Southgate presents Pulitzer Prize-winning drama ‘August: Osage County’

Photo by Sue Suchyta. Kara O'Connor (left) of Taylor as Johnna Monevata, Rob Eagal of Trenton as patriarch Beverly Weston, and Lonnie Curri of Wyandotte as matriarch Violet Weston rehearse a scene from the prologue of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “August: Osage County,” in which Beverly is hiring Monevata to care for his cancer-ridden and drug-addicted wife Violet. The show runs at 8 p.m. July 17, 18, 24 and 25 at the Southgate Community Players Corner Playhouse, 12671 Dix Toledo Road in Southgate.

Photo by Sue Suchyta. Kara O’Connor (left) of Taylor as Johnna Monevata, Rob Eagal of Trenton as patriarch Beverly Weston, and Lonnie Curri of Wyandotte as matriarch Violet Weston rehearse a scene from the prologue of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “August: Osage County,” in which Beverly is hiring Monevata to care for his cancer-ridden and drug-addicted wife Violet. The show runs at 8 p.m. July 17, 18, 24 and 25 at the Southgate Community Players Corner Playhouse, 12671 Dix Toledo Road in Southgate.

By SUE SUCHYTA

Southgate Community Players present Tracy Lett’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “August: Osage County” at 8 p.m. July 17, 18, 24 and 25 at the Corner Playhouse, 12671 Dix Toledo Road in Southgate.

For tickets and more information, call 734-282-4727 or go to scponstage.com.

Directed by Stephen Phillips of Detroit, the dark drama with comic elements follows a dysfunctional family who reunite in the family home when the patriarch disappears.

In the prologue, Beverly Weston, the family patriarch, hires a caretaker for his wife, Violet, who has mouth cancer, is addicted to prescription pain medications and exhibits erratic behavior.

Several weeks later, when he disappears, and is feared to have committed suicide, his adult children, a granddaughter, and his wife’s sister and husband descend upon the house.

The family’s dysfunction, which creates much of the story line and drama, is filled with infidelities, affairs, and plot-twisting secrets.

Phillips, in his directorial debut, said he fell in love with the show’s contemporary and adult themes when he read it in a class at Western Michigan University.

He said the biggest challenge he faces is blocking 13 cast members in an area much smaller than the original house-size set used for its debut eight years ago at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.

With the show being performed at SCP’s storefront playhouse, he is using three onstage rooms in an intimate setting to tell the story.

He said with the audience up close, they will see parallels between people in their own lives and those in the play.

“I know I can see bits of my family in them,” Phillips said. “Everybody will be able to identify with a certain character.”

He compared the family depicted in “August: Osage County” with the popular reality show genre.

“Everyone likes to see, with all the reality shows, families falling apart, going crazy, but in the end, this family is no different than any of us,” Phillips said. “It has a lot of very funny parts, and at the same time, you will get goosebumps watching the characters evolve and grow.”

He said his cast includes seasoned veterans from SCP and other local community theaters.

“Everyone was picked for a reason, and they are just fantastic at what they do,” Phillips said.

Mother and daughter team Jema McCardell, and Taeryn, 15, of Trenton, play Barbara Fordham and her daughter, Jean, in the play.

Jema McCardell said she is a very different type of mother than her character in the play.

“Barbara is much more strict, and has high expectations for her daughter,” she said. “Not that I don’t have high expectations for my kids, but I think I am a little more laid back.”

She said she would not be OK with her real daughter smoking pot, which Jean in the play uses as a self-medicating coping mechanism to deal with the stress of her parents’ separation.

Jema McCardell said her character is dealing with her husband’s infidelity, her father’s disappearance and apparent suicide, and her regression into past unhealthy patterns with her mother, Violet.

“Everybody in this family is (psychologically) unhealthy,” she said. “Everybody falls back into those old patterns with Violet. By the end of the play I very nearly turn into my mother.”

She said you find out during the show exactly what set up Violet to behave the way she does.
“I warn people that it is heavy, but that there is comedy throughout it, and it is not a show for everybody,” Jema McCardell said.

She said it takes some of the problems that every family has and puts it into one family.
“I think there is a little bit of something everybody can wince at a little bit, but laugh and breathe easy that’s not them.”

She said it has been interesting exploring the mother-daughter relationship from two perspectives: her character to Violet, her stage mother, and her character to Jean, her stage daughter.

Taeryn McCardell said it is exciting for her to play a serious role in an adult production with SCP.

“It’s not like singing animals and all that stuff,” she said. “It’s real. It’s really kind of intense, and it’s a challenge.”

She said she is telling her peers the show is funny and dark.

“It will make your jaw drop,” Taeryn McCardell said. “It’s really intense, and it’s a shocker. It is really going to grab your attention.”

She said her biggest challenge is relating to her character’s drug use, and her character’s inability to realize the harm of her behavior.

“There are so many intense things going on,” she said. “Everything that happens with Jean and her uncle, and what is going on with her grandmother being a drug-addict, it is a very intense, emotional show.”

Others in the cast includes: Alan Demorow of Allen Park as Bill Fordham, Rebecca Hermen of Dearborn as Karen Weston, Cindy Turgeon of Riverview as Mattie Fae Aiken, Nick Mullins of Southgate as Sheriff Deon Gilbeau, and Kara O’Connor of Taylor as Johnna Monevata.

Also: Trenton residents Rob Eagal as Beverly Weston, Erin Schmidt as Ivy Weston, and Patrick Reed as “Little” Charles Aiken.

Also: Wyandotte residents Lonnie Curri as Violet Weston, and Andy Burt as Steve Heidebrecht, and Dale Allen of Belleville as Charles Aiken.

GUILDLINGS PRESENT ‘THE ADDAMS FAMILY’ MUSICAL COMEDY

The teens at the Players Guild of Dearborn present “The Addams Family” musical comedy at 7:30 p.m. July 16 to 18, and 2:30 p.m. July 19 at the theater, 21730 Madison.

Directed by Brian Townsend, the show features a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.

When daughter Wednesday, now a young woman, brings home a “normal” young man she has fallen in love with, Gomez and Morticia find their world turned upside down. It is up to Uncle Fester and an ensemble of ghostly Addams ancestors to resolve hearts and lives.

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

DISNEY’S ‘THE LITTLE MERMAID JR.’ OPENS AT PGD IN AUGUST

The preteens at the Players Guild of Dearborn present the musical “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.” at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6 to 8, and 2:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the theater, 21730 Madison.

Directed by Valerie Mangrum Haas, the show features lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, music by Alan Menken, and book by Doug Wright.

Mermaid princess Ariel longs to leave her magical underwater kingdom to see the world above. She strikes a deal with the evil Ursula, and defies her father’s wishes in an attempt to win the love of human Prince Eric, who has fallen in love with her singing voice without seeing her face.

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