The Hilberry Theatre of Wayne State University in Detroit, one of the country's only graduate theatre programs to train its students in true rotating repertory, will begin its 1999-2000 season with Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor.
Simon's comic backstage portrayal of a TV variety show in the McCarthy era will be followed by the usual mix of classics and modern classics, including The Merchant of Venice, the Hilberry's first-ever production of that Shakespeare comedy.
The season also includes Richard Nelson's Some Americans Abroad, about a group of U.S. academics on a playgoing tour of England; Thornton Wilder's timeless Our Town; Hugh Whitemore's Breaking the Code, about the professional and personal obstacles in the life of gay World War II "Enigma" code-cracker Alan Turing; Five by Tenn, one acts by Tennessee Williams; The Marriage of Figaro, the 1784 comedy by Beaumarchais that inspired Mozart to create the better-known opera.
Among graduates of the Hilberry are Max Wright (the Lincoln Center Theatre regular) and Jeffrey Tambor ("The Larry Sanders Show").
In its 49th season, the Hilberry's undergraduate sister theatre, the Bonstelle, will feature Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness!, Romeo and Juliet, Cheryl L. West's Before It Hits Home, Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, and the musical, Godspell. For season ticket information, call (313) 577-2972.
-- By Kenneth Jones