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.


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

The Studio Theatre world-premiere’s Chris Tysh’s Night Scales: A Fable for Klara K.

Tonight in The Studio, join the WSU Theatre family in hosting the world-premiere of WSU Faculty and literary favorite Chris Tysh’s Night Scales: A Fable for Klara K.

Directed by Aku Kadogo, infamous in the area and world-wide, the tale spins a melodic and broken path through the memories of one woman’s escape from her past, and from who she was. Set in Europe’s World War II, the tale tracks the path of escape when there is no place to escape to.

Looking for a sneak peak? Last night, Janine Pixley the publicist got the first photos of the production:

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Still need tickets? Try our super easy online ticketing system:

Ready for “The Comedy of Errors”?

Superhero Shakespeare; The Comedy of Errors As Seen Through A Young Man’s Eyes

After being separated for many years, two brothers set out to find their identical twin. When their journey begins, hilarious situations involving mistaken identity ensue. Will the confusion settle to reveal they have once and for all found one another? Come and find out February 19 through February 28 at the Bonstelle Theatre.

Sara Klien as Dromio of Ephesus, George Abud as Antipholus of Ephesus, Andrick Siegmund as Antipholus of Syracuse and Megan Fuller as Dromio of Syracuse

Director Jesse Merz stages this well known classic through the eyes of a disinterested young student who uses his imagination to transform each character in The Comedy of Errors into a superhero, villain or other childhood fantasy figure. Merzs’ unique concept reaches out to those who might regard Shakespeare as being “old” and “outdated”. His vision, combined with the set design by Fred Florkowski, captures the attention of the audience from the moment the curtain rises. This concept, combined with costumes by Mary Copenhagen and technical direction by Jeffrey Strange, makes this production of The Comedy of Errors a show that should not be missed.

The Comedy of Errors was once regarded as one of Shakespeare’s “lighter” plays. However, it is now understood as a complex and profound treatment of the conflict and hope inherent in human relationships. Written between 1592 and 1595, The Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare’s early works  and has been adapted for the stage, opera, musical theatre and film.

Andrick Siegmund as Antipholus of Syracuse and Megan Fuller as Dromio of Syracuse

Cast members include Andrick Siegmund (Antipholus of Syracuse), George Abud (Antipholus of Ephesus/Grosse Pointe, MI), Megan Fuller (Dromio of Syracuse/Warren, MI), Sara Kline (Dromio of Ephesus), Katie Lietz Flannery (Adriana), Laura Heikkinen (Luciana), Robbie Dwight (Duke), Patrick Loos (Egeon/Highland, MI), Kerianne Fergurson (Abbess), Justin Crutchfield (Angelo/Detroit, MI), Kyle Holton (2nd Merchant/Detroit, MI), Annabelle Young (A Courtesan), William Turbett (Pinch/Dearborn, MI), Samantha Moltmaker (Balthasar/Harrison Twp, MI), Alexander Trice (1st Merchant/Detroit, MI), Caitlin Morrison (Luce/Romeo, MI), Taurean Hogan (Jailer), Erin Hildebrandt (Officer/Walled Lake, MI), Jacquie Michnuk (Officer/Dearborn, MI), Ciarah Mosley (Messenger). Other production team members include Mercedes Coley (Stage Manager), Christopher Wade (Sound Designer), Bobby Tacoma (Lighting Designer) and Jeffrey Cotnoir (Publicist).

The Comedy of Errors plays at the Bonstelle Theatre February 19, 2010 to February 28, 2010. Advance ticket sales are available at the Wayne State Theatre Box Office, located at 4743 Cass (corner of Hancock), or by phone at (313) 577-2960. Tickets may be purchased online at The box office is open Tuesday – Saturday from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the door at the Bonstelle Theatre (3424 Woodward Ave.) one hour prior to performances. Regular tickets are available for $15, and $12 discounted tickets are available to seniors ages 62+, and Wayne State University faculty, staff, and Alumni Association members. Student rush tickets are available for $10 the night of the performance. Group discounts are also available. For more information, please visit the theatre’s website at

Dunelawn opened with a Bang!

Didn’t get a chance to check out Dunelawn at The Studio?

Well don’t you worry, there is another weekend left! There were laughs galore as the cast took the stage. You should join us this weekend (Thursday, Friday & Saturday) at 8 p.m. Check out for tickets!

The Talented Tenth at the Bonstelle!

The Talented Tenth, written by Richard Wesley, chronicles the life of Howard University graduates as they grow into middle age and beyond. Now successful leaders in the corporate world of the 90s, this group reflects on the lives they left behind and the choices they made that have molded them into what they have become.

Image, Jeffrey Cotnoir

Image, Jeffrey Cotnoir

“These graduates, once social activists, find their personal struggles involve family life, corporate takeovers and deep questioning of the significance of the civil rights movement,” says director Aku Kadogo.   The play captures the struggle these successful African-Americans experience as they redefine themselves in this new phase of life.

Richard Wesley simplifies the essence of The Talented Tenth by saying, “…one day you cut your hair, shave your beard, put away your sandals, go from yippie to yuppie, nationalists to buppie. Everyone tells you you’ve done the right thing. And you wonder if you really have.”

The Talented Tenth

Image, Jeffrey Cotnoir

The Talented Tenth is directed by Aku Kadogo with stage manager Eva Bushong.

The cast includes WSU undergraduate students Victoria Rose Weatherspoon (Pam), Christopher Lamar Edmonds (Bernard), Justin Crutchfield (Marvin), Christopher L. Tucker (Griggs), Erica Fuller (Rowena), Ciarah Mosley (Tanya) and Chris Johnson (Young Man).

The production team includes WSU theatre professor Fred Florkowski (Technical Director), graduate students Chris Otwell (Scenic Designer), Cara Ward (Costume Designer), Jim Costello (Lighting Designer), Jeffrey Cotnoir (Publicist) and undergraduate Bobby Tacoma (Sound Designer).

When:The Talented Tenth plays at the Bonstelle Theatre October 16, 2009 to October 25, 2009.

Tickets: Advance ticket sales are available at the Wayne State Theatre Box Office, located at 4743 Cass (corner of Hancock), or by phone at (313) 577-2960. Or online at

Prices: Regular tickets are available for $15, and $12 discounted tickets are available.Please call the box office for more information.

For more information, please visit the theatre’s website at