Ghostly Humor: A spunky spirit haunts the Summer Theatre Festival

WHITEHALL — A comic presence from beyond the grave will be up to all kinds of mischief as the 2018 season of the annual Howmet Playhouse Summer Theatre Festival opens July 12-14.
“Mom’s Gift,” a 2013 comedy by playwright Phil Olson, will have three 7:30 p.m. performances on the stage of the auditorium at Whitehall High School, 3100 White Lake Drive.
Because 102-year-old Howmet Playhouse, 304 W. Mears, is undergoing a $3.7-million renovation project, the entire 2018 summer-stock season will be staged at the high school.
Productions will be presented in the Black Box format, with audiences seated on stage instead of in the auditorium.
In “Mom’s Gift,” the titular character has been dead for 11 months. However, she returns as a ghost, for her surviving husband’s birthday party.
The reason: She must accomplish a task to earn her angel’s wings.
But she’s not sure what that task is.
Finding out won’t be easy: Only her daughter, Kat, can hear Mom, and that daughter is there because she because she has no choice: she’s under a court order stemming from her anger management program.
As the play progresses, family secrets are revealed, en route to a surprise ending.
Issues, issues: Mom was killed in an auto accident when she was a passenger in car, which was being driven by her husband, that was sideswiped by drunken driver. Kat resents her Dad not only because he was at the wheel, but also because he took Mom off life support before Kat could get home to say farewell. In addition, Kat has a crush on Kevin, the boy next door. And Dad has been hanging with Trish, Mom’s former hospice nurse. Kat has additional problems with her younger sister, Brittany, a hostess at a Hooters restaurant. (an apparent ditz who might be smarter than people think)
“Mom’s Gift” is being directed by Bryan Engler. The cast includes Robin Erdman as Mom, T.J. VanDyke as Dad, Lorrell Pepple as Kat, Dustin Day as Kevin, Katie McCool as Brittany, Ann Genson as Trish and Diane Reeths as Mrs. Norquist.
“Mom’s Gift” is being underwritten by longtime playhouse supporter Julie Johnson.
The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs is a sponsor for the entire season.
Tickets and season flex passes are on sale at Whitehall City Hall, by calling (231) 894-4048, and online at
Individual tickets are $21 for adults and $17 for students.
Two categories of Flex Passes, which can be used in any combination, are being sold. The Full Flex Pass, for 12 tickets, is $210. The Mini Flex Pass, for six tickets, is $105.
All seating is general admission.
This summer’s season will run through Aug. 18, with a new production each week.
The rest of the season will be:
• July 19-21: “Old Love,” a romantic comedy by Norm Foster.
• July 26-28: “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play,” by Joe Landry, performed by the White Lake Youth Theatre.
• Aug. 2-4: “Yankee Tavern,” a dramatic thriller by Steven Dietz.
Aug. 9-11: “Every Brilliant Thing,” a drama/comedy by Duncan Macmillan, with Jonny Donahoe.
Aug. 16-18: “Summer Shorts,” a series of short dramas and comedies by various authors.


Categories: Theatre

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