’” Cooley said.

For more information about the Guild’s production of “Joseph,” call (313) 561-TKTS or go to

Wayne State University’s graduate level Hilberry Theatre Company continues its 50th season with Shakespeare’s “Othello.” The show, which opened Friday, will run through Jan. 17 in rotating repertoire with the modern comedy “Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet),” which opens Nov. 16 and runs through Feb. 9 on the same stage. For tickets or more information, call 313-577-2972 or go to

The Jewish Ensemble Theatre, at Maple and Drake roads in West Bloomfield, opened Neil Simon’s “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” Oct. 24. The show, which runs through Nov. 11, features Dearborn resident Wayne David Parker as Val. For more information, call 248-788-2900 or go to

With the World Series coming to Comerica Park, the Elizabeth Theater, above the Park Bar at 2040 Park in Detroit, has moved the opening of Janusz Glowacki’s “Antigone in New York” back a week, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 9, to avoid the onslaught of Tiger fans. For more information, call 313-444-2294 or go to