By Sue Suchyta
Face tax time with humor as the Downriver Actors Guild takes a poke at the IRS with Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore’s comic farce “Love, Sex and the IRS.”
The show runs 7:30 p.m. March 11, 12, 18 and 19, and 3 p.m. March 20 at the Catherine A. Daly Theatre on the Avenue, 2656 Biddle in Wyandotte.
Tickets are $13, with a $2 discount for students and seniors. To order, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.
Set in 1979, the show follows Jon and Leslie, two platonic male roommates and out-of-work musicians who end up in hot water with the IRS when Jon, who filed their taxes as a married couple to save money, is flagged for an audit.
Directed by Lucinda Chavez of Allen Park, the cast features Allen Park residents Denny Connors as Floyd Spinner and Danielle Riley as Connie, Jeanne Horvath Edwards of Grosse Ile Township as Vivian Trachtman, Norb Nowak of Monroe as Mr. Jansen, Erik Paschke of Riverview as Arnold Grunion, Steve Dutzy of Southgate as Jon Trachtman, Matt Mayes of Trenton as Leslie Arthur, and Emily Noble of Wyandotte as Kate Dennis. Chavez said she developed a knack for directing farces over the years, while also gaining insight into the style of Van Zandt and Milmore, and is confident that she brings to the stage what the playwrights intended.
“I am a sucker for the fast pace and brilliant comedic timing required for a farce,” Chavez said. “I love the challenge, the journey and the result of working with the cast from start to finish, helping them to hone their comedy skills, not to mention the constant laughs throughout the rehearsal process.”
Chavez said DAG chose the show for production in March because as tax season approaches, the comedy can make the tedious and stressful chore seem a little lighter and more fun.
“The show takes place in 1979, so the costumes, décor and hairstyles will take those of us who were around back in time,” Chavez said. “It is just going to be a fun, silly show that showcases some brilliant acting talent.”
Connors said he has done several shows with Chavez, and she is one of his favorite directors.
“She is a genius when it comes to farce,” he said, “and Van Zandt and Milmore are two of my favorite authors.”
Connors likens the play to “Some Like it Hot.”
“The typical sex farce, where there’s role changes, gender changes, everybody trying to cover up a big secret,” he said. “It’s just a lot of fun, (with) sight gags and pratfalls.”
Riley said the show is high energy.
“The people that I am working with are extremely professional, so they really know what a farce is,” she said, “which I think Lucinda and this cast do bring out very well.”
Noble said the people she meets continues to draw her into community theatre.
“I get to pursue my passion of singing and being dramatic onstage while also building really deep relationships with people in the community,” she said.
Noble said she tells people the show makes for a great night out.
“It’s a lot of fun, a lot of laughs,” she said. “There is innuendo and nods to jokes and things like that, but it really isn’t as raunchy as it sounds like it is.”
Edwards said she has already sold her friends on DAG’s productions, and they now ask her what is playing next at the theatre.
“A lot of people prefer a straight show to a musical,” she said, “so I’m making sure they know this one’s not a musical, and it’s a farce, and (has) a lot of great actors in it.”
She also tells them that one of the male actors dresses in drag to try to fool the IRS man, and that her character spends much of the play drunk.
Nowak, who also plays a drunk, with lechery added to the mix, encourages people to check out the play at the Downriver Actors Guild.
“It’s worthwhile taking a trip to Wyandotte,” Nowak said. “It’s a nice little theater, a nice friendly little place.”
HILBERRY’S ‘CLYBOURNE PARK’ SHINES AS THIRD PLAY IN RAISIN TRILOGY
Wayne State University’s Hilberry Theatre has scored a triple play with the department’s third production of the Raisin trilogy, Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Clybourne Park.”
The show runs in rotating repertoire through April 2 at the Hilberry Theatre, 4743 Cass in Detroit.
For tickets or more information, call 313-577-2972 or go to hilberry1.com.
The first thing audiences notice is scenic designer Sarah Pearline’s stunning set, which becomes a vital part of the play when it is actively transformed during intermission from a beautiful Craftsman style home in the late 1950s to a ransacked shell of a house 50 years later by company members dressed like movers and urban scrappers. The music changes, as well, to signify the passage of time.
In the first act, which is a tie-in with Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” a couple sells their home in an all-white neighbor to a black family, which angers their neighbors, and triggers white flight and declining property values. We learn the couple no longer wanted to live in the home or the neighborhood because their Korean war veteran son committed suicide in the house.
In the second act, which occurs 50 years later, a young, well-to-do white couple buy the house in the now all-black neighborhood. They want to tear it down and build an upscale home on the property so they can be closer to their downtown Chicago workplaces. The proposed gentrification ignites issues of race and prejudice as the neighborhood once again faces change.
The play’s dialogue is wonderfully written, and the skilled Hilberry ensemble delivers it with quick pacing and intensity. Each of the actors (except Robinson) play different roles in each act, showcasing their versatility.
It is fascinating to see Mary Sansone go from a perfectly coifed and dressed ’50s housewife to a free-spirited and sharp lawyer half a century later. Likewise, Antonia LaChe’ plays a deferential domestic in Act I, and an educated, assertive professional in Act II.
As much as the cast of characters change over 50 years, and reflect the diversity of the new millenium, prejudice is still very much a part of their world, just perhaps more heavily concealed under carefully constructed layers of political correctness.
The show is a riveting showcase for the acting talent of the strong Hilberry ensemble. In addition to Sansone and LaChe’, the strong cast include Michael Manocchio, Wesley Cady, James Kern, Nick Stockwell, Brandon Wright and Cody Robinson.
TAYLOR’S ACTING OUT PRODUCTIONS PRESENT ‘’NIGHT MOTHER’
Acting Out Productions of Taylor presents Marsha Norman’s “’Night Mother” at 7:30 p.m. March 11 and 12, and 3 p.m. March 13 at the Royal Majestic Theatre inside Trillium Academy, 15740 Racho Blvd.
Tickets are $15, with a $3 discount for children 13 to 17 with an adult. Due to the mature content, children 12 and under will not be admitted.
To order tickets online for $10, go to actingoutdownriver.com/jazzhands.
The two-woman cast features Trenton residents Kelly Lomas as Jessie and Jema McCardell as Thelma.
The intense story begins when Jessie tells her mother, Thelma, that she plans to commit suicide that evening. The ensuing dialogue tells why Jessie has reached this decision, reveals details about her life with her mother, and travels to a disturbing yet unavoidable end. The play explores human nature and the ties that bind people together.
‘MATILDA THE MUSICAL’ COMES TO THE FISHER
Roald Dahl’s “Matilda the Musical” comes to the Fisher Theater March 9 to 20.
The show, the winner of numerous awards, including four Tonys, follows a remarkable young girl with a strong imagination and a bright mind who stands up to adversity and changes her destiny.
For more information call 313-872-1000 or go to BroadwayInDetroit.com. For tickets, call 800-982-2787 or go to ticketmaster.com.
DETROIT PUBLIC THEATRE HEATS UP THE STAGE IN ‘SEX WITH STRANGERS’
The Detroit Public Theatre heats up the stage March 9 to April 3 with Laura Eason’s “Sex with Strangers” at the Robert A. and Maggie Allesee rehearsal hall inside the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward in Detroit.
Tickets, $35 to $60, are available by phone, at 313-567-5111 or online at detroitpublictheatre.org.
Directed by Frannie Shepherd-Bates, the show, recommended for mature audiences, features Hallie Bee Bard and Matt Lockwood, and examines social identity and how people define themselves as artists and humans.
When Ethan, a blogger and memoirist, tracks down his idol, the gifted but obscure novelist Olivia, they find that they each want something the other possesses. As attraction turns to lust, and they approach the fulfillment of their respective wishes, they must look at the downside of ambition, and the difficulty of reinventing oneself when the past is only a mouse click away.