Dearborn holds annual Mayor’s Arts Awards, and a closer look at DHCT’s “Twelve Angry Men”

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Photo by Sue Suchyta
Drummers from the Maples Elementary School Arabic Music Ensemble, directed by founder and 2012 Arts Educator Award honoree Catherine Prowse, perform at the 25th annual Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony Thursday at the Michael A. Guido Theater in the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

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By SUE SUCHYTA
What do an Arabic drum ensemble, an opera singer and a Rogers and Hart musical number have in common?

They all provided excellent entertainment, featuring local talent, at the 25th annual Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony, held Feb. 13 at the Michael A. Guido Theater in the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn.

With a triple-taste of hometown talent onstage, it came as no surprise that the city has no shortage of artistic supporters deserving honors at its annual award show.

The honorees recognized for their work in 2012 and earlier were:

• G. Kevin Dewey, director of the Vanguard Voices, with the Arts Organization Award.

• Robert Varty, treasurer of the Dearborn Community Arts Council executive board of governors, with the DCAC Bravo Award.

• Eddie Fakhoury, executive director of the Dearborn Public School Education Foundation, with the Art Patron Award.

• Mary Beth Oravec, Players Guild of Dearborn volunteer, with the Arts Volunteer Award.

• Catherine Prowse, a music educator with Dearborn Public Schools, and founder and director of the Maples Arabic Drum Ensemble with the Arts Educator Award.

• Linda Lukens, pianist, with the Artist / Performer Award.

• The East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, with the Mayor’s Arts Award.

In a tradition begun by the late Dearborn Mayor Michael Guido, current Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., with the DCAC, hosted the annual art awards recognition event.

The DCAC is a member-supported, non-profit umbrella organization for more than 45 local art and cultural groups in the greater Dearborn region.

Local talent energized the evening, beginning with the Dearborn Edsel Ford High School Voice Ensemble, who sang a challenging yet beautiful and stirring vocal selection, “Sanctus,” from “Requiem” by Gabriel Fauré.

They then switched styles completely to deliver a spirited musical theater number from their high school’s spring musical, Rogers and Hart’s “Babes in Arms.”

The choir, not surprisingly, performs at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March.

The Maples Elementary School Arabic Drum Ensemble performed as well, entertaining the house even when entering and leaving the stage to a captivating primal drumbeat, as the percussive cadence of the talented young drummers resonated throughout the auditorium and drew both the attention and applause of the appreciative house.

In addition, Dearborn-native Brittania Talori, an operatic soprano, entranced listeners with Mozart’s “Der Holle Rache” from “The Magic Flute” and Verdi’s “Caro Nome” from “Rigoletto.”

The next DCAC-sponsored event, an exclusive exhibit of Monte Nagler photographs, will grace the Padzieski Gallery Feb. 20 through March 29 at the Ford Center, 15801 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

Nagler is scheduled to appear at an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the gallery, which, for a $25 admission, will feature a wine tasting as well as hors d’oeuvres by Chef Josh Bodary.

A CLOSER LOOK AT DHCT’S “TWELVE ANGRY MEN”
When talented freelance photographer Cynthia Frabutt is not covering events like the Mayor’s Arts Awards through her camera lens for the DCAC, she is instructing a jury – at least, a fictional one, as director of the Dearborn Heights Civic Theatre’s production of “Twelve Angry Men” in April at Dearborn High School.

Frabutt said she always wanted to direct the drama.

“I love the original film and screenplay,” Frabutt said. “Even though it was written in the ’50s, it is relevant at any time, and it’s universal.”

The drama features 12 jurors who must decide the outcome of a murder trial. Initially, most believe the defendant is guilty, but a lone dissenter on the jury slowly begins to sow seeds of doubt, which cause the others to re-think their initial assumptions.

The human desire to persuade others to their point of view intrigues her, she said, as do the motivations that influence juries to arrive at life-changing decisions, which she said some jurors take lightly and others take seriously.

The show is also about socio-economic class distinction and prejudice, she said.

“I do believe that happens a lot, even today,” Frabutt said. “We have these stereotypes and prejudices, and even those who feel they are not necessarily bigoted have that kind of engrained in their psyche, and in this play it reveals those that are hiding something and those that are flat-out prejudicial. It’s really a human interest story that we can all relate to in any given time in our history.”

She said she had more than enough men auditioning for the roles, and her challenge was to decide who would play which roles.

Her cast includes Patrick Coon as juror #1, the jury foreman. The other jurors, as numbered, are: #2 – Barret Kaltz, #3 – Chuck Bollman, #4 – Aaron Adamkiewicz, #5 – Chris Rivard, #6 – David Wood, #7 – Jeff Bartos, #8 – Paul Morgan, #9 – Pat Denyer, #10 – Marc Walentowicz, #11 – Tom Morgan and #12 – Cory Chambless.

Denyer said he used the 1957 film as a teaching tool for conflict resolution during employee training, and after seeing the movie many times he fell in love with it.

Bartos has been in the play before, and wanted to be in it again as a different juror. His persona wants to get to a baseball game, but discovers that rendering a verdict is neither quick nor easy.

Morgan, who plays the lone dissenter on the jury who seeks to change the others’ point of view, said he loved the movie when he discovered it while in high school, and playing juror #8 is a dream come true for him.

“I never even imagined that this could happen to me at this age that I’m at, so thankfully Cynthia saw something that maybe I didn’t see,” he said. “So this is really a dream role and a dream coming true for me.”

Walentowicz, who often directs shows himself, was uncommitted during the timeframe of “Twelve Angry Men,” and he said he has wanted to work with Frabutt since she impressed him with shows she recently directed.

He said he does not think the play will ever go out of style.

“There’s always going to be people who think they know things based on perceptions,” Walentowicz said. “That’s something that’s been going on; it’s just as true then as it is now. So it’s always very interesting to see all the different archetypes of the people and see how they react to certain situations.”

The show runs at 8 p.m. April 12, 13, 19 and 20, with a 2:30 p.m. April 21 matinee. Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for students, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the DHS theater program.

HILBERRY PRESENTS NIKOLAI GOGOL’S ‘MARRIAGE’
Wayne State University’s graduate theater company will perform Nikolai Gogol’s “Marriage” Feb. 22 through April 6 in rotating repertory at the Hilberry Theatre.

One bride, two matchmakers, four men and one family tangle in a hilarious play about the business of marriage.

Tickets run from $12 to $30, with 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday shows and select 2 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday matinees.

For more information call the box office at 313-577-2972 or go to www.hilberry.com.

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Photo by Sue Suchyta
The 25th annual Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony, held Thursday at the Michael A. Guido Theater in the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center recognized the 2012 award honorees: Robert Varty (left), treasurer of the Dearborn Community Arts Council executive board of governors, with the DCAC Bravo Award; Melissa Kania, East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority executive assistant; Michael Bewick, EDDDA executive director, with the Mayor’s Arts Award; Catherine Prowse, music educator, Dearborn Public Schools, with the Arts Educator Award; Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr.; Mary Beth Oravec, Players Guild of Dearborn volunteer, with the Arts Volunteer Award; Eddie Fakhoury, executive director of the Dearborn Public School Education Foundation, with the Art Patron Award; Linda Lukens, pianist, with the Artist/Performer Award; and G. Kevin Dewey, director of the Vanguard Voices, with the Arts Organization Award.

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