By Sue Suchyta
“Uptight Abbey,” an original murder-mystery and parody of Downton Abbey, comes to the Players Guild of Dearborn at 8 p.m. June 17 and 18 and 2:30 p.m. June 19 at the playhouse, 21730 Madison in Dearborn.
Tickets are $15. To order, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.
The fundraiser is for the Guild’s renovation projects, including parking lot resurfacing.
Written by Brian Townsend of Dearborn, the show was originally performed in the spring as a fundraiser for Allen Park Presbyterian Church.
Townsend said when he asked church members what type of play would appeal to the congregation, both murder mysteries and “Downton Abbey,” a popular, award-winning British-American television historical period drama series, were mentioned.
“I thought, ‘Why not kill two birds with one stone – literally?’” Townsend said. “I combined the two in a way to pay homage and to parody at the same time. Even being a parody, the show will keep people guessing as to the final conclusion.”
The play is set in the hallowed halls of Uptight Abbey on a dark and stormy night when Lord Horatio Uptight is discovered with a large knife in his back. As the family and staff try to solve the murder-mystery before the Dowager Duchess arrives for dinner, the show takes comical and theatrical twists in Townsend inimitable style.
“As the Uptight family and their intrepid staff attempt to solve the murder of Lord Uptight, it’s an evening filled with butlers and maids, conniving cousins, elderly eccentrics and above all, good grammar,” Townsend said.
He said it is fun working on the show a second time.
“We’ve spent many an evening laughing our way through rehearsals, and coming home with splitting headaches but our brains full of ideas,” Townsend said. “As a playwright, it’s been exciting for me to see the show grow and adapt.”
He said the cast has found new inspiration and character traits as they rehearsed.
“As a cast, we have found new ‘what if’ and ‘ah-ha’ moments that keep making the show stronger,” Townsend said. “It’s a great sense of ‘play’ that happens. And as the author, it helps me refine the script, and in turn, my craft.”
The cast includes Randall Nicholls of Allen Park as Marcus Hugh Wainwright; Dearborn residents Amanda Chahine as Honoria Uptight, Alex Gojkov as Mr. McDonald, the butler, Ken Kilgore as Lord Horatio Uptight and Inspector Reginald Specter of Scotland Yard, and Samantha York as Lady Daphne Uptight; Jake Dombrowski of Southgate as Mr. Bakersman, an under-butler; Nick Graham of Detroit as the Dowager Duchess Uptight; Kori Bielaniec of Livonia as Mrs. Yews; Megan Meade-Higgins of Northville as Mrs. Gladys Patticakes, the cook; and Jillian Drapala of Ypsilanti as Fern Patticakes, her daughter and a scullery maid.
HENRY FORD COLLEGE PRESENTS ‘BUG’
Tracy Letts’ “Bug,” a psychological horror story, is set in a seedy hotel where Agnes, a lonely, cocaine-addicted waitress on the run from her violent ex-husband lives.
When a friend introduces Agnes to Peter, a paranoia extends from the Iraqi War to UFOs, the two are thrown together in a hotel room with a bug infestation that leaves them with welts and sores on their bodies as their minds descend into paranoid delusions.
The show, which features Samantha Kenbeek and Zach Ross, runs 8 p.m. June 16 to 18, 23 to 25, and 2 p.m. June 19 and 26 in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center on the main campus, 5101 Evergreen in Dearborn.
Tickets are $15, and can be purchased at theatre.hfcc.edu.
“Bug” contains violence and other adult content. No one under 18 will be admitted.
The production will be adjudicated by the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival based in New York City.
Director of Theatre George Popovich said “Bug” exposes theater students — many of whom will transfer to four-year bachelor’s degree acting programs — to darker drama.
“When our students enter the real world of theater, they will encounter a vast variety of plays from comedies to tragedies to musical theater to edgy, controversial plays,” Popovich said. “We aim to expose our students to a variety of shows so they will be prepared to compete.”
For more information about “Bug,” go to theatre.hfcc.edu/productions/2016/bug.