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The Theatre Company of University of Detroit Mercy Opens 2016-17 Season With ALABAMA STORY

The 46th season of The Theatre Company of the University of Detroit Mercy will launch Sept. 22-Oct. 9, 2016, with the Michigan premiere of Kenneth Jones' fact-inspired drama Alabama Story, a play with unique ties to The Motor City.
Jones, a New York City playwright raised in Metro Detroit, laces fact and fiction to create a highly theatrical "Deep South of the Imagination" where clashes over Civil Rights and censorship threaten to tear apart the worlds of a formidable State Librarian and a segregationist State Senator in 1959 Montgomery, Alabama. Emily Wheelock Reed, the real-life librarian of the controversy - which made international headlines - was educated at the University of Michigan and began her career as a librarian with the Detroit Public Library in the 1940s.
A politician who is never wrong. A librarian fighting for what's right. A storyteller with a nimble imagination. Two childhood friends reunited in adulthood. These and other indelible characters populate Alabama Story, a new American play set at the dusk of the Jim Crow South.
When a children's picture book about a black rabbit marrying a white rabbit is discovered on the shelves of the Alabama State Library, an enraged politician clinging to the past demands it be removed - and then burned. A lady librarian stands in his way, at her peril. In the shadow of the conflict, former friends - an African American man who has moved to Detroit and a white woman who never left their small-town roots in Alabama - reunite after years of separation to revisit the joys and wounds of their shared part. Inspired by true events, an American drama about tests of character in extraordinary times.
Directed by Jamie Warrow, The Theatre Company cast - a mixing of resident professionals with students from the acclaimed UDM acting program - includes professionals Melissa Beckwith as Emily Wheelock Reed, Daniel Jaroslaw as Senator E.W. Higgins, and Detroit Mercy Instructor of Theatre Andrew Papa as Garth Williams. Rounding out the cast are Detroit Mercy students Sidney Mains as Lily Whitfield, DeShawn King as Joshue Moore, Alexander Kendziuk as Thomas Franklin, Christian Plonka as Hershcel Webb, and Dalton Hahn as Radio Announcer.
The production team features Associate Professor Melinda Pacha as the scenic and costume designer, Amy Schneider as lighting designer, Andrew Papa as dialect director, Anthony Petrucci as technical director, and Greg Grobis as managing director.
Playwright Kenneth Jones was raised in Southfield and Beverly Hills and graduated from Oakland University. He was a drama critic for The Detroit News 1989-1998 (including four seasons as chief critic) before moving to New York City to pursue dramatic writing. Alabama Story had its world premiere in Salt Lake City in 2015 and is enjoying five regional U.S. productions in 2016. It was a nominee for the 2016 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and a Finalist in the 2014 O'Neill National Playwright Conference. His plays and musicals have been developed in theatres in New York City and regionally. Visit his website
Jones said, "Alabama Story is a look at Civil Rights, but through the lens of censorship. Its style is purposely thick and presentational, a mashup of romance, political thriller, courtroom drama, memory play, social-justice potboiler and more. I'm excited that I'll be on the UDM campus for some of the rehearsal process to work with The Theatre Company, a troupe that I knew, loved and respected when I was a theatregoer in Detroit in the 1980s and 90s. I came of age as a playgoer at UDM, where offbeat authors, risky new plays and fresh ways to see the world were embraced. I'm honored to be part of its heritage and legacy."
Alabama Story will feature the launch of The Detroit Theatre Discussion Project (DTDP) which features five post-show discussions following Thursday and Sunday performances. Experts from Detroit Mercy and the community will speak and answer questions about topics related to the production. More information can be found at
Tickets to Alabama Story can be purchased online at or over the phone at 313-993-3270. Individual ticket prices are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, $10 for Veterans, and $10 for students (with valid ID). Groups of 15 or more can receive up to a 30% discount on ticket rates.
The Theatre Company is proud to announce a new Thursday Community Night Series. During the 2016-2017 season every Thursday performance will celebrate our community with $10 tickets for plays and $15 for the musical. This is a savings of over 50%.
The Theatre Company's 46th season will include: the regional premiere of Alabama Story by Kenneth Jones, 100 Saints You Should Know by Kate Fodor, the American classic Bus Stop by William Inge, and the smash hit adult musical comedy Avenue Q by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx with book by Jeff Whitty.
Season ticket packages are available that include tickets to all four main stage productions with savings up to 30% off. Season ticket package pricing is $72 for adults, $60 for discount adults (seniors, UDM faculty, staff, alumni, donors) and $45 for students. Individual ticket prices for season 46 are: (plays/musicals) adults $25/$30, discount adults $22/$27 and students $10/$15. Group rates are available for all shows. Tickets are on sale now at
The Theatre Company's 46th season will be presented at The Marlene Boll Theatre at the Boll Family YMCA at 1401 Broadway St. Detroit, MI 48226. This intimate black box theatre seats between 90-140 seats depending the production. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and 3:00 p.m. on Sundays. Due to limited seating patrons are encouraged to secure their tickets early.
For more information about The Theatre Company please visit us at

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