GP Theatre’s return to stage is cause for applause

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 13, 2021

 From left, Ryan Bowie, Kimberly Elliott, Kristina Kamm Mardlin, Danielle Caralis and Zak Shugart make up the cast of “Some Enchanted Evening” for Grosse Pointe Theatre.

From left, Ryan Bowie, Kimberly Elliott, Kristina Kamm Mardlin, Danielle Caralis and Zak Shugart make up the cast of “Some Enchanted Evening” for Grosse Pointe Theatre.

Photo provided by Grosse Pointe Theatre

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GROSSE POINTE PARK — It’s back to the boards for the actors, directors, musicians and crew members of Grosse Pointe Theatre, and they’re eager to be back in front of live audiences after a more than yearlong COVID-19 shutdown.

“It’s really been exciting for us to be back,” GPT Executive Director Linda Zublick said. “We know that (audiences) have missed us, because we’ve gotten a lot of comments about how happy they are to see us again.”

GPT will open its 74th annual season with “Some Enchanted Evening” — the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein — Oct. 15 to 24 inside the Pierce Middle School auditorium in Grosse Pointe Park.

Directed by Don Bischoff, of Macomb Township, the five-member cast consists of Ryan Bowie, of Detroit; Danielle Caralis, of Birmingham; Kimberly Elliott, of Canton; Kristina Kamm Mardlin, of Warren; and Zak Shugart, of Troy. They’ll be performing numbers from classic musicals such as “The King and I,” “Carousel” and “South Pacific.”

“This is the perfect show for our return to the stage,” Bischoff said in a press release. “The music of Rodgers and Hammerstein is familiar to everyone and is sure to make the audience smile. The talented cast really brings these songs to life, and the entire production offers an enchanted evening for the audience.”

Caralis, formerly of Grosse Pointe Shores, is the GPT board president, and she’s juggling multiple tasks on this show.

“I’m honored to be serving as apprentice director and also a cast member of our first show back,” Caralis said in a press release. “I’m so excited to be a part of ‘Some Enchanted Evening.’ It’s going to be exhilarating to perform in front of a live audience again. We’ve been waiting for 21 months to get back to business, and I can’t wait to share the energy in that room with our beloved patrons and supporters.”

GPT’s last live production was in January 2020.

“We are excited to welcome (audiences) back to live theater,” Zublick said. “We appreciate all of the support and good wishes we’ve had during the COVID shutdown. We are so grateful to our patrons and the community for all of the support they’ve shown Grosse Pointe Theatre.”

GPT is implementing multiple safety protocols for its productions, including requiring vaccination for cast and crew members. Audience members need to wear masks, in keeping with a Wayne County rule requiring masks inside school buildings, and the audience will be socially distanced inside, with people seated in every other row.

Zublick said that most other theaters have reopened at full capacity, but GPT decided to put these protocols in place at least for the first couple of shows of the season.

“That was our choice, to make sure our patrons are as safe as possible,” Zublick said.

Because of the size of the Pierce auditorium, Zublick said there should be enough tickets for everyone who wants to see the show, but advanced ticket purchases are recommended.

In addition, GPT has instituted digital ticketing and ticketless check-in. Doors open 30 minutes before each production. Zublick said patrons can still purchase tickets at the door, but they’ll need to do so on their phone or on one of the iPads that GPT will have on hand for this purpose. She said patrons are also asked to take their seats upon entering the venue, to avoid congregating in the lobby.

Programs will still be handed out, but Zublick said GPT won’t be reusing them this year, for safety reasons.

“We do know our audiences love looking at the programs,” Zublick said.

Pierce Middle School is located at 15430 Kercheval Ave. in Grosse Pointe Park. For tickets or more information, visit www.gpt.org or call (313) 881-4004.

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