Hilberry’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is fresh and fast-paced

Photo by Brian Townsend Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” opens a four-weekend run at the Players Guild of Dearborn Nov. 14 with Kevin Talanges (left) of Dearborn as Lt. Joseph Cable, Alyssa Alonte of Brownstown Township as Liat and Colleen Meade Ripper of Livonia as Bloody Mary. For tickets and more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

Photo by Brian Townsend
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” opens a four-weekend run at the Players Guild of Dearborn Nov. 14 with Kevin Talanges (left) of Dearborn as Lt. Joseph Cable, Alyssa Alonte of Brownstown Township as Liat and Colleen Meade Ripper of Livonia as Bloody Mary. For tickets and more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

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The Wayne State University Hilberry production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is refreshingly fast-paced, easy to understand and appealing even to those who have seen the venerable show too many times.

Skillfully directed by Blair Anderson, the show offers some interesting twists.

Bevin Bell-Hall plays Benvolia, a feminized version of Benvolio, and adds a hint of romance to the mix with her apparent mutual attraction to Mercutio, Romeo’s friend, played by Dearborn Heights native Brandon Grantz.

Tonae Mitsuhashi’s scenic design and Heather DeFauw’s lighting design magically capture the symbolism and recurrent theme of stars burning bright with hundreds of lights suspended above the set that appear as star fields, that vary in color and intensity throughout the production, mirroring the story’s many moods.

The beautiful costumes, designed with artful and glittering bright adornment, also reflects the bright symbolism of the play, from Romeo’s declaration, on first seeing Juliet, that she “doth teach the torches to burn bright” to the allusions and symbolism of stars influencing their fate, and even the creeping light of day separating the newlywed lovers.

The rich colors also delineate the houses of Montague and Capulet, much in the way gang colors define members and separate turf.

David Sterritt’s fight choreography is magnificent, and brings a heart-thumping reality to the show – there is nothing feigned or downplayed about the fast-pace, angry encounters, and the actors wielding the weapons used it to make the fighting frighteningly realistic.

Sarah Hawkins Moan plays the nurse as a trusted confidant and second mother to Juliet, an interpretation much more effective that the oft-portrayed bumpkin for comic relief.

Miles Boucher as Romeo and Devri Chism as Juliet create a convincing pair of young, impetuous and star-crossed lovers.

Brandy Joe Plambeck is also noteworthy for his humanizing portrayal of Friar Lawrence.

The show runs through March 24 in rotating repertory.

School performances are $12, with shows at 10 a.m. Dec. 9, Jan. 27, Feb. 3 and March 3, 10 and 24. Evening performances are at 8 p.m. Nov. 1 and Dec. 11 to 13, with one remaining 2 p.m. Dec. 13 public performance.

Tickets range from $21to $26 and are available by calling 313 577-2972 or at wsushows.com.

The theater is at 4743 Cass in Detroit.

‘ALL IN THE TIMING’ AT THE HILBERRY
“All in the Timing,” a collection of eight one-act plays by David Ives, runs in rotating repertory at 8 p.m. Nov. 21, 22, Dec. 4 to 6, and Jan. 29 to 31, and at 2 p.m. Dec. 3, and Jan. 31 at WSU’s Hilberry Theater, 4743 Cass in Detroit.

Tickets range from $10 to $30, and are available by calling 313 577-2972 or at wsushows.com.

Directed by David Magidson, the show features comedic scenes that are both intelligent and perplexing, including a blind date that resets at the ring of a bell, to three chimpanzees writing the first draft of a Shakespearean play.

Dearborn Heights native Brandon Grantz plays Milton in “Words, Words, Words,” Al in “The Philadelphia,” Paul in “Seven Menus” and Philip Glass in “Phillip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread.”

The other one-acts include “Sure Thing,” “The Universal Language,” “Variations on the Death of Trotsky” and “Time Flies.”

Others in the cast include Bevin Bell-Hall, Santiago Craven, Kyle Mitchell Johnson, Annie Keris, Brandy Joe Plambeck, Mary Sansone, and Tiffany Michelle Thompson.

‘A SONG FOR CORETTA’ AT WSU STUDIO THEATRE
WSU presents “A Song for Coretta” 8 p.m. Nov. 6 to 8 and 13 to 15 and 3 p.m. Nov. 9 and 16 at the Studio Theatre, 4743 Cass, in the basement of the Hilberry Theater.

Tickets are $10 and $12, and available by calling 313 577-2972, or at wsushows.com.

Directed by Billicia Hines, the show is set in Atlanta in 2006 as five women celebrate the legacy and mourn the death of Coretta Scott King.

Cast members include Breon Canady as Gwen, Tayler Jones as Helen, Kayla Mundy as Keisha, Maria Simkins as Mona and Erian Williams as Zora.

PGD HOLDS AUDITIONS FOR NEIL SIMON’S ‘RUMORS’
Auditions for the Neil Simon’s “Rumors” take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18, with 6:30 p.m. registration, at the Players Guild of Dearborn, 21730 Madison. The farce runs three weekends, Jan. 9 to 25, with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Those auditioning need only attend one night, but anyone arriving after 7:30 p.m. may not audition. Downloadable audition forms and conflict calendars are on the Guild’s website, playersguildofdearborn.org.

Marc Walentowicz will direct, with Cory Chambless assistant directing, and Tracy and Chris Boudreau producing.

When four upper class couples arrive at the townhouse of New York City’s deputy mayor for a celebration, his wife is missing, and the deputy mayor has a self-inflicted gunshot flesh wound to his head. When the couples try to conceal the events from the police and the media, comic complications arise.

Character descriptions and other details are on the Guild website.