By SUE SUCHYTA
Dearborn actors take center stage in Lutheran High School Westland’s production of “The House a Pooh Corner,” 7 p.m. May 20 and 21 at the school, 33300 Cowan Road in Westland. Tickets are $5.
The play, based on the A.A. Milne book, and adapted for the stage by Bettye Knapp, follows Christopher Robin as he runs away with Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and the others to escape a mysterious looming threat known to him only as Education.
Directed by David Kusch, the show features Dearborn actors Allison Crawford as Piglet; Caitlyn Downer as Kanga, Laura Sillanpaa as Tigger and Andrew Bunge as Rabbit’s nephew Early.
Brandon Kruger of Ann Arbor plays Christopher Robin, With Bryce Ingersoll of Livonia as Winnie the Pooh.
Also in the cast are Garden City residents Lena Pennington as Roo, Josh Schwagerle as Rabbit and Allison Uzarek as the voice of Mother; Ethan Becker of Westland as Owl; and Chris Henry of Livonia as Rabbit’s nephew Early.
Sillanpaa, a senior, said she enjoys playing Tigger.
“It’s fun to play a character who, like me, is purposely a nuisance to everyone else,” she said.
Kruger, also a senior, said he is glad his final production at LWHS is based on an appealing and heartfelt tale.
“It is so meaningful for me to be able to go out with such a cute and meaningful story emphasizing the importance of pure and childlike love,” Kruger said.
Ingersoll, a junior, who hopes to pursue a career in the performing arts, said he likes the challenges of playing different characters.
“Different roles allow me to wear masks that are completely different from who I am,” Ingersoll said. “It gives me a chance to escape reality and be something new.”
‘SOUND OF MUSIC’ THRILLS ANEW AT THE FISHER
Devout “Sound of Music” fans tend to ignore the jibes of the jaded who view the stage show as a stale shadow to the classic movie starring Julie Andrews.
The show is overdone in amateur circles. However, the current touring production now at the Fisher features an amazing new actress playing Maria, breathtakingly beautiful sets, a lively pace and intensity, and talent onstage that renews ones love for a good, solid Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
Kerstin Anderson is amazing as Maria, with a beautiful voice, an exuberance of spirit and a graceful yet energetic presence on stage.
Ben Davis as Captain von Trapp lets us see more of the stern captain the audiences are accustomed to seeing.
Paige Silvester is both spirited and sweet as Liesl, while Iris Davies as Brigitta is a talented scene stealer.
Melody Betts as the Mother Abbess brings a strong voice and a warm depth of character to a role that can easily become staid in less gifted hands. She is so convincing in her role that one stops wondering, in this age of color-blind casting, how a black woman ended up in charge of an Austrian abbey in the 1930s.
It seems like “How Can Love Survive?” and “No Way To Stop It” are only in the stage show to give Max and Elsa songs to perform – the movie wisely dropped those numbers.
However, the stirring songs one loves – from the title song to “Edelweiss,” “Climb Every Mountain,” and “My Favorite Things” lift spirits and set toes tapping.
“Sixteen Going on Seventeen” was slightly disappointing in that it didn’t employ a romantic dance scene between Rolf and Liesl; the scene in the summer house was played more like a round of resist temptation, as Rolf dutifully tries to be a gentleman around Liesl.
When the two are given leave to dance to the flirtatious melody of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” in other productions, the physical romance of the interaction cements our belief in their naive yet intoxicating romance.
Jane Greenwood’s costumes are amazing and beautiful, and Douglas Schmidt’s scenic design is a visual feast as it transports us to Austria in the last golden moments of the 1930s.
“The Sound of Music” runs through May 22 at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit.
Tickets range from $39 to $90. To order, call the Fisher box office at 313-872-1000, Ext. 0, or Ticketmaster, 800-982-2787, or go to Ticketmaster.com or BroadwayInDetroit.com.
DAG AUDITIONS FOR ‘LEADER OF THE PACK’
The Downriver Actors Guild holds auditions for “Leader of the Pack” from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. May 16 and 17, with May 19 call backs.
The “jukebox musical” celebrates the life and times of Ellie Greenwich, whose doo-wop songs launched her to the pinnacle of the the pop charts in the early to mid-1960s. Through song, her life of triumph and tragedy unfolds.
For more information, go to downriveractorsguild.net.
SCP AUDITIONS FOR ‘SPRING AWAKENING’
Auditions for Southgate Community Players’ production of the Tony Award-winning musical “Spring Awakening” are 7 p.m. May 15 and 16, with performances July 22, 23, 29 and 30.
For more information, call 734-282-4727 or go to scponstage.com.
The rock musical, with music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater, is set in late 19th century Germany, and tells the tumultuous tale of teenage discovery of sexuality in a time of taboos and heartbreak.
The Broadway production won 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score.