90 Years And Still Going Strong
The Village Players Of Birmingham Continue Anniversary Season With 'Sunset Boulevard'
By Dana Casadei
Originally printed 11/1/2012 (Issue 2044 - Between The Lines News)
In 1923 the first issue of Time magazine was published and Yankee stadium opened its doors. The roaring '20s were in full swing and an idea formed in 1922 became a reality. The Village Players of Birmingham was formed, with 16 charter members. Now, in the present day of iPads and DVRs, that same company is celebrating its 90th season.
On Nov. 2 it will become the first Detroit area community theater to do the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Sunset Boulevard."
"It's pretty exciting," said director Michael A. Gravame.
Gravame, who's been involved on-and-off with the Village Players since 1989 - and who was honored with the 2012 Jim Posante Community Pride Award at this year's Wilde Awards - went on to say that when most think of the Tony Award-winning musical they go back to that Broadway production, which adds a little pressure to directing it. He is also the first to admit that no matter a theater's budget, there's no way to recreate it, even though not many from the area have seen it.
"A lot of people have never seen it and you kind of have your freedom to come up with your own interpretation," Gravame said. "If you concentrate on the characters and you have the elements people remember, like the staircase, then everything else can be done kind of abstractly."
Gravame's interpretation includes a "film noire essence" to the show and creating "pictures," which includes a lot of stage freezes. His directing style is a little different than others as well, starting with the little details and gluing them back together.
Having a company that fully supports your vision helps too.
"(The Village Players is) just a wonderful place to do shows because they have that support for you, they let you do what you love to do," said Gravame. "Village Players is a family."
That family aspect is one that the company has had since the beginning, even when it was a private theater club.
While playing piano at a children's center in Pontiac, Julie Bowes got to know a woman that was part of the Village Players, who invited her and her husband to the Christmas party.
"You had to have sponsors at that time," said Bowes, who joined in 1960. Even though none of their sponsors could go, Bowes and her husband decided to go anyway.
"We thought we'll just stay here for a few minutes and then leave," she said. "We came home at 3 a.m."
The rest, as they say, is history.
Bowes has since directed music for 25 Village Players shows and countless others after her first job as assistant musical director for "The Boyfriend."
"I've given hours of my life to Village Players and loved absolutely every moment of it," Bowes said. "My happiest time was sitting at the piano."
Bowes isn't the only member that talks about The Village Players with the warmth of a blanket on a cold night.
When asked how they got involved, Ty Perkins and his wife Ann, who joined in 1962, simply laughed and said friends dragged them in.
Luckily they weren't kicking and screaming.
Both had wanted to make new friends and enjoyed theater and singing, making their years as much about the memories they had on the stage as well as off, including the countless birthday and Christmas parties. "It was swell," he said.
Some of his fondest memories include the night that he played Li'l Abner, where his name, Ann reminds him, was forgotten in the program; the first Christmas party in 1962, where they had to decorate with only $10; and earning a plaque for doing so well when they ran concessions.
Out of all the stories, one of the best happened during a night of one-act plays. He was told that they wanted him to be the male lead for "Family Album," one of the nine acts in "Tonight at 8:30," where he might have to sing a song; there were four. "As I stood off-stage I couldn't have told you the name of the play much less my first line, but we got through it," he said. "Ever since then there's a toast in there that we still use in our family for every occasion."
Ty then sings it over the phone, without missing a beat, something that the Village Players seems to have been doing the last 90 years.
Village Players, 34660 Woodward Ave., Birmingham. Nov. 2-18. $19. 248-644-2075. http://www.Birminghamvillageplayers.com
- Q&A: Annie Lennox On 'Extraordinary' LGBT Rights Movement, Ageism & Why Beyonce Is 'Feminist Lite'
- Perfume Genius Is 'Just As Capable Of Murder As Everybody Else' Even In Silk
- Q&A: Bill Hader Talks Gay Kisses ('Paul Rudd Tastes Like Chicken') & Transgender Sketch ('Sorry')
- Take Hope In Health
- Q&A: Breakout Star Banks Talks 'Crazy' Calls She Gets From Prison, Newfound Fame
- Lithgow Talks Gays In Film, His 'Defiance Of Prejudice' & Robin Williams
- NPR Fixture Comes To East Lansing
- AIDS/HIV Organizations
- Detroit Hispanic Development Corp.
- Schmidt Law Services PLLC
- Auto Collision
- Great Lakes Collision
- Event Planners
- Suburban Party Rental
- Florists/Floral Design
- Foundations and Funders
- The HOPE Fund
- Allstate Insurance
- Religious & Spiritual
- Rainbow Crossing - First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor
- Blue Moon Videos/DVD
Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more
- Q&A: Bill Hader Talks Gay Kisses ('Paul Rudd Tastes Like Chicken') & Trans Sketch ('Sorry')
- Q&A: Jennifer Hudson On Lesbian Rumors & Drag Queen Attitude: 'I Don't Care What You Think'
- Q&A: Annie Lennox On Her Legacy, Why Beyonce Is 'Feminist Lite'
- Barbra Streisand's Duet With Gay Son Is Highlight Of New Album
- BREAKING: Is Terri Lynn Land's Family Violating Nonprofit Regulations?
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and running mate Lisa Brown sat down with BTL publishers Jan Stevenson and Susan Horowitz prior to the Michigan Democratic Convention for a wide-ranging conversation about their campaign, what a SchauerBrown administration would be like for the LGBT community and who would be included. They addressed LGBT civil rights, health issues, senior care, marriage equality and how both of them have come to be such vocal allies of the LGBT community. Here is a recap of Schauer's words on these concerns.View More Pride Source Votes
This Week's Issue
Download or view this week's print issue today!
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!