posted October 17, 2006

Hope Theatre to Present "Wonderful Town"

 Hope College Theatre will present its production of "Wonderful Town" in the DeWitt Center main theatre on Tuesday-Saturday, Nov. 7-11, with an 8 p.m. curtain.

A bright and energetic musical based on the book written by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov and orchestrated by Leonard Bernstein, "Wonderful Town" follows the lives of the Sherwood sisters as they venture from their quiet upbringings of Ohio to bohemian Greenwich Village in the 1930s. Ruth, an aspiring writer, and her younger sister Eileen, a blossoming actress, strive to pursue their ambitions with the help of some colorful characters they meet in the boisterous bustling of the Big Apple. While adjusting to the unfamiliar surroundings and trying desperately to make their dreams come true, the two women face lessons of life and love through their wacky adventures.

The department chose "Wonderful Town" because it is bursting with witty dialogue, jazzy music and jubilant dancing. Multiple departments are involved in the production.

"It's going to be fabulous," said director Daina Robins of the Hope theatre faculty. "It really feels like a collaborative effort between music, dance and theatre."

Faculty costume designer Michelle Bombe added, "The wonderful clothing of the 1930's adds special flair and panache to this production."

Choreography for "Wonderful Town" is by Dorrell Martin, an accredited Broadway performer, teacher and choreographer who is serving as a visiting professor in the college's department of dance. "I've really enjoyed working with the cast," Martin said. "They all have great energy; they're open and willing to learn."

In addition to Robins and Bombe, the production team includes theatre faculty members Perry Landes, lighting and sound designer; and Richard Smith, scenic designer. In addition to Martin, guest artists include Brian Coyle, musical director and Jazz Ensemble conductor; Kerry Daab, choral director; Linda Dykstra, vocal coach; and a special guest appearance by Jimmy Leach of the music faculty as Speedy Valenti. Technical direction is provided by Hope College Theatre staff member Paul Anderson.

Hope students are also playing important roles on the production staff: senior Michael Braaksma of Cambria, Wis., associate costume designer; senior Adam Carpenter of Auburn Hills, assistant lighting designer; and senior Michael Dominiak of Dearborn, assistant properties designer. Other students playing an integral role on the staff include senior Reagan Chesnut of Grand Rapids, stage manager; freshman Jeri Frederickson of Wheaton, Ill., and sophomore Maggie McGurn of Traverse City, assistant stage managers; and senior Chris Turbessi of Nunica, rehearsal pianist.

Cast members include: sophomore Justin Barigian of Coarsegold, Calif., as Chick Clark; junior Isaac D. Droscha of Mason as Officer Lonagan; freshman Andrew Franks of Portage as Baker; sophomore Lucas Leavenworth of Naperville, Ind., as Mr. Appopolous; junior Sam Mirto of Saugatuck as Wreck; senior Kit Nykamp of Grand Haven as Mrs. Wade; junior Kelly Sina of Watertown, Wis., as Eileen; senior Kristi Szczepanek of Grand Rapids as Ruth; junior Jeremiah W. Vipond of Traverse City as Frank Lippencott; and junior Rachel S. Wells of West Bend, Wis., as Helen.

Other cast members featured in the chorus include: junior Jennifer A. Blair of Libertyville, Ill.; junior John Bruinsma of South Bend, Ind.; sophomore Isaac Bush of Muskegon; senior Kate Finkbeiner of Haslett; freshman Morgan Fett of Spring Lake; freshman Ciarra Lynnida Forsyth of Commerce; senior Kate Goetzinger of Indianapolis, Ind.; freshman Jared D. Graybiel of Lebanon, Ind.; freshman Ross Green of Delton; freshman Joshua Headapohl of Livonia; freshman Nicole L. Potter of Ada; junior Brandon Ruiter of Grand Rapids; freshman Candice Tindell of Grayslake, Ill.; junior Jocelyn Vammer of Midland; and sophomore Laura Van Tassell of Spencer, Iowa.

Tickets for "Wonderful Town" cost $7 for regular admission, and $4 for students and senior citizens, and are available in the ticket office inside the east entrance of the DeVos Fieldhouse, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWitt Center will be open on performance nights shortly before 8 p.m. The ticket office may be contacted at (616) 395-7890.

The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave. between Ninth and 11th streets. The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street