Ballet 5:8 returns to Dayton with a program of one-act works featuring Butterfly. Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager’s newest work recreates the gripping scenes of the WWII Terezin ghetto, where residents created masterful works of art in defiance of their oppressors. The performance will also feature Slager’s Meditations, inspired by C.S. Lewis’ essay Meditations in a Toolshed, and Slager’s playful Brothers & Sisters exploring the beauty and contrast of men and women.
On Stage Dayton
Somewhere along the line Greg went from being just another “local” comic to becoming a professional who got really funny. He was invited to attend Montreal’s prestigious Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in 2002 as one of the featured New Faces of Comedy. I felt like a proud “comedy mom” when I stood in back watching his set that night and what was the beginning of many big breaks for Greg. He toured with The Bob & Tom All Stars Comedy Tour and appeared on BET’s Coming to the Stage and on Country Music Television. Greg has continued to play clubs, appear on tv shows like Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Late Show and NBC’s Last Comic Standing.
I was also in the audience when he taped Comedy Central’s Premium Blend back in 2009:
The Bob & Tom show has been good to you over the years- what’s it really like when you’re there?
Arrival Time:6:45 PM
Arrival Time:9:15 PM
Arrival Time:6:45 PM
Arrival Time:9:15 PM
Arrival Time:6:45 PM
Magical is the most apt description of J.M. Barrie’s timeless creation of Peter Pan. So, it’s not surprising that the entertaining Peter Pan prequel Peter and the Starcatcher, winner of five 2012 Tony Awards and adapted by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, The Addams Family) from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s 2004 bestseller, enjoyably retains the adventurous awe grounded in Barrie’s foundation while being completely refreshing due to the sheer amusement of putting the origin pieces of the Pan puzzle together.
In this Victorian tale, Peter is an orphan, a lost boy, downcast and dejected on the high seas aboard the Neverland where he meets Molly and her father Lord Aster, two Starcatchers proficient in the knowledge of starstuff, an enchanting sand-like substance that can give people and animals special powers. At all costs, Peter and Molly seek to protect the special trunk of starstuff from the villainous Black Stache and his band of pirates. After a violent storm causes the Neverland to shipwreck, Peter and Molly find themselves on Mollusk Island, where a gang of natives, an iconic crocodile and a terrific climax elevates Peter’s story to warmhearted heights. As an added bonus throughout the spirited action, rousingly and imaginatively staged by Bruce Cromer, colorful British Music Hall-esque songs by Elice and composer Wayne Barker arise, particularly the lively vaudevillian Act 2 opener.
The versatile Will Graber, a knockout in WSU’s productions of First in Flight and Crazy for You, is outstanding in the titular role in both physicality and emotional depth. Absolutely capturing the joy, innocence and hopefulness of youth, even when running, tumbling or falling in midair, Graber’s performance is magnetic and expressive, especially in the soaring Act 1 finale in which his face beams and his strong tenor can be heard as Peter rapturously sees his future home in the distance. Lauren Kampman, a standout last season in The Liar, is a dynamic, strong-willed Molly, effortlessly endearing, perfectly matched with Graber, and keenly aware that her character can’t survive simply on sentimentality. As Black Stache, Josh Aaron McCabe, WSU Professor and Guest Artist who skillfully directed The Liar, attacks his plum role with equal amounts of pompous swagger and egotistical goofiness, effectively swelling to a fantastic reveal concerning the character’s need for a certain hook. Julie Dye and Dean McKenzie are humorous as Peter’s jovial cohorts Ted and Prentiss. Louis Kurtzman (Lord Aster) and Kenneth Christian Erard (Slank/Hawking Clam) provide earnest authority and imposing intimidation respectively. Having portrayed mostly serious roles, Kaitlyn Campbell, a memorable Kattrin in last season’s Mother Courage and Her Children, loosens up with abandon as Molly’s nanny Mrs. Bumbrake and specifically the all-knowing mermaid referred to as Teacher who clearly did not attend the Billie Burke School of Whimsical Prophecy. Christopher Wells (Scott), Sophie Kirk (Alf), Ethan Evans (Grempkin/Mack/Sanchez/Fighting Prawn), and comical Jake Jones (Smee) complete the energetic cast, attractively costumed with period finesse by Michelle Sampson and Victoria Gifford.
Cromer’s top-notch artistic team includes dialect coach Deborah Thomas, sound designer Lara Sagraves, lighting designer Autumn Light, music director Matt Ebright with musician Kevin Anderson (bolstering the action with clever pop culture underscoring from composers such as John Williams, Henry Mancini, James Horner, Richard Rodgers, and the Sherman Brothers), properties by Terry Webb, and the particularly eye-catching, storybook-inspired contributions of scenic designer Pam Knauert Lavarnway, filling the stage with an assortment of scaffolding, trunks, crates, boxes, ladders, planks, tropical foliage, and more.
If you’re used to the version of Peter Pan tunefully reminding you to “think of lovely things and your heart will fly on wings,” I encourage you to take a different flight this time and savor the discoveries within this charming, family-friendly showcase.
Peter and the Starcatcher continues through Oct. 6 in the Festival Playhouse of the Creative Arts Center at Wright State University, 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Dayton. Act One: 70 minutes; Act Two: 60 minutes. Performances are Oct. 3 at 7 p.m., Oct. 4 and 5 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 5 and 6 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors and $15 for students. For tickets or more information, call the Box Office at (937) 775-2500 or visit wright.edu/theatre-tickets.
The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company kicks off it’s 51st season with two explosive masterworks from Tony nominated, world-renowned choreographer Donald Byrd. This program is aptly titled A Byrd’s Eye View, and features vibrant onstage conversations with Byrd.
Byrd’s Eye View offers a rare and special perspective on the work of this esteemed choreographer. The program begins with Harriet Tubman Remix, which brings to life the daring abolitionist and activist, who escaped slavery and returned south to free others. The Geography of the Cotton Field, a monumental work, explores the history of cotton in all its implications and cultural manifestations.
Join DCDC October 5th or 6th for this rare opportunity to catch a glimpse inside the mind of this brilliant artistic creator!
How To Go?
Victoria Theatre, 138 North Main Street, Dayton, Ohio 45402
Saturday, October 5, 2019, 7:30pm
Sunday, October 6, 2019, 4:00pm
Tickets $28 – $48 available at www.ticketcenterstage.com OR by calling 228-3630
It’s easy to dismiss composer Carol Hall and librettists Larry L. King and Peter Masterson’s hit 1978 musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas as nothing but a cutesy tale of prostitution. But often overshadowed by the sight of alluring women and the sound of mattresses getting an extreme workout is a highly relevant show about empowerment, family, security, sisterhood, and second chances.
In the Dayton Playhouse’s very entertaining production fluidly directed by Brian Sharp, a big-haired, wonderfully grounded Tina McPhearson resoundingly leads the way as the resilient, no-nonsense Miss Mona Stangley, proprietor of the Chicken Ranch in Gilbert, Texas in the late 1970s. With faithful support from her trusty sidekick Jewel (delightfully sassy Pamela Byrd) and good-natured Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd (folksy Ted Eltzroth), Miss Mona and her playpen have been able to avoid catastrophic controversy. However, everything unexpectedly crumbles when fiery TV reporter Melvin P. Thorpe (energetic Ron Maurer, far removed from his reserved Tateh in the Playhouse’s Ragtime two years ago) whips the public into a religiously frenzied uproar. Despite Miss Mona’s tuneful opinion that “there’s nothing dirty goin’ on,” Thorpe vows to expose the ranch’s illegal activity, ultimately receiving help from the hopelessly flighty Governor (playful Matt Owens making the most of the silly Sidestep, a highlight of Sandra Hyde’s choreography).
Still, as chaos overwhelms, the heart of the show remains Miss Mona’s gals, an assortment of colorful women from different backgrounds, different homes and different opportunities just trying to get by while feeling protected by their surrogate mother. Kelli Myers (Shy), Adee McFarland (Angel), Shana Fishbein (Eloise), Amber Pfeifer (Taddy Jo), Alicia Walton (Dawn), Shanna Camacho (Durla), Logan Hylinski (Beatrice), Stacey Ward (Ruby Rae), and Sommer McGuire (Linda Lou) are pleasantly unified. Myers, believably evolving from naivete to confidence, and McFarland, beautifully leading the poignant Hard Candy Christmas, are noteworthy in addition to McPhearson’s quietly descriptive account of Miss Mona’s Galveston winter rendezvous late in Act 2.
Elsewhere, Jackie Pfeifer (waitress Doatsey Mae) provides a tenderly reflective Doatsey Mae, Mark Diffenderfer (recently memorable in Dayton Theatre Guild’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) brings understated authenticity to the Narrator, Sean Gunther (Senator Wingwoah), John Jeurgens (Mayor Rufus Poindexter), Malcolm Casey (CJ Scruggs), Marabeth Klejna (Announcer), and Cheryl MacGowan (Miss Wulla Jean) add greatly to the material’s humor, and there’s plenty of rowdy fun bursting within the sexually rambunctious Aggies consisting of John Carrington, Samuel Hamilton, Adonis Lemke, Sean Mayo, Ryan Petrie, Bryan Schuck, and Josh Vance. Hamilton, Schuck, Vance, and strong tenor Lemke are also notable as the Dogettes Quartet.
Sharp’s first-rate artistic team includes scenic designer Red Newman, costumer Teresa Kahle, wig designer Steve Burton, lighting designer Richard Lee Waldeck, sound designer Bob Kovach, and music director Ron Kindell. Violinist John Root is particularly excellent among Kindell’s orchestra during Doatsey Mae.
Surprisingly, considering the subject matter, the Playhouse offers a relatively genteel, sexually tame Whorehouse. By no means does this production ever ascend to questionable levels of gritty, carnal ecstasy in tone or characterizations, clearing allowing for a genuinely fun, worthwhile outing.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas continues through Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Dayton Playhouse, 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., Dayton. Act One: 80 minutes; Act Two: 40 minutes. Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for seniors, students and military. For tickets or more information, call (937) 424-8477 or visit daytonplayhouse.com. Patrons are advised the show contains adult content, language and situations.
Jazz phenom Billie Holiday’s influential imprint on American music coupled with her humorous, unsettling and resilient testimony as an African-American woman facing incredible adversity while consumed with addiction fuels the magnetism of Lanie Robertson’s 1986 play-with-music Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.
Excellently presented by the Human Race Theatre Company at the Loft Theatre and set in 1959 Philadelphia, Lady Day brings forth the heartache and joys of Holiday’s career, spoken four months before her death at age 44, with bold, blunt and naughty purpose. Structurally, it’s easy to pigeonhole this play as far-fetched, especially when you consider the likelihood of any prominent celebrity in the 1950s sharing such personal, tragic details of their lives with relative abandon, including accounts of abuse, racism and imprisonment. But Holiday loved to sing, and truly loved her audience in return, so it’s not unsurprising that she would be a completely open book, especially in her drunken, drug-addicted haze. With assistance from her concerned, supportive accompanist Jimmy Powers (Keigo Hirakawa), Holiday (an absolutely luminous Tanesha Gary) transforms into a compelling storyteller, particularly and vividly reflecting on touring the segregated South with bandleader Artie Shaw and being denied access to a restroom.
Beautifully costumed in a gleaming white gown with matching gloves by David M. Covach, Gary, a terrific Caroline Thibodeaux in the Human Race’s 2011 production of Caroline, or Change, smoothly executes Holiday’s journey with colorful sting (director Scott Stoney astutely ensures her repartee is flavorful yet impactful) and stellar vocals. She notably resists providing a full-throttle impersonation of Holiday akin to Audra McDonald’s performance in the 2014 Broadway revival, but her work is effective nonetheless in terms of paying homage to the spirit of Holiday’s definitive magic. Backed by an exemplary jazz trio consisting of knockout keyboardist Hirakawa, percussionist/music director Deron B. Bell Sr., and bassist Eddie Brookshire, her many standout renditions include the swinging groove of What a Little Moonlight Can Do (impeccably bolstered by Hirakawa) and breezy Easy Livin,’ in addition to her outstanding phrasing within God Bless the Child and her powerfully descriptive, chill-inducing Strange Fruit. All of these tuneful moments and more are accented by the wonderfully intimate ambience established in the work of scenic designer Scott J. Kimmins, lighting designer John Rensel and sound designer Jay Brunner. In fact, the final seconds eerily transition into a gorgeously surreal dreamscape courtesy of Rensel.
Holiday left this world far too soon, but her iconic legacy unquestionably inspired an array of brilliant vocalists such as Diana Ross, Ledisi and Amy Winehouse. Her life was not in vain and her story deserves your attention.
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill continues through Sept. 29 at the Loft Theatre, 126 N. Main St., Dayton. The production is performed in 75 minutes without intermission. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; and 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tickets: $19.50-$37. There are also select side-area seats available for $16 and $28 at all performances. In addition, all adult priced tickets are discounted at 50 percent for students with proof of a student I.D. Stage seating (five tables intended for couples) is also available for $27.50-$52. For tickets or more information, call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit humanracetheatre.org or ticketcenterstage.com.
FYI: The Human Race Theatre Company is partnering with the Neon Movies for the Women of Influence in the Movies Series. On Monday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m., the Neon will screen a double bill of New Orleans, in which a gambling hall owner entertains his patrons with hot jazz by Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, and the newly restored short film Symphony in Black, in which Billie Holiday makes her screen debut as Duke Ellington plays his symphonic jazz piece. Tickets are $8 each or $30 for a series pass, available at neonmovies.com.
Over 13 years ago Shelly Hulce started a story telling event here in Dayton and called it Story Slamm. From it’s humble beginnings in a coffee shop on 5th in the Oregon District, to Ghostlight on Wayne, then a run at Black Box Improv Theatre, Shelly’s Story Slamm carried the torch for local storytellers.
From the very beginning she was working toward one goal: Grabbing the attention of New York City’s storytelling organization known as The Moth.
It was in 2016 that the Story Slamm was re-ignited by Bryan Suddith after his appearance on a Moth Story stage in Louisville Kentucky. Both he and Shelly with support from Lisa Grigsby and Brian Petro grew Dayton’s Story Slam into the monthly event it is now.
Story Slamm as Shelly envisioned it 13 years ago was an opportunity for people from all parts of Dayton to gather and share stories around a common theme. Story Slamm has done that. More than 100 open mic shows featuring literally hundreds of storytellers and their stories have been shared since Shelly put things into motion on 5th Street over a decade ago.
As Story Slam Dayton enters it’s 4th Season at Wiley’s Comedy Club this Tuesday, Shelly won’t be taking the stage. After 13 seasons, and after The Moth wowed crowds at Victoria Theater with their Mainstage show in April, Shelly is retiring. She is leaving Story Slam Dayton in the hands of co-producer Bryan Suddith and the support of Grigsby and Most Metro. Brian Petro remains on the team as well supporting the event with marketing and graphic design.
Those that love stories, or have experienced an open mic event here in Dayton owe Shelly a debt of gratitude for plugging away at that dream of hers for so long.
Shelly will not be a stranger to Story Slam and you can hear her each Tuesday from 8-11pm as she hosts the Wax Carnival on Oldies 97.3 fm. The Wax Carnival is a specialty show featuring deep cut album rock. This is the music you “didn’t” buy the record for. Digging out the jewels in the grooves a little closer the the center of the record, GladGirl covers psychedelic, progressive (prog rock), blues, jazz, punk, new wave, alt country and some far out silliness of the “counter culture”.
Forget 42nd Street. There’s nothing more naughty, bawdy and gaudy than Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone’s unapologetically irreverent and utterly hilarious musical The Book of Mormon, skillfully opening the Victoria Theatre Association’s 2019-2020 season at the Schuster Center.
Recipient of the 2011 Tony Award for Best Musical and 2012 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, The Book of Mormon addresses themes of friendship, betrayal, faith, culture clash, oppression, disillusionment, and self-worth centered on the spiritual convictions and mission associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As two polar opposite Mormon missionaries seek to save souls in dire, disease-stricken Uganda, their journey of initial reluctance and overwhelming adversity comically evolves into a greater understanding of their potential and purpose. Charming tunes such as Hello, Two by Two, You and Me (But Mostly Me), Man Up, and I Am Africa set the perfect tone in both brazen humor and profane substance. In particular, Joseph Smith American Moses, a playful spin on The Small House of Uncle Thomas ballet from The King and I excitedly performed by the Ugandan villagers, is truly one of the most shocking, jaw-dropping numbers ever conceived in musical theatre.
Under the wonderfully witty direction of Parker and Casey Nicholaw, this terrific, ensemble-driven tour, featuring Nicholaw’s dandy choreography, is engagingly led by the outstanding duo of Liam Tobin (cool, confident Elder Price) and Jordan Matthew Brown (awkward, compulsive liar Elder Cunningham). Tobin’s spirited determination, chipper smile and demeanor, humorous obsession with Orlando, and superb rendition of I Believe are hallmarks of his charismatic, sunny portrayal. Brown, relishing his embodiment of the showier Cunningham, is fully committed to the slacker mentality inherent in the role as well as the longing for companionship, attention and accountability simmering within it. In strong, funny featured roles, Andy Huntington Jones delights as the closeted Elder McKinley (Turn It Off is a razzle dazzle hoot), the lovely Alyah Chanelle Scott brings winsome spunk to her endearing portrayal of impressionable Nabulungi (Sal Tlay Ka Siti blossoms with hopeful desire), Ron Bohmer is properly authoritative in multiple roles including Joseph Smith and Mission President, Jacques C. Smith is a credible source of reason as Nabulungi’s dad Mafala, and Corey Jones effortlessly intimidates as the General.
Overall, anyone familiar with the audaciousness of Parker and Stone’s South Park and Lopez’s Avenue Q will not be surprised at the level of vulgarity and silly pop culture cheekiness on display. However, if you’re easily offended by crude language, religious mockery or the sight of Jeffrey Dahmer and Adolph Hitler simulating sex acts in hell this simply may not be the show for you.
The Book of Mormon continues through Sept. 1 at the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St., Dayton. Performances are 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Act One: 62 minutes; Act Two: 60 minutes. Tickets are $30-$133. For tickets or more information, call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.com. For information about the production’s pre-show lottery, visit victoriatheatre.com/shows/book-of-mormon. Also, patrons are advised the show contains strong adult content and language.
Jennie Garth & Tori Spelling announced their all new tour today, JENNIE GARTH & TORI SPELLING LIVE. The tour will bring the ladies of 90210 to zip codes across America for the ultimate girls night. The evening promises to be filled with memories and laughs, and of course a ton of fun, at an event best described as an interactive, live talk show hosted by Jennie & Tori.
Audience members can expect the unexpected, becoming as much a part of the show as Jennie & Tori. This is the can’t-miss experience that fans who have grown up alongside them have been waiting for – where anything can happen live! It’s Jennie and Tori’s party, and they’ll do what they want!
The tour announcement coincides with FOX’s new series, “BH90210,” co-created, produced by and starring Garth and Spelling. The new series follows the original cast playing heightened versions of themselves in a brand-new serialized dramedy- showing the making of a show within a show.“BH90210” premieres on Wednesday, August 7 on FOX, at 9/10c.
Jennie Garth stated, “Tori and I have been dreaming up this tour for a long time. We’ve wanted to have that one-on-one experience with our fans who have supported us throughout the years. Each night on stage, we’re going to have a brand new show, sharing laughs, playing games, drinking a cocktail, answering your questions and, of course, telling you all of our 90210 stories. What could be better than hitting the road with my best friend?”
Tori Spelling added, “I love the relationship I have with my best friend Jennie. No one makes me laugh harder than she does. We have such amazing stories to tell. Now, we get to share our special friendship with our fans LIVE! Bring your BFF and come enjoy an interactive experience with me and my BFF. It’ll definitely be a night to remember!”
Reserved tickets for the show on Tuesday, Nov 12th, are on sale now at www.tafttheatre.org, the Taft Theatre Box Office, and : $62.50, $52.50 & $42.50 (plus applicable fees)www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets run from $62.50, $52.50 & $42.50 (plus applicable fees)
Jared Eberlein of Northfield, Massachusetts received top honors at the 29th annual Dayton Playhouse FutureFest of new works for his historical drama Fall with Me, the story of an African-American World War I veteran facing a crossroads.
Set in 1930s Baltimore and inspired by the true story of the 1932 “Bonus Army” who met in Washington D.C. to demand cash-payment redemption of their service certificates, Fall with Me scored highest among six plays showcased at the July 19-21 all-volunteer festival. Five professional adjudicators judged each play (chosen from over 350 submissions) based on criteria including characters/language, plot, story/dramatic concept, page-to-stage, and the next stage.
Presented as a staged reading July 21 and directed by Dawn Roth Smith, who helmed last year’s winner Of Men and Cars, Fall with Me featured Justin Lampkins as Jasper (JJ) Johnston, Bryana Bentley as Bithiah Johnston, Tia Seay as Delia Reddy, Franklin Johnson as Harry Thompkins, Sean Mayo as Lenny Leventhal, and Sadie Hornick as the voice of Bessie Johnston.
“Truth be told, I was kind of in shock,” said Eberlein, who received $1,000 for his play but declined to give an acceptance speech. “You learn as a playwright to minimize expectations because there are so many of us trying to find places for our work and there’s no mathematic equation that says one piece should be done over another. There were six wonderful and unique pieces in the festival year. I was also taken aback because the entire weekend felt so familial, community-driven, passionate for new works and supportive of us as a collective of playwrights that it was almost weird that for two-and-a-half minutes it became a competition. Winning was truly a bonus. I was grateful to have my work included in the festival at all. I suppose it’s a lesson to always have a speech in my back pocket or at least have a joke about not having a prepared speech. If I were to do the moment over, with less shock and awe, I, of course, would mention that I owe the play’s director, Dawn Roth Smith, a huge debt of gratitude along with a stellar cast for their work: Bryana Bentley, Franklin Johnson, Justin Lampkins, Sean Mayo, and Tia Seay.”
As Eberlein continues to develop Fall with Me, he looks forward to taking into account the generous feedback he received. The enlightening panel of adjudicators, consisting of theatre critics/writers/dramaturgs, consisted of longtime returning judges David Finkle, Helen Sneed and Eleanore Speert as well as newcomers Stephanie Cowan and Arthur M. Jolly.
“I was encouraged both by the response from the adjudicators and the audience,” he said. “There was some really insightful feedback I’m considering as I make the next round of rewrites on the piece. I think as a whole the piece is getting close to where I want it as playwright. Then it really comes down to who produces it and the actors who are embodying the roles. Actors are amazing beings and they teach you so much about what your piece is (and) can be. And through them, and a wonderful director, what started as ‘my creation’ becomes ‘our creation,’ a collaboration. A primary goal for any play that I write is to provide a strong foundation on which a variety of artists can construct their own unique energy and motivations. Based on the reading of ‘Fall with Me’ that happened prior to FutureFest and then hearing the one this past weekend, I think the play is doing that. And that makes me happy and very excited for whatever comes next.”
North Wales, Pennsylvania playwright Shelli Pentimall Bookler’s historical drama On the Horizon, an engaging, tense look at the crew of the SS Californian that watched Titanic sink the evening of April 14, 1912 even though they were only within 10 miles from them, was named Audience Favorite. Directed by Annie Pesch and strikingly scenic designed by Chris “Red” Newman, On the Horizon featured Playhouse Board Chairman Matthew Lindsay as Captain Stanley Lord, Brian Buttrey as George Stewart, Brandon Shockney as Herbert Stone, Will Taylor as Charlie Groves, Jefferson Smith as Cyril “Sparks” Evans, and Samuel Hamilton as Jimmy Gibson. The imposing Buttrey, remarkable in a rare stage appearance, and the vibrant, humorous Hamilton delivered breakthrough performances.
Other contenders included Commerce, Michigan playwright Linda Ramsay-Detherage’s historical drama The Princess at Midnight (directed by Dorothy Michalski), New York City playwright Norman Mathews’ contemporary military drama Drone (directed by Craig Smith), Westlake Village, California playwright Robert Weibezahl’s gentle, nostalgic friendship dramedy Which Way the Wind Blows (directed by Abe J. Bassett), and New York City playwright Rich Orloff’s contemporary generational family dramedy Men Overboard (directed by Janet Powell). Ramsay-Detherage notably won the 2011 FutureFest for Sugarhill. Orloff was a 1993 finalist for Veronica’s Position. Bookler, Ramsay-Detherage, Weibezahl, and Orloff received $100.
Due to a family medical emergency, Mathews was unable to attend the festival and disqualified from the competition. However, Drone, a relevant, riveting examination of family, culture and prejudice concerning a Nevada drone pilot surveilling a Pakistani suspected of being a Taliban insurgent, was performed nonetheless. The cast featured Fran Pesch as Farishta Khan, Brendan Milligan as Arman Kahn, Shanna Camacho as Diwa Kahn, Karan Singh as Salar Kahn, Ray Geiger as Lieutenant Mike Powell, Lynn Vanderpool as Sergeant Tonya Spanger, Jefferson Smith as Robbie Powell, Elise Laskowski as Kristen Powell, Mike Taint as Colonel Andrews, and Becky Howard as TV Announcer. Drone and On the Horizon greatly benefitted from terrific dialect coaching by Fran and Annie Pesch.
Additionally, the cast of Which Way the Wind Blows featured Charles Larkowski as Marty O’Neill, Krissy McKim-Barker as Thalia Whetstone, Michael Markus as Gerald Freeman, Cynthia Karns as Carol O’Neill, Benjamin Jones as Paul Travis (age 11) and Peter Freeman (age 11), Chavin Medina as Marty O’Neill (age 11), Spencer Berta as Paul Travis (age 18), and Jennifer Lockwood as Peggy O’Neill; the cast of The Princess at Midnight featured Jamison Meyer as Jacob Simon, Tamar Fishbein as Rachel Simon, Spencer Berta as Benjamin, Ryan Shannon as Michael, Treonte King as William, and Carrin Ragland as Princess; and the cast of Men Overboard featured David Nickel as Ernie Silver, Michael Schumacher as Doug Silver, Steve Voris as Jay Silver, Sean Mayo as Robert Silver, Ana Ryan Kennedy as Eva Fuzesi, and Connor Egloff as Abraham Silver.
Furthermore, on July 18 at the Playhouse, Annie Pesch delivered a stellar performance in Desiree York’s one-woman show Fractured, a fascinating psychological mystery/drama centered on a woman coping with the loss of her father through the escapism of video games. The Los Angeles-based York was a 2017 FutureFest finalist for her outstanding African-American-themed generational drama “The Puppeteer,” which will have its world premiere Jan. 9-Mar. 15, 2020 at Detroit Repertory Theatre.
Mark your calendars: FutureFest’s 30th anniversary will be held July 17-19, 2020.
My FutureFest rankings:
1. On the Horizon
3. Which Way the Wind Blows
4. Fall with Me
5. Men Overboard
6. The Princess at Midnight