From left, Jeff Weiner, Alex Schussler, Brian Tuscany, Kyle Bushre and Julie Fuller star in “Don’t Drink the Water,” a comedy that will open Stage-crafters’ 2021-22 season Sept. 17 to Oct. 3.

From left, Jeff Weiner, Alex Schussler, Brian Tuscany, Kyle Bushre and Julie Fuller star in “Don’t Drink the Water,” a comedy that will open Stage-crafters’ 2021-22 season Sept. 17 to Oct. 3.

Photo provided by Erin McKay


Stagecrafters to open season with ‘Don’t Drink the Water’

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published September 22, 2021

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ROYAL OAK — The first production of Stagecrafters’ 2021-22 season will be the comedy “Don’t Drink the Water” at the Baldwin Theatre, which runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 3.

The play revolves around a New Jersey couple and their daughter, who take a trip to Eastern Europe and are mistaken for spies during the Cold War. They take refuge inside the U.S. Embassy and plot their escape with the help of a priest, a sultan and a diplomat.

Billed as a “rollicking romp from start to finish,” the production, originally written by Woody Allen in 1966 and directed for Stagecrafters by Rich Wilson, promises lots of laughs and a dash of romance.

Wilson originally cast “Don’t Drink the Water” on Feb. 1, 2020, for an April 2020 debut, but the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the effort. This will be the first time the Baldwin Theatre welcomes back an in-person audience.

“We got canceled March 16,” Wilson said. “We already started working on building our set and had all the walls done. We put them up and secured them to the stage, then everything was shut down.”

He joked that he has the privilege of having the longest-running show in production in Stagecrafters history.

Wilson and all of the original cast, with the exception of one member, resumed rehearsals of the play in mid-July this year.

“(The cast has) bonded together with a resolve to make this show a hit to help welcome the community back to live theater,” he said. “I could not be happier to be working with each and every one of them.”

His take on “Don’t Drink the Water” involves a window inside the embassy that faces out toward the audience, which makes for a few funny moments when the actors deliver their lines and also allows the audience to participate.

On a personal note, Wilson said he is dedicating the play to his father, whom he lost to cancer. He recalled memories of his father taking photos of himself and his sister on family vacations in off-limit areas, similar to the fictional family in “Don’t Drink the Water.”

Stagecrafters partnered with the Clinton River Watershed Council for the production of “Don’t Drink the Water.” The CRWC works to protect, enhance and celebrate the Clinton River; its watershed, which is made up of thousands of lakes, ponds, wetlands, marshes and bogs; and Lake St. Clair.

During each performance, patrons will have an opportunity to learn more about the nonprofit and the work it does so that future generations can continue to enjoy local natural resources.

“Timing for the partnership is perfect because we are part of the city of Royal Oak’s Normandy (Oaks) Park project, which is one of the first grants awarded through the new Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund, and improvements to the park will include green infrastructure to capture and treat stormwater,” CRWC Executive Director Anne Brasie said in a prepared statement. “Royal Oak is committed to promoting green infrastructure, so we’re excited to showcase this project in a unique way.”

All patrons, members and volunteers, vaccinated or not, must wear a mask inside the theater. Additionally, new entrances will be open to alleviate crowding at the door; all patrons will be seated upon entry; the theater will be cleaned after every performance; and all cast, crew, musicians and volunteers are either vaccinated or have shown a recent “not-present” COVID-19 test before entering the building, according to a Stagecrafters press release.

Tickets cost $30. A VIP package is also available for $60, which includes a ticket and dinner at Fifth Avenue in Royal Oak.

The Baldwin Theatre is located at 415 S. Lafayette Ave., north of Fifth Street.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit stagecrafters.org or call the box office at (248) 541-6430.

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