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.


Hilberry - Way of the World (4)

Brandy Joe Plambeck and Annie Keris. Photo by Bruce Giffin.

DETROIT – The Hilberry Theatre Company is delighted to announce that its critically–acclaimed production of William Congreve’s The Way of the World will be recorded for inclusion in the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The Archive has been an integral part of theatre history and research since 1970, with a mandate to “preserve live theatrical productions and document the creative contributions of distinguished artists and legendary figures of the theatre.”

Theatre and Dance Chair John Wolf states, “The filming is an incredible opportunity for the Company to have its work preserved and available for future viewers to enjoy.”

The Way of the World is the pinnacle of Restoration Comedy,” states director Lavinia Hart, “and I am so privileged to have been given this opportunity and thrilled to have this production receive such appreciation from our audiences and from the press. Having this production accepted for inclusion in a prestigious national archive is beyond anything imagined. I am so very proud of what the Hilberry Theatre Company and I have accomplished together in bringing this beautiful production to life for Detroit, and now for generations to come, too.”

Michael Phillip Thomas and Bevin Bell-Hall. Photo by Bruce Giffin.

Michael Phillip Thomas and Bevin Bell-Hall.
Photo by Bruce Giffin

The Way of the World will return for four remaining performances at the Hilberry, March 5 through March 7. The production promises a delightful visual and literary feast, with period specific costuming and scenic design creating English homes and associated locations.

Local critics have praised the Hilberry’s production, with John Monagahan of the Detroit Free Press calling the production “an especially impressive undertaking for the Hilberry… a talented ensemble,” while Patty Nolan of the Examiner awarded the play five stars.

This comedy of manners is focused on social behavior, manipulation, and life in high society London households. The story skewers the stratified world of serving and aristocratic classes at the turn of the 18th century, with an emphasis on verbal wit and complicated romantic attractions. Such stories remain fascinating to our more democratic accessibilities, most notably witnessed in popular captivation with series including Downton Abbey.

Cast (in alphabetical order):
Bevin Bell-Hall (Lady Wishfort), Miles Boucher (Fainall), Devri Chism (Foible/Peg/Soloist), Julian David Colletta (Coachman/Footman/Messenger), Santino Craven (Sir Wilful Witwoud), Brandon Grantz (Coachman/Footman/Messenger), Logan Hart (Footman), Kyle Mitchell Johnson (Mirabell), Annie Keris (Mistress Millamant), Michael Manocchio (Witwoud), Sarah Hawkins Moan (Mistress Fainall), Taylor Morrow (Footwoman), Brandy Joe Plambeck (Petulant), Mary Sansone (Betty/Mincing), Anna Seibert (Footwoman), Mike Suchyta (Footman), Michael Phillip Thomas (Waitwell), Tiffany Michelle Thompson (Mistress Marwood).

Production Team:
Lavinia Hart (Director), Nira Pullin (Choreographer & Period Movement), Sarah Drum (Stage Manager), Lyndee Hallahan (Assistant Stage Manager), Sarah Pearline (Set Designer), Anne Suchyta (Costume Designer), Amy M. Schneider (Lighting Designer), Mario Raymond (Sound Designer), Tonae Mitsuhashi (Properties Master), Brian Dambacher (Technical Director), JP Hitesman (Publicist), Felix Li (Assistant Publicist).

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 variety 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, 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.

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.

When nobody wants to hear the truth

Originally posted by Encore Michigan and written by Martin F. Kohn. Read the full review here.

Left to Right: Julian David Colettta, Michael Phillip Thomas, Brandy Joe Plambeck Photo by Bruce Giffin

Left to Right: Julian David Collettta, Michael Phillip Thomas, Brandy Joe Plambeck
Photo by Bruce Giffin

In Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People,” a dedicated physician discovers that his town’s healthful mineral baths, its big tourist draw, are dangerously polluted. The town doesn’t want to hear about it.

If it hadn’t been written in 1882, you might suspect the play was an allegory about today’s science deniers, those people who won’t acknowledge the perils of climate change, proclaiming disingenuously: “We’re not scientists, we can’t judge.”

That’s precisely what somebody says in “An Enemy of the People.” And they do judge. And what the dedicated physician learns is that the truth, which is supposed to set you free, will do nothing of the sort if it’s bad for business.

The production at the Hilberry Theatre is Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Ibsen’s play. You’re forgiven if you assumed (as I did) that Miller wrote his update in the present century, in his final years; in fact, it premiered in 1950. There’s a temptation to call it “An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen as told to Arthur Miller,” but Ibsen couldn’t have told Miller anything: he died in 1906, Miller was born in 1915.

But Ibsen certainly speaks to Miller, and both of them speak to today. It has points to make, but “An Enemy of the People” remains a human drama as well.

At first, Dr. Thomas Stockmann thinks the townsfolk will hail him as a hero for his discovery that could save many lives. But the whole town, with one or two exceptions, turns against him, led by his brother, the mayor. Even the local newspaper, self-proclaimed champion of free speech, refuses to publish the doctor’s findings.

Read the full review here.

Ibsen’s ‘Enemy’ retains relevance in modern world

Reposted from Patrick Dunn at The Detroit News. Read the full article here.

Left to Right: Brandy Joe Plambeck and Brandon Grantz. Photo by Bruce Giffin

Left to Right: Brandy Joe Plambeck and Brandon Grantz. Photo by Bruce Giffin

Environmental political dramas may seem a relatively recent phenomenon, but Dr. Thomas Stockmann was a whistle-blower over a century before Erin Brockovich made it cool.

Stockmann is the protagonist of Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play “An Enemy of the People,” which the Hilberry Theatre Company will perform in repertory beginning Friday. When Stockmann discovers that the popular public baths in his town are contaminated, he comes into conflict with his brother Peter, the town’s mayor. With a vested financial interest in keeping the baths open, Peter works to turn the local press — and the community at large — against Thomas.

Blair Anderson, director of the Hilberry production, says Ibsen has long been on his directorial “wish list” because the Norwegian playwright’s work still has “tremendous resonance to our contemporary society.” He says “Enemy” confronts the idea that majority rule is always best.

“There are times when the solitary voice is ignored,” Anderson says in an email exchange. “Whistle-blowers are ostracized as much today as they were in the 1880s. It may not be as shocking today as it was on the cusp of the 20th century, but if one does stop and think, it can still be upsetting to really see how political, economic and educational decisions are made today.”

Anderson observes that while Ibsen is most often noted for his controversial social commentaries, the truly memorable characters in his plays are often overlooked.

Read the full article here.

Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.

‘An Enemy of the People’

2 p.m. Feb. 21, Feb. 25 and March 28;

8 p.m. Feb. 20-21, Feb. 26-28 and March 26-28

Hilberry Theatre

4743 Cass Ave., Detroit

Tickets $10-$30

(313) 577-2972

VIDEO: “Stone Soup: A Wrap Opera” – FINAL Weekend at Hilberry!


Here is another small clip from the WSU Children’s Summer Theatre production, “Stone Soup: A Wrap Opera.” This hip-hop retelling of the classic folk tale is currently touring to Detroit Public Schools and will be having its closing weekend at The Hilberry Theatre from June 26-29! For tickets and info, go to:

STONE SOUP: A Wrap Opera comes to The Hilberry June 19-29!


Here is a small clip from the WSU Children’s Summer Theatre production, Stone Soup: A Wrap Opera. This hip-hop retelling of the classic folk tale is currently touring to Detroit Public Schools and will be coming to The Hilberry Theatre from June 19-29! For tickets and info, go to:

Oscar Wilde is on trial at the Hilberry Theatre

Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde

Gross Indecency - Hilberry - Production Shots (3)

by Patty Nolan
Detroit Theatre Examiner
January 11, 2014

Before playwright Moisés Kaufman developed his well-know “The Laramie Project,” he explored the institutionalized hypocrisy and bigotry that led to Oscar Wilde’s ultimate incarceration (and a sentence of two year’s hard labor) for the crime of homosexuality. The Hilberry Theatre’s production of Kaufman’s, “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” uses nine actors playing multiple roles to offer a gripping historical account of the trials that brought Wilde’s career (and in short order, his life) to an abrupt end.

Kaufman’s script is a brilliant arrangement of verbatim selections from the three different trials, embellished by the letters and writings Wilde composed in this time period, diaries and biographies written by friends and detractors, and newspaper headlines covering “the trial of the century.”

In the interest of full disclosure, we confess to being an unabashed Wilde fan who has made pilgrimages to informal shrines in Dublin and Paris that honor the great man. That said, this production should appeal to anyone who appreciates a finely paced courtroom drama. Modern audiences may learn something about the evolution of gay-identity issues and how Wilde’s highly publicized trial actually predated the use of the term “homosexual” as something one could “be” as opposed to something one “did.”

Most importantly, this play explores the themes that mattered most to Wilde, who championed the notion that an intellectual and spiritual appreciation of art has the power to elevate human beings above the muck and mire of our brutal natures. As he explained in the first trial, “In writing a play or a book, I am concerned entirely with literature—that is, with art. I aim not at doing good or evil, but in trying to make a thing that will have some quality of beauty.” The irony, of course, is that Wilde was a martyr to the cause of art for art’s sake, even while being condemned on charges of “gross indecency” by some of the grossest and most indecent rascals in London.

This compelling, well-paced Hilberry Theatre production is directed by Blair Anderson, PhD, and set entirely in London’s Old Bailey court room in 1895 (sharp scenic design by Sarah Pearline). As the play opens, Oscar Wilde (Topher Allen Payne) naively invites his own ruin by bringing a libel suit against the overbearing bully, the Marquess of Queensberry (Brent Griffith). Queensberry has accused Wilde of “posing as a sodomite” and corrupting Queensberry’s son, Lord Alfred Douglas (David Sterritt). Lord Alfred (himself a real piece of nasty work) is adored by Wilde and urges him to use the court to attack the despised father. Things backfire when Wilde loses his suit and the Crown prosecutes him for “gross indecency,” the polite Victorian euphemism for the act that every public school boy of the time knew as “buggery.”

The Hilberry cast does a fine job with this piece, especially considering that it’s a drama in which the action is intellectual and emotional; it is all about delivering and deciphering the words.

Gross Indecency - Hilberry - Production Shots (4)Only Payne, as Oscar Wilde, plays the single role, which is refreshingly unaffected considering his subject. Sterritt, as Douglas, captures the young man’s self-absorbed nature while still letting us see how and why he could attract the great man’s affection. Griffith, as Queensberry, is convincing as the megalomaniacal Queensberry, and it’s fun to watch him leap into other roles, including one of the young men called to testify against Wilde.

Given the preponderance of male roles in this play, it is perhaps inevitable that the company should require its women to portray men. What is surprising is how well this comes off, with Annie Keris delivering a brilliantly thoughtful Sir Edward Clarke and Bevin Bell-Hall filled with gruff bluster as the judge.

The gifted cast of “Gross Indecency” includes: Alec Barbour (Carson, Narrator 5), Bevin Bell-Hall (Judge, Landlord, Mary Applegate, Mavor, Narrator 4, Queen Victoria, Speranza), Miles Boucher (Moises, Narrator 1, Price, Prostitute 44, Willi Wilde, Wood), Brandon Grantz (Antonio Migge, Auctioneer, Clerk of Arraigns, Parker, Harris, Narrator 3, Richards), Brent Griffith (Gill, Lockwood, Queensbury, Narrator 8), Annie Keris (Clarke, Constance Wilde, Ellen Grant, Hotel Manager, Narrator 6), Topher Payne (Oscar Wilde), Brandy Joe Plambeck (Atkins, George Frederick Claridge, Marvin Taylor, Jurry Foreman, Narrator 2, Wright, u/s: Oscar Wilde), David Sterritt (Lord Alfred Douglas, Narrator 7).

This is a commanding production that continues to provoke relevant conversation; don’t miss it. “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” runs through March 22, 2014 in rotation with “A Doctor in Spite of Himself.” See the theatre calendar for details. Tickets range from $12–$30 and are available online, by calling (313) 577-2972, or by visiting the Hilberry Theatre Box Office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock Street.

Gross Ind BTL Ad 2On the evening of January 16th John Corvino, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Wayne State University, will take the stage at 7:15 p.m. for a discussion on themes central to the show. Corvino has written, debated, and lectured extensively on gay rights and believes that spirited dialogue is essential to convince the wider American public of both the merits of same-sex marriage and the moral acceptability of homosexuality.