Local playwrights showcased in annual ‘Random Acts of Theatre’

Photo by Sue Suchyta. “Alley Love,” by local playwright Collette Cullen, features Michael Suchyta (left) of Dearborn as Josh, Brittany Lowery of Farmington  Hills as Yolanda, and Kennedy Cooper of Detroit as Jewel. A story of Detroiters, dreams and diversity, it is one of five one-act plays in the Dearborn Area Theatre Association showcase “Random Acts of Theatre,” 8 p.m. Sept. 11 and 12 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

Photo by Sue Suchyta. “Alley Love,” by local playwright Collette Cullen, features Michael Suchyta (left) of Dearborn as Josh, Brittany Lowery of Farmington Hills as Yolanda, and Kennedy Cooper of Detroit as Jewel. A story of Detroiters, dreams and diversity, it is one of five one-act plays in the Dearborn Area Theatre Association showcase “Random Acts of Theatre,” 8 p.m. Sept. 11 and 12 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.8

By SUE SUCHYTA

Three of five one-act plays showcased in the Dearborn Area Theatre Association’s third annual “Random Acts of Theatre,” which raises scholarship funds for local theater students, feature the work of local playwrights: J.C.H. Bernick and Collette Cullen of Dearborn, and Brian Trippel of Romulus.

The production, which includes local singers performing Broadway show tunes, is at 8 p.m. Sept. 11 and 12 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn. The show is for mature audiences, and is not recommended for young children.
Tickets are $15 for adults, and $13 for seniors and students. To order, call 313-943-2354 or go to dearborntheater.com.

Produced by Dianne Bernick of Ypsilanti, the production showcases six vocalists: Dearborn residents R. Darrow Bernick, Terry Crandall, and Madelyn Kaplan; Leah Cooley of Lincoln Park; and Kennedy Cooper of Detroit.

The one-acts include the first act of “The Caramel Onion,” a new musical by J.C.H. Bernick, and directed by R. Darrow Bernick; “SXYRDHD,” written and directed by Trippel; “The Anniversary,” written by Conrad Bishop and Elizabeth Fuller, and directed by Joan Arrick of Dearborn; “Alley Love,” written and directed by Cullen; and “The Last Romance,” written by Tony Award-winning playwright Joe DePietro, and directed by Dianne Bernick.

J.C.H. Bernick said “The Caramel Onion” has six strangers meeting in a bar located between life and death. As they deeply examine their problems, they discover a fateful commonality.

“Each resolves the issues that defeated them in life, so they can move forward from the Carmel Onion,” she said. “You are three glasses away from seeing things how they really are.”
She said the show’s concept grew from an exploration of why the characters’ lives went the way they did, what could have been different for them, and the transforming process of overcoming self-victimization.

Just the opening scene of the full-length musical will be performed at “Random Acts of Theatre.” The title opening number is influenced by 1920s ragtime. Todd Hodgson wrote the music, and J.C.H. Bernick and Hodgson wrote the lyrics.

The cast includes Dearborn residents Jeff Flannery, Carissa Madley, Paul Morgan and Cullen; Lark Haunert of Canton Township; Corey Chambless of Plymouth; and Jeff Berndt of Waterford Township.

Berndt said he plays a famous rock musician going through a rough patch in his personal life, who is pushed by the bartender to answer some uncomfortable questions about himself.
“We hope that by the end of the scene, we’ve made enough people interested in what’s next for our characters that someone will be able to stage the complete show,” Berndt said.
Madley said the scene is reminiscent of a science fiction style work.

“(It) will leave the audience watching intently for clues as to what reality really is,” Madley said.

Trippel’s “SXYRDHD” features Dearborn residents Matt Calder, Therese Terns and Madley, and David Melcher of Ypsilanti.

Trippel said the inspiration for “SXYRDHD” is two-fold. He said his wife is a beautiful blonde, and he once joked that when he had a mid-life crisis, he wouldn’t buy a red convertible and run off with a blonde, but would “buy a blonde convertible and find a sexy redhead.”

He said the story was also inspired by an encounter he had with a beautiful redhead woman in college, whom he was afraid to ask out.

“I was just too afraid of her rejection,” he said. “That has always been one of only a few moments of my life I would change if given such a chance.”

“SXYRDHD” is a romantic comedy, Trippel said, with a man and woman meeting in a diner and falling impulsively in love.

“She has her own secret reasons for wanting to run off with a man she hardly knows,” Trippel said. “Everything seems to be going well until a cop knocks on their hotel room door. Then plans change.

He said seeing his play come to life is indescribable.

“The thrill of getting an audience to laugh and applaud is 10 times greater for me as a writer and director than it ever was as an actor,” Trippel said.

Madley said her character, Dina, is a complicated woman who has decided to take a new path and live life to fullest.

“The Anniversary,” features husband-and-wife team of Barret and Emily Kaltz of Dearborn.
The couple play Ed and Bunny, who are celebrating their first anniversary, a milestone the Kaltzes recently celebrated themselves.

“While there are funny moments, this one-act is an all-too-real look into relationships,” Emily Kaltz said.

“Alley Love,” is based loosely on Cullen’s brother. Set in Detroit in the 1970s, it is a story of dreams and diversity, and features Michael Suchyta of Dearborn as Josh, Brittany Lowery of Farmington Hills as Yolanda, and Cooper as Jewel.

When Josh, a white teen, is walking in an alley behind his grandmother’s house, he meets Yolanda, a black teen, and the two are drawn to each other. However, Yolanda’s Aunt Jewel, whose brother was killed in a hit-and-run when he was in an interracial relationship, fears for her niece’s safety.

“The Last Romance” features Dearborn residents Richard Bulleri and Crandall, Janet Vogel of Ann Arbor and Cooley.

Bulleri said the one-act will provide a wonderful finish to the evening.

“I play and 80-year-old man looking for love in a dog park,” Bulleri said. “The fun and laughs ensue from there. See you at the theater.”

“Random Acts of Theatre” is sponsored by the Dearborn Community Fund and the  Dearborn’s Department of Recreation and Parks.