Don’t be put off by the title. “Most people give up after saying the first name,” says Stagecrafters’ ticket agent Bill Glace. “They’ll call for tickets and say, ‘You know, the one with all the names. What’s it about? I heard it’s supposed to be funny.’” And funny it is. Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spikeruns April 8 through 24 at the historic Baldwin Theatre in downtown Royal Oak.
Winner of the 2013 Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and New York Critics Circle Award for Best Play, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike is playwright Christopher Durang’s biting and slightly off-kilter comedy about three sparring middle-aged siblings on a weekend visit at the family home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Three children of university professors were named for characters from the works of Russian playwright Anton Checkov, and can appear just as aimless, brooding and miserable as their namesakes — but much funnier, thanks to Durang. Siblings Vanya (Nick Szczerba of Brownstown) and Sonia (Julie Landry of Novi) live unassuming and uneventful lives in the house in which they grew up. Enter their sister Masha (Julie Fuller of Ferndale), a fading movie star and forever drama queen, with her new boy toy, Spike (Max Hughes of Detroit) in tow. Masha has financially supported her brother and sister for years and says she is back to attend a neighbor’s costume party. Vanya and Sonia resent their sister’s unwelcome intrusion and uninvited guest Spike, who is decades younger and has a penchant for parading around in his underwear. As the siblings trade barbs over past and present misunderstandings, the familial bonds are strained to the breaking point as they poke and prod each other as only siblings can do. Meanwhile, aspiring young actress Nina (Caroline Rourke) shows up in the mix and cleaning lady/soothsayer Cassandra (Debbie Landis-Sigler) tries practicing voodoo on Masha after it is revealed that Masha intends to sell the family home. The day after they all attend the party dressed as characters from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” events take an unexpected turn for the dysfunctional siblings.
Director Rodel Salazar (Madison Heights) has directed several blockbuster musicals for Stagecrafters, including Les Misérables, Titanic the Musical and The Full Monty. Those shows featured casts of 40 or more people, large production numbers and huge sets. This show offers quite a contrast to his previous work. With a cast of only six characters, the focus of the show becomes the characters and their relationships. Salazar says it is this aspect he wants to highlight, “the dynamics of the characters and how they connect to each other.” When he saw the play on Broadway, Salazar said he “connected with the characters, especially Vanya and Sonia. I also thought it was very funny and yet very poignant… having grown up with three other siblings, I knew firsthand the arguments, laughter, and shared moments that siblings experience.” He adds, “It’s been a joy working with my cast and developing their characters. They are so talented, committed and an absolute delight…. the first time we ran the show with the entire cast, we all couldn’t stop laughing.”
Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike premiered at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ in 2012, followed by an Off-Broadway production later the same year. It transferred to Broadway in 2013. The original casts included David Hyde Pierce, Kristine Nielsen, Sigourney Weaver and Billy Magnussen. The play received six Tony Award nominations, winning the Tony Award for Best Play, the 58th Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and the 2013 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play.
Patrons attending the April 8th opening night performance are invited to participate in the complimentary pre-glow of hors d’oeuvres courtesy of Christine’s Cuisine of Ferndale. The pre-glow runs from 7:00 to 7:45 pm.
Show tickets are $20 on Thursdays, $22 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Tickets may be purchased online at www.stagecrafters.org (online handling fees apply) or by phone at 248-541-6430 using Visa or MasterCard. All seats are reserved and there are no refunds or exchanges on individual tickets. If shows have not sold out, tickets can be purchased at the box office one hour prior to the performance. Student, military and senior discounts are available for specific performances. The Baldwin Theatre is located at 415 S. Lafayette in downtown Royal Oak. The show is sponsored by Five15 Media, Mojo, More of Royal Oak.
Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike is rated PG-13 for adult language and content.
Show dates and times are as follows:
Friday, April 8 at 8 pm * Opening night complimentary pre-glow at 7 – 7:45 pm
Saturday, April 9 at 8 pm
Sunday, April 10 at 2 pm
Thursday, April 14 at 8 pm
Friday, April 15 at 8 pm
Saturday, April 16 at 8 pm
Sunday, April 17 at 2 pm
Thursday, April 21 at 8 pm
Friday, April 22 at 8 pm
Saturday, April 23 at 8 pm
Sunday, April 24 at 2 pm
Stagecrafters, a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit community theatre, is in its 60th year of providing opportunities for members of the community to develop their talents and to volunteer their time to create an enriching, quality theatrical experience through its Main Stage, 2nd Stage, and Youth Theatre productions. At the Baldwin Theatre since 1985, Stagecrafters has been named Best Community Theatre by Hour Detroit, Real Detroit Weekly and Daily Tribune. Stagecrafters offers shows that appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests and prides itself on providing professional quality shows at affordable prices, making the performing arts accessible to individuals in our “regional” community.
Cast and Crew List by Community:
Nina Caroline Rourke Bloomfield Hills
Vanya Nick Szczerba Brownstown
Cassandra Debbie Landis-Sigler Clawson
Masha Julie Fuller Ferndale
Director Rodel Salazar Madison Heights
Sonia Julie Landry Novi
Producer Amy Wilson Oak Park
Producer Shari Morgan Orchard Lake
Spike Max Hughes Royal Oak