Award winning shows on local stages: ‘Ruined’ at HFCC; ‘Memphis’ at the Fisher

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Photo courtesy of Henry Ford Community College
Candice Latham (left) as Mama Nadi and London Johnson as Christian appear in Henry Ford Community College’s presentation of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitizer Prize-winning play “Ruined.”

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By SUE SUCHYTA
Whether you are looking for a high-energy musical or a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, there is no shortage of satisfying entertainment on local stages. Two worthwhile shows running now through April 21 include the hot new Broadway musical “Memphis” heating up the stage at the Fisher Theatre and Lynn Nottage’s 2009 Pulitzer prize-winning drama “Ruined” running now in Adray Auditorium in the Mackenzie Fine Arts Center at Henry Ford Community College.

‘RUINED’ AT HFCC
HFCC’s Fine Arts and Fitness Division raises the bar with its intense and edgy portrayal of “Ruined.”

The show, set in the present day, centers on war-ravaged Congo and its weary civilian survivors, especially the women, who face violence against their gender in a land without laws.

“Ruined” runs at 8 p.m. April 18 to 20, and 2 p.m. April 14 and 21.

Only 65 seats are available per performance for this intimate staging. Tickets are $15 general admission, and $12 for faculty, staff, seniors and students.

For tickets or more information, contact Gerry Dzuiblinski at 313-845-9817 or via email at gadzuiblinski@hfcc.edu, or go to www.hfcctheatre.org.

With the audience seated on stage and close to the action, it is easy to forget that one is merely watching a story unfold as soldiers smoke Camels, drink beer and caress the working girls in Mama’s, a bar and brothel in a constantly shifting war zone.

The show is for mature audiences only, and contains sexual content, violence and disturbing imagery.

Director Chris Bremer brings out the best in his cast, from the lowliest mud-streaked miner to Mama’s working girls.

Candice Latham is superb as Mama Nadi, who combines street-smart saavy with a tough exterior and unexpected tenderness.

London Johnson also delivers a strong performance as Christian, Mama’s black-market beau.

Brittany Lowrey as Sophie and India Krishana Jackson as Salima also create strong, believable characters.

Watch as well for Celica Thomas as Josephine, K. Marcellus Hogan as Jerome Kisembe, Jason Burke as Mr. Harari and Richard Summersett Jr. as Osembenga.

The show is intense and one of the best HFCC has recently performed, grabbing one’s attention and keeping it trained on the story unfolding onstage.

‘MEMPHIS’ AT FISHER
“Memphis” heats up the house at the Fisher with amazing dancing and music that will entrance audiences through April 21.

The four-time Tony Award-winner, including 2010 Best Musical, takes place in Memphis in the segregated south, where a young white disc jockey named Huey Calhoun falls in love with black music and a young black singer at a time when the racial divide was still a treacherous chasm.

The music and choreography shine and take on a quick-paced life of their own when performed by the talented ensemble.

Directed by Christopher Ashley and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, the chorus seems to defy gravity with their remarkable and imaginative dance moves.

Huey is played by Bryan Fenkart, with Felicia Boswell aptly named as the singer and female lead Felicia. Both bring energy and charisma to the larger-than-life characters. Boswell’s voice is an amazing treat as well.

Paul Tazewell’s costumes are a period treat for audiences to savor and enjoy, along with David Gallo’s scenic design.

From the singing and dancing in the clubs to the inspired gospel singing and swaying in the black Baptist church, the vocals will inspire and entertain as they set your toes a tapping and spirits soaring.

For tickets or more information, call 313-871-1132 or go to www.broadwayindetroit.com.

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