‘Recent Tragic Events’ looks at 9/11 with poignancy, dark humor

Photo by Dale Dorlin. The Open Book Theatre Company presents “Recent Tragic Events” Nov. 4 to 19 with Richard Peyton (left) of Ferndale as Andrew and Kimberly Alley of Redford Township as Waverly, two strangers who decide to go through with their blind date the day after 9/11, in a show with poignancy and dark humor. For more information, call 734-288-7753 or go to openbooktc.com.

Photo by Dale Dorlin. The Open Book Theatre Company presents “Recent Tragic Events” Nov. 4 to 19 with Richard Peyton (left) of Ferndale as Andrew and Kimberly Alley of Redford Township as Waverly, two strangers who decide to go through with their blind date the day after 9/11, in a show with poignancy and dark humor. For more information, call 734-288-7753 or go to openbooktc.com.

By SUE SUCHYTA

Plays set in the recent past remind us where we where and what we were doing when specific, life-changing events happened. Whether it’s Pearl Harbor Day, President John Kennedy’s assassination, the moon landing or 9/11, we remember events that impacted our world with a surprising clarity.

Craig Wright’s “Recent Tragic Events,” set the day after 9/11, looks at a small group of people on Sept. 12, 2001, as they grapple with what has happened and how their world will change.

Open Book Theatre Company Artistic Director Krista Schafer Ewbank said the show, which opens Nov. 4, is not depressing.

“Playwright Craig Wright handles the subject with dark humor, while still giving his audiences something to think about,” Ewbank said.

As people across the country grapple with how the tragedy will affect their lives, Waverly, played by Kimberly Alley of Redford Township, and Andrew, portrayed by Richard Payton of Ferndale, decide to go on their blind date together, but find themselves staying in Waverly’s apartment with an interesting mix of people.

As non-stop news coverage plays as a backdrop, people question fate, chance and our own power over our lives, and how the connectivity of the world has shifted dramatically in the 21st century.

Directed by Topher Payne, the show runs 8 p.m. Nov. 4, 5, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19, and 2 p.m. Nov. 13 at the group’s new location, 1621 West Road in Trenton.

Joe Sfair of Eastpointe plays Ron, a neighbor, with Erika Hoveland of Royal Oak as Nancy, his girlfriend. Mandy Logsdon of Clinton Township and Danielle Gilbert of Allen Park provide the stage direction, with the award-winning Harley Miah providing the lighting magic.

Opening night tickets are $30, which includes an afterglow. Other performances are $20, with a $5 discount for students and seniors. To order tickets, go to openbooktc.com.

For more information, call 734-288-7753.

DAG’s ‘BONNIE AND CLYDE’ A TALENTED RIDE

Passion, crime and a talented ride best describes the story of “Bonnie and Clyde,” a new musical about two notorious Depression-era criminals with a craving for fame you won’t want to miss at the Downriver Actors Guild.

The closing weekend shows are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29 at the Catherine A. Daly Theatre on the Avenue, 2656 Biddle in Wyandotte.

Deftly directed by Ron Baumanis, the love story and crime drama features a compelling score by Frank Wildhorn, who also wrote the music for “Jekyll & Hyde,” “The Civil War” and “Dracula, the Musical.”

The leads, Kimmy Elliot of Canton Township as Bonnie Parker, Daniel Hazlett of Ann Arbor as Clyde Barrow, Bryan Aue of Taylor as Buck Barrow and Melanie Aue of Taylor as Blanche Barrow, are strong vocally and talented actors, bringing the story passionately to life. Even knowing their collision course with fate, there is the temptation to root for the anti-heroes as they so believably capture the characters’ essence on stage.

Keagan Rodden of Southgate as Young Clyde and Elaina Primeau of Brownstown Township as Young Bonnie provide an interesting flashback glimpse into the title characters’ early lives, revealing their dreams. The two more than hold their own with the adults in the cast, both vocally and performance-wise.

Colleen Stanley of Trenton as Cumie Barrow, and Wyandotte residents Chuck Bollman as Henry Barrow and Jami Krause as Emma Parker play convincing parents who, once they know it is too late to change their progeny’s path, hold on to the illogical thread of hope that they will survive.

The strong supporting actors and ensemble complete the show, and include Taylor resident Amanda Aue as Eleanore; Wyandotte residents Paige Wisniewski as Trish, and Austin Charlebois as a deputy; Bethany Wagner of Ann Arbor as a shopkeeper; Dee Morrison of Canton Township as Governor Ferguson; Kevin Kaminski of Detroit as Ted Hinton; Tommy Koch of Grosse Ile Township as Sheriff Schmidt; Jeff Powers of New Boston as Capt. Frank Hamer; Ashley Gatesy of Westland as Stella; and Nick Brown of Ypsilanti as the preacher.

Tickets are $16, with a $3 discount for students and seniors. For more information or to order, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.

GUILD PLANS SEASON OF SIMON, OR NINETY WITH NEIL

It’s not official yet, because the royalty rights have yet to be obtained, but the Players Guild of Dearborn hopes to celebrate its 90th year in tandem with one of the greatest American playwrights, Neil Simon, who turns 90 on July 4, 2017.

Simon, who has written more than 30 plays, and nearly as many screenplays, has received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer, and his shows include comedies, dramas and musicals.

Incumbent on successfully obtaining the royalty rights, PGD hopes to open with Simon’s first Broadway play, the comedy, “Come Blow Your Horn,” a bachelor pad comedy set in New York City, followed by the musical “Promises, Promises,” which features music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David. The story of an junior executive who lets his superiors use his apartment for trysts features the memorable hit single “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”

Next up is the farce “Fools,” set in the late 1800s in the Ukraine, in a small village beset by a curse that makes everyone stupid, and the schoolteacher who takes on the challenge of breaking the curse, who complicates matters by falling in love with his pupil.

The fourth proposed show, “Lost in Yonkers,” which won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for drama, also won a Tony for Best Play and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play.

Set in 1942 in Yonkers, N.Y., the play follows two young teen brothers who must live with their grandmother after their mother dies while their father takes a traveling salesman job to pay off the medical bills. Into their lives come a collection of colorful relatives who also need funding to fuel their dreams.

The proposed fifth and final Simon show is “Sweet Charity,” a strong musical, with Fosse-inspired choreography that tells the tale of Charity Hope Valentine, a dance hall hostess at the Fandango Ballroom. The show includes the catchy tunes “Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now.”

The season and order is subject to the Guild obtaining royalty rights.

DAG HOLDS AUDITIONS FOR ‘CHICAGO’

Continuing a season of villains, the Downriver Actors Guild will audition for the musical “Chicago” Oct. 24 and 25, with callbacks Oct. 27. The musical will run Jan. 20 to 27.

For detailed audition information, go to downriveractorsguild.net/Auditions.html.

For other audition details, go to dropbox.com/s/xtl72ow7ptymzqn/Chicago-Audition-Information.docx?dl=0.