Wednesday, December 05, 2007

An Evening of Valentines

Director Laurie Striebel and Producer Sue Owens treated the Fine Arts audience to two delightful evenings with the production of a two-part valentine weekend.
The first half of the evening found us following the lives of Andy Ladd and Melissa Gardner through a series of letters they have written to each other. In Love Letters, by author A.R. Gurney, we learn of the yearnings, triumphs and disappointments of two dear friends in an age before e-mail and text messaging.
Veteran Fine Arts member Julia Keim played the part of Melissa, while equally talented but new to the Fine Arts stage Rick Mason played Andy. We laughed and we cried, and thoroughly enjoyed every turn.
This poignant and sometimes humorous tale was followed by three hilarious scenes from Lovers and Other Strangers, by Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna.
Three different couples exposed the many faces (and farces) of modern-day love.
Current FASD President Charles S. "Charly" Davis IV and guest performer Amy Kuta showed us the pitfalls (and eventual rewards??) when Jerry makes every attempt to seduce Brenda to his bachelor pad.
Next we witness the awkward meeting between two lovers in the bathroom during a party that both, each attached to other partners, are attending. Rick Mason as Hal and FASD member Donna Ridella as Cathy kept us in stitches.
Then George Abud, a senior at Grosse Pointe North High School, as Bud, tries his hardest to break off his engangement to Susan, played by Ana Meda, also a GPNHS student. As might be expected, Bud succumbs immediately to the simple request "Did you get your tuxedo?"
Look for these two young thespians in future productions.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Christmas Carol

Director Susan Davis and Producer Shirley Worthman treated Fine Arts and Theatre Arts audiences to a wonderful portrayal of Israel Horovitz's adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the timeless story of the true spirit of Christmas.

As old business partner Jacob Marley (Charly Davis) looked on, Ebenezer Scooge (John Diebel) was transported through time and space first by the Spirit of Christmas Past (Karen Quarnstrom).

Scrooge was reminded of events and friends from early years (younger Scrooge played by a series of guest actors including Liam Conlan, Cody Shrader and Matthew Becker) , including best friend Dick Wilkins (Cody Shrader) and fiance Belle (Kim Czasnojc).
The Spirit of Christmas Present (Jack Petz) showed Scrooge how his miserly ways affected people around him, including the poor (the young chorus of Lindsey Shrader, Maggie Rapai, Liam Conlan, Amanda Shrader, Cody Shrader, Avery Platt, Caroline Forster and Claire Platt), do-gooders wanting to help them (Bernice Platt and Paul Gracey) and his employee Bob Cratchitt and his family (Rob Green, Isabelle Donnelly, Leonie Leslie, Claire Platt and Avery Platt).

He shows the famous twins Ignorance (Liam Conlan) and Want (Lindsey Shrader) to Scrooge with the warning: "This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."
The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come (Nancy Radke) then took Scrooge into the future to see the direction his miserly ways would lead, with his fellow businessmen (Matthew Becker, Paul Gracey, Geno Pirrami and fiddle player John Telford) debating even whether to go to his funeral, and scavengers Mrs. Dilber (Lisa Lechniak), Old Joe (Daniel Badia) and friend (Laura Pruitt) fighting over his clothes.
In the end, of course, Scrooge recognizes his errors, shouts out to Adam (Avery Platt) to get a holiday turkey for the Cratchitt family, promises to unite with nephew Fred (Gabriel Camero) and his wife (Kim Czasnocj) and to help all those in need.

And finally the audience was lifted into the Christmas Season by Tiny Tim’s “God bless us, Every-One.”

The Great Lakes Consort Baroque Ensemble

Lynne Marie Flegg (Oboe), Kristin Reynolds (Oboe), Mark Flegg (Trumpet), Nadine Deleury (Cello) and Angelina Pashmakova (Harpsichord) are congradulated and thanked for bringing their wonderful musical talents to The Playhouse and for taking us on a delightful European Holiday in the Baroque era.

Their music and oral presentations titillated our senses and put us into seventeenth century Europe. We learned much about the instruments, the music and the composers of the era, including Albinoni (Concerto a Cingue Opus 9, No. 9), Daquin (Le Coucou), Geminiani (Sonata in e minor), Purcell (Sonata in D Major), Scarlatti (Sonatas in C Major and d minor), Loeillet de Gant (Sonata in e minor), Telemann (Concerto in D Major) and, of course, J.S. Bach (Prelude from Suite No. 2 in d minor).
Our second season of Chamber Music at The Playhouse continues in wonderful fashion.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Gershwin Get-Together

Penny Masouris presented a delightful oral and video presentation about George Gershwin's life and music, highlighted by her playing and singing more than twelve of his show tunes.
Penny's obvious enthusiasm toward Gershwin's music rubbed off on the Fine Arts audience and the guests, enticing several to join in with the singing.
This wonderful program provided a fitting kick-off to the second season of Chamber Music at The Playhouse concerts.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Quatuor Nouveau of Detroit

Joseph Deller, Judith Teasdle, Jessica Zelinski and Brandon Cota are congratulated and thanked for bringing their wonderful musical talents to The Playhouse for the season finale of Chamber Music at The Playhouse.
Their first piece, the seldom heard String Quartet in G major by C.G. Reissiger told us that the music of this composer should be reintroduced to the modern repertory. It was beautiful!
Next our interest was piqued by the varying treatment given to a Russian folk theme by eight different composers.
And last, but certainly not least, was the incredibly soulful, beautiful playing of Borodin's String Quartet in D Major. In this case, Borodin proved the experts wrong in the common saying that the minor is richer than the major. Every movement was a gem played with heartfelt devoltion to the music and the composer. (Did I hear Baubles, Bangles and Beads in there?)

Friday, April 13, 2007

The MSU Graduate Brass Quintet

The April 12th Chamber Music at The Playhouse concert was another smashing success, filling The Players Founders Room with beautiful people and with even more beautiful music! Mark Flegg and David Turrill (Trumpet), Michael Rieg (Horn), Simeon Stoyanov (Trombone) and Clinton McCanless (Tuba) are all to be thanked and congratulated! From their opening with Canona Bergamasca to their closing with That's a Plenty, The MSU Graduate Brass Quintet's music was fascinating and entertaining to all. This concert was a great change-of-pace for our Chamber Music at The Playhouse series. In their own words, a brass ensemble is not the typical chamber music offering. But the group was up to the task of presenting an interesting array of music, from Renaissance to Ragtime, to a discerning audience.
Click on Chamber Music at The Playhouse for information on the next concert by Quatuor Nouveau of Detroit in May.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Absence of a Cello

Director John Diebel and Producer Norma Eschenberg gave Fine Arts audiences a wonderful weekend with this poignant comedy by Ira Wallach.
Andrew Pilgrim (Rob Green), a world-renowned physicist needing money, decides to turn to the corporate world.
He accepts help from Perry Littlewood (Charles Davis) in fitting the 'corporate mold'.
While sister Marian Jellicoe (Sue Owens), wife Celia (Laurie Striebel) and nosy neighbor Emma Littlewood (Karen Quarnstrom) look on, Andrew endures the first awkward meeting with the corporate rep Otis Clifton (Rick Christenhusz).
As it turns out, Marian and Otis get a thing going,
while daughter Joanna (Sharron Nelson) and Perry do the same.

Of course, Andrew has to carefully evaluate every question before deciding his future,

And after a loooong night out by Marian,
and Perry trying his hardest to be helpful,

Andrew finally says 'FORGET IT!!'

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Day After The Fair

Another successful Fine Arts weekend was experienced with the presentation of Frank Harvey's The Day After The Fair. Director Steve Shrader, Producer Lee Peters and their cast of Laura Bartell (Edith), John Denler (Arthur), Joann Koch (Letty), Laura Ver Beek (Anna), Shaun Day (Charles) and Gina Telford (Sarah) can be proud of their efforts.
In the turn-of-the-century love story, Anna, a servant befriended by her mistress, meets an attractive stranger at the country town fair. A second meeting leads to not unexpected amorous consequences. Charles, a budding barrister, returns to London, but initiates a series of love letters between the two. Edith, the not happily married mistress, assists Anna with her letters, which eventually lead to a proposal of marriage and a rather surprising ending.
The play is true to the short story On the Western Circuit by Thomas Hardy.
The set, based on a design by Darryl Clement for Theatre Britain was marvelous, giving the illusion of a carousel, which plays an important part in the telling of the story.


The period costuming, by members Laurie Striebel, Sharon Conti and Norma Eschenberg was breathtaking. A number of the dresses were pulled from our storage, patched, pinned, repaired and otherwise adjusted to put the characters into not only the right time period, but more importantly the right frame of mind.

Numerous period props were collected and manufactured by Geri Day and her crew, including a Halma board. What's that, you say?
Check out

And the music between scenes provided a continuity to keep the audience spellbound throughout the evening. It was composed, performed and recorded by Christopher George and kindly supplied for Fine Arts' enjoyment by Theatre Britain

Jan Robb displayed an array of beautiful pottery pieces in The Founders Room during the pre-show wine reception and intermission.

The evening was topped off by a delectable "light supper" served to us in their usual style by The Gourmet? Group.

And true-to-form, the last to leave The Playhouse were (you guessed it) Grete & Peter Rettig and Patti & Bob Phillips.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Amabile Bach Ensemble

The Amabile Bach Ensemble provided a wonderful evening of music by JS Bach for the Chamber Music at The Playhouse series on Thurday evening, March 8. The Founder's Room of The Players Playhouse turned out to be a perfect fit for this music.

Susan Clark Joul started us off and wowed the audience with the cello solo
Suite No. 1 in G Major (BWV 1007).

Not to be outdone, the foursome consisting of Catherine Sherwin (flute), Sonia Lee (violin), Ms. Joul (cello) and Angelina Pashmakova (harpsichord) completed the Trio Sonata IV in c minor, from the Musical Offering (BWV 1079) absolutely flawlessly.

Then, after lovely refreshments provided by the Fine Arts ladies, Ms. Joul's wonderful voice led the way through the cantata "Weichet nur, betrubte Schatten," (BWV 202). The accompaniment of the mini-orchestra consisting of Ms. Lee and Michael J. McGillivray on violins, Lynne Marie Flegg on oboe, Constance Marckwick on viola, Eugene Zenzen on cello, Ms. Pashmakova on harpsichord and Dale Anderson on double bass was something to both see and hear. The balance between musicians allowed us to hear every note from every instrument. Fabulous!!!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Detroit Reed Collective

The Detroit Reed Collective (with Paul Onachuck, Pete Kahn, Mark Kieme and Mark Berger) filled The Playhouse with some exciting music from saxophones, clarinets, oboes and a variety of other reed instruments (18 different instruments in all).
The jazzy evening was enjoyed by all!
The music included pieces by Lennie Niehaus, Juan Tizol, the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, Thrasher Sax Quartet, Astor Piazzolla, Charles Mingus, The Six Brown Brothers, Billy Strayhorn, J.P. Sousa and the debut of a new piece by Detroiter Walter White Forwind Motion for Woodwind Quartet.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Amabile Flute Quartet

The second of our Chamber Music at The Playhouse concert series on January 11th gave us another wonderful evening, filling The Players Founders Room with beautiful people and with even more beautiful music!

Catherine Sherwin(flute), Michael J. McGillivray(violin), James Greer(viola) and Susan Clark Joul(cello) are all to be thanked and congratulated!

Their opening with Haydn's "London" Trio captured the audience, which was then entranced with selections from "Carmen" and Beethoven's String Trio in c minor.

After a pleasant intermission, with goodies provided by Harbortown Market, we heard some hauntingly beautiful Japanese music by Toshitsugu Ogihara. The duets for flute and violin were presented to perfection by Cathy and Mike.

And finally, we were treated to Mozart's Quartet in D Major for flute, violin, viola and cello. One certainly couldn't tell that Mozart didn't like the flute. The piece was wonderful.

Throughout the evening, I was particularly aware of the lack of noise from the notoriously sqeaky Players chairs.

I'm now looking forward with great anticipation to our next concert on February 8. Check out the details by clicking below.