PRESS RELEASE: The 84th Annual Spring Dance Concert

The Dance Concert is showing Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 at the Bonstelle Theatre.

David Sherban and Shauna Cook.
The Dance Concert is showing Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 at the Bonstelle Theatre.

DETROIT– The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University celebrates its 84th year of providing high-quality professional dance training, education, and performance opportunities. The department is pleased to announce their 2013 Spring Concert entitled Spark. There will be two performances, Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9, both at 7:30pm at the Bonstelle Theatre in downtown Detroit. General admission is $12 for advance purchase. Tickets are available online at at the Box Office, located in the Hillberry Theatre, 4743 Cass Avenue at Hancock Street. Tickets will be available at the door for $15. The box office is open Tuesday through Saturday, 2:00-6:00pm and opens 30 minutes prior to performances. The Bonstelle Theatre is located at 3424 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201.

Spark features a dynamic and diverse program of dance works by nationally renowned guest artists Papa Hanne, Wanjiru Kamuyu, Nycole Ray, and Ron Todorowski, WSU faculty members Jeff Rebudal, Meg Paul and Liz Schmidt, and select WSU student choreographers. Kamuyu, the 2012-13 Maggie Allesee Artist in Residence and dance captain of the Broadway show Fela!, offers when paradise shatters at its seams then what? – a powerful work that showcases dynamic movement and emotional connection. WSU’s To Sangana African Company delights with Hanne’s Senagalese-driven dance, and Dance Company One performs Nycole Ray’s touching and fluid Dreams. Todorowski’s captivating work Different Trains, selected to represent WSU at the American College Dance Festival and set to Steve Reich music, is a captivating layering reminiscent of a fast-paced city life, with dancers combining and diverging in striking solos and groups.

Faculty works include Jeff Rebudal’s Spero Meliora, inspired by Detroit’s culture and evolving landscape, Meg Paul’s high octane contemporary ballet FLUxX, and the driving and impassioned Doublespeak, choreographed by Liz Schmidt, recently chosen to receive the 2013 Wayne State University Arts Achievement Award for Career Achievement in the field of Dance presented by The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance. Strong student works complete the program, including, sophomore, Adam McGaw’s Siente and two pieces that highlight the dance program’s Digital Dance Curriculum. Senior, Michelle Brock’s An Inquiry of the Concrete pairs a live dancer with projected video. Brock was also chosen to represent her piece at the American College Dance Festival Association. Senior, William Charboneau’s Ephemeral Man takes a hilarious look at the overpowering influence of dance on the everyday man. Seniors, David Sherban and Ta’Rajee Omar screen Vista Love, an evocative dance for the camera that places dancers in a gritty, urban setting.

Wayne State University, located in the heart of Detroit’s cultural center, is a premier institution of higher education, offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to more than 33,000 students. The recently merged 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 a tradition of leadership in dance education.



Spotlight on Playwright Mary Zimmerman

After the spectacular first weekend and before this upcoming weekend’s final performances of The Arabian Nights at the Bonstelle Theatre, let’s take a moment to learn more about the Tony Award-winning playwright, Mary Zimmerman. In 2010, Zimmerman participated in an excellent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle during the Berkley Repertory Theatre’s production of The Arabian Nights.

Mary Zimmerman PhotoQ: What attracts you to doing adaptations as opposed to writing a play based on your own original idea?

A: I don’t know that I have any original material in me. Ninety-nine percent of what I’ve adapted in my career comes from an oral tradition. There are many print versions of “The Arabian Nights,” but oral versions predate them by 1,000 years. It’s the same with other things I’ve adapted – the Greek and Roman myths. I used Ovid’s permutations of them (she won her 2002 Tony for directing “Metamorphoses,” which she adapted from Ovid), but the myths are thousands of years older.

I like epic things. They tend to have very fantastical elements, which you have to figure out how to stage. That’s thrilling for me. When you write for the stage, you don’t write anything that’s hard to do on the stage. But these stories have no regard whatsoever for how difficult they’re going to be to put on a stage, like turning into a bird or riding on a camel train or flying on a carpet. And the challenge of how to present those things imaginatively and not too expensively is kind of what I’m in it for.

Q: What influenced you to tell stories from other cultures?

A: I’ve always had a huge attraction to literature from all over the world, including non-Western. My mother was an English professor whose specialty was French literature; My father was a physics professor. I first read “The Arabian Nights” when I was 10 or 11. I had an awareness of a big world, even at a young age. I was from Nebraska, but I lived in England and France when my parents had teaching jobs there. So maybe that had something to do with my attraction to these stories.

Q: In “The Arabian Nights,” storytelling can literally save a person’s life.

A: There’s a story that’s very funny, and it’s improvised each night, called “The Wonderful Bag,” in which two cast members – and it’s different every night – have to name the contents of a bag they’ve both found in the marketplace to prove it’s their own. It’s an exact comic mirror of what Scheherazade is trying to do: to pull things out of her mind on the spot. The actors, figuratively, are in the same spot she’s in. They’re going to live or die with the audience if they’re funny or not.

Q: Did you think when you wrote the “Nights” that we’d still have soldiers in the region 20 years later?

A: I kind of did. There are amazing coincidences from the text and real life. One of the final stories takes place on the Basra Highway. When the Iraqis were fleeing Kuwait, that was the highway they were on when we bombed them as they were leaving. There’s a bridge that Harun al-Rashid hides under in my favorite story, “The Mock Khalifah.” All of those ancient bridges, except for one or two, were destroyed in this last war, intentionally. Those bridges were 1,500 or 2,000 years old. So there are echoes and resonances.

Q: Do kids in the Middle East grow up with these stories?

A: I was invited to the United Arab Emirates to do a workshop in the “Nights” at a women’s university, and they did know some of the stories, but not super thoroughly because there’s a high sexual content to a lot of these stories. What is so interesting about this text is that in the West, it’s been somewhat Disneyfied and made into a children’s book, so adults don’t pay much attention to it. And in some of the countries of its origin, it’s been banned for being too adult.

To read more, please click here.

The Bonstelle Theatre’s production of The Arabian Nights

February 8, 2013 – February 17, 2013

Remaining Performances-

Friday 8 p.m.               February 15

Saturday 8 p.m.           February 16

Sunday 2 p.m.             February 17

REVIEW: Bonstelle offers holiday treat for kids

Reviewed by Robert Delaney, The Detroit New Monitor

Kai (Nicholas Yocum) and The Snow Queen (Mackenzie Conn).

Kai (Nicholas Yocum) and The Snow Queen (Mackenzie Conn).

Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, “The Snow Queen,” makes a delightful stage play for children in the adaptation by Tyler J. Monroe now being offered at Wayne State University’s Bonstelle Theatre in Midtown Detroit. This is not only high-quality children’s theatre, but perhaps the most technically impressive show I have ever seen on the Bonstelle stage. There are some pretty fancy special effects here, ones I wouldn’t have guessed the Bonstelle could pull off. And there is an interactive aspect to the show that begins with pre-show activities for kids 45 minutes before the opening curtain. Working with WSU undergraduate actors and technical staff, visiting director Allegra Libonati has recreated the production she did last year with the American Repertory Theatre of Cambridge, Mass., where she is the resident director. Children will delight to the story of the young girl, Gerda’s (Kristin Dawn-Dumas) efforts to rescue her friend Kai (Nicholas Yocum) from the Snow Queen, Mackenzie Conn (shown at right). And they will also be fascinated by the antics of the Goblin (Zyle Christian-Cook) and the many other characters in this splendid story by the author of “The Little Mermaid” and “The Ugly Duckling.” Anyone who has seen Conn in any of her other WSU roles can easily imagine that she makes a strikingly beautiful Snow Queen. No praise would be too high for the work of all the behind-the-scenes contributors to the show’s success, notably scenic designer/technical director Fred Florkowski, costume designer Mary Copenhagen, lighting designer Samuel G. Byers and sound designer Ryan Koprince. Director Libonati has said, “If families can be swept away in this fairytale, go on a journey together, and be inspired by the strength of a little girl alone in the North Pole, that would be a wonderful thing.” Indeed, this production of “The Snow Queen” is truly a wonderful thing. “The Snow Queen” continues this weekend, through December 9, with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon (pre-show activities begin at 7:15 p.m. or 1:15 p.m., at the Bonstelle Theatre, 3424 Woodward Avenue, a block south of Mack and just a few blocks south of Orchestra Hall. For ticket information, call the WSU Theatre box office at

(313) 577-2960 or go to

Or join the Facebook Event!


REVIEW: Discover the wintry magic of ‘The Snow Queen’ at Bonstelle Theatre

Reviewed by Patty Nolan

Click HERE to read the review on The Examiner’s Website

If you can remember clapping your hands to save Tinker Bell’s life… if you ever wanted to visit Narnia… or looked for faeries in your grandmother’s garden… then you should get to the Bonstelle Theatre for this magical production of “The Snow Queen.” And if you can grab some kids to make it all look like a magnanimous effort on your part, so much the better.

This artistic, enthusiastic and interactive Bonstelle production is an adaptation by Tyler J. Monroe of one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most popular children’sfairytales. Timed to help families get into the holiday mood, “The Snow Queen” isn’t a Christmas story, per se, and is suitable for people of all faith backgrounds.

It’s the story of a little girl named Gerda (the amazing Kristin Dawn-Dumas) who is determined to rescue her friend, a young boy named Kai (the wonderful Nicholas Yocum), from the clutches of the evil Snow Queen. Basic values of loyalty, friendship, selflessness and courage are conveyed in a story that is filled with adventure, drama and enough brilliant stage spectacle to satisfy the wiggliest children. Although the story is essentially sweet, it is never saccharine, and is rich with eccentric and even dangerous characters who help or hinder Gerda on her journey.

The Bonstelle Theatre presents Hans Christian Andersen's winter holiday fairy tale 'The Snow Queen.' This breathtaking production is directed by Allegra Libonati. She directed the play’s premier a year ago at the American Repertory Theater and worked with a gifted design team in Detroit to bring it to life on the Bonstelle stage. The use of oversized puppets (Anthony Karpinski), a set design created by sweeping, swirling fabric and ingenious props (Fred Florkowski), inventive lighting (Samuel G. Byers), imaginative costumes (Mary Copenhagen) and engaging sound design (Ryan Koprince) all combine to pull the audience (young and old) into the enchanted world of the Snow Queen.

The delightful and talented cast of Bonstelle “children” swarm the theater before the show opens, inviting audience members to swordfight, toss balloons, admire their noise-making prowess, and answer personal questions. Once the show begins, Grandpa (Michael Meike) and Grandma (Jacqueline Fenton) summon their grandchildren for story time. As the story unfolds, the grandchildren take on multiple roles, engaging with Gerda as she moves from one adventure to the next.

The show includes several audience participation moments. In fact, children are invited to arrive 45 minutes before curtain time to participate in a preshow craft activity with cast members. Paper roses and snowflakes will be made in the upstairs lobby and used by children in the audience to interact with the show.

“The Snow Queen is a show where you can bring family members of all ages and everyone can take away a part of the story,” says Libonati. “If families can be swept away in this fairytale, go on a journey together, and be inspired by the strength of a little girl alone in the North Pole, that would be a wonderful thing.”

“The Snow Queen” runs from November 30 to December 9, 2012. Shows are on Fridays and Saturdays with an 8 p.m. curtain and Sunday with a 2 p.m. curtain. Children get a special ticket price of only $6; adult tickets are $12 – $15 and are available by calling the Bonstelle Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2960, purchasing them online, or by visiting the box office in the Hilberry Theatre located at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.

And as one of the happy coincidences that sometimes pop up in the Detroit theater scene, an original version of “The Snow Queen” – in purely puppet form – is also opening this weekend atPuppetART. We’ll be reporting back on that show yet this weekend.

So fall in love with the magic of “The Snow Queen” – and see it twice for the first time – at the Bonstelle Theatre and the PuppetART Theatre in downtown Detroit.

Congratulations to the cast of The Snow Queen”: Zee Bricker (Detroit, MI) as Robber Queen, Mackenzie Conn (Walled Lake, MI) as Snow Queen, Zyle Christian-Cook (Marcellus, MI) as Goblin, Kristin Dawn-Dumas (Detroit, MI) as Gerda, Jacqueline Fenton (Allen Park, MI) as Grandma, Katelyn Foster (Harrison Township, MI) as Rose 1, Garett Harris (Royal Oak, MI) as Prince, Sharayah Johnson (Birch Run, MI) as Flower Witch, Gaia Klotz (Midland, MI) as Swallow 1, Alexis Mabry (Grosse Pointe, MI) as Princess, Sydney Macheskey (Shelby Township, MI) as Sun, Jackson McLaskey (Mt. Clemens, MI) as Raven, Michael Meike (Clinton Township, MI) as Grandpa, Matt Miazgowicz (Dearborn, MI) as Rose 3, Brittany Michael (St. Clair Shores, MI) as Robber Girl, Jonathon Pigott (Wyandotte, MI) as Swallow 2, Aeisha Reese (Flint, MI) as Rose 2, Luke Rose (Harrison Township) as Reindeer, and Nicholas Yocum (Royal Oak, MI) as Kai.

Broken Glass: “Outstanding” Review from The New Monitor

Give it up for the Cast and Crew of Broken Glass who have a received an “Outstanding” review from The New Monitor.

Broken Glass - WSU Studio Theatre, Detroit

Michael Gingerella (Philip Gellburg) and Tiaja Sabrie (Sylvia Gellburg)
Photo: Felix Li

“Director Bilha Birman-Rivlin, a WSU doctoral candidate, has worked with and unusually accomplished undergraduate cast to give us a remarkably impressive production of this lat Miller play.”

– Robert Delaney

Make sure you catch one of the final TWO performances: October 26 and 27 at 8:00 p.m.

For more information check out the Facebook event and our website.

Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ – Press Release

The Crucible - Arthur Miller - Bonstelle Theatre

From Left to Right: Aeisha Reese, Malvina Mirowski, Mackenzie Conn
Photo by: Patrick Pozezinski

The Crucible Opens Tonight, Friday, October 12, 2012 at 8:00 p.m.

Bonstelle Theatre Presents the Classic, Politically Relevant Play,

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

DETROIT –Bonstelle Theatre presents the Tony Award-winning play The Crucible by world-renowned playwright Arthur Miller as the opening production of the 2012-2013 season on Friday, October 12, 2012. Playing for two weekends only, this classic American drama closes on Sunday, October 21. Tickets are $12 – $15 and are available by calling the Bonstelle Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2960, online at, or by visiting the box office in the Hilberry Theatre located at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.

Drawing on the culture of fear that surrounded the villagers of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, The Crucible explores the effects of paranoia and the destruction of innocence caused by the rabid accusations of witchcraft begun by spurned mistress Abigail Williams. Flames of hysteria ignited, consuming Salem as the villagers waited, stunned, to find out who would be accused next.

Director Lavinia Hart comments, “In the face of corruption, we discover the distance some will be required to go in order to meet their responsibility to family, friends and society.”

Miller composed The Crucible as a dramatization of the Salem Witch Trials, with the witch trials standing in for the anti-Communist “witch-hunts” of the 1950s during the McCarthy era. As with the alleged witches of Salem, suspected Communists were encouraged to confess and identify other Communist sympathizers as means of escaping punishment. Many of those accused of Communism suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment.

Especially relevant due to the upcoming 2012 Presidential election, the corruption and deception Miller represented in The Crucible stands as a timely reminder to not always take everything at face value. Smear campaigning, or mudslinging, an intentional, premeditated effort to undermine an individual’s or group’s reputation, credibility, and character, has nearly become synonymous with modern-day politics. Like the accusations of witchcraft, smear campaigns focus on unverifiable rumors that are often distortions, half-truths, or even outright lies disseminated by gossip. Politicians use smear campaigns to undermine their opponent with the aim to win an election, just as certain villagers in Salem took advantage of the accusations for personal gain. 

The cast includes (in alphabetical order):

Mackenzie Conn (Walled Lake, MI) as Abigail Williams, Jacqueline Fenton (Allen Park, MI) as Susanna Walcott, Daniel Finn (Armada, MI) as Ezekiel Cheever, Jordan Fritz (River Rouge, MI) as Giles Corey, Amber Gale (Detroit, MI) as Girl 1, Robert J. Hammond (Troy, MI) as Willard, Ivy Haralson (Belleville, MI) as Tituba, Shannon Hurst (Warren, MI) as Girl 4, Sharayah Johnson (Birch Run, MI) as Ann Putnam, Sara Kline (Royal Oak, MI) as Rebecca Nurse, Kelly Klopocinski (Sterling Heights, MI) as Elizabeth Proctor, Alyssa Lucas (Garden City, MI) as Mercy Lewis, Colin Mallory (East Lansing, MI) as Reverend Parris, Jackson McLaskey (Mt Clemens, MI) as John Proctor, Michael Meike (Clinton Twp) as Judge Danforth, Matthew Miazgowicz (Dearborn, MI) as Thomas Putnam, Yesmeen Mikhail (Wyandotte, MI) as Sarah Good, Malvina Mirowski (Sterling Heights, MI) as Betty Parris, Hope Morawa (Lincoln Park, MI) as Girl 3, Bryauna Perkins (Chesterfield, MI) as Hopkins and Girl 2, Aeisha Reese (Flint, MI) as Mary Warren, Laith Salim (Dearborn, MI) as Francis Nurse, Stuart Sturton (Dexter, MI) as Judge Hathorne, and Nicholas Yocum (Royal Oak, MI) as Reverend Hale.

The production team includes:

Lavinia Hart (Director), Nicholas Boyd (Stage Manager), Anthony Karpinski (Scenic Designer), Fred Florkowski (Technical Director), Donna Buckley (Costume Designer), Gabriel Rice (Lighting Designer), Michael C. Thomas (Sound Designer), Cheryl Turski (Movement Coach), and Patrick Pozezinski (Publicity Manager).

About the Bonstelle Theatre

The Bonstelle Theatre is a Broadway-style House with a 1,143-seat auditorium featuring a balcony. 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

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

The Crucible is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.

Calendar Information

October 12, 2012 – October 21, 2012

Thursday 10 a.m                       Oct. 18

Friday 8 p.m.               Oct. 12, Oct. 19

Saturday 8 p.m.           Oct. 13, Oct. 20

Sunday 2 p.m.             Oct. 14, Oct. 21