Well that’s a terrible title

Urinetown?

Why on earth would a play have the title Urinetown? Besides the obvious play on the words “You’re In Town,” we can see social satires pushing the boundaries of what is accepted to make a point all throughout history.

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Backstage of Urinetown

After a trip to Paris—in which he thought $300 could last a couple of weeks—turned into an exercise in endurance, Greg Kotis was inspired to write of a city where a monopolizing corporation controlled all the amenities in town. Teaming up with Mark Hollman, they came up with a script that went on to be produced at the NYC Fringe. This production turned into one of the most successful shows at the Festival, leading to a successful Broadway run that began in 2001 and ran until 2004—yielding ten Tony Award nominations and three wins. Interestingly, the only reason the show closed was because the Henry Miller Theatre was scheduled for the renovation that turned it into the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

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Backstage of Urinetown

Having wanted to direct Urinetown since I saw it on Broadway, I am amazed at how pertinent Urinetown still is over a decade after it closed. Though many people pinhole the play as simply poking fun at other musicals, it reaches far beyond that. Yes, it pays homage to many notable plays throughout the musical theatre canon (look for jabs at Les Misérables, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, The Cradle Will Rock, Threepenny Opera, as well as the works of Jerry Herman and Kander & Ebb), but it is most successful at using the satirical form to make commentary on many social ills. Just as Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show comment on political and social issues, so does Urinetown. Themes of police violence, corporate influence on politics, and dissipating water due to drought can easily be imagined being spoken by John Stewart.

Hopefully, through the guise of laughter, we can raise social consciousness just a bit.

Michael J. Barnes
Director

The Bonstelle Theatre satirizes “The 1%” and popular musicals with the wickedly clever Urinetown: The Musical

DETROIT – The Bonstelle Theatre closes its 2014-15 Season at Wayne State’s Midtown theatre with the Tony Award-winning Urinetown: The Musical, playing April 17 – 26.  A hit on Broadway and in London’s West End, the wickedly smart book and lyrics satirize crony capitalism, while the score parodies popular musicals.  Written by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, it was originally produced on Broadway in September, 2001 by the Araca Group and Dodger Theatricals in association with TheaterDreams, Inc., and Lauren Mitchell.

Photo:  Luke Rose (Bobby Strong), Anna Busse (Hope Caldwell. Photo by Felix Li.

Photo: Luke Rose (Bobby Strong), Anna Busse (Hope Caldwell). Photo by Felix Li.

Set in a dystopian near future, a long-term water shortage opens the door for private control of the scarce water that remains.  All amenities fall under the control of The Urine Good Company and private toilets become a thing of the past.  Residents must be flush with cash in order to flush and it is a “privilege to pee.”  In the tradition of 20th century American cinema, a “little guy against the world” appears and revolution is the order of the day.  Will good prevail?

Smart and sharp-witted, Urinetown mocks not only its subject matter – cronyism, political hackery, hollow heroism, and a bit of Malthusian angst—but also how it goes about delivering its message.  Parodies of musical styles and specific musical titles—from Les Miserables to West Side Story—are the means by which the librettist and composer pursue their targeted victims, even wondering aloud in the script,  “What about a bad title? That could kill a show pretty good.”

Tickets are $20 – $25, with student rush tickets available for $15 on the day of the performance. Tickets are available for purchase by calling 313-577-2960, visiting http://www.bonstelle.com, or visiting the Wayne State University Theatre Box Office located at 4743 Cass Ave. on the corner of Hancock St.

The Cast (In Alphabetical Order)

Luke Rose of Harrison Twp. (Bobby Strong); Anna Busse of Trenton (Hope Cladwell); Garrett Michael Harris of Royal Oak (Officer Lockstock); Taylor Morrow of Warren (Little Sally); Anna Seibert of Detroit (Penelope Pennywise); Kyle Johnson, a Hilberry Acting Company member (Caldwell B. Cladwell). Also featuring: Alexis Barrerra of Hartland; Jacob Boida of Warren; Jordan Allen Fritz of Detroit; Shannon Grant of Livonia; Logan James Hart of Grosse Pointe Woods; Shannon Hurst of Warren; Dante Jones of Detroit; Annie Keris, a Hilberry Acting Company member; Shane Nelson of Windsor, ON; Patrick Roache of Detroit; Kayla Rodriguez of Dearborn Heights; Keira Schmitt of Livonia; Rachel Smith of Detroit; Kendall Rose Talbot of Sterling Heights; Michael Vultaggio of Center Line; and Samantha Lee York of Dearborn.

The Production Team

Michael J. Barnes (Director), Fred Love (Music Director), Cheryl Turski (Choreographer), Max Amitin (Scenic Designer), Sammi Geppert (Costume Designer), Heather DeFauw (Light Designer), Michael Sabourin (Properties Master), Mike Hallberg (Sound Designer), Courtney Rasor (Stage Manager), Brian Dambacher (Technical Director),and Stephanie Slusser (Publicist).

The Bonstelle Theatre

The Bonstelle Theatre is a Broadway-style house with a 1,034-seat auditorium featuring a balcony and much of the original Beaux-Arts architecture. The Theatre was built as Temple Beth-El in 1902 and converted to the Bonstelle Playhouse in 1922.

The Bonstelle Theatre Company includes BA and BFA actors, designers, and stage managers in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University. Here, future stars of theatre, film, and television follow in the footsteps of successful alumni like Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning S. Epatha Merkerson (NBC’s Law and Order, Lackawanna Blues), Lily Tomlin (9 to 5, ABC’s Desperate Housewives), and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, NBC’s Heroes).  For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, group discounts, and corporate packages, please call the box office at 313-577-2960 or visit the theatre’s website at http://www.bonstelle.com.

The Bonstelle Theatre, Where Wayne Plays.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to over 26,000 students.

Calendar Information

April 17 – 26, 2015
Fri. 8:00 PM                        Apr. 17, Apr. 24
Sat. 8:00 PM                       Apr. 18, Apr. 25
Sun. 2:00 PM                      Apr. 19, Apr. 26

Wayne State University presents Move Deeply – The 86th Annual Spring Dance Concert at the Bonstelle Theatre

Adam McGaw and Kara Brody

Adam McGaw and Kara Brody

DETROIT – The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance is pleased to announce Move Deeply, the 86th Annual Spring Dance Concert showcasing eight engaging and exciting dances by renowned guest artists, faculty, and select students. Performances are Thursday, March 12th and Friday, March 13th at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 – $20, with student rush tickets available for $10 on the day of the performance. Tickets are available for purchase by calling 313-577-2960, by visiting http://www.bonstelle.com, or by visiting the Wayne State University Theatre Box Office located at 4743 Cass Ave. on the corner of Hancock St.

Move Deeply features the captivating and relentlessly energetic master work “Of the Earth Far Below,accompanied by live music and choreographed by the 2014-15 Allesee Artist in Residence, Doug Varone, the director of Doug Varone and Dancers in New York City.  Guest artist Amy Chavasse presents a new work on WSU dance students capturing the idea of being shaken out of the dull rhythms of routine. Meg Paul, faculty member at WSU Theatre, will incorporate scenic drops and contemporary ballet movement vocabulary to build striking stage images. Karen Prall enlivens the program with African dance and drumming with To Sangana. CompanyOne performs a dance by WSU alumnus Aaron Smith that was recently performed in Cleveland, OH as part of the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) theatre events.

The concert also features student choreographed dances selected by the faculty for performance at the 2015 Regional American College Dance Association conference, hosted by Ohio University in March. Seniors Samuel Horning and Dana Yordy present a duet inspired by ideas of consumer culture. Senior Adam McGaw and sophomore Ashlee Merritt perform a touching and viscerally kinetic duet about different experiences of a relationship. Another highlight, also choreographed by senior Samuel Horning, is a group dance investigating family dynamics and connection.

The Production Team

Jeff Rebudal (Dance Area Head),  Meg Paul (Artistic Director), Sean Hoskins (Dance Media & Production Coordinator), Mary Copenhagen (Costume Design), Heather DeFauw (Lighting Design), Amy Schneider (Lighting Design), Peter Lawrence (Sound Design), Allison Baker (Stage Manager), Brian Dambacher (Technical Director), Patrick Field (Master Electrician), Amanda Schindler (Publicist)

The Bonstelle Theatre

The Bonstelle Theatre is a Broadway-style house with a 1,034-seat auditorium featuring a balcony and much of the original Beaux-Arts architecture. The Theatre was built as Temple Beth-El in 1902 and converted to the Bonstelle Playhouse in 1922.

The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance

The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre & Dance has been a force on the national dance scene since the early 1900s, when Wayne State University was one of the first educational institutions to incorporate dance into its curriculum by founding director Ruth L. Murray. Today WSU students enjoy the dynamic atmosphere of a vibrant and diverse department that concentrates on performance, choreography, dance technology, and dance education. The dance program provides a wide range of national and international performance and choreographic opportunities for dance majors enriched by the dynamic cultural diversity of the City of Detroit.

The Bonstelle Theatre Company includes BA and BFA actors, designers, and stage managers in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University. Here, future stars of theatre, film, and television follow in the footsteps of successful alumni like Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning S. Epatha Merkerson (NBC’s Law and Order, Lackawanna Blues), Lily Tomlin (9 to 5, ABC’s Desperate Housewives), and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, NBC’s Heroes).  For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, group discounts, and corporate packages, please call the box office at 313-577-2960 or visit the theatre’s website at http://www.bonstelle.com.

The Bonstelle Theatre, Where Wayne Plays.

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to over 26,000 students. The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance is a vital division of Wayne State’s College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and carries on an 86-year tradition of leadership in dance education.

Calendar Information

Thursday 7:30 PM                            March 12
Friday 7:30 PM                                  March 13

Three Exciting New Plays Featured in WSU’s Heck-Rabi Festival

The 2015 Louise Heck-Rabi Dramatic Writing Festival will take place February 26–28 at 8 p.m. and March 1 at 2 p.m. at the Studio Theatre, located underground at the Hilberry Theatre at the corner of Cass and Hancock on WSU’s campus. This year’s festival features new works from three promising playwrights who are best known as members of the acclaimed Hilberry acting ensemble.

The Louise Heck-Rabi Dramatic Writing Competition and Festival are both named for Louise Heck-Rabi who was a dedicated writer and member of the Detroit literary scene. She created the playwriting scholarship in hopes that young Detroit writers would carry on her passion. The Heck-Rabi Festival is a unique opportunity for emerging playwrights to have their work staged. The Festival is administered by the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance and the English Department and features winning finalists from the Writing Competition. This year’s winning plays were selected from six finalists, which were all presented as dramatic readings in the fall. Winning playwrights receive a scholarship and the opportunity to work with undergraduate directors, designers, and actors to realize their visions onstage at the Studio.

For tickets, call 313-577-2972, visit wsushows.com, or stop by the WSU box office located at the Hilberry Theatre, 4743 Cass Avenue, Detroit, at the corner of Cass and Hancock.

Dark Monday by Bevin Bell Hall (Nevada City, CA)
Directed by Kendall Talbot (Warren)
This dark comedy pays homage to the art of acting and many of its previous forms.

Featuring: Maggie Beson (Riverview); Ibrahim Karim (Baghdad, Iraq); Kate Martinez (Flat Rock); Graham Todd (Shelby Township)
Stage Manager: Shannon Hurst (Warren)

Good Girls by Sarah Hawkins Moan (North Manchester, IN)
Directed by Taylor Morrow (Warren)
Midlife crises are hard. Especially for a twenty-something whose mom is the one in crisis mode.

Featuring: Hanna Butcher (Taylor); Michaella Mallet (Byron); Donnevan Tolbert (Detroit); Danielle Wright (Lathrup Village)
Stage Manager: Madeline Schnorr (Marshall)

Wallpaper by Brandy Joe Plambeck (Ferndale, MI)
Directed by Carl Bentley (Flat Rock)
Based on the famous short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, a teenaged boy struggles to find his place in his changing family structure.

Featuring: Christianno DeRushia (Jackson); Malcom Harris (Chicago, IL), Clearie McCarthy (Lansing); Graham Todd (Shelby Township)
Stage Manager: Delaney O’Brien (Brighton)

Production team: Scenic Designer, Jon Pigott (Wyandotte); Costume Designers, Alyssa Gawel (Sterling Heights) and Anthony Toney (Sterling Heights); Lighting Designer, John Schmidt (Farmington Hills), Sound Designer, Valerie Frawley (Warren); Producer, Dan Finn (Armada); Production Stage Manager, Allison Baker (Bellefountaine, OH); Publicist, Kevin Replinger (Centennial, CO)

About the Studio Theatre

The Studio Theatre is an intimate, 110-seat, open-stage theatre in the lower level of the Hilberry Theatre on Wayne State University’s campus. it is often used for experimental, student, and classroom productions. Annual programming includes the Student Stage and the Louise Heck-Rabi Dramatic Writing Competition. For nearly fifty years the Studio Theatre has presented great theatre featuring WSU undergraduate students. With generous support from patrons and donors, the Studio Theatre underwent renovation in 2010. For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, and group discounts, please call the box office at (313) 577-2972 or visit the theatre’s website at www.wsustudio.com

About Wayne State University

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.

Calendar Information

February 26–28 at 8:00 PM
March 1 at 2:00 PM

Bonstelle Theatre stages brilliant production of August Wilson’s ‘Fences’

By Patty Nolan, reposted from The Examiner. Read the full review here.

Rose Maxson (Will Bryson) and Troy Maxson (Kayla Mundy). Courtesy Bonstelle Theatre

Rose Maxson (Will Bryson) and Troy Maxson (Kayla Mundy). Courtesy Bonstelle Theatre

A fence means something different depending on which side of it one happens to be standing. A fence can be used to define a border – it signals “this is mine, not yours.” A fence can protect what’s inside from those on the outside; conversely, it can imprison people inside who long to get out.

In August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play “Fences,” garbage collector Troy Maxson deals with literal and metaphorical fences as he struggles to make a better life for his family in 1950s-era Chicago. This new Bonstelle production, the latest outstanding effort by Director Lynch R. Travis, is a compelling story about a family struggling with race relations, paternal responsibility and the gap in generational expectations that affect every family dynamic.

As the play opens, Troy (Will Bryson) is bragging to his friend and co-worker, Bono (Danté Jones), about how he officially complained to management because only the white workers get to drive the garbage trucks, while the African American garbage men are required to lift and empty the heavy cans all day long. We sense that this is a common theme with Troy – the expectation that a black man must work twice as hard as the white man and be happy with half the reward. We quickly learn that Troy is an imaginative, proud, physically strong man who carries a deep resentment against his father, against the white-man’s world, and against anyone who challenges his authority.

Troy’s stories of his own exploits are hilariously larger than life – including a wrestling match with Death himself. Troy’s wife Rose (Kalya Mundy) tries to leaven Troy’s big talk with practical words, but it only seems to provoke Troy to tell bigger, more outrageous stories. As we watch him sawing boards for the fence he is building, he reminisces about swatting baseballs over the outfield fence back when he was one of the highest scoring players in the Negro Leagues. Even with his mighty swing, he couldn’t clear the racial barrier that kept African Americans from playing Major League Baseball. And when that fence came down, after WWII, Troy was too old to compete. Now in his early ‘50s, his resentment includes the men of color who now play in the majors – certain that their skills are nothing compared to his own prowess.

Read the full review here.

August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Opens Next Friday, February 13.

Don’t miss August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning drama, Fences, opening next Friday and playing from February 13 through 22. Tickets are $15 – $20, with student rush tickets available for $10 on the day of the performance. To purchase tickets call 313-577-2960, by visit http://www.bonstelle.com, or stop by the Wayne State University Theatre Box Office located at 4743 Cass Ave. inside the Hilberry Theatre.

Fences New Monitor Ad

‘Fences’ Directed by Lynch Travis at the Bonstelle Theatre

DETROIT – The Bonstelle Theatre is excited to welcome local guest director Lynch Travis as its 2014-15 season continues with Fences, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by August Wilson. Playing February 13 – 22, 2015, Fences follows an African American father and his son as each struggle through unfulfilled hopes and shattered dreams in the 1950s. Travis is a Chicago-native who has resided in the Greater Detroit area for the past 28 years. Active in the Detroit theatre community as a director, actor, and coach, Travis’ work has been lauded through awards from the Ann Arbor News, Oakland Press, Detroit Free Press, and the Wilde Awards. Speaking of his engagement to direct, Travis states “It is certainly a privilege to direct August Wilson’s Fences. It is without question one of the best plays written in my lifetime, by a playwright that was able to tell stories from the African American experience that resonates with audiences no matter their background or ethnicity. We look forward to bringing you the story of a family caught in the dynamics of a changing world.”

Family  - RoseTroyCory

Kayla Mundy, Will Bryson, and Donnevan Tolbert in Fences.

Written in 1983, Fences is the sixth play in August Wilson’s ten-part “Pittsburgh Cycle” and explores the evolving African American experience while examining race relations during the 1950s. The story centers around Troy Maxon, a former Negro League baseball star who was excluded from the major leagues during his prime. Now a Pittsburgh garbage man, Troy harbors a lingering bitterness that threatens his relationships with his wife and his son, who wants his own chance to play ball.

Tickets are $15 – $20, with student rush tickets available for $10 on the day of the performance. Tickets are available for purchase by calling 313-577-2960, by visiting http://www.bonstelle.com, or by visiting the Wayne State University Theatre Box Office located at 4743 Cass Ave. on the corner of Hancock St.

The Cast (In Alphabetical Order)
Will Bryson – Highland Park, MI (Troy Maxson), Gerald Palmer – Rochester Hills, MI (Gabriel), Dante Jones – Detroit, MI (Bono), Demetrius Mahone – Detroit, MI (Lyons), Kayla Mundy – Detroit, MI (Rose Maxson), Donnevan Tolbert – Detroit, MI (Cory Maxson)

The Production Team
Lynch Travis (Director), Chista Tausney (Scenic Designer), Melissa Hall (Costume Designer), Patrick Field (Light Designer), April Thompson (Properties Master), Valerie Frawley (Sound Designer), Catelyn Girard (Stage Manager), Brian Dambacher (Technical Director), Amanda Schindler (Publicist), Jason Goldman (Assistant Publicist)

The Bonstelle Theatre
The Bonstelle Theatre is a Broadway-style house with a 1,034-seat auditorium featuring a balcony and much of the original Beaux-Arts architecture. The Theatre was built as Temple Beth-El in 1902 and converted to the Bonstelle Playhouse in 1922.

The Bonstelle Theatre Company includes BA and BFA actors, designers, and stage managers in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University. Here, future stars of theatre, film, and television follow in the footsteps of successful alumni like Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning S. Epatha Merkerson (NBC’s Law and Order, Lackawanna Blues), Lily Tomlin (9 to 5, ABC’s Desperate Housewives), and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, NBC’s Heroes).  For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, group discounts, and corporate packages, please call the box office at 313-577-2960 or visit the theatre’s website at http://www.bonstelle.com.

The Bonstelle Theatre, Where Wayne Plays.
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to over 26,000 students.

Calendar Information

February 13 – February 22
Fri. 8:00 PM                        Feb. 13, Feb. 20
Sat. 2:00 PM                       Feb. 14, Feb. 21
Sat. 8:00 PM                       Feb. 14, Feb. 21
Sun. 3:00 PM                      Feb. 15, Feb. 22
Wed. 10:00 AM Feb. 18 (School matinee, contact 313-577-0852 for more information)
Thur. 10:00 AM Feb. 19 (School matinee, contact 313-577-0852 for more information)