A Family Affair: Father, daughter paired as Santa, Susan in DAG’s ‘Miracle on 34th Street – the Musical’

Photo by Sue Suchyta Elaina Primeau (left), 9, of Brownstown Township as Susan Walker is skeptical that Kris Kringle, played by her real-life father, Paul Primeau of Brownstown, is really Santa Claus in “Miracle on 34th Street – The Musical” at the Downriver Actors Guild. The show runs two weekends, Dec. 12 to 21. For more information, call 313-303-5269 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.

Photo by Sue Suchyta
Elaina Primeau (left), 9, of Brownstown Township as Susan Walker is skeptical that Kris Kringle, played by her real-life father, Paul Primeau of Brownstown, is really Santa Claus in “Miracle on 34th Street – The Musical” at the Downriver Actors Guild. The show runs two weekends, Dec. 12 to 21. For more information, call 313-303-5269 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.

Front_Row
Paul Primeau of Brownstown Township and his daughter Elaina, 9, are teaming up to play Kris Kringle and Susan Walker in “Miracle on 34th Street – The Musical” with the Downriver Actors Guild at the Theater on the Avenue, 26567 Biddle in Wyandotte.

The musical, based on the beloved holiday movie, runs Dec. 12 to 14 and 19 to 21, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. Call 313-303-5269 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.

Elaina Primeau, 9, of Brownstown Township, said it is fun to be in a show with her father.

Paul Primeau said he auditioned to do the show with Elaina, and did not expected to be cast as Kris Kringle, but when cast he could not turn it down.

“It is a really special time for me and my daughter to do this together,” he said, “especially (since) it is her first big, huge role.”

He said an important message of the show is fighting the commercialism and cynicism of the holidays.

“The whole motivation behind Kris Kringle is he wanted to show how the holidays could be ruled by love instead of by profit,” he said. “I think that is a really a great message for today.

“This is set in 1949 and it really has not changed much – if anything, it has gotten worse. The thing we really have to keep in mind about Christmas is that it about the simple times – gentle times, being kind to each other. ‘Peace on earth, good will towards men.’ That is what it is about.”

Sydnee Rider of Southgate plays Doris, the disillusioned single mother of Susan who does not want her daughter to believe in romantic notions like Santa Claus. When their neighbor, Fred, tries to restore Susan’s childish optimism, he tries to instill some hope in Doris as well, so she will be able to love again for both her and her child’s sake.

Rider said the show’s title and its reference to miracles speaks for itself.

“It’s an American classic, it is something we all can relate to, and I just think it is a great message for the holiday season,” Rider said. “It is exciting for everyone – kids, adults – there is something for everybody in this show. There is the love story for the adults and a toy ballet for kids and all kinds of fun stuff like that.”

Producer Stephanie Primeau, who also plays a small role in the show, and is Elaina’s mother and Paul’s wife, said the show is a great way to start out the holiday season.

“It is a great family holiday show,” Primeau said, “extremely family friendly, great Christmas music, a great story, (and) a perfect way to start out the holiday season.”

She said the addition of the music and the elements of a live production enhance the story people came to know through the film.

“This theater is great about putting little twists and different interpretations into a show,” she said, “so no matter how many times you have seen it, No. 1, it is a classic, right, and No. 2, it is a great Christmas story. We look forward to presenting this and getting everybody in the holiday spirit.”

Director Deborah Aue said Meredith Wilson, known for creating “The Music Man,” created the show’s music.

“It’s upbeat, it’s fun, it’s silly, it’s heartwarming,” Aue said. “It kind of touches on all the emotions the music does.”

Aue said the Toy Ballet dream sequence is one of her favorite scenes.

“We are hoping the message comes across that Susan deep down inside does want to believe, even though she has been taught her whole life not to believe in anything she cannot see, touch or feel. The dream sequence is really the first time that you can see deep down into Susan’s psyche and the fact that she truly wants to believe.”

She encourages people who traditionally watch the movie over the holidays to come see it live on stage.

The cast includes Taylor residents Jay Carter as Macy and Ray Carter as Shellhammer, with Lincoln Park resident Don Corbin as Fred Gaily.

Supporting actors and ensemble members include Allen Park residents Emily Braun, 15, Kayla Chavez, 14, Alexandria and Kerstyn Reeves, and Nathan Vasquez.

Also Lincoln Park resident Alex Rosen, 16; and Riverview residents Isabella Owens, 8, (as Henrika); Lily Paskhke, 8, Erik Paskhke and Cindy Turgeon.

Also Southgate resident Kukla Kolby, 13; and Taylor residents Amanda Aue, Isabella Greene, 13, David McDonald, Will Savio, Mitchell Sturm, 17; Jesalyn Sturm, 14, and Jacob Partrich.

Also Wyandotte residents Julie Ferrier, Trinity Irby, 14, and Noreen Pepke, 13.

Also Brownstown Township residents Brianne Rainey, 14, Kelley and Katy Williamson, both 12, and Brian and Kim Williamson.

Also James Wolbrink of Detroit, Jeff Powers of New Boston, David Reynolds II of Oxford, and Charlene Bauer of Woodhaven.

HILBERRY’S ‘ALL IN THE TIMING’ A COMIC DELIGHT
Wayne State University’s graduate theater company presents a laughter-filled “All in the Timing” in rotating repertory Dec. 3 to 6 and Jan. 29 to 30 at the Hilberry Theater, 4743 Cass in Detroit.

Eight one-act plays of David Ives make for an entertaining and original evening. Directed by David Magidson, the unusual but delightfully funny show will leave you laughing. Be advised, though, that the language and humor is adult in nature.

In “Sure Thing,” Bill and Betty get a chance to do over any aspect of their date that goes wrong with a cosmic “ding” of a reset button. Who among us has not wished they could take back words and reinsert something wittier, wiser or more sensitive?

Santino Craven and Tiffany Michelle Thompson are very funny as the couple with multiple chances to get their first date “just right.”

In “Words, Words, Words,” Bevin Bell-Hall, Brandon Grantz and Brandy Joe Plambeck play chimps watched by humans, who discuss the odds that as simians they will randomly write “Hamlet.” The chimps’ spoken observations about humans as they talk like us but move and respond physically like primates, inspires laughter.

In “The Universal Language” Kyle Mitchell Johnson plays Don, a con artist, who woos Dawn, played by Mary Sansone, with his made-up language designed to unite the world. However, as the sparks fly, love catches both off-guard, and Don decides to confess to Dawn that he is a fraud.

She, however, loves the way the nonsensical words eliminate her stutter and inhibitions. The nonsensical words delivered and the high-energy shown by the duo is fascinating, captivating and definitely entertaining.

Other noteworthy scenes: the verbally percussive “Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread” and “Time Flies,” a light-hearted look at the one-day romance of two mayflies, cleverly portrayed by Kyle Mitchell Johnson and Mary Sansone.

“The Philadelphia” is a wild time warp of a ride where the opposite of what you want happens, and “Variations on the Death of Trotsky” is a bizarre yet funny look at a character reading about his own fate in a future history book while overlooking the sharp object plunged into his head.

The show closes with “Seven Menus,” a series of dinner dates that show the evolution of the pairing ritual and the games people play, as magnified by the two-couple dinner date, which also gives Annie Keris a chance to showcase her characterizations.

For tickets or more information, call 313-577-2972 or go to theatre.wayne.edu.

GUILD PLANS FAMILY FRIENDLY 2015-06 SEASON
The Players Guild of Dearborn plans to seek the rights to product a family friendly 2015-16 season.

They hope to obtain the royalty rights to present “The Miracle Worker” Sept. 18 to Oct. 4, “White Christmas” Nov. 13 to Dec. 6, “Cheaper by the Dozen” Jan. 8 to Jan. 24, “Mousetrap” March 4 to 20, and “Seussical” April 29 to May 22 at the playhouse on Madison and Monroe.

They also hope to obtain the royalty rights for two summer Guildling shows: “The Addams Family” in mid-July for teens and “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.” in early August for pre-teens.

Once the group has contractual rights, they will announce audition dates and the official season.

Meanwhile, the Guild has begun rehearsals for Neil Simon’s “Rumors” while the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “South Pacific” completes its Dec. 7 run.

For more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.