Neil Simon’s ‘Fools’ at HFC

Photo by Gerry Dzuiblinski
Michael Ross of Dearborn as the Stepping Man makes a discovery in Neil Simon’s comic fable “Fools,” running Thursdays through Sundays June 19 to 29 in the Adray Auditorium of Henry Ford College. For tickets and more information go to

Henry Ford College presents Neil Simon’s comic fable “Fools” June 19 to 29 at the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center on the main campus, 5101 Evergreen Road in Dearborn.

Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for students with identification. For tickets, call 313-845-9817 or go to

Directed by Gerry Dzuiblinski, “Fools” follows a young schoolteacher, Leon Tolchinsky, who goes to a small Russian village to teach. Upon his arrival, he discovers that the entire town has been under a spell of stupidity for 200 years, and he is the only one who can break the curse.

However, if he stays in the village for 24 hours without breaking the curse, he may also fall under the spell.

The cast includes Dearborn residents Kyle Moylan as Tolchinsky, Andrew St. John as Snetsky the sheep loser, Lina Allan as the magistrate, Zaina Berri as Lenya Zubritsky, Brian Bieber as Count Gregor Yousekevitch, Joshua Cliff as the Shovel Man and Michael Ross as the Stepping Man.

Zoe Mueller of Dearborn and Katie Higgins of Westland share the role of Yenchna, the vendor.

Dearborn Heights residents in the cast include Chris Boskovski as Dr. Zubritsky and Samantha Kenbeek as Sophia Zubritsky.

Other cast members include Matt Van Houten of Allen Park as Slovich the butcher, Danielle Weinkauf of Melvindale as Mishkin the postman and Kahrah Noel of Detroit as the Crate Man.

The Players Guild of Dearborn announced the cast for “Charlotte’s Web – the Musical” last week. Featuring 52 children age 5 to 13, director Valerie Haas of Inkster said auditions drew a great pool of talent, with a mixture of returning Guildlings and new faces.

Haas said “Charlotte’s Web,” which will run July 31 to Aug. 3, is a good play choice because the story is familiar, it is a classic with universal appeal, and children understand it.

“Fern and her brother, Avery, are kids like them,” Haas said. “They get that talking to animals isn’t weird. Personification of animals is ancient, and these animals represent various aspects of real people and their problems, from Wilbur the Pig being afraid of being killed to Charlotte’s desire to protect him and his innocence.”

She said the story’s sweetness is a quality often lacking in contemporary movies and television shows, which often portray children as sarcastic, with little respect for the adults in their lives.

“‘Charlotte’s Web’ isn’t like that,” Haas said. “Even when they disagree with their parents, the kids still show respect.”

Youth theater productions provide children with the same type of group interaction that others experience when playing on sports teams, Haas said.

“The opportunity to work collaboratively on a production and then perform teaches kids important life skills, like sharing and cooperation, as well as understanding how your part fits into the whole to make it better,” Haas said. “It also teaches responsibility for learning your part, as well as the virtues of being on time and prepared.”

The art of pretending is underrated, Haas said.

“Pretending – acting – helps us understand other people,” she said. “We need more understanding in this world.”

Haas, who said theater is her passion, hopes the children in her cast acquire an appreciation for the performing arts and their importance to communities.

“Remember, without art, the Earth is just ‘eh,’” Haas said.

Elisa Noeske of Dearborn Heights is the musical director, with Dearborn residents Jeff Bartos producing, Suzy Greimel choreographing, and Tracey Boudreau serving as the parent liaison.

Cast members include Jamie Paschke, 10, of Dearborn Heights as Fern; Cole Haas, 12, of Inkster as Avery; and Dearborn residents Grace Bertucci, 13, as Charlotte and Liliana Greimel, 11, as Wilbur.

Dearborn Heights residents in the cast include Spencer Dickhudt, 12, as John; Hassan Almaliki, 11, as Homer; and Kaitlin Birner, 11, as the photographer.

Jaclyn Sayger, 8, of Allen Park plays a lamb and Ashlyn Doner, 12, of Northville plays a cow.

Dearborn cast members include Emily Robinson, 11, as Martha; Grace Crandall, 11, as Edith; Lily Kanclerz, 12, as Lurvy; and Molly Boudreau, 12, as Templeton.

Also from Dearborn are Sarah Collins, 9, as Goose; Gavin Deckert, 11, as Gander; Allison Koehler, 10, as a sheep; and Andrew Brown, 10, as Doc/Uncle (Pig).

Other Dearborn cast members include Ella Champoux, 10, as Sadie; Nora Dillon, 9, as Bat; Dominic Greimel, 9, as Owl; Mary Collins, 13, as a reporter; Lillian Robinson, 10, as an announcer; and Adam Haag, 10, as Horse.

Dearborn residents Jillian Oleski, 7, Kristin Collins, 7, and Claire Crandall, 6, play three featured spiders.

Playing other spiders and the goslings are Bradley Pelc, 5, of Allen Park; Claire Williams, 8, of Redford Township; and Dearborn residents Shannon Ashley, 6, Christina Bertucci, 9, Jessica Koehler, 8, Jillian Gencarelli, 9, and Natalia Torres, 8.

Ensemble members playing fair spectators, workers and visitors include Nada Almaliki, 13, and Maya Dickhudt, 10, of Dearborn Heights, and Julianne Doner, 10, of Northville.

Additional Dearborn cast members include Ella Champoux, 10; Mariam Zorkot, 10; Ava Dobos, 11; Madison Hall, 13; Brianna Valentine, 10; Ella Hall, 10; Alexandra Slanec, 10; Erin Beauchamp, 9; Bailey Holmes, 13; Alyssa Purrenhage, 10; Madison Ollar, 10; Zoe Acker, 9; Elizabeth Kolinski Morris, 10; Macenzie Landon, 12; Brooklyn Devlin, 9; and Phoebe Kolinski Morris, 8.