Flint Youth Theatre will hold auditions for Equity and Non-Equity Actors on
May 19 for adult roles in the 2014-2015 Signature Series season.

Auditions will be held from 11:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. on Monday, May 19. Those auditioning are asked to prepare a monologue and may also perform 16 bars of a song. Those performing a song must provide their own accompaniment. Playback sound equipment will be provided. Auditions are by appointment. Appointments may be made by calling 810.237.1530. Resumes may be presented at the time of the audition or may be emailed to info@flintyouththeatre.org or mailed to:

Flint Youth Theatre
1220 E. Kearsley St.
Flint, MI 48503

FYT is an award-winning theatre casting Equity and Non-Equity, paid adult roles for the following Signature Series productions in the 2014-2015 Season:

Alice in Wonderland
August 8-17
Rehearsals begin July 7
3 Adult Males
3 Adult Females

9 x Nourished
October 17-November 2
Rehearsals begin September 16
1 Adult Male
1 Adult Female

December 5-21
Rehearsals begin November 4
2 Adult Males
2 Adult Females

Bud, Not Buddy
February 27-March 15
Rehearsals begin January 27
3-5 Adult Males including roles specifically for African-American actors
2-3 Adult Females including roles specifically for African-American actors

The Diary of Anne Frank
April 24-May 10
Rehearsals begin March 24
3 Adult Males
3 Adult Females

Flint Youth Theatre practices multi-cultural casting. Actors of color are encouraged to audition. Call 810.237.1530 for further details or to schedule an audition appointment. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

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Clio Cast & Crew To Present Tony Award Winner – “Proof” in May

Clio Cast & Crew’s final show of their REGULAR season will be David Aburn’s Proof, directed by Jim Waner. The cast includes J.R. Nunley as Robert, Katherine Mizell as Catherine, Dawn Sabourin as Claire and Carl Mizell as Hal.

The play concerns Catherine, the daughter of Robert, a recently deceased mathematical genius in his fifties and professor at the University of Chicago, and her struggle with both his genius and his mental illness. Catherine had cared for her father through his lengthy illness. Upon Robert’s death, his ex-graduate student Hal discovers a paradigm-shifting proof about prime numbers in Robert’s office. The title refers both to that proof and to the play’s central question: Can Catherine prove the proof’s authorship?

Along with demonstrating the proof’s authenticity, the daughter also finds herself in a relationship with Hal. Throughout, the play explores Catherine’s fear of following in her father’s footsteps, both mathematically and mentally, and her desperate attempts to stay in control.

The original Broadway production won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2001. This compelling drama will be presented on Clio Cast & Crew’s THEATRE 57 stage, 2220 W. Vienna Rd., Clio May 9, 10, 16 and 17 @ 7:30pm and May 11 and 18 @ 2:00pm. Tickets are on sale now online at cliocastandcrew.com or call the box office at (810) 687-2588.

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Students can build on their passion for theatre with Spring Acting Classes at
Flint Youth Theatre. Spring Acting Classes meet for eight weeks beginning April 15 and are offered for students age two through grade twelve.  Class fees range from $70 to $95. Registration and information are available by calling 810-237-1530. Registrations are also accepted in person at FYT, 1220 East Kearsley Street, in the Flint Cultural Center. Complete class descriptions and registration forms are available at FlintYouthTheatre.org.

Spring Acting Classes provide a range of experiences for students. The younger students, age two through grade four, are guided in using their natural creative impulses, and in shaping them for short performances. Older students, grades five through twelve, are taught the skills they will need to breathe life into dynamic and believable characters, preparing them for the demands of a complete live performance. Regarding the experience of performing at the end of the eight week term, a Drama School student commented, “It is an amazing feeling to walk onto a stage and perform in front of people. All of your hard work pays off and everyone can enjoy it with you.”

Drama School classes culminate in a performance for family and friends on the final day. Classes are designed to be taken more than once so students may build on their skills while having a unique experience each term. Summer Theatre Camps for grades 1 through 12 are in July. Classes for students age 2 through grade 12 begin September 23 for Fall Acting Classes, January 13, 2015 for Winter Acting Classes and April 14, 2015 for Spring Acting Classes. Spring Break Theatre Camp for grades 3 through 6 will be held April 6 through 11, 2015.

Students may register for a term at any time before classes begin.  The best tuition rate for the Spring Acting Classes is availble for students registering prior to April 11.

About Flint Youth Theatre

Flint Youth Theatre is a member organization of the Flint Institute of Music, in partnership with the Flint Symphony Orchestra and the Flint School of Performing Arts. Its mission is to change lives through a lifelong continuum of music, dance and theatre. Since 1957, FYT has provided inter-generational live theatre arts programs for Flint and Genesee County residents. FYT is the nationally-acclaimed, award-winning resident theatre company at the Flint Cultural Center and, in a typical year, serves over 50,000 area residents through its programs and facilities.

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The New McCree Theatre Reprises Girl Group Review

Reviewed by Jon R. Coggins

The New McCree Theatre continues their season this week with the homegrown production of Those Gorgeous Glamorous Girl Groups at their home in Flint.

Written by McCree Executive Director, Charles H. Winfrey, and directed by local theatre stalwart, Cathy E. Johnson, the show is alternately a history lesson, a treatise on racial equality, and a delightful musical. Mostly though it was, for me and anyone who grew up in Michigan in the ‘50s and ‘60s, a wonderful trip down memory lane. (The first music I ever purchased was a Supremes album).

A bit of housekeeping to begin: A show, theatre or otherwise, starts at the time posted. Saturday, fully one half of the already sparse audience, showed up well after the curtain. This can not only bother the seated audience but the actors as well. (An apparent change in curtain time for this show might help explain the situation.) But, the comings and goings within the audience surprised me, too. This is not a nightclub folks. There are people performing. Give them a break. Sit down and watch the show.

The show, which is mostly a musical review of the burgeoning black girl groups of the 50s and 60s through modern times, focused on the Phil Spector era in Philly and, of course, Motown.

TGGGG started slowly as the production was plagued by sound problems. (It was explained to me that McCree Theatre lost most of its microphone sets due to theft). The third song in, “Mr. Lee”, kicked up the pace. It was more energetic with nice costumes (the costumes were great all the way through), the girls seemed more committed and the young male dancer nearly stole the piece!! The cast worked through over a dozen songs in the opening act. Almost all had the audience tapping toes and clapping in tempo. Most songs will be remembered; “There Will Be Days Like This”, “Mashed Potatoes”, “Locomotion”, “One Fine Day” were very impressive. “Never Walk Alone” was powerful. McCree has some wonderful, strong voices that easily handled the material.

The McCree Theatre band, as they were introduced, directed by Dr. Phil Young, was wonderful. Percussion, bass, keyboard and sax all could have played anywhere – but I particularly enjoyed the sax player.

The second act featured more standards from “Da Doo Ron” to “Zippity Doo Dah” to “Don’t Mess With Bill”. “And Then He Kissed Me” featured a very strong voice (I wish the program had listed the individual singers for each song). Another strong number was “Love Child”. In fact the  second act seemed stronger overall. “We Are Family”, “Needle In A Haystack”, and “Want Ads” all were delightful.

The set was sparse, as needed, to accommodate the singers and dancers. There was a wonderful backdrop featuring many of the girl groups of the 50s and 60s. The lighting was sepia toned and helped set the mood for the trip down memory lane.

I would be remiss if I didn’t offer some theatre criticism. A lot of the action took place in the back 1/3 of the set where unfortunately, the mics were at their worst. Bringing the performers down stage would have helped. Additionally, more than one number featured the vocalists singing toward off stage or even toward upstage. No matter the production, it’s important for the performers to engage and face the audience. I made this note quite a few times. Just a comment to the younger, less experienced actors: when you’re onstage, make the most of it. Commit to the action because simply walking through it can draw attention to you and away from the featured performers. Finally, actors doing some of the narrative must slow down. Communication with an audience doesn’t happen when the lines are delivered as if in a race to get them over with.

The glue, if you will, holding this production together and providing a through line was the narrator and DJ, Cassondra Harris. Full of life, information and energy, Harris spun the ersatz records and provided most of the historical information. She was engaging and delightful. She reminded me of the late Shirley Hemphill, a brilliant comedienne.

Despite the technical difficulties and the uneven range of talent, this show rocked and was extremely entertaining. The tech issues will resolve and the performers will only get stronger. McCree featured many enormously talented young folks. They can hold their own in any venue.  TGGGG is at its heart a tremendous concert!

Those Gorgeous Glamorous Girl Groups continues at the New McCree Theatre, through April 12, 2014 at the venue on 505 Cloverlawn in Flint. 810-787-2200. Take a wonderful, exciting and entertaining trip down memory lane and check out the tremendous home-grown talent available in Flint!














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“Jackie and Me” Hits a Homerun at FYT

 Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

            Sandwiched neatly between Black History Month and the beginning of the Major League baseball season, Flint Youth Theatre opened Steven Dietz’s Jackie and Me this weekend. The story of Jackie Robinson and his historic first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, it is also a recounting of the state of race relations in America at the time.

            More impressive here is the focus on the personal level as seen through the eyes of a time-travelling youngster obsessed with baseball. As young Joey Stoshack, George Lieber quite literally anchors this show. He takes his character smoothly from Joey to show narrator. He is rarely, if ever, off stage and turned in a truly brilliant performance Friday

            Director Rodney Creech’s troupe overall is terrific.  As Joey’s Mom, Elsa Harchick is strong and amusing as she counsels her son to overcome his temper and “be back in your bed by Monday morning” when he leaves for 1947!

            Jackie, as played by Kenn Hopkins, Jr., is a big personality with much to teach Joey about humility and controlled strength in the face of ridicule. Large in stature as well, he commanded the stage with his presence; a gentle giant.

            Baseball fans will recognize some historic characters who come to life in this show. First on the scene is Branch Rickey, the man who signed Robinson as the first Black player in the Major Leagues, played with gusto by Brian Haggard.  (He even looks a lot like Rickey – Google it!) Other roles Haggard plays include Joey’s baseball Coach and Dodger teammate and Robinson defender, Eddie Stanky.

            Gary L. Jones is amazing in his multiple roles from the kindly old man, Flip telling stories about losing his baseball cards (watch for this to come full circle in the end), to players Leo Durocher and PeeWee Reese. In that role he is able to reenact the famous moment when Reese stood up publically in defense of Jackie on the field.

            As the characters we love to hate, Bary Lehr is perfectly slimy and deceptive as Ant, the Dodger equipment guy, and Merek Alam does nicely as the taunting pitcher in the sandlot game trying to trip Joey’s temper.

            Other multiple roles of note include Mark Gmazel as Joey’s dad, as the angry Dodger, Dixie Walker, and as Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman, an abusive and vocally intimidating opponent of Robinson’s player status. Gmazel delineates these characters nicely, even to portraying Dad as the opposite of the prejudiced Major Leaguers.  Deirdre S. Baker is interesting in the roles of Robinson’s wife, Rachel and as Joey’s teacher, Ms. Levitt, the one who first sets Joey on his journey of discovery.

            The set for this show is clever and very flexible given it consists mainly of chain link fencing and benches.  These move quickly to become a variety of scenes that merge easily.  We loved the costuming, especially the ball player’s uniforms. 

            This is a marvelously well-done production. Its message is clear and kindly delivered, and it moves well accompanied by baseball sounds and scenes that to many signal Spring. At the same time it reminds us of a restrictive time in our history, and of a resilient man with the courage to cross a line that set awesome change in motion.

            Jackie and Me continues at the Elgood Theater through April 6. For more information and tickets contact the box office at 810-237-1530 or online at flintyouththeatre.org. 

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Clio Ushers in Spring with Bright Children’s Show “Monster in the Closet”

Reviewed by Shelly L. Hoffman

Clio Cast & Crew’s production of Monster in the Closet, written by Angela D. Stewart, premiered Friday night to a receptive audience of parents and friends, some of whom could be clearly seen capturing every lasting moment of it with their video cameras.

This is a children’s show for which director Cindy Hubbard has chosen to exclusively use young people, even for the adult roles.  Furthermore, as indicated in her program notes, she used everyone who auditioned (which amounted to over 50 participants), fashioning a rather cumbersome, yet clever, curtain speech and the addition of dance teams of monsters who performed prior to the start of each act and to close the show.  Additionally, some roles (including principal ones) have been double-cast with actors performing over just one of the two weekends the show runs.

Monster in the Closet relates the story of Murray (Levi Peabody), a rather hapless monster who occupies the messy closet of Emily (Mikayla Maier).  She and her friend, Stephanie, played strongly by Samantha Beauchamp, encounter Murray one night as he tries to sneak out to play Emily’s new video game.

Meanwhile, Murray is sanctioned by the Dream King (John Rak) and his factotum, Toady (Rochelle Dula) for allowing himself to be seen not only by the child he is charged with guarding but by her friend as well.  Rak and Dula bring life and welcome volume to the Theatre 57 stage.  Other standout performances come from the very young Clara Usealman and Jacob Hynes as the delightful dream weavers Robin and Jamie.

Emily and Stephanie enlist the help of some of their friends to try to catch the monster and the real action happens as the young girls stake out Emily’s bedroom and capture more than they bargained for.

The bright costumes and makeup of the monsters create a vibrancy on the stage and work well with the realistic and very lavender set.  Kudos to Set Dresser Jan Helfrich who really captured the essence of a young girl’s bedroom with the thoughtful placement of knick-knacks and a closet full of clothes.  As the closet is a focal point of the show, this nice attention to detail was quite noticeable.

While patrons were greeted upon entering the theatre with upbeat and fun music, it was sadly missing from lengthy and inexplicable scene breaks, where we were left in the dark for significant periods of time.  These sorts of subtle audio cues might be a better way to indicate to the audience when it’s appropriate to applaud, rather than the director (or someone close to the show) sitting in the back and clapping loudly to lead the way. The lights seemed to be problematic throughout the production as well, coming up, at times in a startling fashion.  It’s a shame these technical aspects were overlooked as there were obviously many talented youth on the stage who were giving their best effort to entertain.

Feeling, at times, like an episode of H.R. Pufnstuf, Monster in the Closet is mildly comedic. The fun factor of brightly colored and friendly monsters, alone, is not to be overlooked.  The actual jokes, though, are few and far between.  Each of the characters is merely an archetype and the playwright offers no useful message other than, perhaps, the lighthearted “Go clean your room.”  Still, parents and small children will enjoy it.

There is clearly a need for an outlet for children’s involvement in theatre in Clio, as attested to by the fifty-some kids who auditioned.  Congratulations to Clio Cast & Crew for attempting to fill that void.

Performances continue March 22, 28, and 29 at 7:30 pm and March 23 and 30 at 2:00 pm at Theatre 57, 2220 W. Vienna Rd. in Clio.  Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students, and can be purchased online at www.cliocastandcrew.com or by calling (810) 687-2588.


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UM-Flint’s “The Ash Girl” Tells A Famliar Tale

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

            Winding down the theatrical aspect of UM-Flint’s Department of Theatre and Dance season is a somewhat familiar story titled The Ash Girl. It’s the Cinderella story that is possibly closer to the original tale – the one before Disney and Hollywood mellowed the message.

            Allegorical tales that we know as fairy tales have a long history, and possibly this one has the broadest sweep across time and cultures.   This version by Timberlake Wertenbaker is a delicate mix of morality, humor, and even violence as we watch the humans be manipulated by negative monsters, positive animals and one quite nice fairy.

            Appropriate to the title, Ash Girl spends her time in a huge fireplace grate full of “ash” while her stepsisters preen, prance and generally behave badly toward her. After hooking up briefly with their mother, her father has apparently gone off thus abandoning Ashy. Alexis Harvey plays Ash Girl. Dressed in a gray and heavily draped dress with a head full of colored braids and ribbon-ragged hair, she exudes a sense of sadness, oppression and loneliness.

            When the invitation to the ball arrives, the familiar fevered preparation begins as the step Mother (Shelby Coleman) sets out to assure that one of her daughters marries into the royal family.  But these girls are not eager to please. Judith (Allison Kimber) moans about how much she likes to eat but “girls are supposed to be thin”.  As Ruth, Michaela Nogaj tom boyishly proclaims she doesn’t really want to marry anyone!

            In this story the prince is Amir (Kyle Clark), the only son of an exiled Princess named Zehra (Mary Paige Rieffel).  The ball is an attempt to ingratiate themselves and become part of the community, but Amir finds the idea of marriage as a way to make friends ludicrous. Rieffel brings a regal tone to her portrayal, even as Clark mirrors Nogaj’s reluctance to settle down.  It’s no surprise when these two are thrown together by chance and much to their mutual dismay.

            This story focuses heavily on the vulnerability of humankind. Much of Director Janet Haley’s show takes place in an eerie wooded setting where animals and birds crouch in the trees and underbrush. The seven deadly sins are personified, and they appear, comment, and slide away as the people in the story fall victim to their influence.

            Most vocal is Angerbird (Mark Vukelich) who screams from a high branch and Pridefly (Farrell Tatum) who is also in a tree with her filmy wings aflutter.  Sadness (RuSharra Euwing) mirrors Ash Girl, but doesn’t succeed in taming her. And Lust (Britton Paige) lurks in the shadows in his vintage Victorian finery.

Costumes for these creatures are terrific! Envysnake (Jodie Maier) flares her hooded head, Gluttontoad (Chazz Irwin) struts his bulbous stomach, and Greedmonkey (Emily McCaleb) slithers along branches and dances gleefully. Most impressive though is Slothworm (George Marzonie) in his total body bag and floppy hood. This character is definitely the comic relief with his pithy comments and constant desire to sleep.

Another standout character is Otter/Otto played splendidly by Matt Coggins. Using a stick puppet that looks for all the world like a real otter, Coggins actually makes this doll come to life.  He is joined briefly, but with energetic flair, by two mice (Dominique Hinde and Tyler Rankin), and by the wise white Owl (Elizabeth P. Taylor).

This story hinges on help for Ashy to get to the ball and that job falls to the Fairy in the Mirror (Jill Mac). This is a very nice effect as the fairy fades in and out of the mirror. The whole transformation of Ashy for the ball is well handled as well.

Finally, Father (Dennis J. Sykes) comes back apparently after months of temptation and confusion to complete the happy ending.  Yes, there is a happy ending, but not before some graphic foot mutilation, angry repartee and tense moments when the ending looks drab.

As originally told, fairy tales were meant to teach and to warn, and to impress the idea that we are the masters of our own fate.  This one will make you think and ponder, but it will also have you chuckling and applauding.

The Ash Girl continues today and March 28 and 29 at 7:30 pm and March 23 and 30 at 2:00 pm.  For more information contact the box office at 810-237-6520 or online at www.umflint.edu/theatredance






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