By SUE SUCHYTA
Henry Ford College brings a favorite holiday movie to the stage with Jean Shepherd’s comedic “A Christmas Story,” which runs through Dec. 6 in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center, 5101 Evergreen Road in Dearborn.
Directed by Judith Fletcher, show times are 7 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5, and 2 p.m. Dec. 5 and 6.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children age 10 and under. To order tickets online, go to theatre.hfcc.edu.
The coming-of-age tale is set in the 1940s, when 9-year-old Ralphie longs for a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle for Christmas, despite dire warnings by his mother, teacher and even a department store Santa that he’ll “shoot your eye out.”
The show is fun for the entire family. Children will enjoy the story, while adults will get a kick out of the nostalgia.
Daniel Walker’s multi-level set design is versatile and rises to the challenge of covering multiple locations, from the family home, to the schoolroom, to the outdoor scenes and the department store Santa set.
Opening night the pacing was off, and props were left onstage, or weren’t where they were supposed to be, something that should be resolved in successive weekends as the show smooths out.
At the first performance, Dearborn residents Christian Plonka played grown up Ralph, the narrator, with Brighid Driscoll as the Mother, Danya Talab as Miss Shields, Ralphie’s teacher, Alex Jafar as the bully Scut Farkas, and Thomas Tripp as the Cowboy.
Edward Austin of Redford plays Ralphie, with Matt Van Houten of Allen Park as the Old Man, and Blues Higgins of Westland as his kid brother Randy.
Other Dearborn cast members include Hani Beydoun as Schwartz, and Mike Ross as a desperado and a delivery man. Leo Zeciri of Southgate plays a neighbor, with Detroit residents Josh Neilson as Flick, Anna Cooper as Esther Jane, Lakiya Neal as Helen, Karah Noel as a desperado and delivery man, and Lakesha Allah as an elf.
Driscoll and Van Houten are well cast as the parents, and their scenes are enjoyable. Austin has fun with Ralphie, and Higgins is delightfully annoying as the kid brother.
Jafar captures the role of the bully to a tee, and Beydoun as Schwartz and Neilson as Flick are entertaining as Ralphie’s buddies.
Also in double-cast roles are Eric Vega of Dearborn as grown up Ralph, the narrator; Durshara Kirby of Detroit as the Mother, Katie Williams of Westland as Miss Shields, Ralphie’s teacher, an Alan Rezzonica of Grosse Ile as Scut Farkas and the Cowboy.
PGD ANNOUNCES ‘CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN’ CAST
The Players Guild of Dearborn announced the cast of “Cheaper by the Dozen” last week.
Directed by Phil Booth of Dearborn, the cast features Jeff Flannery of Dearborn as the father, Frank Gilbreth Sr., and Valerie Haas of Inkster as the mother, Lillian Moller Gilbreth.
Playing the children are Alexis Mosley of Riverview as Anne, Kelley Donnelly of Canton Township as Ernestine, Daniel Bartrum of Riverview as Frank Jr., and Alexandria Antonelli of Dearborn as Martha.
Joseph Garza of Dearborn will play Bill, with Dearborn Heights residents Jamie Paschke as Lillian and Kurt Wilson as Dan, Cole Haas of Inkster as Fred, Matthias Hermen of Dearborn as Jackie and Calum Carscadden of Livonia as Bob.
Rebecca Hermen of Dearborn will play Mrs. Fitzgerald, with Tom Sparrow of Allen Park as Dr. Burton, Linda Mosley of Allen Park as Miss Brill, and Julian Campitelle of Garden City as Larry.
Show times are 8 p.m. Jan. 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23, and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 10, 17 and 24.
Tickets are $17, with a $2 discount for students with valid identification. To order, or for more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.
Booth, who is fond of the 1920s, said “Cheaper by the Dozen” has long been a favorite story.
“It was part of a magical era in America when each day brought new ideas and better ways of life,” Booth said. “I hope people will fall in love with the Gilbreth family and their remarkable parents.”
Flannery said the family oriented comedy appeals to him, and the role of Frank Gilbreth Sr. reminds him of himself in certain ways.
“His strict ideology of raising his kids is priceless,” Flannery said.
Flannery is sure the comedy will be a hit with audiences.
“Just one rehearsal in, I can already tell that the kids are going to be incredible,” he said. “Matt Hermen who plays little Jackie will steal your heart!”
Valerie Haas is glad to be cast in a show with her son Cole.
She said she reread the book as a child, as was amazed at what the family of 12 children accomplished.
“The fact that Lillian Gilbreth was a psychologist as well as the mother of 12 children makes her a sort of super woman to me,” she said.
She said the play is based on a true story, with a positive outlook and a good dose of humor.
“It represents Americana and the American family spirit as well as any play I’ve ever seen,” Haas said.
Haas has done shows with both of her sons, and enjoys sharing a love of theatre with them.
“Getting to do this show (with Cole) will have an added layer in that I’m playing his mother while being his mother,” Haas said. “That will be fun.”
She added the downside is she will have to make him bring his homework to rehearsal.
“He won’t be able to get away from me, nor I from him,” she said.
RINGWALD PRESENTS AN AMAZING ‘STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE’
The Ringwald Theatre’s production of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” is an amazing show, outdoing other professional productions I have seen, and delivering intense character portrayals in its small, intimate theater in Ferndale.
The show runs at 8 p.m. Nov. 30, and Dec. 4, 5, and 7, and 3 p.m. Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 at the theater, 22742 Woodward in Ferndale.
Tickets are $20 for shows on Friday and Saturday, $15 for Sunday, and $10 for Monday admission. For tickets or more information, call 248-545-5545 or go to theringwald.com.
The play, which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1948, is considered to be one of the best plays of the 20th century, and Williams’ finest play.
Set in New Orleans in the late 1940s, Blanche DuBois comes to live with her sister Stella, and Stella’s coarse husband Stanley after losing the family home, her job as a teacher, and her reputation. As tensions build, Blanche’s tentative hold on reality reaches its breaking point.
The pace is quick, and the tension palpable. Jamie Warrow is amazing as Blanche, and Meredith Deighton is wonderful as Stella. Michael Lopetrone captures the magnetism and anger of Stanley, while Brandy Joe Plambeck plays Mitch with a quiet strength.
The chemistry between Deighton and Lopeterone gives the show a sensual strength, making Stella’s complete loyalty to Stanley believable.
Warrow’s adept delivery of Blanche’s wordplay, whether sober or drunk, creates a mesmerizing Southern Belle personae.
This is not the show you read in English class – it is a real life, flesh-and-blood production, where the characters spring to life with their passions and flaws, capturing your attention.
If you love classic drama, and are a fan of Tennessee Williams’ work, the Ringwald’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” is a must-see production.