Silent Wonder: HFCC’s Drama Excellently Done

Richard Marsh/Dearborn Press and Guide/December 12, 1990

Detroit may boast about its Attic Theatre, Wayne State University Theater, and the Theatre Company of the University of Detroit, but Henry Ford Community College’s theater program is continuing to equal other institutions, and, in some instances, even surpass them. HFCC’s most recent production, “Children of a Lesser God,” staged last weekend is a good case in point.

Director George Popovich took the play to its logical extreme, something most productions – including the original Broadway show – fail or failed to do. Besides casting deaf performers in two of the lead roles, Popovich had the entire show signed for the hearing-impaired.

Add in top-notch acting by the entire cast, and the result was a powerful drama which held everyone’s attention throughout. Unlike many dramas, which result in a restless audience, everyone seemed riveted to the action on stage, helped in part by the continuous action from the constant signing.

“Children of a Lesser God” is about a new teacher James, at a school for the deaf. James is given the task of teaching a difficult female student, Sarah, who refuses to learn to lip-read and talk. James soon falls in love with Sarah, and eventually marries her. The marriage is not without its problems, however. Jeff Simms as James and Michelle Lytle as Sarah were both marvelous. They had a chemistry between them which made the roles work and let the audience feel for the characters. It was the first time in major roles for Lytle and Nancy McCall, who played Lydia. Lyle and McCall are both deaf. Tom Downey, a hearing impaired student, who played the deaf Orin, was excellent.

The show featured a simple space set and virtually no props. Scenery was added through the use of slides projected against a back screen.

This show is another feather in the cap of theater wizard George Popovich. Those who missed it missed out on a grand show.

1990 Page Award Winners
Outstanding Achievement by a Lead Actor in a Non – Musical: Jeff Simms
Outstanding Achievement by a Director: Dr. George Popovich
Outstanding Achievement by a Lead Actress in a Non – Musical: Michelle Lytle
Outstanding Achievement in a Non – Musical: Dr. George Popovich

Cast:

  • James Leeds: Jeff Simms
  • Sarah: Michelle Lytle
  • Mrs. Norman: Amy Armstrong
  • Orin: Tom Downey
  • Lydia: Nancy McCall
  • Klein: Bob Ketterer
  • Interpreters: Lori Jean and Richard Jasper
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