JET Theatre delighted with Walled Lake home
Linda Ramsay-Detherage first landed at the Jewish Ensemble Theatre 10 years ago as an actor, but has since juggled any number of roles including directing and serving as the current development director.
JET, long based in West Bloomfield's Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, just moved this year to new quarters in Walled Lake. The Detroit News caught up with Ramsay-Detherage to talk community theater, JET's upcoming plays and location, location, location.
So what's JET's next production?
Ramsay-Detherage: "This is one I really want to bang -- we're doing 'Ain't Misbehavin'' opening Aug. 2, and featuring Alvin Waddles and Lauren LaStrada. Alvin's known for 'Too Hot to Handel' at Detroit's Music Hall. He's a great jazz pianist."
Have both performed at JET before?
"Lauren and Alvin both did 'Lady Day,' the Billie Holiday story, for us last year. And Lauren's nationally known. Together? I heard them rehearse. They're amazing."
The rest of your 2019 season includes "On Golden Pond" and "Cabaret." Are these typical of the plays JET produces?
"Not entirely. JET is traditionally known for heavier dramas than many other theaters. However, because we were relocating, we decided to do plays familiar to everybody. That way, coming into a new region, people would say, 'Oh! I know that play.'"
Are you happy with your new home?
"Yes. I was actually the one who located this spot -- I live close to here. The population growth out here is crazy -- and is supposed to continue to be astronomical. So it's going to be a great move for us as a theatrical organization."
Do you like Walled Lake?
"It's a fantasy for us to be part of a small community that would treasure us -- and beautiful Walled Lake, with its beach and restaurants, seems inclined to do that. They have been outstandingly gracious. We are so grateful to be here."
Any particular advantages to the space itself?
"We have an environment with a floating stage and floating seating, so we can do different configurations for every show. And that's tons of fun. 'Cabaret,' which opens Oct. 11, will be an immersive performance. It will take place all around you. We're delighted."
What else is JET proud of?
"We have a youth theater that serves approximately 35,000 young people a year with four anti-bullying touring shows that we take into schools. Additionally, we do 'The Diary of Anne Frank' annually, in conjunction with our partner the Detroit Institute of Arts. And this year we'll also be taking the cast and crew to Phoenix in February. We've already sold a bunch of tickets."
Your season schedule is a little different from other theaters, isn't it?
"Yes. Most run through the school year, from fall to spring. But our main subscriber base is over 65, and often goes to Florida in the winter. So we've pivoted to be spring to fall, which has increased our attendance."
JET Theatre's 2019 Season - 'American Favorites'
"Ain't Misbehavin'" - Aug. 2-25
"On Golden Pond" - Sept. 6-28
"Cabaret" - Oct. 11-Nov. 3
1124 W. Maple, Walled Lake