By Dana Casadei, EncoreMichigan.com
Taking a risk in the theater can be as small as an actor trying their hand at improv during rehearsal or as large as picking a highly controversial show to put on the stage. Some think go big or go home, carpe diem and all the other cliches that go along with risk. Either way it tends to land with either big rewards or big losses. Luckily for Broadway Onstage, the latter isn’t true.
Dennis Wickline took a risk when he founded the 72-seat Broadway Onstage nearly two decades ago, which used to be a photo lab and tanning place. But now, as the theater enters its 19th season starting July 20, it’s easy to see that risk equals reward for the company, which has been going strong, running it’s seven show season from July to May.
“There’s a lot of, I think, fun and exciting things,” Wickline said.
This season has a little something for everyone, ranging from the comedy “Christmas Bells,” which is about three sisters from Texas, to “Trent’s Last Case,” which is a dramatization of the novel by local playwright John McClure. This season also has “God of Carnage,” which Wickline is especially excited about.
McClure isn’t the only local playwright whose show will be seen this season. Wickline’s “The Great American Sex Farce!” will also be gracing the stage, with original lead Christopher Oakley directing the first show of the season.
“I like coming back because he (Wickline) does plays that not everyone does. He does a lot of smaller shows,” said Oakley, who has worked with Wickline for 18 seasons.
“A lot of times in community theater they do a lot of stuff that draws audiences, and Dennis wants to draw audiences, but because he’s a smaller theater he can take a chance on something that might be more quirky or something that’s not as well known,” he continued. “He does plays you don’t normally get to see.”
“The Great American Sex Farce!,” is one of those shows.
The revival of the original 1994 production is about a struggling advertising agency and a woman by the name of Benni of Boca, who sells lingerie and is trying to get her patriotic lingerie line off the ground by landing a national commercial. The show also includes a love triangle and a wide variety of quirky characters, including a photographer who’s stuck in the 60s.
“It’s all about trying to land this account and the comedy that ensues,” Oakley said.
This revival, which Wickline rewrote a few months ago, has a view changes and more connections to the title than before. “Frankly I wasn’t enormously happy with the first version, and when I rewrote it, I think it’s a much better script; it fits the title much better, and I think it fits in quite nicely for this time of year, this election year,” Wickline said.
“Just because the name was ‘The Great American Sex Farce,’ the original didn’t tie in the name at all to the material that was being presented,” Wickline continued. “I think that this version ties in a lot more patriotism, red, white and blue Americana.”
For those that may be worried that it could be vulgar since lingerie does play a large part, Oakley says not to worry – and that it has a nice heart to it, even if it’s a little gaudier than other comedies that he’s done and is about lingerie.
“This show’s a lot of fun,” Oakley said. “It’s 90 minutes of comedy and farce, and it moves quick.”
Get tickets and showtimes at EncoreMichigan.com.
Dana Casadei reviews local theater productions for http://www.EncoreMichigan.com, the state’s most comprehensive resource for news and information about Michigan’s professional theaters. Follow them on Facebook @EncoreMichigan.com.