Mysteries, musicals and timeless tales on local stages

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By SUE SUCHYTA
There may be a chill in the air, but stage lights and area actors are heating up local stages in the annual surge of shows that traditionally open and run between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Whether your tastes run toward mysteries, musicals or timeless tales, entertainment abounds for every budget and schedule.

FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD TO CRESTWOOD
Crestwood High School thespians are off to see the Wizard in the musical family favorite, “The Wizard of Oz.” Join Dorothy and Toto as they discover a trio of unusual allies on their journey to find home and their heart’s desire.

Show times are 11 a.m. Nov. 14 (a free performance for senior citizens), and 7 p.m. Nov. 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23 at the school, 1501 N. Beech Daly in Dearborn Heights. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door.

For more information, go to https://chstheatre.shutterfly.com.

Directed by Cayla Kolbusz, the cast features Alex Krysztof as Dorothy, Kayla Rodriguez as the Scarecrow, Karam Alame as the Tin Man, Moose El-Shorbaji as the Lion, Audrey Wilson as the Wicked Witch and Valerie Dynda as Glinda.

‘AND THEN THERE WERE NONE’ AT DEARBORN HIGH SCHOOL
Dearborn High School presents Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 to 16 at the school, 19501 W. Outer Drive in Dearborn.

Set in 1954, 10 people travel to an island retreat for what they think will be a relaxing weekend until they realize they are isolated with a homicidal maniac who starts seeking revenge on the guests.

Tickets are $10, with $9 admission for college students and $7 seats for seniors and children.

For more information call 313-827-1647 or go to www.facebook.com/pages/Dearborn-High-Theatre-The-Fan-Page.

‘SNOW WHITE’ AT HFCC
Henry Ford Community College presents a new twist on the story of “Snow White” with an original script written by director Judith Fletcher. The show also debuts an original score by Anthony Lai.

Performances run Nov. 15 to 24, with 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday shows, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and school matinees at 10 a.m. Nov. 18 to 22.

Performances are in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center at HFCC, 5101 Evergreen Road in Dearborn.

Tickets are $15 for adults, with $12 admission for seniors and students. Tickets for groups of 10 or more are $8 per person.

The spirited show includes the classic elements of a magic mirror, a vain and wicked queen, seven dwarfs, Snow White and her prince.

For more information, go to theatre.hfcc.edu/season.

PGD’s ‘DROOD’ DIFFERS EACH NIGHT
Do you ever walk away from a show wishing it had a different ending?

Now there is a Broadway musical that changes each time it runs, with the audience deciding by popular vote “whodunnit.”

The Players Guild of Dearborn presents the Tony award-winning musical, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” by Rupert Holmes Nov. 8 to 10, 15 to 17, 22 to 24, and Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, with shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

For $18 tickets, or more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org.

The musical, set in 1892 and based on Charles Dickens’ last unfinished novel, is a “play within a play.” An acting troupe premiers its new show, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” in which the title character disappears on Christmas Eve. Since Dickens died before finishing the story, the cause of Drood’s death – and Dicken’s intended murderer – are unknown.

The show is the first Broadway musical with multiple endings determined by audience vote. The audience votes on a list of suspects, many with motives to kill Drood. They also vote on a mystery detective and choose a pair of lovers to end the show.

Director Michael Falzon’s hard work and attention to detail paid off, and the strong ensemble show is full of surprises, laughter, and twists and turns.

Guild newcomer Julie Malloy of Dearborn provides the musical direction, with the orchestra situated upstage of the actors, on an elevated mezzanine, eliminating concerns experienced last spring when the orchestra, situated between the stage and the audience, created audio challenges for the house.

The ensemble is a powerhouse during the group vocal numbers, capping their achievement with an impressive finale. There is a wide range of solo talent on the stage as well.

The choreography, limited primarily to group numbers, is not essential to the story, which is fortunate, since the cast is crowded elbow-to-elbow, performing steps that lack imagination and polish. At one point, the ensemble drops their prop newspapers to sway with their arms in the air, reminiscent of commuters on a crowded subway car.

The costumes are gorgeous, with many created specifically for the show under the auspices of costume governor Jeff Bartos.

Seasoned audience favorite Brian Townsend of Dearborn leads the show as the endearing and improvisational emcee, alternately entertaining, cajoling and teasing the audience.

The cast fills the stage with energy and strong performances.

Standouts, in addition to Townsend, include Lindsey Brenz of Troy as Miss Alice Nutting and Edwin Drood, Valerie Mould of Royal Oak as Miss Angela Prysock and Princess Puffer, Mitch Bradley of Berkley as Mr. Clive Paget and John Jasper and Jake Dombrowski of Dearborn as Nick Cricker and Durdles.

Dombrowski, who provides hysterically funny comic relief, is ironically the hardest to understand due to his thick Cockney accent. He is, however, so much fun to watch it almost does not matter. He heroically stepped into the role halfway into the rehearsal process when another actor left the company.

Others in the talented cast include Kimberly Elliott of Canton Township as Miss Deidre Peregrine and Rosa Bud, Colleen Meade-Ripper of Livonia as Miss Janet Conover and Helena Landless, and Nasir Khawaja of Southfield as Mr. Victor Grinstead and Neville Landless.

Inez Hernandez of Dearborn Heights plays Mr. Phillip Bax and Bazzard, with Ryan Owen of Southgate as Master Nick Cricker and the Deputy.

Also in the cast are Dearborn residents Chris Boudreau of Dearborn as Mr. Cedric Moncrieffe and the Reverend Mr. Crisparkle; James Mayne as Mr. James Throttle, the stage manager and barkeep; Allison Gilbert as Miss Violet Balfour and Beatrice; Meg Kisch as Miss Isabel Yearsley and Wendy; Diane Cliff as Miss Florence Gill; and Noreen Kurowski as Miss Gwendolyn Pynn.

Jeffrey Nelson of Farmington Hills plays Mr. Harry Sayle and Horace, and Connor Garcia of Southgate plays 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.

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