St. Dunstan's Theatre will be the first community theatre to perform local Michigan playwright, Joseph Zettlemaier's, It Came From Mars! The six-person cast brings to life the comedic show about the threat of Martians taking over the world and how it affects a 1930s radio show. The theatre is excited to be doing the show as it is only the fourth production of it to be performed.
"The script was sent to us and our play selection committee read it," says Molly Dorset from Birmingham who stars in the show and does public relations for the theatre. "One of the people on the committee had seen the show previously and really liked it, so they thought it would be a good show for us to do. Plus, we like supporting Michigan talent whenever we can."
Rita Liegl, the director from Beverly Hills, is happy to be part of the show. She actually had friends who were in the original cast of the show and was able to gain some insight from them. Liegl also likes that it is a great script to work with. "In general, it's a really well written comedy and there is a lot of interesting character work and interaction, which is really good for comedic actors to sink their teeth into," she says. "Plus I have a really talented group of people for my cast and every rehearsal we keep finding more and more of the comedy within the show."
The show is set in October 1938 when the cast of a second-rate radio show thinks they hear about Martians landing in New Jersey. The characters are diverse, over the top, and typical of the time frame. Dorset is having a lot of fun playing Dolores. "She's a little bit vague and ditzy at first," she says, "but actually is a science fiction writer so no one suspects her real talent."
Dorset is not the only Dorset in the cast, her husband, Paul, is in it as well. This is not the first time the couple has performed together as they have done over five shows with each other. Paul has also been on the board of directors for St. Dunstan's Theatre for two years and this year he is the President of the guild. In the show, Paul plays Werner, a German sound effects technician. "My character gives me the opportunity to go out there have fun on stage because he's kind of a goofy and klutzy guy," he says. "It's just great."
Gannon Styles of Novi plays George, the actor with a military background. "George is rather full of himself," says Styles. "He thinks he is one of the greatest actors in the world, when, well, he is not." Styles is excited about being part of the show and has previously met the playwright. He likes that it is a new work, but not a completely unknown work. "The show will give the audience an opportunity to get immersed in that 1930s world," Styles says, " and go along for a fun and comedic ride."
Janie Minchella has played a dual role of helping the audience become immersed in the 1930s era. On stage, she plays Maude the receptionist. "Maude is the girl Friday," she says. "She's the glue that holds everything together." Off stage, Minchella has been working with the costumes. The show takes place specifically in 1938 and there has been a lot of difficulty with finding period costumes. "Back then, women were just naturally smaller and built differently then women now," she says, "but it has been a lot of fun going to through vintage clothing." Some of the costumes had to be made, but vintage Vogue fashion patterns were used to give them the authentic feel.
Alan Canning of Birmingham and Deb Dworkin of Berkley round out the rest of the six-person cast. The cast is excited to be part of this production and especially performing it now in October. "This is the time of year that we allow ourselves to kind of believe that ghosts, anomalies, and aliens," says Styles. "There is this heighten sense that oh this really could happen." Halloween is around the corner and the production is planning on that to enhance the entertainment. "We have a lot of stuff planned for preshow and during the intermission that will get people in the mood for the Halloween," says Liegl. "Come see our comedy that has perfect timing for this part of the year and gets you in the mood for the season!"
It Came From Mars! opens October 12th and runs through October 28th at St. Dunstan's Theatre in Bloomfield Hills. For more information or tickets, visit www.stdunstansteatre.com.