Richard Marsh/Press and Guide/Dec. 6,1990
The Tony award-winning drama “Children of a Lesser God,” by Mark Medhoff, will be presented by the Performing Arts Department of Henry Ford Community College Wednesday – Sunday, Dec. 5-9, in the Adray Auditorium of the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center.
In keeping with the wishes of the author, two deaf actresses have been cast in leading roles of the production, according to George Popovich, HFCC theatre instructor and director of the play. During performances, sign-language interpreters will b e stationed in the theatre to sign the play for members of the local deaf community attending the show, Popovich added.
Popovich worked with Plymouth resident Kim Willett, a sign language instructor. Willett taught sign language to the production’s lead actor and supporting cast members. She also translated the script for the two deaf actresses cast in the roles of Sarah and Lydia to allow for more accurate sign-language interpretation.
Michelle Lytle, a junior at Madonna College and a Columbus, Ohio, native, stars as Sarah, a student at a school for the deaf. Jeff Simms of Wixom stars as James Leed, a teacher of the deaf who falls in love with his student, Sarah. The play takes place in James’ mind as he recalls his turbulent relationship with Sarah. Lytle, who studies business and accounting at Madonna, is making her first appearance in a college production at HFCC.
“Being in the production of ” Children of a Lesser God” is very exciting,” Lytle said through a sign language interpreter. “I enjoy the opportunity to be a creative actress.”
Simms is a veteran of the HFCC stage. He has starred in HFCC’s production of “Cabaret,” “As You Like It,” “The Drunkard,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” To prepare for his role in “Children of a Lesser God,” Simms studied for six months to learn sign language. The role of Lydia, Sarah’s school friend, is played by Nancy McCall of Clawson. McCall also is making her acting debut on the HFCC stage. She is active in associations for the deaf community, including the Detroit Association of the Deaf Ladies Auxiliary and the Grand Rapids Athletic Association for the Deaf.
Willet, a nationally certified sign language interpreter, holds a bachelor’s degree in sign language from Madonna College. She is a member of the Wild Swan Theatre in Ann Arbor and the Sign Players Unlimited in Plymouth, which are theatres specializing in presenting plays to the deaf community. Willett also is the coordinator of the Interpreter Services at St. Clair College in Windsor and a teacher of sign language at the Farmington Community Center.
Other sign language interpreters for the production are Lori Jean and Richard Jasper of Windsor. Both are third-year students at St. Clair College studying to be sign language interpreters. As interpreters for the play, the two students are completing field-training requirements for their college major.
Supporting cast members are Amy Armstrong of Romulus as Mrs. Norman; Bob Ketterer of Northville as Franklin; Karen Shoecraft of Windsor as Klein; and Tom Downey of Detroit as Orin.