Players Guild opens season with ‘Fantasticks’

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Photo by Colleen Meade Ripper
Brian Townsend (left) of Dearborn plays Bellomy and Jeff Flannery of Southgate plays Hucklebee in the musical “The Fantasticks” at the Players Guild of Dearborn, 21730 Madison in Dearborn. The show runs Sept. 13 to 15, 20 to 22 and 27 to 29, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org.

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By SUE SUCHYTA
The Players Guild of Dearborn has been a busy place this week, with new seat installation completed Aug. 27 in the auditorium, “The Fantasticks” preparing for its Sept. 13 opening, and casting announced Aug. 28 for the musical, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

“FANTASTICKS” FACTS
Opening the Guild’s 86th season is “The Fantasticks,” with music by Harvey Schmidt and book and lyrics by Tom Jones.

Directed by Paul Bruce of Dearborn, with musical direction by Paul Abbott of Livonia, the show opens its three-weekend run Sept. 13 to 15, and continues Sept. 20 to 22 and Sept. 27 to 29, with show times at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Guild theater is at 21730 Madison in Dearborn. For tickets or more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org.

In “The Fantasticks,” two neighboring teens, Luisa and Matt, have fallen in love but feel they must hide the fact from their feuding fathers. However, the fathers are really friends who have hatched a plot – with the help of an acting troupe – to encourage the two teens to fall in love. However, when the couple discovers their fathers’ plans, their romance may not survive.

Bruce said that even if patrons have seen the show before, he encourages them to see the Guild’s version because they have re-imagined the story.

“We’ve given it a very fresh face and I don’t want to give away too much, but I promise that if you come to see this, you will be pleasantly surprised by the special tricks we’ve added to it to make it a little more wonderful for you,” Bruce said.

He is confident the auditorium renovations will be complete and ready to impress audiences by opening night as well, and praised Guild members who have volunteered their time to paint walls, seal floors and clean the building.

“Everything is being done magnificently,” Bruce said. “Audiences that come to our opening night or any of the performances this opening show are going to be doubly thrilled. They get a wonderful show and they get the unveiling of our gorgeous new facility.”

Bruce hopes audiences recognize and enjoy the song “Try to Remember,” which he said was recorded by many artists at the time the show became popular.

“People my age and my parents’ age heard these songs as standards on the radio for a lot of years during the 1960s and early ’70s,” he said.

Bruce said the show has a tremendous cast with an amazing energy level.

“I think the audiences will almost be exhausted after watching us because it’s just so lively and so fun,” he said.

Kimberly Elliott of Canton Township, who plays Luisa, said the show is a wonderful production and a fun-filled evening, and even those who have seen the show before will enjoy the twists Bruce has added to the classic show.

She added that it is relaxing to have her real-life boyfriend, Michael Bollman of Dearborn, play Matt, her character’s love interest.

“You can really feel that’s coming from your heart instead of a place where you’re acting,” she said. “And even in the parts where we get in a little tiff with each other, it is fun.”

Bollman said that playing opposite his real life girlfriend is nice because he does not have to fake any of the passion.

“Kimberly and I have been through our highs and lows so we really can relate to and really pour our hearts and souls into these two characters,” Bollman said.

He added that the show is a classic and one of the longest-running off-Broadway shows for a reason: it is a wonderful, charming show.

“If you think about it, you get two shows in one,” Bollman said. “The first half is a little musical comedy, and then the second half is a little more musical drama. It’s a fun, just good experience all around.”

Others in the cast include Mike Moseley of Allen Park as El Gallo, Jeff Flannery of Southgate as Hucklebee, Brian Townsend of Dearborn as Bellomy, Alex Gojkov of Dearborn as the Mime, Tom Sparrow of Allen Park as Henry and Steve Gautreau of Dearborn as Mortimer.

GUILD ANNOUNCES CAST FOR ‘THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD’
The Guild announced the cast of the musical production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” Aug. 28.

Adapted from an unfinished novel of Charles Dickens, the show features a book, lyrics and music by Rupert Holmes.

Set in 1892, The Music Hall Royale is premiering its newest show, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” in which the title character has disappeared on a snowy Christmas Eve. Since Dickens died before ending the story, the cause of Drood’s death and his possible murderer are unknown.

The players turn to the audience to vote on a list of suspects, many of whom have motives for Drood’s disappearance.

The show was the first Broadway musical with multiple endings determined by audience vote, and its author received Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Original Score. The musical received 11 Tony nominations and won in five categories, including Best Musical and Best Leading Actor.

The Guild’s production runs Nov. 8 to 10, 15 to 17, 22 to 24, and Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, with show times at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Michael Falzon of Dearborn will direct the show, with musical direction by Julie Malloy of Dearborn and choreography by Janeen Bodary of Dearborn Heights.

The cast includes Brian Townsend of Dearborn as Mr. William Cartwright (the Chairman), Mitch Bradley of Berkley as Mr. Clive Paget and John Jasper, and Lindsey Brenz of Troy as Miss Alice Nutting and Edwin Drood.

Valerie Mould of Royal Oak plays Miss Angela Prysock and the Princess Puffer, with Kimberly Elliott of Canton Township as Miss Deidre Peregrine and Rosa Bud, and Colleen Meade-Ripper of Livonia as Miss Janet Conover and Helena Landless.

Nasir Khawaja of Southfield portrays Mr. Victor Grinstead and Neville Landless, with Chris Boudreau of Dearborn as Mr. Cedric Moncrieffe and the Reverend Mr. Crisparkle, and Inez Hernandez of Dearborn Heights as Mr. Phillip Bax and Bazzard.

Brett Reynolds of Pontiac plays Mr. Nick Cricker and Durdles, with Ryan Owen of Southgate as Master Nick Cricker and the deputy.

Also in the cast are Dearborn residents James Mayne as Mr. James Throttle, stage manager, and the barkeep; Allison Gilbert as Miss Violet Balfour and Beatrice; and Meg Kisch as Miss Isabel Yearsley and Wendy.

Diane Cliff of Dearborn portrays Miss Florence Gill, with Jeffrey Nelson of Farmington Hills as Mr. Harry Sayle and Horace, and Connor Garcia of Southgate as Mr. Montague Pruitt and Shade of Jasper.

Also in the cast are Livonia residents Tim Carney as Mr. Alan Eliot, and Jeff Lokken as Mr. Christopher Lyon.

SOUTHGATE COMMUNITY PLAYERS TO AUDITION FOR ‘AIDA: SCHOOL EDITION’
Auditions for the school edition of Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida” take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 3 and 4, with registration beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Corner Playhouse, 12671 Dix Toledo Road in Southgate.

All needed materials will be available at the auditions. Those trying out must be under 18 or a high school student.

For more information, call 734-282-4727 or go to www.scponstage.com.

The show, directed by Phil Rauch, runs Dec. 13 through 15 at Davidson Middle School, 15800 Trenton Road in Southgate.

“Aida,” is a timeless love story with a score that appeals to audiences of all ages.

DHCT, NOW GHOST LIGHT PLAYERS, HOLDS ‘PLAZA SUITE’ AUDITIONS IN DEARBORN
The former Dearborn Heights Civic Theatre, now known as the Ghost Light Players, will hold auditions for Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite” at 7 p.m. Sept. 16 and 17 in Wet Rooms 1 and 2 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn, 15801 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

The show opens at 8 p.m. Nov. 8 and runs Nov. 9, 15 and 16 in the auditorium of Henry Ford Centennial Library, 16301 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

Patrick Coon will direct the first act, “A Visitor from Mamaroneck,” with Marc Walentowicz directing Act II, “Visitor from Hollywood,” and Act III, “Visitor from Forest Hills.”

Auditions will consist of cold readings. For character and act descriptions, go to the group’s Facebook page listing under Dearborn Heights Civic Theatre.

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Photo by Colleen Meade Ripper
Kimberly Elliott (left) of Canton Township plays Luisa and Michael Bollman of Dearborn plays Matt in the musical “The Fantasticks” at the Players Guild of Dearborn, 21730 Madison in Dearborn. The show runs Sept. 13 to 15, 20 to 22 and 27 to 29, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org.

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