Char and Shar alike: Siblings in separate spotlights

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Grace Bertucci (left), 13, of Dearborn as Charlotte rehearses with Liliana Greimel, 11, of Dearborn as Wilbur and Jamie Paschke, 10, of Dearborn Heights as Fern in “Charlotte’s Web – the Musical.” Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at the Players Guild of Dearborn. For tickets, go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

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Show Biz Family Theatre presents “High School Musical 2” at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1, 2, 8 and 9 at Trillium Academy, 15740 Racho Road in Taylor. Lia Bertucci (fourth from left), 16, of Dearborn plays Sharpay, with Ryan Moss (left), 8, of Southgate as Ryan Evans; Sophia Kozlo, 9, of Allen Park as Kelsi Nielsen; Youssef Fadel, 9, of Brownstown Township as Jack Scott; and Robyn Hunt (right), 10, of Riverview as a featured dancer.

By SUE SUCHYTA
  Dearborn sisters Grace and Lia Bertucci share separate spotlights this weekend when Grace plays Charlotte in “Charlotte’s Web” and Lia plays Sharday in “High School Musical 2 Jr.”

Grace, 13, plays Charlotte the spider in “Charlotte’s Web – the Musical” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at the Players Guild of Dearborn.

Lia, 16, plays Sharpay Evans in “High School Musical 2 Jr.” at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1, 2, 8 and 9 with Show Biz Family Theatre at Trillium Academy in Taylor.

Their mother, Janine Bertucci, said it is logistically challenging to get both girls to their rehearsals.

“I feel like I am always running from one place to the next,” she said. “But it is always exciting, and we always have a lot of help from friends.”

She said they live within walking distance from the Guild, which helps logistically. The opening nights are a day apart, and she plans to go to both.

Grace, who is excited to be playing her first leading role, said that while she likes being in plays with her older sister, she is looking forward to being able to watch her performance from the house instead of from the stage or the wings.

“We usually (do) everything together,” she said. “We share the same clothes, we do the same hairstyles. We are like twins. But when we are not in the same show it’s nice because I actually get to see a show and not be in one, and it is a totally different (viewing) angle sitting in the audience.”

She said Mia’s show does not have Sunday performances, so Mia can see Grace perform then, and Mia’s show runs for two weekends, so Grace can see it the second week.

Mia, who also was in the Guild’s production of “Into the Woods Jr.,” which closed July 20, said she is relieved she can focus on one show now instead of rehearsing two.

She said she enjoys the stories from the “High School Musical” franchise, and is very excited to be playing Sharpay, the conniving rich girl.

“It is really fun to be the mean one, and not just the nice character, but to be like the sassy one who has more personality,” she said. “It’s cool. When I was little I always wanted to be Sharpay when watching the movies.”

In “High School Musical 2 Jr.” at Trillium Academy, 15740 Racho Road in Taylor, the story starts at the end of the school year.

Lia’s Sharpay tries to win Troy’s heart by getting him a job at her family’s country club.  However, her plan backfires when Troy shows up with a crowd of Wildcat students who also want to work. 

As Sharpay continues to plot to win Troy, plans for an Independence Day talent show at the country club creates as much drama offstage as it does onstage.

Creative director Kamy Moss of Southgate is a self-professed Disney fanatic who loves the music in “High School Musical 2 Jr.”

“The kids were really excited about doing something that was themed around summer,” she said, “and this show is when the kids get out of school and what they do over summer vacation, so we thought it was fitting.”

She said her cast ranges in age from 4 to 16, with siblings, and both newcomers and experienced actors, traveling from as far as New Boston and West Bloomfield.

The first week of August the group begins registration for “Beauty and the Beast Jr.,” which runs in the fall. She said all children between ages 4 and 18 who enroll and audition are in the production.

“We teach them all about acting and improvisation and vocal work,” she said. “We are run completely by volunteers. That is something we are very proud of.”

For more information, go to showbizhub.net.

After Lia Bertucci, the cast includes: Allen  Park residents Sophia Kozlo, 9, as Kelsi Nielsen and Kassie Kozlo, 5, as a cheerleader and Wildcat; Belleville resident Kaylei Brewer, 14, as Lily; and Brownstown Township residents Youssef Fadel, 9, as Jack Scott; Nick Abernathy, 12, as Zeke Baylor; and Jasmine Abernathy, 13, as the valet soloist and Rosette Shimshank.

Grosse Ile Township resident Hannah Schenfeld, 14, is a featured dancer; and Lincoln Park resident Adriana James, 11, plays Peaches.

New Boston residents in the cast include Kennedy Klauza, 11, as Martha Cox; Riley Klauza, 14, as Taylor McKessie; and Madison Clelland, 6, as Little Lily.

Riverview cast members include Robyn Hunt, 10; Emily Hunt, 13; and Jenna Chapa, 13, as featured dancers.

Southgate cast members include Charles Doddle, 16, as Troy Bolton; Tyler Goethe, 16, as Chad Danforth; Ryan Moss, 8, as Ryan Evans; Madison Goethe, 13, as Gabriella Montez; Ella Doddie, 5, as Little Peaches; Abigail Doddie, 9, as Little Violet; Haley Hinzmann, 15, as a featured dancer; and Liam Moss, 7, Talan Doddie, 7, Nate Goethe, 7, Abby Hinzmann, 9, Olivia Murphy, 12, Jenna Hintzmann, 7, and Tori Brown, 4, as the Lava Springs staff. 

Taylor cast members include Trevor Coit, 8, as Fulton; Makenna Mariles, 14, as Violet; Marissa Green, 15, of Taylor; and Perri Moore, 14, as the makeover artist soloist and a Lava Springs staff member.

Also in the show are Trenton resident Katie McKitrick, 10, as Little Blossom; West Bloomfield resident Halle Tilotto, 15, as a featured dancer; and Sarah Lambert, 10, of Woodhaven.

“Charlotte’s Web – The Musical” features a cast of 42 children ranging in age from 5 to 13 years old. 

Based on the classic E.B. White children’s story of Wilbur the pig, his friend Charlotte the spider, and Fern, the girl who loves him, it is a tale of love, loyalty and the circle of life.

For tickets and more information, go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

Jamie Paschke, 10, of Dearborn Heights, who plays Fern, is enjoying her first experience at the Players Guild of Dearborn.

“The cast is so friendly,” she said. “It is like a strong sense of family. It’s really fun playing (Fern) because she discovers the pig and she has a lot of fun parts.”

She said she definitely plans to be in more Guildling productions.

After Grace Bertucci and Paschke, the cast includes Allen Park residents Bradley Pelc, 5, as a spider; and Jaclyn Sayger, 8, as a lamb; Inkster resident Cole Haas, 12, as Avery; and Redford Township resident Claire Williams, 8, as a spider and a gosling.

Dearborn Heights cast members include Kaitlin Birner, 11, as a photographer; Maya Dickhudt 10, as the third fairgoer, a sack racer, and crowd member 2; and Spencer Dickhudt, 12, as John; and Jamie Paschke, 10, as Fern.

The remaining cast members — all Dearborn residents — include Zoe Acker, 9, as the voice on the loudspeaker, a sack racer, and a judge; Shannon Ashley, 6, as spider and gosling; Erin Beauchamp, 9, as the second fairgoer  and the second woman; and Christina Bertucci, 9, as a spider and gosling.

Also, Molly Boudreau, 12, as Templeton; Andrew Brown, 10, as Doc and Uncle the Pig; and Ella Champoux, 10, as Sadie and the first spectator; Kristen Collins, 7, as the second spider and a gosling;  Mary Collins, 13, as a reporter; and  Sarah Collins, 9, as a goose.

Also, Claire Crandall, 6, as the third spider and a gosling; Grace Crandall, 11, as Edith; Gavin Deckert, 11, as the gander; and Brooklyn Devlin, 9, as a woman and a judge.

Also, Nora Dillon, 9, as a bat; Ava Dobos, 11, as a carnival barker; Joseph Garza, 11, as Homer; Dominic Greimel, 9, as an owl; and Liliana Greimel, 11, as Wilbur the pig.

Also, Adam Haag, 10, as a horse; Ella Hall, 10, as the first woman and a sack racer; Madison Hall, 13, as a concessionaire; and Lily Kanclerz, 12, as Lurvy.

Also, Allison Koehler, 10, as a sheep; Jessica Koehler, 8, as a spider and gosling; Elizabeth Kolinski Morris, 10, as an official, Uncle the pig’s owner, and crowd member 1; and Jillian Oleski, 7, as the first spider.

Also, Alyssa Purrenhage, 10, as the first fairgoer, a farmer, and crowd member 3; Emily Robinson, 11, as Martha; Lillian Robinson, 10, as the announcer; Alexandra Slanec, 10, as a cow and a girl; Natalie Torres, 8, as a spider and gosling; and Mariam Zorkot, 10, as the second spectator.

GUILD ANNOUNCES ’39 STEPS’ CAST
  The Players Guild of Dearborn announced the cast for “The 39 Steps,” a Hitchcock spoof, last week. Based on the 1935 film, the serious spy story is played mostly for laughs by a cast of four who play many characters.

Directed by Alan Ellias of Farmington Hills, the cast features Ross Grossman of Farmington Hills, Sarah Zakaria of Dearborn, Tiffany Mullins of Livonia and Alex Godjov of Redford.

The show opens runs for three weekends from Sept. 12 to 28. For tickets or more information, go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

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