HFC’s ‘Dinosaurus’ brings extinct creatures amazingly to life

Photo by Brian Townsend Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” opened a four-weekend run at the Players Guild of Dearborn Friday with Tom Davis (left) of Garden City as Luther Billis, Colleen Meade Ripper of Livonia as Bloody Mary and Kevin Talanges of Dearborn as Lt. Joseph Cable. For tickets and more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

Photo by Brian Townsend
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” opened a four-weekend run at the Players Guild of Dearborn Friday with Tom Davis (left) of Garden City as Luther Billis, Colleen Meade Ripper of Livonia as Bloody Mary and Kevin Talanges of Dearborn as Lt. Joseph Cable. For tickets and more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

Front_RowIf you have a special child in your life, or one you are harboring inside your outward adult, you will not want to miss Henry Ford College’s virtual reality production of “Dinosaurus,” which pairs human actors with 3-D dinosaurs.

The show, written by Edward Mast and Lenore Besinger, was adapted for the digital stage by George Popovich.

“Dinosaurus” runs weekends through Nov. 23, with 7 p.m. Friday shows, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday shows and 2 p.m. Sunday shows.

Seating is limited to 80 per show. Tickets are $8, with a $3 discount for children 12 and under.

Daytime performances are available for elementary schools. Call 313-845-6478 or go to theatre.hfcc.edu/productions/2014/dinosaurus.

From the moment you put on your 3-D glasses, the fun begins. Furry prehistoric rats rush toward you, giant dinosaurs swing their heads in your direction, and strange creatures seem to wing their way forward and backward across the stage.

The plot is simple: two oil company scientists, played by Gerry Dzuiblinski of Southfield and Mike Cochran of Detroit, discover an underground world where dinosaurs have inexplicably survived. One wants to tell the world and gain fame and fortune, while the other feels the planned exploitation of his colleague will create a final deadly scenario for the stealthily survived species.

Audiences, seated onstage, watch the action from chairs set on risers. The physical set mirrors the colors and textures of the virtual set, which projects onto a 20-by-36 foot screen. Human actors use motion capture technology to create the movements of the virtual dinosaurs in the show, which interact with the two encroaching humans.

You will not be thinking about that when you are watching the show, though – you will be having too much fun watching the 3-D prehistoric creatures come to life, move, fly, lumber and even burp. The 45-minute show packs a lot of fun into the story.

Popovich said the work involved in building a show with motion capture is very time intensive, and requires team members who understand the computer science behind motion capture and the software.

Kudos to Alan Contino of Dearborn, the chief engineer who helps make the magic, along with Christopher Dozier of Detroit, who created the digital scenic design and animation, and Anthony Lai of Dearborn, who created the musical score and served as sound designer.

‘RED’ COMING TO OPEN BOOK THEATRE COMPANY

“Red,” a Tony Award-winning play by John Logan, continues the inaugural season of the Open Book Theatre Company. It opens Dec. 5 at Penelope’s Venue, 12219 Dix Toledo Road in Southgate.

Show times are 8 p.m. Dec. 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13, with an artist discussion session scheduled after a 2 p.m. Dec. 7 show.

Tickets are $20, with $15 pricing for seniors and students. For tickets and more information, call 734-288-7753 or go to openbooktc.com.

“Red” focuses on a master abstract expressionist, Mark Rothko, commissioned to paint a series of murals for New York’s famed Four Seasons Restaurant, for a record-breaking commission. As he works with his young assistant, Ken, to complete the commission, Ken gains the confidence to challenge him, and Rothko begins to fear that the greatest achievement of his artist career might also be his downfall.

The show explores artistic ambition and vulnerability in a raw and provocative way, and casts a broad brushstroke on art creation, and artists themselves. It also explores what the public expects of art, and what art expects from the public.

Dennis Kleinsmith of Lathrup Village is Rothko, with Richard Payton of Ferndale as Ken.

Directed by Topher Payne of Royal Oak, the show features lighting by Harley Miah of Wyandotte and movement by Kat Walsh of Ann Arbor.

‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ LAUNCHES THE HOLIDAY SEASON AT MEADOW BROOK

Meadow Brook Theatre’s its 33rd annual production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” runs through Dec. 21 at Oakland University, 2200 N. Squirrel Road in Rochester.

Tickets range from $19 to $42, and are available by calling the box office, at 248-377-3300 or through ticketmaster.com. Call 248-370-3316 for group discounts.

Local connections in the cast include caroler and ensemble member David Schoen of Dearborn, and Matthew Pecek of Detroit, a Meadow Brook intern, who plays Fred and Dick Wilkins. Audiences enjoyed Pecek’s outstanding performance last summer as Nick Bottom the Weaver in the Players Guild of Dearborn’s production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“A Christmas Carol” follows Ebenzer Scrooge as three ghosts and a young lad, Tiny Tim, teach him the true meaning of Christmas.

“This show is a magical event,” MBT managing director Cheryl Marshall said. “We love being able to surprise and entertain people year after year. Everyone gets into the spirit of the show.”

‘NUTCRACKER’ CONTINUES HOLIDAY TRADITION AT OPERA HOUSE

Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” another local holiday tradition, returns to the Detroit Opera House Nov. 28 to 30 with sugar plum fairies, toy soldiers and mesmerizing dancers to charm their way into the hearts of audiences.

Tickets range from $25 to $83, and are available at 313 237-7464; at the Detroit Opera House box office, 1526 Broadway in Detroit; and online at ticketmaster.com.

Show times are 2:30 p.m. Nov. 28 to 30, and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 28 and 29.

The ballet features more than 100 professional and student dancers, as well as dazzling costumes and scenery, along with an amazing and beloved musical score.

The matinee performances feature family friendly activities, including live reindeer visits before the show, as well as holiday-themed crafts, ice cream, and photos with both Santa and the Nutcracker.

Following select performances, children will have a chance to meet dancers onstage during a “Sugar Plum Parade.”

“The Nutcracker” features BalletMet of Columbus, along with 50 local young dancers.

The MOT Children’s Chorus and choirs from Rochester, Rochester Adams and Saline high schools sing with the MOT orchestra.