The Purple Rose Theatre Company Presents: Diva Royale

A review by Kim Williamson

Take a wild trip to NYC through the perspective of three midwestern women and go see “Diva Royale” at the Purple Rose Theatre.  Jeff Daniels shows us his comedic talent with his 18th World Premiere play, about three stay at home moms whose shared love of Celine Dion and Titanic take them on an unplanned adventure to New York City.

Our three moms hail from “Middleton, MI” and share their story of how they met, singing “My heart will go on” in the school car pick up lane, and how their friendship took them on their wild adventure.  We are introduced to Helen Millerbee (played by Rhiannan Ragland), a dramatic atheist whose near-death experience involving her husband’s man boobs precipitate the impromptu trip; Mary Catherine Carlton (played by Kristin Shields), a crafty Catholic mom with good intentions for the trip but poor execution, resulting in a ham marinade stained gold curtain dress ; and Lynnette Taylor-Tyler (played by Kate Thomsen), a cell phone obsessed women whose addiction and subsequent withdrawal send their trip into a tailspin.  Rusty Mewha rounds out the cast as “Generic Man”, although you will soon find out that there is nothing generic about the many faceted characters that he portrays.

Their story is hilariously told on the simple open space of the set, which is accented by a wide staircase and red theatrical curtains.  The creative use of their luggage and the back-screen help transport you through the story during their flight, “limo” ride in NYC, and into their unexpectedly cramped hotel room. This provides ample room for the many side-splitting antics of these guileless women, and a perfect backdrop for their “Celine Dion” concert.

Thanks to the directing expertise of Guy Sanville, the audience was captivated by the expressiveness and energy onstage and were kept laughing throughout the performance.

Take it from this fellow midwestern mom, you need to go see “Diva Royale”  which runs September 20 through Saturday, December 29.  Ticket prices range from $21 to $47 with special discounts for students, seniors, teachers, members of the military, and groups. For more information or to make reservations call (734)433-7673 or go to

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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