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HFC’s First Summer Stock Production A Success

Encore Staff
Encore, Michigan
June 22, 2017, Online

DEARBORN, Mich.–Audiences responded with great enthusiasm during the week of June 12th as four talented actors portrayed more than 20 roles in Henry Ford College’s Summer Stock inaugural production of John Cariani’s Almost, Maine.

HFC’s Summer Stock company was founded by Dr. George Popovich, former HFC Director of Theatre before he retired in May 2017. Summer Stock uses a unique blend of advanced HFC Theatre majors, alums, and professional actors. Popovich wanted to develop a summer program for HFC like Hope Repertory Theatre in Holland Michigan and Michigan State University’s Summer Circle Theatre. He hopes that his legacy will be realized in the coming years.

“This is a unique mentoring approach to play presentation,” states Gerry Dzuiblinski, the director, scenic designer, and technical director of Almost, Maine. “Over the years, HFC has built a powerful group of alums who have gone on to advanced study, degrees, and professional achievement. HFC Summer Stock takes advantage of that.” HFC Theatre alums include graduates of Wayne State, Eastern and Western Michigan Universities, Oakland University, Cornish University, The University of Michigan, Florida State University, Asolo Conservatory, and Yale. HFC alums have worked in many local professional Michigan Theatres, including The Jewish Ensemble Theatre, Open Book Theatre Company, Tipping Point Theatre, and The Theatre Company at UDM.

One of those alums and professional actor is Tim Pollock, an HFC graduate who recently completed a BA degree in acting from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and will be seen in Open Book’s production of Be A Good Little Widow this October. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) has been ranked third in the world as a performing arts education institution. It is behind New York’s Juilliard School and the Royal College of Music in London. It shares third place with the Royal Academy of Music. Pollock served as the professional acting coach for Almost, Maine.

Amanda Bates, another HFC Theatre alum and Almost, Maine cast member, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Acting from Eastern Michigan University. Bates has appeared in Pippin (Fastrada), The Comedy of Errors (Adrianna), The Winter’s Tale (Hermione) and Ubu Roi (General). She was an ensemble writer for the sketch “As Ypsi as We Wanna Be” in collaboration with Second City.

Another Almost, Maine cast member is Jenny Lee Popovich. Popovich has a BFA degree in acting from Ball State University and appeared last summer in the professional production of The Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fiorello! directed by Bob Moss. She will appear in Minnetrista Cultural Center’s production of Fairies, Sprites, and Lights in Muncie, Indiana during July.

HFC Theatre student Zach Ross, another Almost, Maine cast member has been twice nominated for The Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival and has appeared in leading roles in HFC productions of The Diviners and Bug.

Rounding out the cast of Almost, Maine is Alan Rezzonica, who is an HFC Telecommunications major. He has appeared as Skut Farkas in A Christmas Story, Ferris Layman in The Diviners, and Jerry Goss in Bug.

The crew of Almost, Maine is culled from current HFC students with various majors and includes Darryl Boykins, Kimari Howard, Mike Ross, Cheyanne Rynicki , and Sean Moore.

Dzuiblinski believes that HFC’s Summer Stock production of Almost, Maine may be the only or at least one of the very few productions in Michigan to use just four actors. Most runs have anywhere from 8-19 actors. The show was originally developed professionally with four actors.

“At first I was a bit worried about the four-actor thing,” Dzuiblinski said. “But the show is so well written and our talented performers have discovered different emotional truths for each of the scenes, that it is a bonus.”

HFC’s Summer Stock production may be one of the few productions in the state to include the female same-sex version of the scene titled, “They Fell.” The original version of Almost, Maine only contained a male version. The female version was first shown during Transport Group Theatre’s 2014 revival. Both versions of the scene—male and female are performed in rotating repertory for HFC’s Summer Stock version.

“We also have a talented staff of area professionals,” states Dzuiblinski. Dzuiblinski points out that Metro Detroit area favorites, Christopher and Mary Bremer have directed shows and taught classes at HFC for years. Area professional actors and Hillberry MFA graduates Brandon Grantz (an HFC alum) and Sarah Hawkins Moan have also been scheduled to teach at HFC beginning fall, 2017. Grantz was seen in Tipping Point’s Don’t Dress For Dinner and Moan appeared in Planet Ant’s Failure: A Love Story.

Almost, Maine was developed at the Cape Cod Theater Project (Andy Polk, Artistic Director) in 2002, and received its world premiere at Portland Stage Company, where it broke box office records and garnered critical acclaim. Almost, Maine opened Off Broadway in the winter of 2005/2006 at the Daryl Roth Theatre (Jack Thomas/Bulldog Theatrical and Bruce Payne, Producers) and was subsequently published by Dramatists Play Service. To date, Almost, Maine has been produced by over 2500 theater companies in the United States (and by over a dozen companies internationally) making it one of the most frequently produced plays of the past decade.

Almost, Maine will run for four more performances on the following dates and times in the Adray Auditorium (Building F) on the Henry Ford campus, 5101 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI.:

  • Thursday, June 29, at 8 p.m.;
  • Friday, June 30, at 8 p.m.;
  • Saturday, July 1, at 8 p.m.; and
  • Sunday, July 2, at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices are: $15.00: Public
12.00: Seniors, Students, HFC Staff

For more info and tickets visit: https://theatre.hfcc.edu/productions/2017/almost-maine