How Far Have We Really Come?


Written in response to Lorainne Hansberry’s classic play A Raisin in the Sun, Bruce Norris’ drama Clybourne Park examines how race relationships have and have not progressed over the past fifty years.

The first act is set in the 1950s, on the same day as the final scene of A Raisin in the Sun. Karl Lindner, the neighborhood association representative who offered the Youngers money not to move into the Clybourne Park neighborhood, arrives at the house the Youngers have purchased to try and convince the current owners not to sell to a black family. Bev and Russ, however, are determined to move out of the house in which their son Kenneth committed suicide after returning from the Korean War, and they refuse to go back on their contract now that they’ve found a buyer. Karl and the local minister Jim insist that segregation will be better for the community, but Russ throws them out of the house, noting that nobody cared about community when the neighborhood shunned Kenneth after he returned from the war.

The second act is set fifty years later, when a young white couple is interested in buying the same house in what has become an all-black neighborhood. They meet with lawyers and two African-American members of the neighborhood association to discuss the plans they have for the house: namely, that they want to tear it down and rebuild it completely. What begins as an overly-polite conversation about gentrification devolves into an explosive argument about race in what is supposed to a “post-racial” era, calling into question how much has really changed.

Clybourne Park premiered on Broadway in 2012 and won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance will present Clybourne Park at the Hilberry Theatre February 26th – March 5th, 2016, and March 31st – April 2nd, 2016. Please join us for this intense, thought-provoking drama.

A Raisin in the Sun will be presented at the Bonstelle Theatre in February. Read more about the piece that inspired Clybourne Park here.


Brush Up Your Dickens

First performed by the Seattle Repertory Theatre in 1991, Daniel J. Sullivan’s madcap comedy Inspecting Carol promises sidesplitting laughs and plenty of holiday cheer!


Loosely based on the nineteenth century Russian play The Inspector General by Nikolai Gogol (whose other best-known comedy Marriage was produced at the Hilberry in 2013), Inspecting Carol follows the members of the Soapbox Playhouse as they struggle to complete a rehearsal for their annual production of A Christmas Carol. After failing to reach their subscription goal, the company is now relying on a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to stay open–and that grant is being withheld pending an inspection. The pressure is on to present the best performance in the company’s history, but matters are complicated by an overly-emotional Lithuanian director, a Scrooge who has grown so bored with his role he once did the whole play in Spanish, and a terrible new actor who has been mistaken for the inspector. The director will do anything to secure the grant money, while the stage manager would just like to make it through a rehearsal.

Inspecting Carol runs from December 4 – 19. Treat yourself to some laughter this winter. We’d be honored to share the holiday season with you!

Party Like It’s 1922

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is a literary masterpiece, and considered by many to be the Great American Novel.


When Nick Carraway moves to the East Coast after World War I, he reconnects with his cousin Daisy and becomes entangled in the intrigue of her social circle. Nick struggles to understand the carefree, fast living ways of Daisy and her husband, but the man who excites Nick’s curiosity the most is Gatsby, a millionaire who throws extravagant parties every weekend. Gatsby is also Daisy’s former lover and is desperate to win back her affection. His obsession and the carelessness of the Jazz Age combine to hurtle the play towards a shattering conclusion.

Fitzgerald died in 1940 believing himself to be a failure and sure his work would be forgotten. Simon Levy’s sparkling adaptation of Fitzgerald’s most famous novel proves just how wrong he was. Gatsby livesand nowhere is it more alive than on the Hilberry stage.

The Great Gatsby runs from October 30 – November 7, 2015 and January 7 – January 9, 2016. Student matinees will also be offered for the enjoyment of schoolchildren across the metro Detroit area.

We hope to see you at the theatre, old sport.

‘The 39 Steps’ is must-see theatre for all who like to laugh

‘The 39 Steps’ at the Hilberry Theatre

Rating: 5 Stars

By Patty Nolan of The Examiner

The funniest play you are likely to see this spring traces its unlikely origins to the Alfred Hitchcock movie, “The 39 Steps.” This Hilberry Theatre production – the season finale – should be mandatory viewing for anyone wishing to understand either the mechanics of comedy or the essentials of theatrical storytelling.

Michael Phillip Thomas and Brandy Joe Plambeck in 'The 39 Steps'

Michael Phillip Thomas and Brandy Joe Plambeck in ‘The 39 Steps’

Hitchcock based his thriller on a novel by John Buchan and reset it in pre-WWII Britain to leverage the imminent Nazi threat as a dramatic device. Playwright Patrick Barlow discovered comic alchemy by rendering the Hitchcock film, scene by scene, as a manic theatrical parody staring four hardworking actors. The hero is Richard Hannay, featuring Michael Manocchhio as the blasé Brit with a flair heroism and hilarious side patter with the audience. The Woman, played by Bevin Bell-Hall, is a brilliant send up of Hollywood’s best female stereotypes – the seductress, the innocent ingénue, and the good-hearted farm girl – in this case, one with a decidedly Scottish accent. All of the other roles are played by the two “Clowns” – Brandy Joe Plambeck and Michael Phillip Thomas – who flip characters, costumes and accents faster than IHOP pancakes, and with even similar variety. As the play reaches its climax and the chase sequences demand a larger cast of characters, Plambeck and Thomas are required to portray multiple roles within a single scene; the frantic costume changes and clever devices that make this possible give this farce its breathless charm.

Read the full review here:

Hilberry MFA Costume Designer Anne Suchyta Awarded National Prize

Detroit, MI – Wayne State University Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to congratulate third-year graduate student Anne Suchyta on winning the Roesebrand® Action Design Competition award for Best Costume Design at the recent 2015 USITT Conference. The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) is a national service organization committed to promoting and advancing the fields of entertainment design and technology.

Anne is in her third and final year as a MFA (Master of Fine Arts) costume designer with the Hilberry Theatre Company and studies under the direction of John Woodland, area head for MFA costume design at Wayne State University.  Anne’s WSU design credits include Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning, Juliet), Big Love, In the Red and Brown Water, Noises Off, and The Way of the World, recently recorded for inclusion in the NY Public Library’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at Lincoln Center.

Asked about her experience at USITT, Anne says, “I had a great time participating in the Action Design Competition. I enjoyed collaborating with students from various backgrounds and racing against the clock to create something beautiful.”

The Action Design Competition challenges participants to create the best scenic environment with limited supplies and time. Designers from across the nation are assembled into teams of four and awards are given to the best overall group design and individual awards are given for each specialization (lighting design, scenic design, costume design, and technical direction). Anne’s quick-thinking ingenuity earned her the individual prize for best costume design.

Anne’s teacher and supervisor, John Woodland, was not surprised with Anne’s win, “We were terribly pleased that Anne Suchyta  and her classmate, Mary Gietzen, and were selected to be two of the four finalists in the 2015 Rosebrand® USITT Action Design Competition. We were even more excited that Anne was the winner of the competition. Over the past three years, Anne has really developed as a creative artist through many sleepless nights working on costume renderings and developing her vast talents in stitching in the costume shop. It is really great to know that our students can compete on a national competitive level, but that can also lead the others in that forum.”

John Wolf, Chair of the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance said, “Anne’s award is a great honor that illustrates the exceptional talent in the Hilberry company. Congratulations, Anne!”

Theatre & Dance at Wayne to Host “A Conversation with Apple Award Recipient Garth Fagan”

Garth Fagan

DETROIT – Garth Fagan, Tony Award winner for “Best Choreography” in The Lion King, founder and artistic director of Garth Fagan Dance, is receiving the Apple Award from Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance.  “A Conversation with Apple Award Recipient Garth Fagan” will be sponsored by The Berman Foundation and hosted at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts on March 28 at 7:00 p.m.  Mr. Fagan will appear in an “actors studio” style interview and question-and-answer session.  Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at, at 313- 577-2972 at the Wayne State University or at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts Box Office.

Fagan, a Wayne State University alumni, began his career when he toured Latin America with Ivy Baxter and her national dance company from Jamaica.  Baxter and two other famed dance teachers from the Caribbean, Pearl Primus and Lavinia Williams, were major influences on Fagan.  In New York City, Fagan studied with Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Mary Hinkson, and Alvin Ailey, who were all central to his development.  Fagan was director of Detroit’s All-City Eastside Dance Company and principal soloist and choreographer for Detroit Contemporary Dance Company and Dance Theatre of Detroit.

Garth Fagan was awarded the prestigious 1998 Tony Award, England’s 2000 Laurence Olivier Award, and Australia’s 2004 Helpmann Award for his path-breaking choreography in Walt Disney’s The Lion King.  He also received the 1998 Drama Desk Award, 1998 Outer Critics Circle Award, 1998 Astaire Award, 2001 Ovation Award for his work on the Broadway production, which opened in fall 1997 to extraordinary critical praise

The Apple Award, named for Sarah Applebaum Nederlander, is given by the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University on behalf of the Nederlander family. In 2001, the Nederlander family formed a partnership with the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University, establishing the Sarah Applebaum Nederlander Award for Excellence in Theatre; an annual theatre award and visiting artist fund in their mother’s name. The Apple Award brings a nationally prominent theatre professional to Detroit and the Wayne State University campus as a guest lecturer to interact with and educate the rising stars of the Department of Theatre and Dance through master classes and a question-and-answer style forum. Previous Apple Award winners include Neil Simon, Carol Channing, Stephen Schwartz, Mandy Patinkin, Patti Lupone, Marvin Hamlisch, Elaine Stritch, and Tom Skerritt.

About Theatre & Dance at Wayne

Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance serves nearly 300 students as a nexus of performance, production, management, and research. It provides a wide choice of degree programs that allow students the flexibility to study these disciplines broadly or to concentrate more specifically. The dance program is one of the longest-running in the U.S., tracing its beginning to Ruth Lovell Murray’s founding of the Dance Workshop in 1928. The theatre program is internationally recognized as a training ground for theatre professionals. The Hilberry Theatre is the nation’s longest-running graduate repertory company. The two programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre and the National Association of Schools of Dance, respectively.


“A Conversation with Apple Award Recipient Garth Fagan”

Calendar Information:

Saturday 7:00 p.m.      March 28, 2015

The Berman Center for the Performing Arts

6600 West Maple

West Bloomfield, MI 48322


The Hilberry Theatre Announces its 2015-16 Season

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DETROIT – The Hilberry Theatre announced its 2015-16 Season Friday during the opening night festivities for Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama, An Enemy of the People. Season tickets are on sale now.

This season promises to offer a dazzling array of productions. The Hilberry will kick off the season in October with the Southeast Michigan premiere of One Man, Two Guvnors, a recent Broadway hit. The season will feature classic and contemporary comedies and dramas, including Inspecting Carol, a backstage holiday comedy, and the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Clybourne Park, addressing gentrification in 21st century urban America.

A new stage adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby will play to general audiences in the fall and additional educational groups throughout the season. The Hilberry will continue its longstanding commitment to Shakespeare with Love’s Labour’s Lost. Following last season’s comedic hit All In The Timing, the Hilberry will close the season in April 2016 with David Ives’ hysterical version of the French farce, A Flea in Her Ear.

This season will also mark the debut of the Hilberry’s new Stage Door series, inviting theatregoers in their 20s and 30s to meet the Hilberry company members at a nearby restaurant following the performance. Subscriptions to this series are now available, with an introductory event scheduled for after the Saturday, April 18 performance of The 39 Steps.

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 Street. Subscribers are an integral part of the Hilberry community and enjoy discounted prices, priority seating, exchange privileges, lost ticket insurance, free coffee, a free subscription to the theatre’s newsletter, and an invitation to the annual Subscriber Party and Open House, which will take place on March 30, 2015.

One Man, Two Guvnors
By Richard Bean
October 2 – 17, 2015
Francis, who is easily confused, finds himself employed by both a local gangster and his upper-class criminal rival. He tries to keep his two jobs straight, despite a bad case of mistaken identity.

Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
Adapted for the stage by Simon Levy
October 30, 2015 – January 9, 2016
The thrill, glamour and decadence of the Jazz Age is exemplified in this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 masterpiece about a world of obsession, danger, and extravagance.

Inspecting Carol
By Daniel Sullivan and Seattle Repertory Theatre
December 4 – 19, 2015
An uproarious backstage comedy that highlights the joy, trials, and unpredictability of producing theatre. Calamaties surround a distressed theatre company’s catastrophic rendition of A Christmas Carol.

Love’s Labour’s Lost
By William Shakespeare
January 29 – March 12, 2016
The King of Navarre and his companions vow chastity while they complete their studies – until they meet the Princess of Aquitaine and her ladies. A gentle joust of courtly love ensues.

Clybourne Park
By Bruce Norris
February 26 – April 2, 2016
Racial tensions erupted as a black family attempts to move into Clybourne Park in the 1950’s. Fifty years later, the now all-black neighborhood is trying to hold its ground in the face of gentrification.

A Flea in Her Ear
By Georges Feydeau, adapted by David Ives
April 22 – May 7, 2016
A jealous wife is on the hunt to catch her husband in the act, after noticing a halt in his sexual appetite and receiving a pair of his suspenders in the mail from an unknown sender.

2015 – 16 at the Bonstelle Theatre:

Packages for the Bonstelle Theatre are available now at a discount for Hilberry Subscribers. The Bonstelle Theatre 2015-16 Season has a wide variety of entertaining performances, including enticing comedy and drama, superb dance performances, and a Golden Age musical. Package options are a 6-pack that includes all 6 performances, a Theatre Pack that includes three plays and the musical, and a Dance Pack that includes the two seasonal dance concerts.

By Aristophanes
October 9 – 18, 2015
The men are at war. Their wives have had enough and offer an ultimatum: war or sex. The women of Greece must help their husbands rise to a decision.

James and the Giant Peach
By Roald Dahl, adapted by David Wood
November 13 – 22, 2015
Follow young James into a land of spiders, earthworms, and one giant peach on an adventure for the whole family.

December Dance Concert
December 11 – 12, 2015
Contemporary masters, including guest artists, Wayne State dance faculty, and student choreographers, come together for one weekend only.

A Raisin in the Sun
By Lorraine Hansberry
February 12 – 21, 2016
A black family struggles to retain their dignity as they face racism in light of moving to an all-white neighborhood. Clybourne Park, appearing at the Hilberry, was written in response to A Raisin in the Sun and follows a 50 year journey of the home the family purchases.

Spring Dance Concert
March 3 – 4, 2016
The pinnacle of dance in Midtown, receiving acclaim from the national stage; highlighting international and national works from a diverse mix of artists.

Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics & Book by Oscar Hammerstein II
April 15 – 24, 2016
A handsome cowboy competes with an ill-tempered ranch-hand for the affection of a lovely young farm girl in this ideal American Golden Age musical.

About Theatre and Dance at Wayne

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 or management. The dance program is one of the longest-running in the U.S., tracing its beginning to Ruth Lovell Murray’s founding of the Dance Workshop in 1928. The theatre program is internationally recognized as a training ground for theatre professionals. The Hilberry Theatre is the nation’s longest-running graduate repertory company. The two programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance and the National Association of Schools of Theatre, respectively.