By Sue Suchyta
Several community theaters launch their seasons mid-September with plays drawn from literary, historical and cultural traditions.
The Players Guild of Dearborn opens with the Old Testament tale of Noah in “Two by Two,” while the Open Book Theatre Company flies with Pan in “Peter and the Starcatcher.” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” opens the same weekend at the Downriver Actors Guild.
‘TWO BY TWO’ SETS SAIL
The Players Guild of Dearborn opens its season with the musical story of Noah’s Ark, “Two by Two,” with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Peter Stone.
The show runs at 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and Oct. 1, and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 18, 25 and Oct. 2 at the theater, 21730 Madison in Dearborn.
For tickets, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.
When Noah receives a message from God about an impending flood, his family is skeptical as he begins to build an ark, but take him seriously when animals begin to appear en masse.
The cast includes Mike Moseley of Allen Park as Noah, Sue DeLoiser of Lincoln Park as Esther, and Dearborn residents Brian Townsend as Shem and Julie Ballantyne Brown as Leah.
Tom Veritek of Dexter plays Ham, with Kathleen Duffy of Royal Oak as Rachel, Mark Wagner of Plymouth as as Japheth, and Leah Cooley of Lincoln Park as Goldie.
Director Mary Jane Towne said she has always been charmed by the show despite it not being well-known.
“Set before, during and after the flood, the book and music explore several universal themes,” Towne said, “including faith and its potential loss, love, purpose, and family struggles with mutual acceptance, respect, and individual desires (and) ambition.”
Towne said the show is charming, entertaining and thoughtful, as well as family friendly.
“(It is) a pleasant departure from much of what passes for writing today,” she said. “It explores universal themes that will always be of concern to mankind.”
Brown said that after listening to the story and music, she really wanted to be part of the cast.
Her character, Rachel, is married to Shem, Noah’s eldest son.
“She’s miserly, has a sharp tongue and lacks the social niceties,” Brown said. “As a result, she is not well-liked by the family.
“However, she is seriously devoted to Shem, and he to her. They have a quirky but sweet relationship. They are a good team. They have each other’s back.”
She tells people that the musical is the Noah’s Ark story they know, but they will be able to see Noah and his family as real people, not saints on a page.
“They have some big flaws, they have feelings, and they are so extremely human, which makes it interesting,” Brown said. “I think this cast and crew are very invested in putting on the best show that we can. We have all been working really hard to make it real.”
Wagner said the cast is amazing, and he loves the emotion behind the story.
“I am excited to see what they will bring to each performance,” he said. “You should come check out the awesome stuff they will do.”
Towne said she is pleased to work with the talented cast and crew.
“I think audiences are going to enjoy this show,” Towne said. “It’s hard to beat Richard Rodgers.”
TAKE FLIGHT WITH ‘PETER AND THE STARCATCHER’
Fly away with Pan as “Peter and the Starcatcher” launch the Open Book Theatre Company’s third season in its new location, 1621 West Road in Trenton.
The show runs 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 17, 23, 24, 29, 30, Oct. 1, and 2 p.m. Sept. 25 at the theater. Tickets are $20, with a $5 discount for students and seniors.
For more information, call 734-288-7753. To order tickets, go to openbooktc.com.
Director Krista Schafer Ewbank said the show is a “wildly theatric” interpretation of the classic story, and 12 actors play more than 100 characters.
“A nameless orphan boy finds himself on an island with a new name: Peter Pan,” Ewbank said. “We see the beginnings of the arch rivalry between the boy and the great mustachioed pirate.”
She said fans of the book and movies will delight in the back story, and all will enjoy a story filled with hope, friendship, magic, mermaids and pirates.
Ewbank said the show will be performed in the round, with the audience on all four sides of the action.
“I was drawn to the wonderful and imaginative storytelling in this play,” she said. “It’s full of humor and heart. It’s a great show for children and adults to enjoy together.”
Ewbank said she is excited to have a new space from which to tell stories.
“I believe that the telling of stories is how we as humans become known to each other,” she said. “It’s the heart of who we are. Doing that live, in an intimate setting, is magic. That’s theater.”