Musicals set toes tapping, spirits soaring

Photo by Jennifer Deckert The Players Guild of Dearborn presents “Guys and Dolls” Nov. 9 to Dec. 2 at the theater, 21730 Madison in Dearborn, with Kris Wright (left) of Southgate as The Greek, Brian Townsend of Dearborn as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Kenyada Davis of Detroit as Nathan Detroit, Mark Wagner of Plymouth as Sky Masterson and Sebastian Adams of Dearborn as Rusty Charlie. For tickets or more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

Photo by Jennifer Deckert
The Players Guild of Dearborn presents “Guys and Dolls” Nov. 9 to Dec. 2 at the theater, 21730 Madison in Dearborn, with Kris Wright (left) of Southgate as The Greek, Brian Townsend of Dearborn as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Kenyada Davis of Detroit as Nathan Detroit, Mark Wagner of Plymouth as Sky Masterson and Sebastian Adams of Dearborn as Rusty Charlie. For tickets or more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

From the uplifting music of “Jesus Christ Superstar” to the feel-good fun of “Guys and Dolls,” local community theaters offer productions guaranteed to set your toes tapping and spirits soaring.

PLAYERS GUILD OF DEARBORN PRESENTS ‘GUYS AND DOLLS’

From gamblers to missionaries, from a roll of the dice to the beat of a drum, the Tony Award winner for Best Musical, “Guys and Dolls,” is a sure bet.

The show runs 8 p.m. Nov. 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24 and 30, and Dec. 1, and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 11, 18, 25 and Dec. 2 at the Players Guild of Dearborn, 21730 Madison, Dearborn.

The musical follows gambler Nathan Detroit, who is desperate to find enough cash to rent a clandestine space for his lucrative craps game, while his 14-year finance’, Adelaide, is becoming increasingly anxious to marry him. Sky Masterson, another gambler, takes a bet from Nathan Detroit that he can get a straight-laced missionary “doll,” Sarah Brown, to travel to Havana with him on a date.

The show contains familiar, much loved songs, including “Fugue for Tin Horns” (“I’ve got the horse right here, his name is Paul Revere,”…), “Luck Be a Lady,” “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat,” and “A Bushel and a Peck.”
Directed by Kim Donovan, the cast includes Mark Wagner of Plymouth as Sky Masterson; Lia Bertucci of Dearborn as Sarah Brown; Kenyada Davis of Detroit as Nathan Detroit; and Maura Donovan of Farmington Hills as Miss Adelaide.
Brian Townsend of Dearborn plays Nicely-Nicely Johnson, with Mark Maccognone of Detroit as Benny Southstreet; Nancy Valentini of Livonia as Arvide Abernathy; Denise Kowalewski-Tucker of Livonia as General Matilda B. Cartwright; and Dearborn residents David Wood as Lt. Brannigan,
Sebastian Adams as Rusty Charlie and Adam Lynch as Harry the Horse.
Meghan Brokenshire of Warren plays Mimi, with Lily Tack of Harrison Township as Allison; Kristen Campbell of Dearborn as Ferguson; Malissa Bossardet of Bloomfield Hills as Vernon; Amy Jones of Dearborn as Agatha; Carissa Lokken of Livonia as Martha; and Maria Viscomi of Dearborn Heights as Helen.
Also Livonia residents Michael Rea as Joey Biltmore, Tim Carney as Angie the Ox, Jeff Lokken as Liver Lips Louie and Patrick Davidson as Society Max; Matthew Van Houten of Allen Park as Scranton Slim; Kris Wright of Southgate as The Greek; Joe Donovan of Farmington Hills as Big Jule; and Dearborn residents Garrett Hermen as Brandy Bottle Bates and Kevin Talanges as Acey-Deucey.
Kim Donovan said “Guys and Dolls” holds a special place in her heart, as it was the first show she directed, in 1991, for PGD.
“Up to that point I had only been an actor, and was timid about being able to bring all the elements of a musical together,” she said. “I had been gearing up for this role for quite some time, asking other directors how they did it.

“The best advice I ever got was to let the actors feel free to explore their character, then guide them so everyone is cohesive, bringing together an amazing performance. Over the years I have learned so much about the ins and outs of directing.”

Donovan said when the Guild selected “Guys and Dolls” for its 91st season, she felt the urge to revisit the first show she directed.
“I felt that pull on my heartstrings,” she said. “I have loved directing over the last 27 years, and wanted to see for myself what changes would unfold before me. I am not disappointed. Once again, I feel we have a wonderful production.”
Donovan said “Guys and Dolls” has been called a perfect musical musical, and the Guild’s production is true to its original intent.
“The show doesn’t require a novel reinterpretation or directorial ‘vision’ because the show works just as beautifully today as it did when it opened in 1950,” she said. “The director’s job is to trust that material and present it faithfully, with characters that are larger than life, but with optimism and innocence as well.”
Donovan encourages people to give live theater a try.
“Watching a production onstage allows the audience to become part of what unfolds,” she said. “‘Guys and Dolls’ is an iconic, classic musical that everyone should experience, full of brassy and timeless exuberance, and a wonderful example of a simple, old-fashioned Broadway show.”
Choreographer, Xavier J. Bush said he agrees that “Guys and Dolls” is a perfect musical comedy.
“The way the hilarious scene work is integrated with a stunning score is what made me want to choreograph this show,” he said. “You get these amazing scenes with such great wit, mixed with challenging dance numbers and amazing pairing.”

He said his vision for the dance numbers was to be true to the 1920s and 1930s time period of the show, which is based on Damon Runyon’s short stories of the era.
“Sticking to that vaudeville feel from that era, while also keeping everything very high energy, was my goal,” Bush said. “I’m very pleased with how everything has played out.”
Lynch said audiences will enjoy seeing Bush’s amazing choreography.
“This is a classic show and a real crowd pleaser,” he said. “We all have within us the desire to strike it rich on one roll. I can understand that need all too well.”

Townsend said the cast has brought energy and vitality to the rehearsal process.
“It’s such an amazing feeling when you see cast members applauding, laughing and cheering for each other – it inspires fellow actors to rise up and give their best,” he said. “We’ve really taken to the material, and I think we have a knack for the humor and romance.”
Townsend said the cast continues to find new ways to make the show come to life.

“It’s a triple threat – no, a quadruple threat,” Townsend said. “A great score, great writing, great dancing and great performances. It will do your head and heart some good.”
Tickets are $20. To order, or for more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

SOUTHGATE COMMUNITY PLAYERS PRESENT ‘JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR’

The fast-paced, mesmerizing Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which has captivated audiences since 1970, opens the main stage season for the Southgate Community Players.
The show runs 7 p.m. Nov. 2, 3, and 9, and 3 p.m. Nov. 10 at Davidson Middle School auditorium, 15800 Trenton Road in Southgate.

The Tony Award nominated score includes “What’s the Buzz?” “Everything’s Alright,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” and the title song, “Superstar.”

Tickets are $18, with a $3 discount for students and seniors. To order tickets, call 734-282-4727 or go to ShowTix4U at bit.ly/2C5Yszk.

DIVINE CHILD HIGH SCHOOL PRESENTS ‘DISASTER – A NEW MUSICAL’

Laughter and songs from the ’70s will fill the auditorium of Divine Child High School as the new Broadway musical comedy “Disaster,” by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick, opens its theater season.

The show runs 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8 to 10, and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Divine Child High School auditorium, 1001 N. Silvery Lane, Dearborn.

Set 40 years ago amid disco fever, on a floating casino and dance club, the ship encounters earthquakes, tidal waves and infernos, against ’70s songs which include, “Knock on Wood,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Sky High,” “I am Woman” and “Hot Stuff.”
Tickets are $10, and are available online at divinechildhighschool.org.