BWW Review: DETROIT '67 at Stagecrafters 2nd Stage Achieved Perfection!
There are some Michigan productions that are so outstanding that the audience cannot helped but be moved by every aspect of them. Detroit '67 was one of those shows. From the moment it began to the very last black out, the Stagecrafters 2nd Stage production was one that will linger in minds of every audience member that witnessed it.
Detroit '67 by native Detroit playwright, Dominque Morisseau, takes place in the summer heat of 1967 outside in the Motor City, but in Michelle and Langston's basement where the rhythm of Motown keeps a cool, steady beat as the brother and sister work to make ends meet. When a nearby police raid sparks a riot, their lives and the life of their beloved city changes forever. Director, Jeffery S. Nelson, did a flawless job of incorporating the feel of what a family would go through during this pivotal moment in Detroit history while also having their daily life go on. The flow and movement of the show pulled the audience in and allowed them to feel with the characters - growing with them, laughing with them, hurting with them, and rooting for them to succeed.
Nelson put together a wonderful cast that worked together seamlessly to bring Detroit '67 to life. Shondra Tipler played the role of Michelle / "Chelle." Tipler was exceptional. The range of emotions that she goes in and out of during short periods of time, and even over the course of the whole play, displayed what a talented and versatile actress she is. Some of her final scenes in the show were absolutely noteworthy, whether she was interacting with another character on stage or by herself. Tipler is one to watch and would be worthy of going to see any production just if she was in it. Kenyada Davis played the role of Langston / "Lank." Davis was an exuberant ball of energy on stage that the one cannot help but watch. He was another highlight of the show with his talent and versatility. Some of his best moments was his sparring back and forth with Tipler as the two of them were cast impeccably well as brother and sister. Carson Delaney played the role of Caroline. Delaney was excellent in the role of the mysterious girl. The great aspect about Delaney in this role was she played with such an ease even though her character was so uncomfortable on stage. She was exceptional in her scenes with Tipler and Davis, with some of those moments being the highlights of the show, especially Tipler's and her end fight - a poetic piece of dialogue delivered beautifully by both actresses. Chaz Cunningham played the role of Sylvester / "Sly." Cunningham had wonderful comedic timing, but also this underlying seriousness while on stage. His interactions with Davis were well done, but where he really shined was during his scenes with Tipler. Plus, his surprise singing during the show was an added treat and absolutely amazing! Claudia Walker played Bonita / "Bunny." Walker had great comedic timing and did a good job in her role of bringing the light heartedness to the show.
Detroit '67 was not a show about an easy time for our city to remember, nor was it an easy show for these performers to deliver, but the director and cast at Stagecrafters 2nd Stage did an outstanding job with this production. They produced a show that was meaningful, important, and resonating not only to history, but for what is going on right now in current day Detroit and our country. The stage lights went up and the audience was transported back to 1967 Detroit and the horrific riots and violence that happen then with 43 people who lost their lives and nearly 400 families who were left homeless due to it, but these actors helped remind us that those statistics were people and not just a number by showing what family and friends were during that time. That is what theatre is about - transporting us somewhere, but also showing us the truth - Detroit '67 achieved it perfectly.
Detroit '67 ran from October 13th to 22nd at Stagecrafters 2nd Stage in Royal Oak. For more information on what is next of their season, visit www.stagecrafters.org.
Photo by Lance Luce