Local actresses cheer up hospitalized children

Photo by Kate Schwan. Princesses Cassie Dye (left) of Westland as Jasmine, Jaclyn Duvall (third from left) of Dearborn as Ariel, Emily Noble of Wyandotte as Elsa and Ashley Gatesy of Westland as Belle entertain pediatric patients Aug. 29 at ProMedica Toledo Children's Hospital.

Photo by Kate Schwan. Princesses Cassie Dye (left) of Westland as Jasmine, Jaclyn Duvall (third from left) of Dearborn as Ariel, Emily Noble of Wyandotte as Elsa and Ashley Gatesy of Westland as Belle entertain pediatric patients Aug. 29 at ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital.

By SUE SUCHYTA

Wyandotte’s Bacon Library may look like a castle, but true Downriver royalty – the Avenue Angels’ princesses – are polishing their royal craft nearby at the unassuming Downriver Actors Guild.

As stage princesses, the classic lasses take royal tours to local pediatric hospitals to cheer young patients and their families.

Princes and superheroes will join their ranks once capes emerge from the robing room and noble actors are knighted into the cause.

Jaclyn Duvall, a creative force behind the Avenue Angels, sponsored by the Downriver Actors Guild, 26565 Biddle in Wyandotte, said the royal retinue will sing, play and read to children in pediatric hospitals.

“We believe in providing a magical experience to these children we visit, maintaining the utmost professionalism,” Duvall said.

She said they love to be able to touch the lives of the children while they promote community spirit, togetherness and the arts.

“We love the beautiful difference community theater groups can make on and off the stage,” Duvall said.

The Avenue Angels like to leave books, puzzles and other gift items with their young fans, so Duvall has set up an online donation page, gofundme/AvenueAngels to accept money to buy gifts for upcoming visits.

Four princesses visited ProMedia Toledo Children’s Hospital, 2142 Cove on Aug. 28, which Duvall said delighted parents and staff as much as the children.

Duvall’s alter ego is Ariel. Joining her in Toledo were Cassie Dye of Westland as Jasmine, Emily Noble of Wyandotte as Elsa and Ashley Gatesy of Westland as Belle. Characters and roles rotate based on volunteer availability.

The group’s next visit is Sept. 24 at Beaumont Hospital, 3601 W. 13 Mile in Royal Oak.

Avenue Angels is a volunteer group under the auspices of the Downriver Actor Guild. For more information, go to downriveractorsguild.net/Angels.

HILBERRY JUMPSTARTS SEASON WITH ‘YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU’

Wayne State’s Hilberry Theatre launches its 2016-17 season with laughter Sept. 16 to Oct. 2 with George Kaufman and Moss Hart’s comedy “You Can’t Take It with You.”

The play, which opened on Broadway in 1936, won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

When a “normal” young woman brings her fiance and his conservative parents to me her colorful, extended family, which includes Russian expatriates, an iceman turned fireworks maker, a drunk actress and a xylophone-playing candy distributor, comedy and chaos ensue, and belly laughs are sure to follow.

Director Blair Anderson said while the phrase, “You can’t take it with you” is often used to encourage people to spend their money before they die, the phrase also reminds people to spend money on others while you live, instead of selfishly hoarding it.

“You can’t take wealth with you, so your priorities in life should be on living and sharing with others, not accumulating selfishly,” Anderson said. “Kaufman and Hart explore a timeless family dynamic where idiosyncratic individuals do indeed live in the present and are accepting of one another.”

Anderson said the most valuable thing families have is their time together.

“Every family has unique individuals, and audiences will be enthused to see reflections of their own families in the characters onstage,” Anderson said.

The cast includes Tiffany Michelle Thompson as Alice Sycamore and Michael Manocchio as Tony Kirby, the young couple, with Nick Stockwell as patriarch Grandpa Martin Vanderhof.

Alice’s parents are played by Antonia LaChe’ McCain as Penelope Sycamore and Cody Robinson as Paul Sycamore. Tony’s parents are played by Wesley Cady as Miriam Kirby and Brandon Wright as Anthony Kirby.

Breayre Tender plays Alice’s sister, Essie Carmichael, and James Kern plays her husband Ed Carmichael.

Lauren Valice plays Rheba, the maid, while the expatriate Russians are played by Devri Brock-Chism as Olga Katrina, and Michael Phillip Thomas as Boris Kolenkhov.

Kyle Johnson plays iceman turned fireworks maker Mr. De Pinna, while Mary Sansone plays the drunken actress Gay Wellington.

Ernest Bentley plays IRS man Wilbur Henderson, with Santiago Craven as G-Man No. 1, “the man.”

Undergraduate students in the Hilberry production include Kevin Keller of Chesterfield Township as the handyman, Donald; Pierce King of Berkley as G-Man No. 3, Jim; and Kevin Talanges of Dearborn as G-Man No. 2, Mac.

Show times are 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and Oct. 1;  3 p.m. Sept. 17 and 24, and Oct. 1 and 2;  7 p.m. Sept. 22 and 29;  2 p.m. Sept. 21 and 10 a.m. Sept. 27 at the theater, 4743 Cass in Detroit.

For tickets, call 313-577-2972, go to hilberry.com.