‘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: http://exm.nr/1J2snWj

PHOTO CALL: ‘Cinderella’ on Tour!

The inaugural Detroit Youth Theatre and Dance Journey
tours to select Detroit schools this month!

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The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance has launched its inaugural Detroit Youth Theatre and Dance Journey with the children’s play Cinderella, or It’s OK to Be Different by Cynthia Mercati. Over the past two weeks, the cast and crew have toured to seven schools and one outdoor festival. The group continues on the road throughout the month but has seven performances at The Hilberry starting on the 20th of June.

In Cinderella, or It’s OK to be Different, a group of lively students discover that their familiar Cinderella story isn’t the only one – that there was a Cinderella in ancient Egypt and one among the Algonquin Indians and that there are hundreds of Cinderella tales all around the world! In an innovative, sophisticated, and theatrical style, this fast-paced, up-beat, multicultural show focuses on the universality of folk literature and finds that it’s okay to be different.
Performances of Cinderella, or It’s OK to be Different will play at the Hilberry Theatre on June 20, June 21, June 23, June 27, June 28 and June 30.  Individual Tickets are $5 for children and $8 for adults. There is a $5 per ticket price for groups of 10 or more. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Hilberry Theatre Box Office at 313-577-2972, online at http://www.wsushows.com, or by visiting the box office at 4743 Cass Ave. on the corner of Cass Ave. and Hancock. The summer Box Office hours are Tuesday – Friday from 10 – 2 p.m. The box office will be open one hour prior to all performances. Performance information and tickets may also be obtained by visiting the Theatre’s websites at www.hilberry.com.

Make your reservations today as the performance at The Hilberry Theatre on June 27 at 10:30 a.m. is already sold out.

Calendar Information:

Thursday, June 20, 2013 10:30 a.m.
Friday, June 21, 2013 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, June 23, 2013 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:30 a.m. (SOLD OUT)
Thursday, June 27, 2013 1:00 p.m.
Friday, June 28, 2013 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, June 30, 2013 2:00 p.m.

PRESS RELEASE: Be Entertained by the Clinically Insane at the Hilberry Theatre

Contemporary Guest-Director Matthew Earnest returns for Marat/Sade

Third-year Hilberry actors Edmund Aly Jones and Vanessa Sawson are set to star in 'Marat/Sade' this April.Photo: Patrick Pozezinski

Third-year Hilberry actors Edmund Alyn Jones and Vanessa Sawson are set to star in ‘Marat/Sade’ this April.
Photo: Patrick Pozezinski

DETROIT – Playing April 19 through May 11, 2013, the evocative and extraordinary Tony Award-winning play, Marat/Sade (The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade) by Peter Weiss, will conclude the Hilberry Theatre’s milestone 50th season. This legendary play-within-a-play is a wildly theatrical, multi-layered event not to be missed. Tickets for Marat/Sade range from $12–$30 and are available by calling the Hilberry Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2972, online at http://www.hilberry.com, or by visiting the box office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.

The inmates of the Charenton Asylum for the Insane are putting on a show for you: a historical review of sorts concerning the last days of French patriot Jean-Paul Marat, murdered in his bathtub by a delusional country girl during the chaos that followed the French Revolution. The cast is unique to say the least – their afflictions range from narcolepsy to nymphomania and everything in between – but they’ve been thoroughly rehearsed by their director and fellow inmate, one of history’s most notorious outlaws, the Marquis de Sade.

After last season’s Much Ado About Nothing, guest-director Matthew Earnest returns to the Hilberry, using dance and a score by Richard Peaslee, to explore Peter Weiss’s seminal play of revolution and destiny. Earnest explains, “I don’t think Marat/Sade ‘deals extensively’ with the French Revolution. I believe that Peter Weiss is reframing events and people from the time of the French Revolution to discuss his own time – the Cold War and the brutal, oppressive era of the Berlin Wall…I think we still struggle with individual liberties and the common good. People really are in control of their own destinies, and that’s what this play is about. It’s not a history lesson on the French Revolution any more than Macbeth is a history lesson on Scottish politics.”

Fans of the recent Oscar-winning movie-adaptation of the famed musical Les Miserables and its subject matter of social plight and collective progress will not want to miss the chance to see these themes tackled in an avant-garde, live theatrical setting. While vastly different in approach, both explore similar themes using France’s tumultuous century of revolution as inspiration and metaphor.

Cast:

Alec Barbour (Kokol), Maggie Beson (Inmate), Miles Boucher (Holy Sister),  Christopher Call (Holy Sister), Danielle Cochrane (Rossignol), Mackenzie Conn (Inmate), Megan Dobbertin (Simonne Evrard), Nancy Florkowski (Inmate), Brandon Grantz (Dupperet), Brent Griffith (Male Nurse), Rahbi Hammond (Inmate), Edmund Alyn Jones (Marat), Annie Keris (Cocurucu), Joshua Miller (Polpoch), Ty Mitchell (Inmate), Sarah Hawkins Moan (Inmate), Chelsea Ortuno (Inmate), Topher Payne (Herald), Joe Plambeck (Sade), Joshua Blake Rippy (Coulmier), Vanessa Sawson (Corday), and David Sterritt (Roux).

Production Team:

Matthew Earnest (Director), Veronica Zahn (Stage Manager), Mercedes Coley (Assistant Stage Manager), Christopher Hall (Music Composer), Pegi Marshall-Amundsen (Scenic Designer), Samuel G. Byers (Lighting Designer), Mary Leyendecker (Costume Designer), Heather DeFauw (Sound Designer), Kimbra Essex (Property Master), Michael Wilkki (Technical Director), and Patrick Pozezinski (Publicity Design).

About the Hilberry Theatre Company

The Hilberry Theatre Company is the nation’s only 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 from Wayne State University. 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, and group discounts and corporate packages, visit the theatre’s website at http://www.hilberry.com. 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.

The 2012–2013 Hilberry season is sponsored by CBS Outdoor, Between the Lines, and Encore Michigan.

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Marat/Sade
By Peter Weiss

Calendar Information:

Wednesday 2 p.m.      April 24 (Postshow Talkback)
Thursday 8 p.m.          April 25 (Preshow Discussion), May 2, May 9
Friday 8 p.m.               April 19 (Opening Night), April 26, May 3, May 10
Saturday 2 p.m.           May 4, May 11
Saturday 8 p.m.           April 20, April 27, May 4, May 11 (Closing Night)

PRESS RELEASE: Othello

The Hilberry Theatre Presents the Classic Tragedy of Othello

Detroit Native Edmund Alyn Jones Featured in Title Role

Othello at the HilberryTheatre, Detroit

Endmund Alyn Jones (Othello) and Megan Dobbertin (Desdemona)
Photo: Kevin Replinger

DETROIT – The Hilberry Theatre continues its 50th season with William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello, opening on Friday, October 26, 2012. Othello chronicles the downfall of the Moorish general at the hands of his lieutenant, Iago, through a plot fueled by jealousy and vengeance. As the story escalates, tensions rise and every loyalty is questioned. Othello will be running in rotating repertory with Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by Ann Marie-MacDonald, a modern comedy involving Shakespeare’s famous tales. Patrons interested in seeing both shows can save $10 off the regular price when mentioning the coupon code 30R8. Individual tickets for Othello range from $12-$30 and are available by calling the Hilberry Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2972, online at Hilberry.com, or by visiting the Wayne State University Theatres’ Box Office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.

William Shakespeare is often heralded as the national poet of England and is nicknamed the “Bard of Avon.” Othello, which is thought to have been written in 1603, is an adaptation of Un Capitano Moro, a short story by the Italian writer Cinthio. Othello’s storyhas proven to be a popular theatre production and has been adapted into several films, as well as a number of operas and ballets. Since the first performance on the stage in 1604, the tragedy of Othello has become synonymous with the themes of love and betrayal. According to Edmund Alyn Jones, who will be playing the role of Othello in the Hilberry production, there are parallels between the struggle of Othello and that of Detroit: “For Othello, nothing came easy for him. So in that sense, I definitely see a connection between him and Detroit.”

Jones, who played the title character two years ago in Richard III, is native to Detroit and earned his BFA from the University of Michigan. Before attending college, Jones was part of the acclaimed Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, which, due to the unavailability of drama programs while he was a student of grade school, was integral to his theatre education. Alongside the Hilberry Theatre, Edmund has also been involved in many other Detroit venues, such as the City Theatre, Music Hall, and the Gem Theatre.

Cast includes:

Edmund Alyn Jones (Othello), Megan Dobbertin (Desdemona), Alec Barbour (Iago), Danielle Cochrane (Emilia), Miles Boucher (Cassio), David Sterritt (Roderigo), Sarah Hawkins Moan (Bianca), Joe Plambeck (Brabantio), Topher Payne (Duke), Ty Mitchell (Lodovico), Brent Griffith (Gratiano), Brandon Grantz (Montano), Joshua Miller (Senator/Barkeep), Joshua Blake Rippy (Officer/Herald), Chris Call (Gentleman), Carl Ghigliazza (Attendant),and Adham Aljahmi (Attendant).

Production team includes:

Blair Anderson (Director), Veronica Zahn (Stage Manager), Leazah Behrens (Scenic Designer), Clare Hungate-Hawk (Costume Designer), Brian M. Scruggs (Lighting Designer), Heather DeFauw (Sound Designer), Curtis Green (Technical Director), and Kevin Replinger (Publicist).

About the Hilberry Theatre Company

The Hilberry Theatre Company is the nation’s only professional theatre company that is staffed by graduate students and runs on a rotating repertory schedule.  Each academic year, about forty or more graduate students receive assistantships to work for the Hilberry Theatre and study for advanced degrees from Wayne State University. The company performs an annual season of six plays, including high school matinees for nearly 6,000 students. In its 50-year history, four Hilberry productions have been selected to appear at the American College Theatre Festival. For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, group discounts, and corporate packages, visit the theatre’s website at www.hilberry.com.

The 2012-2013 Hilberry season is sponsored by CBS Outdoor, Between the Lines, and Encore Michigan.

Othello

By William Shakespeare

Calendar Information:

Tuesday 10 a.m.          Oct. 30, Nov. 20, Dec. 4 (Morning Matinees)
Wednesday 2 p.m.      Oct. 31 (Postshow Talkback)
Thursday 8 p.m.          Nov. 1 (Preshow Discussion), Dec. 6, Jan. 17 (Closing)Ot
Friday 8 p.m.               Oct. 26 (Opening Night), Nov. 2, 30, Dec. 7
Saturday 2 p.m.           Oct. 27, Dec. 8
Saturday 8 p.m.           Oct. 27, Nov. 3, Dec. 1, 8

The Beaux’ Stratagem opens April 9!

Celebrate with a new, old Beaux’ Stratagem at The Hilberry

Set in 1707 in Lichfield, England, The Beaux’ Stratagem tells the story of two young bucks who have spent all their money by living too well, forcing them to leave London and roam from town to town in search of love and fortune. In order to find a wealthy heiress for at least one of them, they pose as master and servant – exchanging roles from one town to the next. But, when they arrive in Lichfield, their plans go awry. As all young men in search of adventure find, sometimes, all it takes is a pretty girl to throw all their plans to the wind.

This tale took over 300 years to come to the stage in its present form. Originally written in 1707 by George Farquhar, it was taken on in 1939 by award-winning and universally known playwright Thornton Wilder for a rewrite. Never completed, the tale sat waiting for another hand until 2004, when Wilder’s estate contacted award-winning and two-time Tony nominated Ludwig to pen the rest of the story. The resulting play received its world-premiere production at The Shakespeare Theatre of Washington, D.C. in 2006, directed by Michael Kahn. The 2006 production was hailed by The Free-Lance Star as, “Sheer laugh-out-loud fun … Farquhar, Wilder and Ludwig all had such a good time skewering the institution of marriage … that laughter is the only possible reaction.”

Check out a sneak preview from Wednesday’s Dress Rehearsal:

The Cast Includes:

Alan Ball* (Gloss), Jason Cabral (Daniel), Christopher Ellis (Aimwell), Christina Flynn (Dorinda), Sara Hymes (Cherry), Safiya Johnson (A Lady), Erman Jones (Sullen), Andrew Papa (Sir Charles), Rob Pantano (Scrub), Carollette Phillips (Country Woman), Peter C. Prouty (Hounslow), Samantha L. Rosentrater (Lady Bountiful), Brian P. Sage (Boniface), Lorelei Sturm (Mrs. Sullen), Dave Toomey (Foigard), Justin P. Vanden Heuvel (Bagshot), Jordan Whalen (Archer), Christopher L. Tucker (Servant) and Erica Fuller (Servant).

The creative team includes:

Anthony B. Schmitt (Director), Pegi Marshall-Admundsen (Scenic Design), Don Hunter (Production Stage Management), Nira Pullin (Choreography), Michael Brian Ogden (Fight Choreography), Christa Koerner (Costume Design), Jason Pratt (Lighting Design), Jon Weaver (Sound Design), Christopher Otwell (Technical Direction), Cara Tougas (Properties Master) and Janine M. Pixley (Publicist).

*Appears by special permission of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

The Beaux’ Stratagem performance breakdown:

April 9, 2010 – May 15, 2010

Wednesday 2 p.m. –  April 14

Thursday 8 p.m. – April 15, May 6, 13

Friday 8 p.m. –  April 9, 16, 30, May 14

Saturday 2 p.m. – April 10, May 8

Saturday 8 p.m. – April 10, 24, May 8, May 15

Need Tickets? Use wsushows.com

WSU Theatre Students Enjoy the Last Moments Before Break

The WSU Understudies did it again, they hosted for the theatre students a party of epic proportions. There was Jimmy John’s, cookies, more cookies, pop and all the fun trimmings one would associate with the holidays.

But, low and behold, there were also games — not just video, but cookie stacking, cookie eating and gingerbread decorating.

In the end, Erman Jones won the cookie eating contest. The Freshman won the gingerbread decorating contest. Someone won the stacking contest.

It was a good time. A shout out to Alex Goodman and the theatre managers for planning and setting it up.

Pics: