Bloomfield HillsAugust 7, 2013
Andover grads take the stage for a good cause
By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer
BLOOMFIELD HILLS — A hilarious classic comedy. A worthy charity. A few old friends.
Sometimes that’s all it takes to make a memorable evening. And that’s exactly what guests will experience when August Theater Co. performs Neil Simon’s “Rumors” this weekend. The small ensemble will treat audiences to three special performances, with ticket sales going to benefit the Jed Foundation.
Founded earlier this year, August Theater Co. brings together young actors in the Bloomfield Hills area to produce and perform summer theatricals. Co-creator Greg Strasser said the motivation behind forming the company was merely to get his old Andover High School acting troop back together post-graduation.
“We were really big theater kids in high school, and we missed performing with each other,” said 19-year-old Strasser, now a student at the University of Michigan. “We went off to college and branched off to do different things that we wanted to do with our lives, and we stopped doing theater. We came back for the summer, and it reunited us all.”
The 10-member group of thespians decided to stage their own production while they were home from their respective universities for the summer. Earlier this spring, they began rehearsing “Rumors” and planned to perform the show at the end of the summer in August — and so the name of the theater company was born.
Things began falling into place for August Theater, including the search to find a place to perform and the perfect script to bring to life. “Rumors” is about a group of upscale suburban couples who scramble to keep an unflattering evening of events from reaching the local police and media, disrupting their posh lifestyle. Laughs ensue when complications arise in their scheme.
“The entire cast pitched in some money (for auditorium time). We’re performing at Orchard Lake Community Church, and their auditorium is run by our old choir teacher, Bruce Snyder,” said Strasser, who codirected the show.
For Marisa Cicurel, 18, this summer has been a perfect opportunity to not only catch up with her pals, but also brush up on her acting skills. This fall, the recent Andover grad plans to attend Pace University in New York to study theater.
“We all grew up together in high school; we all did the shows together. It’s great to be back with them,” said Cicurel. “They’re all so talented, and it’s great to be back with them and to be learning from them and helping each other. It’s great (acting) with new people, but it’s always a safe place when you’re with your friends.”
In a nod to their past, August Theater has decided to donate proceeds from ticket sales to the Jed Foundation, which promotes emotional health suicide prevention amongst college-age students. Strasser said the cause is one that the whole ensemble feels passionate about.
“‘Rumors’ is a really big farce about this man who they think attempted suicide but he really didn’t. We’re trying to have fun with this, but this is a serious issue, and we want to raise some money for it,” he said.
Strasser added that one reason August Theater wanted to contribute to the Jed Foundation is that as young performers who met in high school — a turbulent time for any teen — they especially know how damaging bullying and other pressures of student life can be.
“Throughout high school and especially middle school, you’re developing and you don’t know who you are. You’re a prime target for bullying, and it’s a huge problem. In my case, I went through it for years before I realized I don’t need to take this from anybody,” he said. “Jed taught us to value ourselves as people, and open ourselves up to the bravery and support we receive from the people we love.”
August Theater Co. will perform “Rumors” at 8 p.m. Aug. 9 and 10, and at 3 p.m. Aug. 11 at Orchard Lake Community Church. Tickets are $12, or $10 for seniors and students with identification. For more information, or to learn more about donating to the Jed Foundation, visit augusttheater.webs.com.
Orchard Lake Community Church is located at 5171 Commerce Road in Orchard Lake.