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


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.

Theatre & Dance at Wayne Announces the 2013-2014 Season

DETROIT – The Wayne State University Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance announces its 2013-2014 season, showcasing a mix of both classic and modern plays that is sure to have something every theatergoer can enjoy. Subscriptions start as low as $102 and go on sale March 1, 2013. In addition to a traditional Hilberry or Bonstelle subscription package, Theatre & Dance at Wayne is also offering packages as well as memberships to the theatres for more value and convenience for busy theatre patrons.

To subscribe, call (313) 577-2972 or visit the Wayne State University Theatres Box Office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock. Subscribers are an integral part of the Hilberry community and they enjoy discounted prices, priority seating, exchange privileges, lost ticket insurance, free coffee,  and a free subscription to our newsletter. Package and membership holders also enjoy a few more benefits than the single ticket buyer.

At the Bonstelle Theatre:

Our Town by Thornton Wilder

Described as “the greatest American play ever written,” this story illuminates two unexceptional families living unremarkable lives over the span of several generations in small town America. This 1938 Pulitzer Prize winner is a touching and thoughtful look at life’s extraordinary journey.

’Twas the Night Before Christmas by Jennifer Kirkeby and Shirley Mier

A whimsical reimagining of the classic Christmas poem! Writer Clement Moore is working on a tough assignment from the New York Evening Post: President James Monroe desires a holiday feature story to read Christmas morning. As Clement struggles with writer’s block, he dawdles by enjoying the season with his family.

In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney

As a girl, Oya must choose between her dream of being a star athlete and caring for her mother. As a woman, she’s torn between the man she lives with and the man she can’t live without. This fusion of contemporary African-American culture and elements from Yoruba mythology is an inspiring story about how our choices make us who we are.

85th Annual Spring Dance Concert

Each spring in March, the dance department curates a collection of dance works choreographed by students, faculty and guest artists. Each piece may employ various disciplines from ballet and jazz to modern, some of the work being reconstructions of prominent choreographers, as well as many premieres.

Guys and Dolls by Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling, and Abe Burrows

The 1951 winner of five Tony Awards including Best Musical, this classic exposes the gritty 1920s New York underworld. Renowned for his craps game, Nathan Detroit wagers another gambler that he can’t make the next girl he sees fall in love with him—the pretty, pious band leader of the local Mission. This “perfect musical comedy” is a sure bet!

At the Hilberry Theatre:

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Obsessed with ambition upon learning of his destiny to become king from the prophesying Weird Sisters, Macbeth is spurred to assassination by his determined and stout-hearted wife. They descend into the depths of murder and madness, but Macduff leads the vengeful attack against the Macbeths before they can wash the blood from their hands.

Big Love by Charles L. Mee

Fifty brides forced to marry their fifty cousins are on the run—only to be pursued and discovered by the fifty grooms. In this modern adaptation of The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus, you’ll plunge and soar on this roller coaster of comedic mayhem, harsh realities, and the occasional pop song. This dark comedy explores human rights, gender politics, and love.

A Doctor In Spite of Himself by Molière, Adapted by Christopher Bayes and Steven Epp

Hold on to your hats with this laugh-out-loud comedy that begins—as many do—with the soured relationship between a husband and wife. Hell has no fury like a woman scorned when a wife dastardly turns her husband into a doctor. Mistaken identity, lighthearted romance, naughty innuendo, and irreverent hijinks ensue in this ridiculous façade.

Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde by Moisés Kauffman

In 1895, playwright and wit Oscar Wilde was put on trial for his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, which led to charges of “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons.” This dramatically clever piece illustrates the ever-continuing conflict between art and morality in a way that Wilde himself would have approved.

Moon Over Buffalo by Ken Ludwig

From the author of Lend Me a Tenor, this whimsical backstage farce piles hysterical misunderstandings on top of madcap misadventures. Fading stars George and Charlotte Hays duke it out during their tour to save their theatre company and their marriage. They are given a (last) chance at fame if they can just figure out which show they are performing!

August: Osage County by Tracy Letts

The Westons represent the modern American family dealing with deteriorating health and relationships on the plains of Oklahoma. Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award, this dark comedy fluctuates between sidesplitting humor and gut-wrenching despair as we watch the family struggle to support each other through overwhelming circumstances.

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.

REVIEW: Bonstelle’s ‘Bat Boy’ a must-see musical

Review by Robert Delaney, New Monitor

View production photos or join the Facebook Event!

'Bat Boy: The Musical' Credit: Kevin Replinger

‘Bat Boy: The Musical’
Credit: Kevin Replinger

A freakish creature often reported on by the Weekly World News is discovered in a West Virginia cave in “Bat Boy: The Musical,” being given a superb production at Wayne State University’s Bonstelle Theatre in Midtown Detroit.

Yes, after all these years of seeing him stare at you from the front page of that supermarket tabloid as you waited in the checkout line, Bat Boy is the subject of a lavish stage musical, thanks to Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming, who wrote the book, and the music and lyrics of Laurence O’Keefe.

And Bat Boy is bringing delight, not terror, to Detroit audiences, thanks to this splendid production directed by Michael J. Barnes and performed by a truly impressive undergraduate cast.

The show is surprisingly great fun to watch, and many aspects of this WSU production rise above what one would normally expect of even a good college production.

This is most especially true of the outstanding and genuinely professional quality performances of Nicholas Yocum as Bat Boy, Britta Peele as Shelley Parker and Bridgette Jordan as Reverend Billy Hightower.

Yocum scores high marks for not only his acting and singing, but also for the agile athleticism he brings to the role.

This has been quite a season for Peele, a graduating senior in WSU’s program. She earlier wowed area audiences with her portrayal of Lolia in “Hamtown Races” at the Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck and as Annie in “Cancer, the Musical” at the Marlene Boll Theatre downtown. If you have yet to see this very talented young actress or hear her excellent singing voice, make sure you catch her in this production.

Also giving truly impressive performances are Kelly Robinson as Meredith Parker, Jackson McLaskey as Dr. Thomas Parker and Luke Rose as Rick Taylor. But the entire cast can be justly proud of the success of this production, as can the musical ensemble, led by Devon L. Hansen, and those who worked the technical side of things.

Scenic designer Curtis Green, costume designer Mary Gietzen, lighting designer Brian M. Scruggs and choreographer J.M. Rebudal are certainly among those who deserve great credit for their roles.

How sad that such a sensational production should only run for two weekends! But there is still time to get tickets to one of this weekend’s final three performances.

“Bat Boy: The Musical” continues through April 21, with performances at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee, at the Bonstelle Theatre, 3424 Woodward Ave., a block south of Mack. For ticket information, call the WSU Theatre box offi ce at (313) 577-2960 or visit http://www.wsushows.com.

‘Bat Boy: The Musical’ opens next Firday!

‘Bat Boy: The Musical’ opens next Thursday! Buy your tickets online!

Join the Facebook Event or check out our photo album. We’ll be updating photos all week as we get ready for this fantastic show!


CBS Detroit’s “Best Directors In Local Theatre Scene” includes WSU Faculty Lavinia Hart, Bonstelle Alumni Jaclyn Sterz and Frannie Shepherd-Bates

Best Directors In The Local Theater Scene In Detroit

Congratulations to Lavinia Hart on being selected as one of the best directors in the local theatre scene by CBS Detroit! We would also like to congratulate WSU alumni Frannie Shepherd-Bates of Magenta Giraffe Theatre and Jaclyn Sterz of Puppet ART for also making the list! We’re so proud of all of our WSU family!


Click HERE to read the entire list.

Lavinia Hart
The Hilberry Theatre

Lavinia Hart is the Associate Professor of Theatre at Wayne State University. She serves as head of the MFA Acting Program at Hilberry Theatre, at Wayne State University. Hart previously held the position of artistic director at the Attic Theatre. Hart has acted, directed and produced over 100 stage productions throughout her career. Hart has directed “The Servant of Two Masters,” “Detroit,” “Eurydice,” as well as “The Lusty and Comical History of Tom Jones.” Hart was co-director of “The Kentucky Cycle.”

Jaclyn Strez
PuppetArt Theater

Jaclyn Strez directs many short and one-act plays. Directing credits include “Fabula Rasa,” “This is the Play” and “Lambert Street.” She has been directing professionally for six years. Strez holds a BFA in Acting from Wayne State University and studied at the Moscow Art Theatre School. In 2008, she started puppeteering at the Detroit PuppetArt Theatre. In addition to her directing credits, Strez writes, produces and designs costumes for stage performances. She also performs as an actress and has received critical acclaim for the challenging roles she portrays.

Frannie Shepherd-Bates
Magenta Giraffe Theatre

Frannie Shepherd-Bates has directed many stage productions. “Soul Mates,” “Rosmersholm” and “Last of the Boys” were all directed by Shepherd-Bates. She has also directed ”Dog Sees God,” “The Last Five Years,” “No Exit” and Woody Allen’s “Play It Again, Sam.” She received a BFA in Theatre from Wayne State University. She currently serves as executive artistic director at Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, which was founded in 2008. In addition to her directing credits, she also acts and is a choreographer. She will be directing “The Maids” this spring.

PRESS RELEASE: ‘Bat Boy: The Musical’

Bat Boy: The Musical Flies into the Bonstelle Theatre for Only Two Weeks

Opening April 12, 2013

Ruthie (Anna Seibert), Bat Boy (Nicholas Yocum), and Rick (Luke Rose)Photo: Alexandra Stewart

Ruthie (Anna Seibert), Bat Boy (Nicholas Yocum), and Rick (Luke Rose)
Photo: Alexandra Stewart

DETROIT— The Bonstelle Theatre presents the rock ‘n’ roll cult classic, Bat Boy: The Musical by Keythe Farley, Brian Flemming, and Laurence O’Keefe, running for only two weeks, April 12 through 21, 2013. Based on the grocery store tabloid, Weekly World News, Bat Boy: The Musical is a rambunctious musical comedy that closes the Bonstelle Theatre season with a bite. Tickets are $20-$25 and are available by calling (313) 577-2960, visiting http://www.bonstelle.com, or visiting the Wayne State University Theatres Box Office located at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.

Bat Boy: The Musical is about a supernatural half bat/half boy creature that is discovered in a cave in West Virginia and brought to the home of local veterinarian Dr. Parker. The Parker family decides to take him in and teach him to behave as a normal human, attempting to integrate him into a narrow-minded town. As he tries to fit in, romantic sparks fly and he decides to run away with the veterinarian’s daughter, Shelley. But happiness is shattered as the town hears the shocking story of Batboy’s unholy origin.

First performed on Halloween in 1997, Bat Boy: The Musical has had success both in the United States and in London’s West End. The character of Bat Boy was created by former Weekly World News Editor Dick Kulpa, and debuted as a cover story on June 23, 1992. The original front-page photo of Bat Boy, showing his grotesque screaming face, was the second-best selling issue in the tabloid’s history, and he has since evolved into a pop-culture icon. This creature inspired writers Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming to write a stage adaptation, and they were joined by American composer/lyricist Laurence O’Keefe.

The musical differs in a few of its plot details from the Weekly World News portrayal of Bat Boy. In the musical, Bat Boy learns to speak from his adoptive family, yearns for acceptance and tries to join society, only to face hatred and violence from a town that fears him and jealous rage from his foster father. But according to the Weekly World News, Bat Boy is a member of a race of creatures who have interacted with humans for at least 400 years, and he was discovered in the Ozarks in 1992 by biologist Dr. Ron Dillon after he was trapped by a falling rock in a cave he was hiding in. At the time only two feet tall and weighing less than 20 pounds, Dr. Dillon was shocked later when the creature grew a set of wings and escaped. This would be only the first of Bat Boy’s many captures and escapes that Weekly World News would expand upon.

Though Bat Boy and his stories told by Weekly World News are fictional, the story of Bat Boy: The Musical deals with serious themes such as hypocrisy, acceptance, forgiveness, racism, revenge, and scapegoating, but often punctures the most serious moments with slapstick, surrealism, camp-horror, and irony. The show also contains religious themes with biblical allusions. One interesting theme about the show, which lies somewhat underneath the surface, is the idea that we all have a dark side, or an animal side, that comes out when we’re afraid, that drives us as humans for food, sex, power, or control; and the idea that we must embrace this side of ourselves instead of fear it.

Bat Boy: The Musical won awards for best Off-Broadway musical including the Lucille Lortel Award, two Richard Rodgers Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Outer Critics Circle Award in 2001. Regional productions of Bat Boy have been nominated for and won awards including the 2003 Elliot Norton Award (New England) and the 1998 Ovation Awards (Los Angeles).

The cast includes (in alphabetical order):

Jacqueline Fenton (Allen Park, MI) Ensemble, Ivy Haralson (Belleville, MI) Ron Taylor, Bridgette Jordan (Southfield, MI) Reverend Billy Hightower, Sara Kline (Madison Heights, MI) Sheriff ReynoldsAlyssa Lucas (Garden City, MI) Maggie, Colin Mallory (East Lansing, MI) Pan/Daisy, Jackson McLaskey (Mt. Clemens, MI) Dr. Thomas Parker, Matthew Miazgowicz (Dearborn, MI) Lorraine, Shane Nelson (Windsor, ON) Bud, Britta Peele (Harrison Township, MI) Shelley Parker, Jonathan Pigott (Wyandotte, MI) Ensemble, Kelly Robinson (Royal Oak, MI) Meredith Parker, Luke Rose (Harrison Township, MI) Rick Taylor, Anthony Scamihorn (Marshall, MI) Mrs. Taylor, Anna Seibert (Detroit, MI) Ruthie Taylor/Ned, Nicholas Yocum (Royal Oak, MI) Bat Boy/Edgar.

The production team includes:

Michael J. Barnes (Director), Julia Moriarty (Assistant Director), Jeffrey Michael Rebudal (Choreographer), Daniel Greig (Music Director), Devon L. Hansen (Instrumental Music Director),  Meghan Lynch (Stage Manager), Curtis Green (Scenic Designer), Anthony Karpinski (Technical Director and Properties Master), Mary Gietzen (Costume Designer), Brian M. Scruggs (Lighting Designer), Tyler Ezell (Sound Designer), and Alexandra Stewart (Publicity Manager).

About the Bonstelle Theatre

The Bonstelle Theatre is a Broadway-style House with a 1,143-seat auditorium featuring a balcony, owned by Wayne State University. Here, future stars of theatre, film, and television follow in the footsteps of such successful alumni as 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 www.bonstelle.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.

Season sponsored by CBS Outdoor, Between the Lines, and Encore Michigan

Bat Boy: The Musical
Book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming
Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe

Calendar Information-

April 12, 2013 – April 21, 2013

Friday 8 p.m.               April 12, April 19

Saturday 8 p.m.           April 13, April 20

Sunday 2 p.m.             April 14, April 21