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Purple Rose Theatre Brings New Life to William Mastrosimone's 'A Stone Carver'

The show opens for a two-month run at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea on Friday.

CHELSEA — Fresh off the heals of its wildly successful season opener, the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea continues its 2012 season with an original adaptation of William Mastrosimone's A Stone Carver.

The story follows the struggles of Agostino (Guy Sanville), an elderly Sicilian stone carver, who built his home with his own hands. Hunkered down with a shotgun and ammo, Agostino refuses to surrender his home, which will be demolished to make way for a new off-ramp in his town to help ease the flow of traffic.

Agostino is the last resident in the neighborhood to leave his house until his son, Raff (Matthew David) arrives to try to persuade his father to comply with authorities.

"It's a very interesting story with a lot of heart," director Rhiannon Ragland said. "While the issue of eminent domain triggers the journey of these two characters, it is the family dynamic that drives the play."

Ragland, who has appeared on stage numerous times at the Purple Rose as an actress under the direction of Sanville, will mark her directorial debut.

"I'm getting a whole different perspective," she said. "When you are an actor you get out there and give the director everything you can, but it's just blind faith and you let them guide you. As a director, you have this understanding on how a show is supposed to come together."

Ragland, a former resident of Flint, admits the role reversal with Sanville, the theater's artistic director, was a little awkward at first.

Sanville, however, said he had no problems letting go of the director's reins.

"I like to act once in awhile," he said. "Acting makes me a better director, but I don't act here a lot because I don't want to take jobs away from people.

"Rhiannon is wicked smart and funny and she has some great taste. It came down to the fact that I needed another director and she fit the bill. Rhiannon is one of the guys; she understands the intracies of male relationships that this show requires."

As far as acting, Sanville said he is excited to be back on stage after five years.

"I like this play very much. I feel very strongly about the character Agostino, who represents a lot of men I have known in my life, including my own father. I think the show is a great tribute to fathers and sons," he said.

Julie Brunzell, Purple Rose managing director, said she thinks the show will have a profound impact on audiences.

"What A Stone Carver has shown me is that we can attach such importance after a loss to inconsequential things because of whom we are missing. It's about the memories we associate with these tangible objects," she said. "But a place isn't a person, and there comes a time in our lives when we have to make a choice to move forward."

A Stone Carver opens Friday at 8 p.m. The show will run Wednesdays at 3 and 8 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m., through March 10. Tickets are $25-$40. Discounts are available for seniors, students, teachers and groups. For information, call 734-433-7673 or visit www.purplerosetheatre.org.

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