Youth theaters bring musicals ‘Footloose’ and ‘Aladdin Jr.,’ to the stage

    Area youth theaters will set toes tapping with “Footloose” at the Downriver Actors Guild in Wyandotte and “Aladdin Jr.” at the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center in the Trenton Village Theater.

Area youth theaters will set toes tapping with “Footloose” at the Downriver Actors Guild in Wyandotte and “Aladdin Jr.” at the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center in the Trenton Village Theater.

Area youth theaters will set toes tapping with “Footloose” at the Downriver Actors Guild in Wyandotte and “Aladdin Jr.” at the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center in the Trenton Village Theater.

The Broadway tour of the Tony Award-winning comedy “The Play That Goes Wrong” comes to the Fisher, while dramas take the stage elsewhere, with “Venus in Fur” at Outvisible in Allen Park and the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Death of a Salesman” at the Ringwald in Ferndale.


The 1998 musical “Footloose,” based on the 1984 movie of the same name, will make audiences want to kick up their heels as the Downriver Actors Guild teens present the toe-tapping musical.

The show runs 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15, 16, 22 and 23, and 3 p.m. Feb. 17 and 24 at the Catherine A. Daly Theatre on the Avenue, 2656 Biddle, Wyandotte.

Directed by Bryan Aue, with assistant director Kori Bielaniec, the show follows a Chicago teenager forced to move with his mother to a small town, where dancing has been banned since teens were killed in a tragic car accident going home from a dance.

Kayla Harwood choreographs the show, with assistant choreographer Alexa Mertz, and with musical direction by Kyle Harwood.

Tyler Goethe, 20, of Southgate plays Ren, with Ashley Marshall, 16, of Trenton as Ariel; Madison Ganzak, 16, of Dearborn Heights as Rusty; Keagan Rodden, 15, of Trenton as Willard; and Nate Hermen, 16, of Dearborn as the Rev. Shaw.

Aue said “Footloose” is the first show in which he performed, and he has always felt a connection to the musical and the characters.

“The story is engaging, and has more depth than most people realize,” Aue said. “The show is a drama, dealing with very real issues – loss, forgiveness, redemption, love and understanding.”

Aue said he has enjoyed working with the teens, who bring enthusiasm and energy to their roles and the rehearsals.

“I hope audiences enjoy the characters these kids have developed, and the details of the story they are telling,” Aue said. “The ’80s music and dancing will knock your socks off.”

Goethe said he is trying to keep Ren close to the movie character that people remember.

“The show differs from the movie because we get to see just about every character’s true self, unlike the movie, where all you really saw was Ren’s,” he said.

Marshall said teens and adults can relate to her character, Ariel.

“There are moments that really touch the audience’s heart, no matter what age,” she said.

Marshall said Ariel has a devious side to her character.

“She is quite rebellious, but I understand where it comes from,” she said.

Rodden said it is a challenge for him to drop Willard’s accent off stage.

“I over-embrace the character,” he said. “I think the cast thinks of their characters in a more personal light. The talented actors are a joy to work with.”

Ganzak said getting inside Rusty’s head has been challenging.

“Rusty is bright, giddy, fast-talking and sometimes obnoxious,” she said. “I’m loving the ’80s dancing and music. It makes you want to sing along and get on your feet, plus the story is very heartwarming.”

Hermen said in the movie, the songs are played in the background of scenes, whereas in the play they are intertwined with the plot.

“The show brings the nostalgia from the movie to you in a way that you have never seen before, showcasing local talent at the same time,” he said.

Others in the cast include Nathan Blaszczak, 13, of Brownstown Township as Lyle, Jeter and a featured dancer; Abdul Fakih, 12, of Melvindale as Coach; Grace Harper, 15, of Wyandotte as a featured dancer and in the adult ensemble; Leo Hellar, 16, of Brownstown as Bickle, Travis and a featured dancer; and Olivia Murphy, 17, of Southgate as Ethel.

Also in the cast are Isabella Owens, 13, of Riverview as Wendy Jo and a “Still Rockin’” soloist; Elaina Primeau, 13, of Brownstown as a teen and a featured dancer; Grace Ray, 17, of Lincoln Park as Betty Blast, as the principal, and in the adult ensemble; Aysiah Rennert, 16, of Newport as Lulu and in the adult ensemble; and Matthew Smith, 15, of Allen Park as Chuck Cranston and a bar patron.

Also in the show are Lily Steele, 14, of Lincoln Park as Eleanor and in the adult ensemble; Emma Straub 17, of Belleville as Vi; Laney Straub, 17, of Belleville as Urleen and a “Still Rockin’” soloist; and Andrew Willingham, 18, of Wyandotte as Wes and Cowboy Bob.

Tickets are $18, with a $2 discount for students and seniors. For tickets or more information, call 734-407-7020 or go to


When a street rat and a princess meet up and fall in love, complications ensue in the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center’s production of “Aladdin Jr.”

The show runs 7 p.m. Feb. 15 and 16, and 2 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Trenton Village Theater, 2447 W. Jefferson, Trenton.

The musical follows the classic story of royal intrigue, an evil usurper and a magical genie in a musical magic carpet ride about being true to yourself and loyal to your friends.

Directed by Tamara Laflin, the show is performed by 51 cast members age 5 to 18.

Reece Culverhouse, 17, of South Rockwood plays Jasmine, with Matthew Jakobiak, 16, of Taylor as Aladdin.
Tickets are $10 and $15. To order, or for more information, call 734-771-7945 or go to


Kinky comes out to play on Valentine’s Day, beginning a three-weekend run of David Ives’ “Venus in Fur,” based on the 1870 novella which reveals themes of female dominance, and coined the phrase sadomasochism, at the Outvisible Theatre Company in Allen Park.

The show runs 8 p.m. Feb. 14 to 16, 18, 22, 23 and 25, and March 1 and 2, with a 3 p.m. March 3 show at the new Outvisible location, 14709 Champaign, Allen Park.

Directed by Adriane Galea of Dearborn, the cast includes Dani Cochran of Ferndale as Vanda and Joshua Brown of Flat Rock as Thomas.

Galea said she was drawn to the script the first time she read it.

“I was enthralled,” she said. “It is so smart in the way that it weaves literary references and mythology and a dialogue on feminism into the story but also has this undercurrent of seduction,” she said.

Ive’s retelling of the story places an aspiring actress, Vanda, at an audition for an adaptation of “Venus in Fur,” reading with Thomas, who wrote the adaptation. As the audition progresses, the line between what is scripted and what is reality begins to blur as the characters explore dominance and submission, with the power role shifting from line to line.

Cochran said as the story unfolds, it keeps the audience in suspense.

“It will have you wondering, at any given time, who is holding the cards,” Cochran said.

Brown said the story allows the audience to rethink previous beliefs, and perhaps grow.

“The true gift of any art form is its ability to allow us exploration of all facets of our existence, and gain a further understanding of our world, to question limits,” he said. “‘Venus in Fur’ is such an opportunity.”

Galea said that while the show is Outvisible’s most risqué show to date, she did not select it for its shock value.

“It’s about art,” Galea said. “At its core, this is a dialogue of sex and gender, but we want everyone to feel comfortable with what they are seeing, especially since our performance space is so tiny. But this show is something I could watch over and over again and discover something new and interesting.”

Tickets are $25, with a $5 discount for seniors and a $10 discount for students. “Pay what you can” performances include the Feb. 14, 18 and 25 performances. To order, or for more information, call 313-759-8350 or go to


The Tony Award-winning comedy “The Play That Goes Wrong” makes its way to the Fisher, where it’s destined to leave laughter in its wake as accident-prone amateur thespians test Murphy’s Law to its limits as they attempt to put on a 1920s murder mystery which goes hysterically awry.

The show runs 8 p.m. Feb. 12 to 16 and 19 to 23; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 and 24, and 2 p.m. Feb.16, 17, 23 and 24 at the Fisher Theater, 3011 W. Grand Boulevard, Detroit.

Tickets start at $44, and are available by calling 800-982-2787 or at or


Bringing iconic American plays to the stage for contemporary audiences has long been a part of the Ringwald’s mission, and Arthur Miller’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Death of a Salesmen” is a strong fit.

The show runs 8 p.m. Feb. 15, 16, 18, 22, 23 and 25, and March 1, 2, 4, 8, 9 and 11 at the theater, 22742 Woodward, Ferndale.

Directed by Joe Bailey, the show stars Joel Mitchell as Willy Loman and Kelly Komlen as Linda Loman.
As a man reflects on his profession and personal life at the end of his career, he struggles to understand why success and happiness eluded him, and how his desire for material success kept him from seeing the richness of the people close to him.

The cast also includes Donny Riedel as Biff Loman, Jeffrey McMahon as Happy Loman, Randy Stewart as Charley, Dante Jones as Bernard, Brandy Joe Plambeck as Howard, Tess Hannah as Miss Forsythe, Patricia Gajos as Letta and Dyan Bailey as The Woman.

Tickets are $20, with $10 admission on Mondays. For more information, call 248-545-5545. To order tickets, go to