DETROIT – The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, a program within the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University is thrilled to announce its 2020-2021 season, the last in the historic Hilberry Theatre before transitioning to the new Gateway Performing Arts Center which is scheduled to open in Fall of 2021. Marking the 58th season of the Hilberry Graduate Company, the 92nd season of Dance at Wayne, and the 70th season of theatre at Wayne State University, this is a season like no other.
The 2020-2021 season features ten incredible productions including two Tony-nominated musicals with “The Rocky Horror Show” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” Arthur Miller’s Tony-nominated “All My Sons,” a Pulitzer-nominated play with “Everybody,” one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies with “A Comedy of Errors,” two powerhouse dance concerts at Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, and more thrilling shows for audiences to enjoy.
The season opens with Tracy Lett’s “Superior Donuts,” running September 18 to October 4, 2020 at the Hilberry Theatre. Celebrated playwright Tracy Letts (“August: Osage County”) brings his unique wit and to this comedy set in a rundown donut shop in Uptown Chicago. Arthur, the shop’s owner, a former 1960s radical, has settled into his later years, accepting the shop’s downward turn. His energetic but trouble assistant, Franco, an African American youth from the neighborhood, believes the shop can become a community hotspot by updating the store with healthy menu options and lively music. This “odd couple” find themselves at generational odds in this warm and humorous comedy featuring the new Hilberry Graduate Acting Company.
Following, audiences are invited to pull on their fishnets and join the company for Richard O’Brien’s “The Rocky Horror Show,” running October 23 to November 8, 2020 at the Hilberry Theatre. “The Rocky Horror Show,” with music, book and lyrics by Richard O’Brien, is the cult classic, having celebrated hundreds of productions and thousands of midnight film screenings since it was thrust upon the world in 1973. Join Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a “sweet transvestite” on the verge of a major scientific breakthrough. Come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab. Audiences are encouraged to dress in costume for the show. Participation bags will be available for purchase for those brave enough to endure the show’s audience participation.
Next, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ “Everybody” takes the stage in the Underground at the Hilberry, November 6 to 22, 2020. A finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “Everybody” is a modern riff on Everyman, one of the oldest plays in the English language. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who The New York Times calls “one of this country’s most original and illuminating writers,” adapted this allegorical play for a contemporary audience to explore how modern society determines whether we’ve each been good or evil in our life. At each performance, “Everybody” is chosen from amongst the cast by lottery, as they follow their journey toward life’s greatest mystery.
For the holidays, Theatre and Dance at Wayne presents “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” adapted by Joe Landry, December 3 to 20, 2020 on the Hilberry stage. This beloved holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is created on stage in a magical experience that no one should miss. Follow George Bailey on his journey along with Clarence, Mary, Rose, and, of course, mean old Mr. Potter. This joyous experience will delight everyone including young children.
The December Dance Concert opens for two performances only at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Detroit on December 12 and 13, 2020. Join these incomparable students for an experience like no other as our dance companies come together, under the direction of renowned faculty and celebrated guest artists, to showcase astounding works of artistry and athleticism.
Katori Hall’s “Our Lady of Kibeho” performs at the Hilberry Theatre from February 5 to 21, 2021. Written by Olivier Award-winning playwright, Katori Hall, “Our Lady of Kibeho” is an exploration of faith, doubt, and the power and consequences of both. The story, based on real events, is set in 1981, where a village girl in Rwanda claims to see the Virgin Mary. She is denounced by her superiors and ostracized by her schoolmates—until impossible happenings begin to appear to all. Skepticism gives way to fear, causing upheaval in the school community and beyond. Ms. Hall is also the recipient of the National Black Theatre’s August Wilson Playwriting Award and the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, among many other accolades.
Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,”performing March 5 to April 3, 2021 in the Underground at the Hilberry, is a fast-paced, wildly funny musical. An eclectic group of six mid-pubescents vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get a juice box. With music and lyrics by William Finn (“Falsettos”), book by Rachel Sheinkin, and conceived by Rebecca Feldman, it’s a riotous ride, complete with audience participation, it’s a delightful den of comedic genius.
Celebrating 92 years of dance at Wayne State University, the 92nd Annual Spring Dance Concert performs at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts on April 2 and 3, 2021. The concert features pieces by both renowned and up-and-coming choreographers all performed by dance students. This one-weekend-only concert is a crowd favorite and will leave audiences mesmerized.
William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” takes over the Hilberry Theatre April 15 to May 2, 2021 with the outrageously funny story of identical twin boys and their identical twin servants who are separated at birth during a tragic shipwreck. Twenty-three years later, their father, along with one of the sons and his son’s servant, arrive in a new country in an ongoing search for the lost brothers. Meanwhile, the son’s twin brother and servant’s twin brother arrive in town. Comedy and chaos reign as mistaken identities rock everyone in town and leave its population questioning their sanity. Trade logic for laughter as Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors”comes to life at the Hilberry.
And finally, closing out the season, is Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons,” April 30 to May 16, 2021 in the Underground at the Hilberry. Inspired by a true story, “All My Sons” follows an American family as they struggle with greed and loss after the end of World War II. Joe Keller, the father, was a successful businessman who, with his partner, manufactured airplane parts for the military. When those parts were found to be defective, resulting in the death of twenty-one pilots, the two were tried for their crime. His partner went to prison but Joe was exonerated. This dark stain consumes the family, who lost their youngest son, a pilot, during the war, and reignites tension when their eldest son announces his plans to marry his lost brother’s fiancé. The American dream is interrogated in this fierce drama written by acclaimed American playwright, Arthur Miller.
Season subscriptions offer substantial savings as well as exclusive subscriber benefits. Patrons save 20% on the regular ticket prices when purchasing either a Hilberry Package which includes the five Hilberry productions (“Superior Donuts,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” “Our Lady of Kibeho,” and “The Comedy of Errors”) for just $120, a savings of $31 or a Pick 6 Package where patrons can select any six or more shows starting at just $144, a savings of $42. Additional savings are available to senior citizens; WSU faculty, staff, and alumni; and students. Subscribers enjoy priority seating, free ticket exchanges, invitations to special events, and 10% off when buying extra tickets. Subscriptions are available for purchase beginning January 14, 2020. Tickets to individual shows go on sale July 1, 2020. The Box Office is open Tues. through Fri. from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. except on university holidays. Learn more at www.theatreanddanceatwayne.com.
Public and School Groups: Discounts are available to groups of 10 or more to any performance. Multiple productions offer 10 a.m. weekday matinees, designed to better fit with school needs, including: “Superior Donuts” on Wednesday, Sept. 30, “Everybody” on Tuesday, Nov. 17, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” on Tuesday, Dec. 8 and Friday, Dec. 11, “Our Lady of Kibeho” on Tuesday, Feb. 9 and Wednesday, Feb. 17, Company One Dance Concert on Friday, April 3, “The Comedy of Errors” on Wednesday, April 20 and Friday, April 23, and “All My Sons” on Tuesday, May 11. Study guides are available for each 10 a.m. weekday matinee production.
Accessibility: The Hilberry Theatre offers ramped entrances on the Hancock Ave. side of the building as well as ramped access from the lobby into the seating area. Wheelchair-accessible seating is available as well as a wheelchair-accessible restroom is located in the lobby. Assisted-listening devises are available free of charge to patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Underground at the Hilberry is only accessible by stairs. A Stair Trac system is available to assist those patrons needing mobility assistance. For more information, please visit www.theatreanddanceatwayne.com/accessibility.
Location and parking information: The Hilberry Theatre and the Underground at the Theatre are located at 4841 Cass Avenue on the campus of Wayne State University. Paid parking is available nearby in Parking Structure 8 (91 West Forest between Woodward Ave. and Cass Ave.), the Park N Lock located on Cass Ave. across from the theatre, as well as additional surface lots and street parking. The Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts is located at 350 Madison St. in downtown Detroit with paid parking at several lots located within walking distance of the venue.
- “Superior Donuts” (September 18 to October 4, 2020 at the Hilberry Theatre)
- “The Rocky Horror Show” (October 23 to November 8, 2020 at the Hilberry Theatre)
- “Everybody” (November 6 to 22, 2020 at the Underground at the Hilberry)
- “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” (December 3 to 20, 2020 at the Hilberry Theatre)
- December Dance Concert (December 12 and 13, 2020, at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts)
- “Our Lady of Kibeho” (February 5 to 21, 2021 at the Hilberry Theatre)
- “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” (March 5 to April 3, 2021 at the Underground at the Hilberry)
- 92nd Annual Spring Dance Concert (April 2 and 3, 2021, Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts)
- “The Comedy of Errors” (April 15 to May 2, 2021 at the Hilberry Theatre)
- “All My Sons” (April 30 to May 16, 2021 at the Underground at the Hilberry)
About the Wayne State University
Wayne State University is one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://research.wayne.edu/