ROGERS CITY – Celebrities may seem like they’ve done it, but life isn’t all roses no matter how famous you get.
You’ll find out at the world premiere of ‘Trial by Media’ at the Rogers City Community Theater, which opens tonight at the Rogers City Theater and runs until Sunday only. Evening shows are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the door for $14 per adult and $6 per student.
Heather Nordenbrock wrote the musical drama several years ago and decided it was time to bring it to the public. She now lives in Ann Arbor, but her parents are Karl and Mary Ann Heidemann of Rogers City. Nordenbrock and his father, Karl W. Heidemann, are two of the six actors in the production.
“Trial by Media” is directed by Pennie Hoeft.
“It’s based on a Shakespearian play, and it’s basically about media pressures and drug addiction,” Hoeft explained, adding that it shows how you can get caught up in the celebrity lifestyle, which may seem glamorous, but can be dangerous.
“Coriolanus” is the Shakespearean play on which this production is loosely based.
“It also focuses on mental health, which is huge these days, and addiction, which is still an issue,” Hoeft said. “It’s kind of crazy that these issues Shakespeare wrote about are still relevant today.”
It’s a small but mighty cast.
“There are only six people, so everyone is vital to the story,” Hoeft added.
Nordenbrock plays Muriel, the mother of Marsha, a rising celebrity who changes her name to Corie Alayna, played by Ashley Nowicki. Garrison Benson is Lusauf, Marsha’s on-stage competition, who quickly becomes her love interest. Heidemann is Gipper, the agent who wants the best for Corie Alayna and wants everyone to get along. Anna Kohler is Lara and Baylee Lijewski is Juno, both of whom started out in a pop band with Corie Alayna before deciding to go it alone.
Fueled by anger at being left behind, Lara and Juno hatch a new plan to bring down their former friend. They even go so far as to not only leak secrets and tricks to the paparazzi, but also join them.
All the pressure is on Corie Alayna, as her mother unwittingly allows her, and others try to help her recover from her addiction.
This piece is rated PG-13 for adult themes and strong language.
The music is original, also by Nordenbrock, who has a beautiful singing voice.
This piece is very realistic and relatable, and the cast has great chemistry. Looks like Muriel and Marsha/Corie Alayna are truly mother and daughter. The backstabbing and gossiping is very believable between the three girls.
Gipper adds a nice sense of stability to his role as Marsha/Corie Alayna’s agent. Lusauf brings passion to the stage in his role as a caring, hot-tempered boyfriend, for all the right reasons.
Hoeft said the cast had been great working with him.
“They did a great job,” she said. “We had lots of laughs, lots of fun and a few tears here and there.”
“It was my thesis project for my master’s degree,” said Nordenbrock, who received her master’s degree in theater arts from Eastern Michigan University in 2016.
She is both excited and nervous to present her work to the community.
“It’s terrifying,” she said of showing her art to the public. “It’s so scary, and that’s why it took six years to do it…but if I’m not sharing it with someone, why did I even do it?”
For more information, visit rcctheatre.org.