Detroit Public TV to air two one-person plays Monday

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News

Attention, all those starved for theater.

Detroit Public Theatre and Chautauqua Theater Company in New York have teamed up with their respective PBS affiliates to simulcast filmed versions of two one-person plays Monday at 8 p.m. in Detroit, Buffalo and Toronto.

The plays are Nilaja Sun's "No Child..." and Eric Gutman's "From Broadway to Obscurity," both of which played DPT in recent years.

Nilaja Sun in her one-woman play "No Child..," which will be simulcast Monday at 8 p.m. on PBS affiliates in Detroit and Buffalo.

Bottom line? It'll be three hours of free theater and behind-the-scenes interviews. Gutman's piece will launch at 8 p.m., and Sun's at 9:30 p.m.

The four-way collaboration, said Sarah Clare Corporandy, managing director at CTC as well as DPT producing artistic director, "came from a great need to reach our audiences in this time."

And what safer way to film a stage production than with a one-person performance?

Happily, Corporandy added, Eric had been pitching from 'From Broadway to Obscurity' for Chautauqua for about a year, so it was already on her mind.

"We thought, 'Both Detroit and Buffalo are similar, rust-belt capitals, and each has a relationship with its PBS affiliate," she said. "And it turned into this really scary, beautiful, wonderful thing, where everyone said, 'Yeah, let’s try it.'"

"No Child..." was taped at the WNED-PBS studios in Buffalo, while Detroit Public TV filmed "From Broadway to Obscurity" at Detroit's Marygrove Theatre.

Eric Gutman in his "From Broadway to Obscurity," which will air on PBS stations in Detroit and Buffalo Monday at 8 p.m.

The latter is described as a concert experience that's "a musical love letter to both Broadway and Michigan," according to the DPT release. Gutman, who played several roles in the award-winning "Jersey Boys" on Broadway, made the decision to leave New York to raise his daughters in Michigan close to family.

Sun's "No Child..." is a solo show exploring the New York City school system, a tour de force in which Sun effortlessly transforms herself into teachers, parents, students, janitors and administrators at a high school in the Big Apple.

The two show the range of what theater can offer.

"Eric's show is lovely, with music and heartfelt honesty and laughs," Corporandy said, "while Nilaja’s will make you think hard and fall in love with her characters."

The undertaking is as much about providing great entertainment as reminding audiences that live theater will, someday, return.

"I want people to know that we’re still here," Corporandy said. "Theater is still here. And not just DPT or Chautauqua -- all the arts are still here, and we’re dying to connect."

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'From Broadway to Obscurity' and 'No Child...'

8 p.m. Monday

Detroit Public TV