Meet the “Wait Until Dark” cast: Eighth-grader Alexa Zielkowski takes a turn for the dramatic as “bratty and headstrong” Gloria

Alexa Zielkowski

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From now until opening night on Jan. 31, the Livingston Post will be profiling cast members of the Community Theatre of Howell’s production of “Wait Until Dark.”

After taking the stage in last fall’s big, fun Broadway musical “Annie,” Alexa Zielkowski is back on the CTH stage in a much more tense and dramatic production.

Alexa, an eighth-grader at Charyl Stockwell Preparatory Academy, is in the cast of “Wait Until Dark” as Gloria, the little girl in the upstairs apartment who plays a very pivotal role in the play.

“It’s super fun to experiment with characters that have strong personalities,” said Alexa, who lives in Howell with mom and dad Cheryl and Rob, and big sister Lena. “Gloria is a prime example of this. She is headstrong, bratty and stubborn, but also adventurous – and in times of need – caring. Even though I personally don’t agree with the way Gloria handles things, she is fun to play because she is so different from myself. This allows me to really use my acting skills to portray such a character. Theater is all about the art of acting, and Gloria has allowed me to experience this first-hand.”

The plot of “Wait Until Dark” is a familiar one for generations of playgoers.

In 1944 Greenwich Village, Susan Hendrix, a blind yet capable woman, is imperiled by a ruthless killer in her own apartment. As the climax builds, Susan discovers that her blindness just might be the key to her escape, but she and her tormentors must wait until dark to play out this classic thriller’s chilling conclusion.

To enhance the thriller, CTH is staging the show in an unusual manner. All seating will be on chairs and risers directly on the stage, so that the audience can feel as though it’s right in the middle of the action.

The show is directed by George Popovich and produced by Kim Carnahan.

Even though she’s only in eighth grade, Alexa is already a CTH veteran.

“This will be my eighth production with CTH (five shows, three summer camps), but I have been involved with CTH since 2014,” she said. “My sister got the CTH theater bug first, and I joined her soon after, but mostly did things backstage until I was in ‘Dinosaurs Before Dark’ in the Spring of 2017.

“Since then, I have had a wonderful time being a part of the CTH family. Last summer I was assistant costumer and a crew member for the CTH elementary school camp (which put on the production of ‘Seussical Kids’), and really enjoyed seeing the other side of the production process. Besides that, the backstage work I have done has been mostly set paint and dress.

“My main passion remains on the stage,” she added. “I have done seven productions (including summer camps) outside of CTH, including ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at Howell High School, ‘Matilda’ with the Hartland Players, and ‘School House Rock Live’ in Pinckney, to name a few. I like to bounce around, but truly find my home here at the Community Theatre of Howell.”

Alexa Zielkowski

Alexa said that one of her best experiences came last fall.

“One of my favorite CTH roles was Pepper in CTH’s 2019 production of ‘Annie.’ The show was a whole lot of fun and it was great to share the stage with many of my friends,” she said. “I also enjoyed being a chorus girl in CTH’s ‘Singing in the Rain Jr.’ (Spring 2019). Really all of the shows I have done here at CTH have been a blast, it is an amazing theater.”

And she’s thrilled to be in this latest thriller.

“The audience can expect a detailed plot, nail-biting suspense, lots of thrills, and an overall roller coaster ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat,” she said. “I like this show because the thrill aspect is something that I have never worked with before. Horror is a unique genre and it has been interesting to see it play out in our production.

“The characters are in-depth and realistic, which makes the show even more of a thriller. But above all, my favorite thing about the show has been the staff and cast involved. Everyone is just so kind, supportive, talented, and hard-working. It’s just been amazing getting to know them more over the past few months.”

And with opening night coming up on Friday, she can’t wait for the audiences to see the finish product.

“My favorite part of this experience is how different it has been from all other productions I have done in the past,” Alexa said. “This is the first straight play I have done with CTH, and it is the smallest cast I have ever been in. In addition, this is the first time I have been the only kid in the cast!

“The whole experience has just been so different, and I am so glad I was able to be a part of it,” she added. “Working with George has also been really cool. It has been exciting to work with a professional drama teacher and get to see his style of directing. Overall, my favorite part of the experience has been all the new knowledge and friends that have come with it.”

The Community Theatre of Howell is presenting “Wait Until Dark” at the Howell High School Freshman Campus, 1400 W. Grand River Ave., Howell. Shows are Jan. 31, Feb. 1-2 and 7-9, with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday each weekend.

Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, available at Finding Roots in Howell, Maria’s School of Dance in Fowlerville, Big Acre in Brighton, and Ed Bock Feed and Stuff in Pinckney. Tickets are also available by calling 517-545-1290, or online at cththeatre.org. You can buy tickets by clicking here.

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About Buddy Moorehouse 244 Articles
Longtime Livingston County journalist Buddy Moorehouse is director of communications at the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

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