By Sue Suchyta
Allen Park’s newly formed Outvisible Theatre Company launches its first season with Bert Royal’s “Dog Sees God – Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead.”
The unauthorized parody imagines the dysfunctional lives of the “Peanuts” characters as teens. When CB’s dog dies of rabies, he begins to question his life, but finds his friends unable or unwilling to help him.
The poignant and riveting show deals with many relevant but mature themes, including bullying, drug use, abuse, suicide, eating disorders, teen violence and sexual identity and situations.
Directed by Adriane Galea of Allen Park, the show runs 8 p.m. June 17, 18, 24 and 25, and 3 p.m. June 26 at 18614 Ecorse Road in Allen Park.
Tickets are $20, with a $5 discount for students and seniors. For more information, or to order, go to outvisibletheatre.com.
The cast is led by Billy Eric Robinson of Auburn Hills as CB, with Michael Suchyta of Dearborn as Matt and Wyandotte residents Ethan Kankula as Van and Charlotte Sarnacki as Tricia.
Also in the cast are Britney Spindler of Auburn Hills as CB’s sister, Allison Megroet of Berkley as Van’s sister, Kate Martinez of Detroit as Marcy, and Bradley Hamilton of Lathrup Village as Beethoven.
Galea said she chose the play as the theater’s inaugural production because she’s loved the show for a long time and that she knew it would be different for Allen Park-area audiences, but also a story that was important to tell.
“It deals with things that I think every teenager goes through or at least feels in some aspect of their life,” Galea said. “It is so true to high school.”
Galea said since her building serves as an performing arts educational center for teens, she likes the message that it presents.
“Even if you don’t like what is happening, or you are made uncomfortable by some of the things that the characters are facing, it is accurate as to the human experience that high-schoolers right here and right now are going through,” Galea said.
She said although the show’s target audience is older teens and young adults, she thinks people of all ages can take something away from the performance.
“The target audience is anyone who wants to feel something through theater,” Galea said.
She said the intimacy of the small black box style theater adds to the experience.
“Our motto is to challenge ideas and then inspire creativity, and find the inestimable beauty of life through through art,” she said, “and those are the stories I want to tell with all of the shows that we choose.”
Galea said she is passionate about intelligent theater that makes people think.
Sarnacki said while the show has adult themes, she thinks it realistically reflects how high school age teens speak and behave.
“A high school age student would find truth in it,” Sarnacki said.
Her character, a pretty and popular party girl, is a mean girl struggling with her own sexuality.
“Everybody’s dealing with something, and they might not handle it the best way, just like everyone in high school,” Sarnacki said.
Megroet, who is in only one scene, has encouraged her friends to see the entire production.
“You have to see the rest of these amazing actors portray these different characters with all these different facets, and all these different aspects of their personalities,” Megroet said. “We have so many other points of view to explore.”
Robinson said CB is not as trusting as the child who always hoped his friend’s sister would not pull the football away before he kicked it, but has evolved into a blank slate.
“When he was a kid, he tried to do a lot of things, and he kept getting reprimanded by his peers for it,” Robinson said. “Now he goes along because he doesn’t want to stick out or be picked on. He just wants to be part of the group, so he adapts to whatever that may be.”
Kankula said his character brings a lot of light humor to a given situation.
“This show does deal with a lot of topics that are very deep, and difficult to talk about,” Kankula said. “I see my character as the person who is willing to veer from that path and bring some humor to that.”
Martinez said her character of Marcy is one to which most people can relate.
“She doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids, but she knows it is safer to be with them that to be on the outside,” Martinez said. “It’s Peanuts all grown up, dealing with the hell that is high school.”
Hamilton said his character, who deals with his sexuality issues throughout the show, is the only character who can even accurately quote the Bible, even though other characters make reference to it.
“Apart from everything else that is going on in this play, it raises a huge question of sexuality and religion and how those mix,” Hamilton said.
He said he learns something from Beethoven ever time he rehearses a scene.
“Even though it has this lens of angst-y teenager-ism, there is something that everyone can take away from this show, no matter what their religious political beliefs are,” Hamilton said.
Suchyta said his character bullies characters in ways he remembers being treated when he was growing up.
“Growing up and being a male dancer, I got my fair share of bullying,” Suchyta said. “I remember being on the receiving end. I remember very vividly what those people would say to me, and it’s eerily similar to how Matt talks to Beethoven.”
He said the role exposes how bullies lash out because they may be insecure about what is going on inside their own head.
“It’s always fun being a villain, but I have seen these kind of people in my own daily life,” he said. “But at the same time, there is some humor to Matt. The best writing is going to bring out the best and the worst in the evil characters.”
TAYLOR’S ACTING OUT PRODUCTIONS TO BENEFIT FROM CABARET AT KARL’S
Acting Out Productions, housed in Trillium Academy in Taylor, will benefit from “Broadway Showstoppers,” an evening of musical theater, held June 25 at Karl’s Cabin, 6005 Gotfredson Road in Plymouth.
With local talent and Broadway veterans with local roots, the evening includes cabaret-style, classic show tunes and contemporary pieces. Selections include works from Rodgers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Some of the local performers are Ranall Nicholls of Allen Park; April Denny of Dearborn Heights; Tyler Goethe, Rian McDonald, Sydney Robinson and Carolyn Kemp Sohoza of Southgate; Amanda Aue, Kelly Carpenter Klug and Kayla Nagy of Taylor; and Jeff Hollon of Trenton.
Tickets are $20, and include a 7 or 7:30 p.m. dinner seating, and an 8 to 10 p.m. show. Call 734-455-8450 for reservations.