The Hilberry Theatre Announces its 2014-15 Season

BTL Full PageDETROIT – On Friday, February 21, following the opening of Ken Ludwig’s show-biz comedy, Moon Over Buffalo, the Hilberry Theatre Company announced its 2014-15 Season, the 52nd for the cornerstone institution in Midtown Detroit.

From Shakespeare’s perfect love story Romeo and Juliet to Congreve’s drole wit in The Way of the World to An Enemy of the People, Ibsen’s masterpiece reimagined by Arthur Miller, the Hilberry continues its trademark commitment to exhibiting the classics.

The Hilberry Company also offers three of the best comic romps written in the last half century: the 2008 Tony-winning revision of the classic French farce Boeing-Boeing, the dazzlingly wordplay of David Ives in All in the Timing, and The 39 Steps, a celebrated spoof of Hitchcock’s film classic of the same title. Together, these have a combined 19 Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations and 5 wins.

Season tickets are on sale now! To subscribe, call (313) 577-2972 or visit the Wayne State University Theatre and Dance Box Office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.

Subscribers are an integral part of the Hilberry community and they enjoy up to 35% off single ticket prices, priority seating, exchange privileges, lost ticket insurance, free coffee, a complimentary subscription to our newsletter, and an invitation to the annual Subscriber Party and Open House, which will take place on March 30, 2014.


Boeing Boeing
By Marc Camoletti
September 19 – October 4, 2014
Translated by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans
French bachelor Bernard lives a happy, structured life according to strict airline timetables – the American stewardess for breakfast, the Italian one for lunch, and the German for dinner!  The 2008 revised translation won 2 Tony Awards.

Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare
October 24 – December 13, 2014
Shakespeare’s riveting romantic tragedy tells the tale of star-crossed lovers and the life of hatred and violence between their feuding families.  One of the best loved and most performed of Shakespeare’s work, the Hilberry has scheduled 10 morning matinees intended for area school groups.

All in the Timing
By David Ives
November 21, 2014 – January 31, 2015
Six hilarious one-acts from renowned playwright David Ives. From chimpanzees composing the complete works of William Shakespeare to the complexities facing minimalist composer Philip Glass while buying a loaf of bread, it’s non-stop madness! Winner of the 1993-1994 Outer Critics Award for “Best Playwriting”.

The Way of the World
By William Congreve
January 16 – March 7, 2015
Marriages of convenience and inconvenient marriages are propelled along on a wave of spectacular wit in Congreve’s mockery of upper-class foibles. This Restoration comedy is a Hilberry premiere.

An Enemy of the People
By Arthur Miller, adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s play
February 20 – March 28, 2015
Two brothers’ dispute over safety and civic duty divide their town. Who will gain the support of the public and who will become an Enemy of the People?

The 39 Steps
Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan from the movie of Alfred Hitchcock
April 10 – 25, 2015
This hilarious spoof of the 1935 Hitchcock thriller will have you laughing from start to finish. The Drama Desk and Olivier Award-winner blends frenzied performances and wildly inventive stagecraft with spies, murder, and some good old-fashioned romance!



The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at the Bonstelle Theatre

Also announced on Friday are the titles offered by the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at the historic Bonstelle Theatre. The Bonstelle Theatre 2014-15 Season has a wide variety of entertaining performances, including classic comedy and drama, fantastic dance performances, and a hilarious musical.

++Currently available to Hilberry subscribers only, Bonstelle Theatre packages will go on sale March 20.

All’s Well That Ends Well
By William Shakespeare
When Helena sets her sights on Bertram – an uninterested nobleman, out of her league – she does whatever it takes to forge the perfect match.

Peter Pan
By J.M. Barrie, adapted by Janet Allard
Peter Pan, the boy who doesn’t grow up, enchants the Darling children, who fly away with him to Neverland and explore a land of lost boys, imagination, and dreams! A perfect family outing!

December Dance Concert
A showcase of dance works created by guest artists, recent works by Wayne State University dance faculty, and student dances.

By August Wilson
This Tony Award-winning classic follows an African American father and son as they struggle through unfulfilled hopes and shattered dreams during the American civil-rights era.

Spring Dance Concert
A dynamic evening, highlighting WSU’s talented dancers in innovative performances choreographed by widely-recognized guest artists, faculty members, and students.

Urinetown: The Musical
Music by Mark Hollmann. Lyrics by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis. Book by Greg Kotis
In this Tony Award-winning satirical musical, a long drought has caused an epic water shortage, making free toilets a thing of the past, and wreaking havoc on the bladders of the poor. 

Meet the Cast: Paul Singer

3-Paul EDITEDPaul Singer joyfully returns to the company that fostered his career after making his stage debut as John in Peter Pan at the ripe young age of four. Paul costars alongside George and Charlotte Hay, his beloved mentors and friends in both Private Lives and Cyrano de Bergerac (Victor and le Bret respectively). Past stage credits include: Othello understudy/Roderigo in Othello; Hamlet understudy/Laertes in Hamlet; and Benedick understudy/Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing.

Meet the Cast: Ethel Lane

Moon Over Buffalo - Ethel Lane

Moon Over Buffalo – Ethel Lane

Ethel Lane is a veteran stage actress with over 50 years of experience. Starting out in the chorus, she got her big break in 1896 when she played Desdemona to the great Harley Granville Barker’s Moor. Her performance caught the eye of Broadway producer Herbert Lane, whom she married in 1898.  Following the birth of daughter Charlotte, Ethel went on to play supporting roles in the American premieres of Shaw’s Heartbreak House and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.  She has toured America playing classic roles such as Hedda Gabler, Lady Macbeth, and Miss Julia, along with cutting-edge new works from Eugene O’Neill and Lillian Hellman.

Designed by John D. Woodland

Meet the Cast: Charlotte Hay

Moon Over Buffalo - Charlotte Hay

Moon Over Buffalo – Charlotte Hay

Charlotte Hay began her illustrious career at the tender age of three on the Orpheum circuit as Little Lotti Two Shoes, The Tiny Tap Sensation.  She went on to star on Broadway as Desdemona in Othello at the Little Theatre, and Katherine in Taming of the Shrew at the Alvin. She graced the silver screen as Waha Ka Weha in Apache Woman, and Beatrice Banning Ayer in Desert Victory! She has toured the country with her beautiful family, her brilliant husband George, her wonderfully supportive mother Ethel, and her fiercely independent daughter Rosalind, performing such roles as Nina in The Seagull, Ophelia in Hamlet, Beatrice in Much Ado, St. Joan and Eliza Doolittle.

Designed by John D. Woodland

Moon Over Buffalo – A Riotously Funny Backstage Farce

Moon Over BuffaloDETROIT On February 21, 2014, the Hilberry Theatre’s 51st season continues with Moon Over Buffalo, Ken Ludwig’s riotously funny backstage farce. The opening night performance also coincides with the 2014-15 Hilberry Theatre Season Announcement. Tickets for Moon Over Buffalo range from $12–$30 and are available by calling the Hilberry Theatre Box Office at 313- 577-2972, online at, or by visiting the box office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock Street.

Set in Buffalo, NY in 1953, the play centers around fading actors George and Charlotte Hay as they struggle to reignite the flame of fame, attempting to save their touring repertory theatre company…and their marriage! This hilariously funny Green Room comedy piles hysterical misunderstandings on top of madcap misadventures. George and Charlotte have just one last chance at fame, if only they can figure out which show they are performing!

Premiering on Broadway in 1995, the original production heralded Carol Burnett’s return to the Great White Way after a 30-year absence. Playwright Ken Ludwig is known for his notoriously clever dialogue and frequent use of theatrically specific allusions and situations. Lend Me a Tenor, Ludwig’s best known play, has been translated into over 15 languages and has been performed worldwide. Featuring countless jokes, one-liners and swordfights, Moon Over Buffalo is a fast-paced and highly physical comedy that is certain to evoke uproarious laughter from audiences of all ages.

Join us on Opening Night Friday, February 21 for the 2014-15 Hilberry Season Announcement! The evening will include pre-show events and contests as well as ticket giveaways. The performance will be immediately followed by the announcement of the 2014-15 Hilberry season and a reception with the Hilberry Company. Current Hilberry Subscribers are welcome to call the box office today to exchange their subscription tickets to join us for this exciting evening!

The Hilberry Theatre is proud to partner with Detroit Passport to the Arts in, “introducing the next generation of arts and culture enthusiasts to metro Detroit’s vital arts community.” The 8:00 p.m. performance of Moon Over Buffalo on March 29, 2014 is Destination 5 in the DP2A 2013-14 Season.

Cast (in alphabetical order):

Megan Barbour (Ethel), Bevin Bell-Hall (Charlotte Hay), Miles Boucher (Paul), Danielle Cochrane (Rosalind), Brandon Grantz (Howard), Brent Griffith (George Hay), Sarah Hawkins Moan (Eileen), Brandy Joe Plambeck (Richard).

Production Team:

Blair Anderson (Director), Courtney Rasor (Stage Manager), Sarah Drum (Asst. Stage Manager), Max Amitin (Scenic Design), John D. Woodland (Costume Designer), Leah McCall (Lighting Designer), Brian Dambacher (Technical Director), Michael “Mick” Keathley, II (Sound Designer), Tonae Mitsuhashi  (Properties Master), Heather DeFauw (Master Electrician), Kevin Replinger (Publicity Manager).


About the Hilberry Theatre Company

Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance serves students as a nexus of performance, production, and research in the fields of dance, theatre, and performance studies. It provides a wide choice of degree programs that allow students the flexibility to study these disciplines broadly or to concentrate more specifically in performance, design, or management. The Hilberry Theatre hosts a professional theatre company that is staffed by graduate students and runs on a rotating repertory schedule.  Each academic year, about forty graduate students receive assistantships to work for the Hilberry Theatre and study for advanced degrees. The company performs and produces an annual season of six plays, including high school matinees for nearly 6,000 students. For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, group discounts, and corporate packages, visit the theatre’s website at

Hilberry Theatre – Classic Theatre. Classic Detroit.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.


Moon Over Buffalo
By Ken Ludwig

Calendar Information:

Wednesday 2 p.m.      February 26 (Postshow Talkback)
Thursday 8 p.m.          February 27 (Preshow Discussion), March 27, April 3

Friday 8 p.m.               February 21 (Opening Night), February 28, March 28, April 4
Saturday 2 p.m.           February 22, March 29

Saturday 8 p.m.          February 22, March 1, March 29, April 5

A FEW MOMENTS WITH: Topher Payne, Third Year Actor

topher wig

Topher in his “Dead Letter Office” costume and make-up

Topher Payne, third year Hilberry actor, is currently appearing in The Lunar Stratagem’s production of Dead Letter Office at the Berkshire Fringe Festival.  The performance is being directed by past Hilberry guest director, Matthew Earnest (Much Ado About Nothing, Marat/Sade). Over the next week we will chat with both Matthew and Topher about their experiences with the festival!

This is your third time working with Matthew Earnest…What do you enjoy about having him as a director?

My favorite thing about working with Matthew Earnest is his all-encompassing vision. For Dead Letter Office he has written the script, staged and directed it, choreographed the dances, and designed lights. His shows are such strong cohesive pieces, focusing on the narrative and spirit of the play.

What kind of character do you play? Have there been particular challenges to it?

My character is a lover of language, history and words. He relishes his job, but at the same time loves to complain about the facilities and company. My favorite part of him is that he will get personally offended by people who use bad grammar or commit what he calls a “postal code foul” (using the wrong zip code)! he’s the funny old guy who’s worked at every company way too long!

What has the preparation for the piece been like? Describe the process a bit for us…

dead letter gang

The director, cast, and crew of “Dead Letter Office”

The process was a little tough. I’m replacing one of the original cast members so I had to come onto the rehearsal process 100% off book, and having watched the DVD of the original production. It was challenging to jump into the show with two other cast members who were so comfortable with the show and had such a strong bond between them. Fortunately, both of the other actors, Shawn and Nicole, have been very friendly and welcoming — making me feel like I fit right in.

Have you ever performed in a big theatre festival before? What are you most looking forward to with being in the Berkshire Fringe Fest?

I’ve never performed in a theatre festival like Berkshire Fringe. One of the things that surprised me was that we got 6 hours in the space the day of our performance and then we opened that night. So our opening night performance was the first time I had run through the play with lights and costumes and scenery. Pretty scary, but we got through it unscathed! I am most looking forward to seeing all the other plays and meeting the other artists

You wear a pretty crazy wig, right? How has that experience been?

The wig is awesome! And the make-up designed by Will Bezey is beautiful. Getting dressed up is one if my favorite parts of doing the show.

Dead Letter Office plays at the Berkshire Fringe Festival now through July 24, 2013.

A FEW MOMENTS WITH: Matthew Earnest, director of DEAD LETTER OFFICE

Dead Letter Office

The original cast of “Dead Letter Office”

Matthew Earnest, guest director of past Hilberry productions Much Ado About Nothing and Marat/Sade, and his theatre company, The Lunar Stragem, are currently producing a play for the Berkshire Fringe Festival called Dead Letter Office.  The production will be featuring third year actor, Topher Payne and over the next week we will chat with both Matthew and Topher about their experiences with the festival!

Tell us a bit about your production company, The Lunar Stratagem?

I co-founded the company with Nicole Perrone in 2011. I met Nicole when I was a guest director at Kent State University in 2008, the same year I met Samantha Rosentrater, a Hilberry alum. Nicole had recently landed a professorship in the Marshall University Theater Department in Huntington, WV, and realized that all the theater spaces there were dark in the summertime, and that there were many students, staff, and faculty members who would be interested in working with us. We decided we’d found the company and premiere all of our works there. Huntington is a remarkably inexpensive place to create a play, and WV is one of several culturally developing states in our country that doesn’t yet have a zillion groups vying for grants. It’s working out great. I’ve made many good friends there, our board is superb, the community is proud to have an organization like us trumpeting their name everywhere, and I really enjoy going down there once a year to work.

The mission of the company is to create new works that are inquisitive and innovative, as well as fun and intrinsically theatrical – they could not be screenplays or TV shows, but exist only as live theatrical events. We’re a touring company, which means we’re not built on the traditional regional theater model – plan a season, sell subscriptions, etc. The creation of new art is at the center of our organization, and we build one new piece a year, as I mentioned, and then tour the older ones as opportunities arise. We hope to create a body of work, pieces that are living things that mean something different to each time and place they’re presented in, like an orchestra will repeat a particular symphony over the years, or a painting will be exhibited at many museums far and wide. We like the inherent anthropology of the Theater, and we hope to increase empathy and promote discourse on a national and global scale.

The company is myself (I write and direct) and Nicole, who is a performer, and William Bezek, who is a stage designer and is also my partner. Check us out at

Dead Letter Office is a prelude to Bartleby the Scrivener, a short story by Herman Melville…Can you tell us a little about the plot and what it was about this original tale that inspired your play?

I had wanted to work with Mr. Melville for a long time, and the company was not yet ready to tackle one of his large-scale works, so I took another look at Bartleby the Scrivener, which I had always loved. In the last lines of the story you learn that Bartleby once worked in a dead letter office. Something, the narrator reasons, must have occurred there to render him such a recluse, and so Dead Letter Office emerged as a poetic speculation about what that thing might have been. I composed the piece almost entirely with found letters, some by fancy people like Napoleon, some completely anonymous, like one by a 13 year-old girl that was found in a library book at a bus stop. The piece has ended up as an incredible mosaic of humankind from across the ages and around the world. It uses letter writing, the loss of it, as a metaphor for the end of the idealistic values of the Enlightenment and secular humanism. Three scholars, the employees of my dead letter office, struggle mightily to keep the lights on, and finally realize to their horror that their linguistic expertise and genius for things like geography and etymology, etc., are completely unnecessary in the world they now inhabit.

For me personally (and everyone will have a different opinion about what the play means), the piece is about the erasure of history as a result of an erosion of language, both written and spoken. It’s no secret that most of what we know of history comes from letters people wrote to each other. What will future generations know about us from evaporated emails and emoticons?

Wigs Dead Letter

The wigs for “Dead Letter Office”

For sure. You know me, I don’t like plays where people sit on a sofa or stand around talking about their lives. My dad married an opera singer when I was 10, so I like exalted realities, singing, lots of complicated and stylized movement, poetry, blood and guts, that sort of thing. I actually think of DLO as a vaudeville – these three are such exuberant thinkers that sometimes all they can do is just start dancing. It’s pretty zany.

Having done DLO before, what are the challenges and benefits of doing it again? Do you have some new cast members and some veterans? How has the mixing and melding of the two different sides been?

I’ve toured theater productions my entire life, and it’s always a tough thing to do. Someone has a baby or goes off to an ashram in India, and you have to recast. I actually enjoy putting new people into the pieces – I always learn something about what we’ve done, and I always get a new perspective. Topher Payne is outstanding, as you know, and his 1000-watt energy is just perfect for this. The piece requires performers who haven’t forgotten how to be children, and our Topher is a shining example of that. And everyone in the company loves him, of course. He’s made some great new friends here.

Have you performed at the Berkshire festival before? How is the layout and performance schedule work for DLO?

Yes, I had a piece in the inaugural Berkshire Fringe in 2005. I was running a company called deep ellum ensemble, which I founded and ran for 12 years, and the piece was called the Josephine footnote. It was the middle piece in a trilogy I was creating about aftermath and reconstruction. The theater at the Daniel Arts Center is wonderful, absolutely state of the art and beautifully designed, and it sits in one of the most glorious regions of the country – the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. Heaven in the summertime! Here’s a link with show information: