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Community theater provides low-cost but high-impact performances

Although Detroit is known for drawing some high-end shows – especially some of the best of Broadway – there also are some amazing community theaters in the area.

One such group is the Grosse Pointe Theatre. Over the past 60 years, the small tribe of thespians who make up this local studio have put on a variety of productions from “Arsenic and Old Lace” to “Kismet” to “Little Shop of Horrors.” So the most recent production, “Hairspray,” seemed like the perfect fit, and it felt like the right time to enjoy a little Girls Night Out as well.

That’s because the group of volunteer players had not only put together the well-staged play, but they also had a large array of retailers as well as a light meals put together for the event. So you enjoyed dinner, some shopping and a female-friendly show afterward. It was an impressive event for around $45, held in the always lovely Grosse Pointe War Memorial (located off of Lakeshore Drive right on Lake St. Clair).

I went with a group of women I know locally who are mostly stay-at-home mothers. So a chance to get out for all of the above – shopping, a dinner made by someone else and a performance – was the ideal chance to enjoy themselves. We had amazing seats in the third row, which was convenience because the first two rows were completely empty, perhaps to give room to the live mini-orchestra that performed all of the play’s music.

We had a ball at the play. The performers ranged from tweens to older men in drag (gotta love Mama!) as well as semi-professional actors. Perhaps the best pairing was the lead characters – a lovely young 20-something woman playing Tracy and a 17-year-old local high-school boy playing Link, her love interest. Although their ages were pretty fair fetched, the casting felt natural and the two actors clearly enjoyed the comedy aspects of their partnership.

All in all, this was the third performance I’ve seen at the Grosse Pointe Theatre. And I walked away impressed once again. Not only because these actors have “real jobs” and other day-time responsibilities. But also for the level of professionalism and talent they show. And also for the rare opportunity to see a great play up close and to meet the actors afterward…That was a treat to tell them how much we enjoyed every moment of the play.

Community theater is a risk in some ways – you never know what kind of quality you’ll ultimately find there. But it is something that ultimately pays off because you get a night out at a reasonable price and some great memories.