Through the fairy doors
by Madeline Strong Diehl
The Thurston Community Players (TCP) celebrate their fortieth anniversary this year with a musical called "Thru the Fairy Door!" (see Events, March 27). Most of the 100-plus actors are elementary school students, but quite a few are Thurston parents and/or grandparents. "Everyone who auditions gets a part," explained Praveena Ramaswami, TCP board president. "Everybody's a winner."
The group started in 1975 as a way to raise money for the north-side school, and parents did everything from writing scripts and music to acting and set building. Then Thurston students and teachers joined in, and now productions are open to all neighborhood residents.
A lot of Thurston alumni participate, says Ramaswami, as do grandparents who appear onstage with their children and grandchildren. "I got involved because this is one of the few activities I can share with my kids," she says. "We learn our lines and sew costumes together, and we have a scrapbook of all the productions we've been in."
All of the shows are musical comedies, and all poke fun at local institutions and personalities. This year's musical takes place at the Art Fair, when some teenagers lose an "important ring" through a fairy door--one of the couple dozen miniature, elaborately decorated doors that have mysteriously appeared at cafes and shops in Ann Arbor. A good fairy helps the teens shrink so they can fit through the door--but then they encounter an evil fairy named Spiderella.
All hope might be lost, but in a nod to another performance group that is also celebrating an important anniversary this year, the Beatles come to the rescue. "You'll be hearing a lot of adaptations of their songs if you come," Ramaswami promises. Befitting their smaller stature, though, Thurston's stars are "Beetles."
[Originally published in March, 2014.]