2020-2021 Season TBD

An important update from Theatre and Dance at Wayne

Dear Friends,

On behalf of all of us in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, I hope each of you are safe during this time. Governor Whitmer has declared a state of emergency, recommending the cancelation of large gatherings, based on the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation of social distancing for the sake of public health.

You may have already read that, in response to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, Wayne State University has cancelled in-person classes and we are moving to fully online teaching for the foreseeable future.

Following this guidance, the difficult but necessary decision has been made to cancel all remaining productions in our 2020-2021 season, including:

  • Bus Stop
  • Mary Poppins the Broadway Musical
  • Motor City Cabaret presents Do You Believe in Magic?
  • Stage Kiss
  • The Magic Kite and it’s school tour

We understand that you may be disheartened by this decision, as we are, but we truly appreciate your understanding that our first priority is the care and safety of our students and you, our guests.

What does this mean for your tickets to these two productions?

As patrons of university theatre, your ticket purchases support these students’ education beyond the stage. Allowing your ticket purchase to convert to a tax-deductible donation continues that support of our students and ensures that we can continue to offer quality entertainment and excellent education.

If you’d prefer to receive a refund, contact us at boxoffice@wayne.edu to request your refund. Please include the following in your email request:

✅ Name (as it appears on your ticket order)
✅ Address
✅ Date of Birth
✅ Amount Paid

If you elect not to contact us, we will send you a donation notification. It will take some time to coordinate these efforts. We appreciate your understanding.

We will keep you informed of future developments as we learn them. For now, please stay safe and follow the recommended actions provided by officials.

Due to the closure of all events, the Theatre and Dance at Wayne Box Office will temporarily be available by email only. Please contact us at boxoffice@wayne.edu with your inquiries.

Our Box Office is operating by email only. If you have an urgent question or concern, please write to boxoffice@wayne.edu.


John Wolf
Chair and Executive Producer

Coming up This Weekend – March 22-24, 2019

We have a packed schedule of exciting events for you to attend and participate in this weekend.


Opening Friday night at the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry, Suzan-Lori Park’s Obie Award-winning play, Venus, explores the turbulent and tragic life of Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman, who became an unfortunate star on the 19th Century London freak show circuit. Venus gives vibrant life to the story of a young black woman’s journey to London, her rise to fame, and her eventual relationship with a French scientist. Inspired by the true story of Baartman, Venus is a tragic-carnival, an intense and devastating journey honoring the life of Baartman and examining the way we live and love today.

Venus runs March 22 through April 13 at the Studio Theatre. This intimate venue, beneath the Hilberry Theatre, has limited seating and several performances are filling quickly. Buy your tickets today!

Venus is a formidable experience: a gnarly but brilliant meditation on the ambiguity of race, history, the colonized imagination, sexuality, and theatrical storytelling itself.” — The New Yorker

2019-2020 Season Preview Party

Join us on Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m. for our 2019-2020 Season Preview Party at the Hilberry Theatre.

Learn more about these exciting shows, enjoy a preview from Mary Poppins, experience the of our dance company, get a backstage tour of the Hilberry Theatre, play games for prizes, participate in a silent auction for our international projects, and more. Light refreshments will be provided.

Buying six or more shows in your season ticket package gets you 20% off the regular price, and you’ll enjoy special benefits like free exchanges, priority seating, discounts on extra tickets for friends and family, and more!

Our 2019-2020 Season includes:

  • Blithe Spirit by Sir Noel Coward
  • Sweat by Lynn Nottage (2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner)
  • Reckless by Craig Lucas
  • A Christmas Carol based on the Charles Dickens story and adapted by John Wolf and Tom Aulino
  • December Dance Concert
  • The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
  • 91st Annual Spring Dance Concert
  • Tobacco Road by Jack Kirkland. Based on the novel by Erskine Caldwell
  • Disney + Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins
  • Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl
  • Plus one mystery show we can’t wait to reveal! 

Show titles and dates are subject to change.

Bring your friends along! The more, the merrier. We love to introduce new people to the remarkable work created by our students and faculty.

 Tickets to the party are FREE but seating is limited. Let us know if you can come by clicking below!

Ten Minute Play & Dance Festival

On Sunday, March 24 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance First Year Learning Community presents the 2019 Ten Minute Play & Dance Festival. Enjoy thrilling short works from this talented community of students.
Admission: FREE

Mamma Mia! Singalong at Detroit Shipping Company

Detroit Shipping Company, 474 Peterboro St, Detroit, MI 48201
Admission: FREE

In anticipation of our upcoming production of Mamma Mia!, we’re hosting a singalong at Detroit Shipping Company beginning at 7 p.m. Come be part of the fun. RSVP not required.

And if you haven’t already purchased your tickets for Mamma Mia!buy them today as performances are selling quickly.

Nineteen Years of Creating Young Playwrights

Photo Credit: Ethan Williams

This year marks the 19th annual Louise Heck-Rabi Playwriting Festival, a staple of the Studio Theatre. Each year, six or seven semi-finalists are chosen out of numerous play submissions. The plays are given a table-read to an open audience, workshopped and critiqued, and three are chosen to be fully produced in the Studio Theatre! Each play is written, directed, performed, and designed by student artists, and each playwright is awarded the Louise Heck-Rabi Endowed Scholarship in Dramatic Writing from the Wayne State English Department.

But how did this all get started?

Back in 1976, Louise Heck-Rabi graduated from Wayne State with a PhD in English. Louise was an active member of the Poetry Society of Michigan, and the founder of Downriver Poets and Playwrights. An accomplished playwright herself, her works include Women Filmmakers: A Critical Reception and Rock the World, a one-act comedy which was performed Off-Off-Broadway in 1973. Louise stayed close to Wayne, however, and began working on-campus as a librarian and assistant professor.  In 2000, the turn of the century, Louise created this playwriting scholarship and festival in hopes that young Detroit playwrights would carry on her passion for original productions.

Photo Credit: Ethan Williams

This year’s selected plays all follow the theme of crossroads, and significant moments of choice and decisions. Woodhull by Sarah Summerwell, MFA in Acting, is a dark comedy set in Brooklyn, in which two siblings struggle with consequences stemming from mental illness and addiction. An unexpected visit from a mutual friend brings news that forces the family to question their faith in an individual’s ability to change. Unethical, by Joe Gaskill, BA in Theatre, is a thought-provoking drama inspired by real events. The play takes a spotlight to one man’s experiments and fascination with disgust in others. Ethical duties to others, sociopathic tendencies and confrontations between test subject and experimenter are explored throughout. Pettycoats, by Matthew Smith, MFA in Acting, is a lighter affair, a comedy loosly based on a 1792 newspaper article titled “The Petticoat Duelists”. The (likely fabricated) article tells the story of two women becoming involved in a swordfight with one another. Inspired by this and lamenting the incredible rarity of sword-fighting women in plays, Smith wrote this quippy, snappy, and delightfully posh play.

Fred Shahadi, Wayne State Alumni and 2001 winner of Heck-Rabi Playwriting Festival

This incredible opportunity for students has been a successful event for almost 20 years now. It’s a fulfilling experience not only for students to showcase their work, but also for fellow performers and faculty members to witness the talent and hard work that beams from these individuals. The festival encourages students to dream big. One of the festival’s very first winners back in 2001, Fred Shahadi, is now an award-winning playwright and television writer living in Los Angeles. He’s best known for his position as head writer for Recipe Rehab on CBS. This experience has that ability to guide students down that pathway, by teaching them how to conduct their own work, and ultimately making it come to life.

Buy tickets here!

Director’s Notes – Avenue Q

As I sat down to write my thoughts for Avenue Q, it was easy to think, “Why should I write notes for this show?  It’s absolute entertainment.”  Then, I realized that it was important to help people recognize that there is much more to this show than meets the eye.  As easy as it is to simply think of the show as “Sesame Street for adults,” there is much more to it.

Read More

Goneril and Regan’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents

As parents age they look forward to their care-free days of retirement and being taken care of by those who they helped raise. Here is our alternative take on that tradition.

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  1. Lie to them and shower them with praise. This will only be temporary, the praise, not the lying. Once you have won the favor of your parent(s) by showering them with false acknologements and praise, they will leave you their wealth and property and you will able to do with it as you see fit. Make sure to really lay on the admiration thick, because the more siblings you have, the harder it will be to win a larger piece of that pie.

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  1. Send them off on their own. Once you’ve secured their fotune, it’s time to let those frail old birds leave your nest, which you barely allowed them to move into in the first place. This is where having extra siblings DOES help, and you can pass the burden over to the rest of them.

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  1. Turn their other children against them. There is power in numbers, and depending on how powerful your parents are will determin how many sibings you need on your side. Don’t worry, it won’t take all of you, just a few. If you get lucky and have a sister who tries to be sincere about her feelings and ends up looking ungrateful, congratulations! They’ll never fight with you again because they know they have no place else to go!

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  1. Weaken them, physically and emotionally. This is the most fun part! Taking away the things that they have worked hard for to enjoy yourself is a sure sign that you are only out for Number Uno. Have they got friends trying to turn you against them? Blind them! Too many people around to protect them? Have guards fired.

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  1. Make them watch their kids die. As a bout of phychological warfare, lock them up with a long lost relative who they regrettable disowned and make them watch as that person dies. Is it a son or daughter of theirs? Even better. Only someone who has completely lacks human empathy or a shred of compassion will be able to commit to this final step, so good luck staying strong!


While we might think that all the above steps are great when it comes to dealing with aging parents, but we want to share a slight warning.

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If you are a terrible person and do terrible things, history has taught us that we all have a way of getting whats coming to us. Just remember that money can’t buy you happiness. So after you finish destroying your parent and stealing all their wealth, don’t expect to get too much joy out of it. Most likely you’ll go mad before long and meet your own untimely demise. Perhaps even by the hand of one of your co-conspirators. (Insert surprise face here)

Your Subscription Makes an Impact

Purchasing a subscription for the Theatre and Dance at Wayne 2018-2019 season includes priority seating, free ticket exchanges, show swap, discounts for additional ticket purchases and invitations to exclusive events throughout the season.

Purchasing a yearly subscription is much more than just a ticket.

Subscription purchases also make up a significant portion of the department’s annual operating budget.

“I love interacting with our patrons,” said third-year MFA candidate, Brian Haven. “I especially enjoy meeting patrons who have been coming to shows at Wayne for years and hearing the stories they tell of the many shows and many company members they have seen go through the program.”

Performers, stage managers, and designers appreciate the support and dedication to the arts through subscribers’ attendance.

“A packed audience can provide energy that can greatly impact the performance,” said Haven. “They are such a valuable component to any live performance.”

Subscription funds aid students in their ability to explore, create and design in the classroom. Then take their work to the stage. Subscribers are directly contributing to building the next generation of theatre artists.

“Keep supporting the arts, but especially keep supporting the educational arts!” said fourth-year BFA student Patrick Roache. “You’re empowering the future of theatre here!”

Connecting the community through the arts works to support more than the theatre and dance department. It supports Wayne State University and the Detroit community.

“From faculty/staff to guest artists to my peers, the people have made such an impact on my life,” said Haven. “I hold a special place in my heart for my fellow graduate company members. We are a family that supports one another and help each other to grow.”

Your Subscription in Action

Rachel Smith is a fourth year BA theatre student who has performed in lead roles at the Bonstelle Theatre including Grandma in Harriet Jacobs, Women’s Leader in Lysistrata, and Paulette Bonafonte in Legally Blonde.

When asked how she has grown as an artist she replied, “I’ve reached a level of confidence that has allowed me to continually and unabashedly follow my dreams. I didn’t have that same sense of security before I came here. That feeling of being on the right path is invaluable.”

For Rachel seeing returning patrons’ faces is a positive experience. She loves the energy and liveliness audience members can bring to a performance.

“We are working for you! Putting our best foot forward as sort of a thank you for your support.”

Sister Act: The Musical

“The subscribers are what makes everything possible.”


Natalie Colony is a third-year MFA Lighting Candidate. She has been the lighting designer for Inspecting Carol, Raisin in the Sun, Alice in Wonderland and more!

She is grateful for being a part of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne and for the opportunity to really hone her craft in an open and respective environment.

“There is nothing more gratifying than knowing people return time and time again to watch your art,”

“Knowing that you want to come back and see live theatre and watch us grow as artists make the work we do that much more meaningful.”

Colony loves seeing returning patrons. She enjoys when audience members recognize her work and even start up conversations about her lighting choices.

“Gail and her husband remember me even though I’m never onstage,” said Colony. “They know which shows I’ve designed and they always have insightful questions about my art. I always am happy to see them and welcome them back to the theatre.”

Brian Haven is a third-year MFA Stage Management Candidate. He has been stage manager for Underpants, Clybourne Park, Twelfth Night, You Can’t Take it With You and most recently The Colored Museum and the 89th Annual Spring Dance Concert.

His work in the department of theatre and dance at Wayne has been highly valued.

“I have had many great experiences and opportunities to learn and work with many intelligent, talented, and wonderful people,” said Haven.

Wayne State theatre and dances hols a special place in many of the student’s hearts and audience members have a lot to do with the positive experience stage managers, lighting designers, actors, and directors have when working on graduate and undergraduate productions.

“I love interacting with our patrons. I especially enjoy meeting patrons who have been coming to shows at Wayne for years and hearing the stories they tell of the many shows and many company members they have seen go through the program,” said Haven.

Patrick Roache is a fourth year BA theatre student who has performed in lead roles at the Bonstelle Theatre including Jud in Oklahoma!, Men’s Leader in Lysistrata, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Warren Huntington III in Legally Blonde.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Over his undergraduate career, Roache has had the opportunity to participate in several productions on the Bonstelle and Studio Theatre stage. He has been a part of Motor City Cabaret for three years and study at the Moscow Art Theatre School through Wayne State’s study abroad program, Month in Moscow.

All of these opportunities have been supported by subscribers and returning patrons who support the arts in the Detroit and University’s community.

“Keep supporting the arts, but especially keep supporting the educational arts! You’re empowering the future of theatre here!”


Sister Act Fun Facts!

Sister Act: The MusicalAs the opening of Sister Act: The Musical approaches we thought it’ll be cool to share some fun facts about the show!

  1. Deloris as sister Mary Clarence was partially inspired by a real nun. Mother Dolores Hart was a Hollywood actress, singer, and dancer. She starred in movies like Where the Boys Are and King Creole. She became a nun and left the industry at 24 years old.
  2. There are two different versions of Sister Act: The Musical. One is set on Christmas Eve and Deloris wants to go to Philadelphia to become a star; this musical is performed on Broadway here in America. The second musical is already set in Philadelphia and is performed at the West End, which is like Broadway in London, England.
  3. Paul Rudnick, the writer of the movie, wanted it to be a drag comedy and thought a nun’s habit was close enough for drag for a woman.
  4. The musical originated in 2006 in Pasadena, CA.
  5. The musical was nominated for five Tony awards, including Best Musical, but sadly did not win any of them.
  6. Bette Midler was the original lead actress in the movie and not Whoopi.
  7. Carrie Fisher helped with re-writing the script.
  8. The actor who played the detective in the Sister Act movie is named Bill Nunn!
  9. The original character name was not Deloris, but Terri Van Cartier. It changed to Deloris because Whoopi wanted to play someone named Deloris.
  10. The original music was made by Alan Menken, an eight-time Oscar winner.

Bird Poop: Wild Style or Fashion Faux pas?

And no – this isn’t clickbait.

If you’re just as confused about the title of this article like most people are – don’t be. For years, avant-garde and head-turning trends have been the go-to look for designers and streetwear lovers alike. From the looks that just hit the runway at NYC Fashion Week, to style pieces that stand the test of time, it seems as though new trends are always emerging, and that doesn’t stop

Enter the use of bird poop – the fashion world’s lost salvation and only hope. As unconventional (and just downright gross) it may seem at first, it’s still the only thing that’s highly recognizable by the general public, albeit something that annoys the hell out of us when we see it on our car. The bird poop that’s being used is a lot less gross in practice; there’s a whole process designers have to go through to use it. Celebrities and internet personalities alike are embracing the trend, and we’ve provided some examples down below just in case you needed inspiration for your next look.

GOOD LUCK?! Why Bird Poop is a Sign of Hope in Disguise

I’m sure we can all agree that we’ve had our fair share of annoyance with bird defecation – it leaves a nasty stain on our cars and clothing, and any time birds are around, we’re instantly aware of their presence and hope that they don’t decide to use our clothes (or skin) as a toilet. It’s simply become a random, everyday occurrence and constant annoyance. How could anyone ever like it?

If you agreed with any of the statements I’ve said above, then it’ll come as just as much of a surprise to you when I say bird poop is actually a symbol of good luck. Believe it or not, there’s an entire mythical world behind the existence of and the importance of when a bird sh*ts on your car. If you’re a bit skeptical, keep reading.

For centuries, birds have always been, to a degree, mythical creatures; the Phoenix is an example of this in many cultures. Imagine, an animal able to simply spread their wings and glide across the sky with no issue keeping in sync formation with the birds around them.

Unfortunately, the price of being an airborne member of the animal kingdom is never knowing or having the appropriate means of defecation. Where would their waste go if they have no time to reach the ground to release it? Good enough for birds though, they’ve figured out the answer to that question long before humanity could even form adequate societies: give the humans good karma if they ever had a direct encounter with their droppings.

The main reason why we get mad at seeing bird poop “fly-by’s” is because of its unexpectedness and the annoyance brought on by the thought of cleaning it up. That doesn’t stop the Karma Gods from working, which in turn will bring you good luck and good fortune. With that being said, the next time you see bird poop in someone’s (or your own) hair, clothing, or windshield, don’t get mad – take a sigh of relief!

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Obituary: Lari the Seagull

Lari the Seagull died on March 1st in Detroit Michigan at the ripe old age of 41.

Quite the specimen, Lari had a wingspan of 63 inches, above average compared to his peers. At the age of 34, Lari was involved in a midair collision fracturing a wing and ultimately losing a toe. This led to big life changes in diet and exercise, causing Lari to drop from a heavy 3.2lbs to a gaunt 2.5lbs. He enjoyed showing off his adult plumage and newly slimmed figure, while wooing the ladies with his impressive wingspan and powerful squawk.

Lari is survived by his longtime companion Ani and together they have 16 children who all still live at home in their Motown Caesar colony, where Lari served as Chief Flight Pattern Commissioner for 15 years. Family will be receiving visitors for light fare and flight show as a tribute as Lari’s memory. The family asks that any donations of food (dead or alive) be made to their neighborhood colony or when flying by your local bird sanctuary.

For more information on Lari and those lives that he touched, check out Stupid F*ing Bird, playing in the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry Theatre, March 1st – 31st. Please visit www.theatreanddanceatwayne.com for more information.