Local Playwright Makes Creative Use of U of M Business Education

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By Melinda Baird, melindathesuntimesnews@gmail.com

Sylvan Township’s own John Daly is making a name for himself as an accomplished playwright.  The Players, a historic theater in Detroit, recently ended its production of “Thunderbird,” a three-act comedy written by Daly and Mark Habel of Troy.

“Thunderbird” is the story of three University of Michigan graduates and their first jobs in the real world, Daly said.  The comedy opens at Casa Dominick’s in Ann Arbor with three students – a marketing major, an accounting major and a chemical engineer – celebrating their final, final exam.  The marketing major has always dreamed of writing ad copy for glamorous sports cars and is thrilled when he believes he will be working on the Ford Thunderbird.  His career becomes challenging, however, when he finds that he will actually be working on Gallo Thunderbird, a product consumed primarily by homeless alcoholics.

In Act Two, entitled “Frontier Accountant,” three visitors (a la Charles Dickens) influence a stressed out young CPA.  Act Three, “Wasting Away,” takes place fifteen years later after the chemical engineer becomes president of her environmental engineering firm and finds herself caught between two aging businessmen who ironically have a toxic waste disposal problem.

Daly, a 39-year member of the gentlemen-only Players private theatre club, first created in the mid-1980’s the stand-alone one-act play “Frontier Accountant.”  “Thunderbird” was created later also as a one-act play, and The Players produced both twice each.  The later development of “Wasting Away” and a pre-scene, “The Final, Final Exam” finally tied all three acts together in the most recent debut of “Thunderbird” as a three-act play.

That Daly earned a Master of Business Administration at the University of Michigan almost goes without saying.  Also licensed as a Certified Public Accountant and owner of a nationwide continuing education company for corporate financial management, Daly said writing plays is a just plain fun.  And, despite the fact his play isn’t yet being produced in a public forum, he loves the history and ambience of the 1925-built playhouse at 3321 East Jefferson Avenue in which his work is showcased.

“It feels like a Renaissance banquet hall where a lord or king might have hosted his banquets 400 to 500 years ago,” Daly said of the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places and boasting ten sculpted gargoyles at its entrance.

Daly also enjoys the fact his writing, in keeping with The Players’ Shakespearean tradition, is geared to men.

“Community theater tends to repel men,” he said, noting productions at The Players playhouse are written for and by men, and—other than dress rehearsal night and a couple of other rare exceptions—are viewed only by men.

Of course, if a more mainstream theatre company wanted to pick “Thunderbirds” up for a broader audience, he can’t say he’d refuse.



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Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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