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

HAIRSPRAY is coming to the Bonstelle Theatre!

The Bonstelle Theatre Shakes Things up with the Musical Hairspray

A musical celebration of dance and diversity in Midtown Detroit!

DETROIT – The Bonstelle Theatre concludes its 61st season with the musical Hairspray, opening Friday, April 13, 2012. This musical celebration of dance and diversity plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. for two weekends only, through April 22, 2012.  Tickets are $20-$25 and are available by calling the Bonstelle Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2960, online at bonstelle.com or by visiting the box office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.

Winner of eight Tony Awards, Hairspray follows pleasantly plump teen Tracy Turnblad, who has only one desire – to dance on the popular Corny Collins Show– and she does! Triumphant Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star, but she must use her newfound power to vanquish the reigning Teen Queen, win the affections of heartthrob Link Larkin and racially integrate a TV network – all without denting her ‘do.

Kelli Wereley as Tracy Turnblad

Hairspray has had incredible staying power over the years due to its ability to deliver inspirational and honest messages through comedy, song and dance. The story focuses on being a teenager, being yourself and what happens when old traditions come up against new ideas. One of the main issues throughout the story of Hairspray is that of racial integration in the 1960s, a concept that should not be foreign to Detroiters. John Waters, writer and director of the original 1988 film upon which the musical is based, wanted to write a comedy about racism based upon his first-hand experiences growing up in Baltimore.

Waters discussed his experience: “Baltimore was very segregated at the time, but all the cool white kids listened to black radio. The main disc jockey was named Fat Daddy, and there were other deejays like Rockin’ Robin and Long Tall Lanky Larry Dean. These were all the people who turned into the character of Motormouth Maybelle. There were no black people on The Buddy Dean Show…they had what they called Negro Day, and it was called worse in some neighborhoods.”

Taurean Hogan as Seasweed and Jacqueline Fenton as Penny Pingleton

Hairspray deals head-on with racial issues that are still present today, not only in Baltimore or Detroit, but around the world. Marc Shaiman, composer and lyricist, explains, “The time that Hairspray takes place in is very innocent and people were really not talking about, maybe not thinking about, some of the things that now in modern culture are right there in your face every day…and yet the bigotry and racism that was happening in our country…it’s still happening now, but at that point it was really boiling over with people finally saying ‘enough with this.’”

Waters goes on to explain, “I think it would still be touchy to have white and black 15-year-olds slow dancing together on television. Nobody realizes it, but nothing has changed. [White] parents say, “Stop listening to that rap music,” [like they used to say], “Stop listening to that race music.” The way I used to listen to Little Richard screaming Lucille in my bedroom is the way kids are listening to Fifty Cent today. They love it, because their parents hate it.”

Hairspray does not only closely reflect Detroit in its message for racial integration, but many of the songs in Hairspray come from a music genre that was prominent in the 1960s – Detroit’s own Motown sound. In the 60s, Motown was a forward thinking genre, so it’s no surprise that some of Hairspray’s main characters sing songs with a Motown groove such as “Run and Tell That” or “Without Love.”

Kelli Wereley as Tracy Turnblad, Andrick Siegmund as Edna Turnblad

The cast includes (in alphabetical order): 

George Abud (Southfield, MI) as Wilbur Turnblad, Robbie Dwight (Detroit, MI) as Corny Collins, Jacqueline Fenton (Allen Park, MI) as Penny Pingleton, Taurean Hogan (Detroit, MI) as Seaweed, Bridgette Jordan (Southfield, MI) as Motormouth Maybelle, Sara Kline (Madison Heights) as Prudy Pingleton, Kelly Klopocinski (Sterling Heights, MI) as Amber Von Tussle, Matthew Kurtz (Detroit, MI) as Mr. Pinky, Jackson McLaskey (Mt. Clemens, MI) as Link Larkin, Britta Peele (Harrison Township, MI) as Velma Von Tussle, Aeisha Reese (Flint, MI) as Little Inez, Andrick Siegmund (Pleasant Ridge, MI) as Edna Turnblad and Kelli Wereley (Grosse Point Park, MI) as Tracy Turnblad and Katrina Carson (Southfield, MI), Ivy Haralson (Belleville, MI) and Carollette Phillips (Detroit, MI) as The Dynamites.

Chorus members include (in alphabetical order):

Mackenzie Conn (Walled Lake, MI), Kristin Dawn-Dumas (Detroit, MI), Renard Hamilton (Detroit, MI), Philip Henry (Detroit, MI), Jillian Jackson (Harrison Township), Sharayah Johnson (Birch Run, MI), Derell Jones (Detroit, MI), Sara Kline (Madison Heights, MI) Colin Mallory (East Lansing, MI), Kelsey Lusch (Clinton Township, MI), Matthew Miazgowicz (Dearborn, MI), Taylor Morrow (Warren, MI), Tiaris Patrick (Detroit, MI), Kelly Robinson (Royal Oak, MI), Luke Rose (Harrison Township, MI), Anna Seibert (Detroit, MI) and Nicholas Yocum (Royal Oak, MI).

The production team includes:

Michael J. Barnes (Director), Daniel Greig (Music Director), Mercedes Coley (Production Stage Manager), Michael Wilkki (Scenic Designer), Fred Florkowski (Technical Director), Jon Weaver (Lighting Designer), Mary Copenhagen, Clare Hungate-Hawk, Anne Suchyta (Costume Designers) and Tyler Ezell (Sound Designer).

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).

The Wayne State Theatre and Dance box office is open Tuesday through Saturday from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Hilberry Theatre at 4743 Cass Avenue, Detroit, 48202. Tickets may be purchased at the door at the Bonstelle Theatre (3424 Woodward Avenue) one hour prior to performances. Regular tickets are available for $15 and $12 discounted tickets are available to students, seniors ages 62+ and Wayne State University faculty, staff and Alumni Association members. Group discounts are also available. For more information, please call the box office at (313) 577-2960 or visit the theatre’s website at www.bonstelle.com.