DAG invites you to the royal ball

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Taylor Charbonneau (Cinderella) and Nathan Vasquez (The Prince) at Catherine Daly Theatre.   Photo by Marco Airaghi.

 

Wyandotte, Michigan

Sometimes we just love things because they are beautiful.  It could be an exquisite red rose, a painting by Renoir, a spectacular sunset, magnificent ball gowns, delicious harmony of a chorale, and sometimes, a living china doll with a Mona Lisa smile. Taylor Charbonneau falls into that category – she appears in the starring role of Cinderella at Downriver Actors’ Guild, in the Catherine Daly Theatre in Wyandotte.  It’s not just window dressing. Yes, these lavish costumes by Debbue Aue and Karen Connor are to die for – they are stunning. I was enraptured by the long, flowing gowns fit for a royal ball. But the shining star was Cinderella – this actress looked like a china doll that came to life, and we were awe struck.

I love any play directed by Paul Bruce.  I know the voices are going to have beautiful harmony, I know the music is going to be perfection. When I heard in March he was going to direct this play, I delayed my flight to my winter home in Waikiki so I would not miss it. Along with John Sartor and Michael Gravame, Paul Bruce is community theatre royalty. On December 6, the family of Catherine Daly, for whom the theatre is named, threw a special Christmas party and the cast of Cinderella performed for this closed-door private event. Catherine Daly herself was in attendance. DAG chose its most respected musical genius to direct this Rodgers and Hammerstein performance. It was magnificent.

When I saw Anastasia on Broadway, the most striking feature of the show was the costumes. This show not only has the costumes to make your jaws drop, the choreography and voices were the highest level of quality one can expect from community theatre. Taylor Charbonneau may be only a college kid at the moment, but she is destined to become a professional singer. How Paul Bruce ever found her to star in this show has got to be his crowning achievement.

The private event began with Paul Bruce playing the grand piano in the lobby of the Catherine Daly Theatre. Board members set out a holiday sweets table with delectable baked goodies. The performance of Cinderella went off without a hitch.  I love when directors choose a full orchestra sound track rather than being cheap and having a woman sitting at a piano and a guy playing drum behind her.  I’ve seen that awful “music” too many times. A full orchestra is the way to go for such a beautiful production.  Paul Bruce knows music very well, and he made excellent decisions.

This show is very different from any Cinderella I have ever seen. This one includes Ella recommending a book to the Prince, one that will show him how to govern with compassion and justice.  I have never seen that story line in a Cinderella musical. It makes the show interesting, sort of in an intellectual way that Disney misses out on.  Changing from a peasant to a princess was cleverly costumed and choreographed, without the actress leaving the stage. It was like Reba McEntire’s costume changes while performing “Fancy” at this year’s CMA awards. This show is classy. It is beautiful. It is the Christmas show to go to!

Nathan Vasquez was assistant director as well as The Prince. He wore stunning costumes in this show. He has a lot of experience under his belt and will be directing Mary Poppins next summer.  That is a show to put on your calendar now.

We were particularly impressed by Aric Liljegren’s acting skills. Actually, he was too good. So I looked him up and saw he is a drama teacher, writer, and sculptor, whose work focuses on Norse (Viking) myth and culture. That explains a lot, because his timing, timbre, emoting and stance make him stand out as a theatre professional.

Public show dates are December 7- 22, 2019, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 pm and Sunday performances at 3:00 pm. Tickets are $18 for adults, with a $2 discount for students and seniors. To order tickets, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.

Cinderella:
Taylor Charbonneau
Gabrielle:
Ashley Gatesy
Charlotte :
Jaclyn Duvall
Madame:
Annie Mann
Marie:
Meg Berger
Prince Topher:
Nathan Vasquez
Lord Sebastian:
Aric Liljegren
Jean-Michel:
Zack Yaeger
Lord Pinkleton:
Branden Omoregie
Women’s Ensemble:
Stepheni Aguila
Amanda Aue
Sherry Irving
Lara Keathley
Danielle Konaszewski
Maya Liljegren
Men’s Ensemble:
James Aguila
Steve Baggett
Steven Baggett
Chris Gawel
Matt VanHouten
The Staff:
Director/Choreographer:
Paul Bruce
Assistant Director:
Nathan Vasquez
Music Director:
Tamara Laflin
Stage Manager:
Kristin Davis
Producer:
Chuck Bollman
Lighting Designer:
Valerie Compau
Sound Designer:
Joel Bias

Photo courtesy Downriver Actors’ Guild

Photo courtesy Downriver Actors’ Guild

Photo courtesy Downriver Actors’ Guild

(above) Photo courtesy Downriver Actors’ Guild

(below) Photos courtesy of Marco Airaghi

Paul Bruce poses with stars of Cinderella

(above) Catherine Daly poses with her admirer

(above) Catherine Daly poses with stars of Cinderella

Cast pose with Marco Airaghi

 

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Sir Knight, Dr. Anton Anderssen, Lord of Hartforth has been published by USA Today, CBSnewsDetroit, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Mensa Bulletin, Broadway World, eTurboNews, Hawaii Tourism Association, HawaiiNews.Online, Michigan Journal, Examiner News and other news outlets. He won the 2009 first prize in journalism from the Detroit Working writers organization, founded 1900 as The Detroit Press Club. He graduated With Highest Distinction from Indiana University (Comparative Literature), earned a Juris Doctor degree (Wayne State University), attended post-doctorate graduate classes in anthropology (University of Michigan), and earned a post-doctorate graduate degree in cultural anthropology (Wayne State University). He is a former concert pianist with Indiana University School of Music and the Detroit Institute of Arts. He is a member of Mensa and several other high IQ organizations including Triple Nine Society, ISPE and The Prometheus Society. He specializes in high culture, and is of Scandinavian, British and Castilian heritage. He was awarded the title of Sir Knight by the Knights of Equity, founded in 1895. He holds the legal title Lord of Hartforth in North Yorkshire, England, and is the direct blood descendant of the first Lord of Hartforth, documented in the Domesday Survey of 1086. He is the direct blood descendant of Plantagenet Kings of England and the Lords Kennedy of Scotland. He lives in Waikiki, Hawaii; Michigan, The Italian Riviera, The Italian Alps, and Milan Italy.