Meet the cast of “The WCTH Mystery Series”: CTH Veteran Gil Bazil returns to the stage

The Community Theatre of Howell’s popular “WCTH Mystery Series” continues on Sunday, April 11, at 2 p.m. with a free performance of two radio-style mystery dramas: “Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Dead Adventuress” and “Ellery Queen: Mr. Short and Mr. Long.”

The audience will get to journey back in time to the golden age of radio, as the WCTH cast acts out the dramas. All performances take place at the Howell High School Freshman Campus, 1400 W. Grand River Ave., Howell.

Admission is free for all “WCTH Mystery Series” shows. Masks must be worn in the audience and social distancing will be observed.

From now through Sunday, the Livingston Post will be introducing you to members of the “WCTH Mystery Series” cast.

In today’s story, we meet Gil Bazil. A CTH veteran, Bazil is a retired medical technologist specialist at Warde Medical Library in Ann Arbor. He’s a Grand Master in Tang Soo Do (Korean Karate) and a 6th Degree Master Instructor in Kata Iaijutsu Ryu (the art of the Samurai Sword) which he teaches four days per week in Clarkston, Ortonville and Lansing. He and his wife Mary Ellen live in Hartland Township.

How did you first become involved with CTH? How many shows have you been involved with?

I first became involved with CTH in their 1994 production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” I was heavily involved with Eastern European dance and folklore for over 40 years, and that musical was very close to my heart. The director was fantastic, the cast, crew and staff were all top-notch, so I was hooked and couldn’t wait to come back for the next production.

Gil Bazil

I have been involved in over 50 CTH productions as a performer, choreographer, assistant director, stage manager, staff member, or stage crew and including other groups, nearly 60.

What are some favorite roles or theater experiences from the past, either with CTH or other groups?

How much time do you have? Positive experiences come in so many forms, from the quality of the material, the depth of the message, the richness of a character that you might be charged with depicting, the camaraderie of the team working on the project, often just the simple joy of bringing a few smiles to an audience, and sometimes they all come together.

One such production that comes to mind was “Our Town.” It represented a departure from the usual musicals CTH was doing at that time and was special for many reasons: Thornton Wilder’s script is a literary masterpiece, the director’s vision was wonderful, and I had the opportunity to play the character of Doc Gibbs, a small-town practitioner that I crafted as a tribute to my physician father.

For “My Fair Lady,” I had the opportunity to research the Victorian British Empire to fill out the character of Colonel Pickering, ending up with a five-page biography.

In CTH’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I was the angel Clarence, who reminded us of the value of every life with the importance of never giving up.

I was instrumental in bringing two original works to life, one where I did the choreography and another where I could create a character with a semiprofessional company with the music written by Kathie Lee Gifford (she told me after the show that the song I performed was her personal favorite … good thing I didn’t know beforehand). 

What do you like most about being involved with CTH?

Definitely the people. CTH is a supportive community of artists, all talented in different fields, who come together for the common objective of crafting the best production possible.

It is always fascinating and rewarding to see the contributions of these many individuals so well versed in dramaturgy, costuming, vocal music, choreography, the many technical areas, and many other areas in addition to the performers who have their own individual strengths all working so diligently to bring to life the vision of one of the outstanding directors we have here. 

Tell us about the WCTH Mystery Series shows and why you like these shows. 

These WCTH shows are a chance to experience a largely forgotten form of performance art that occupies a unique space between the individually conceived imaginative imagery reading a fine literary work and the physical depiction of a story on stage or screen.

There is an elegance in the simplicity of telling the story with the only physical set as the interior of a early 20th century radio studio and the only characters being voice actors who tell the story, allowing the images to spring up in the minds of the listeners.

What can the audience expect with these productions?

Audience members will have a unique look into the world of radio broadcasting, which was such an important part of life in the 1930s through the 1950s, a chance to experience the medium that gave rise to the television era.

Those who remember these shows from their younger years will have a chance to enjoy them again perhaps with new perspective, and those for whom this was before their time will have a chance to appreciate the entertainment so important to their parents and grandparents. All of that aside, it’s just a great afternoon of entertainment.

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