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’30-POW!’ celebrates 30-year anniversary for The Actor’s Workshop

Maya Sahr and Jeff Caponigro rehearse for one of the Actor's Workshop productions.
Maya Sahr and Jeff Caponigro rehearse for one of the Actor's Workshop productions.

Founded by Gary Haight, The Actor's Workshop first opened its doors in 1984 in downtown Royal Oak. It was good timing – Royal Oak was coming into its own as the “it” place to live, with young people enjoying the easy proximity to both Detroit action and the family and friends still back in the ‘burbs. Opening as The Studio on Washington Avenue, classes were attended largely by stage actors looking to break into commercials, film, and industrial productions associated with the auto industry. Artistic Director Brian Lawrence, Detroit-area filmmaker, director, and CEO of production company Screen Artists Collective, joined the The Actor’s Workshop 22 years ago and focused instruction on in-depth training to produce actors who would be competent both onstage and on-camera. Now based in Troy, the Actors Workshop is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a live stage production dubbed “30-POW!,” which will be performed at NextWave Media Auditorium in Troy July 11-13, 2014.

“Most of the actors I have coached make their living locally, but a sizable chunk work in New York and Los Angeles,” said Lawrence. “However, the core actors I am working with today are the best, most talented artists I’ve had the pleasure to work with since I began with the Actors Workshop in 1992.”

Lawrence will showcase these top-tier actors in “30-POW!,” which includes three distinct pieces. One is the premiere of a new musical by Paul Watta called “Alex and Sara.” Lawrence elaborates on the production by saying, “The audiences will be pleasantly surprised by the Broadway quality of its music and the world-class talent of the gifted performers who sing the five featured roles.” Lawrence continues to describe the other pieces. “The second piece, titled ‘The Man from Hell,’ also a premiere, is a Stephen King/Twilight Zone-esque short drama. The chilling, psychological horror story showcases two of Detroit’s finest actors, Adam Joseph Lopez, who wrote the piece, and Jeff Caponigro, who is performing in his sixth Lawrence-helmed production and is the only actor in all three pieces. The third is a proven crowd favorite titled “LoveTalk!,” which was one of the Workshop’s biggest successes in its early years. It is a fun, fast-paced romantic comedy showcasing a giant-sized cast playing multiple roles.”

Lawrence, who has been juggling multiple projects throughout his career, is preparing to shoot his next film, “Blue Sunset,” in Michigan later this summer using a cast from in and around the Midwest. According to Lawrence, he wanted to pay tribute to the 30 years of the Actor’s Workshop with “30-POW!” before becoming immersed in this next film project. “It is important to honor the work of the actors, teachers, filmmakers, dancers and singers who built the program and, at the same time, look forward to working with the next generation of actors,” Lawrence said.

The “30-POW!” stage production will be performed in a recently built, 100-seat auditorium at NextWave Media located at 950 W. Stephenson Highway in Troy. Showtimes are at 8 p.m., Friday, July 11 and Saturday July 12 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 13. The performance on Saturday night will stream live online for those unable to secure tickets for the show, which are $18 and available at the Actor’s Workshop website.“30-POW! “tickets are available for $18 by visiting The Actor’s Workshop website. Tickets are $20 at the door.