>> ... Next Generation ...
"The most wonderful things
about living here are all the
opportunities and activities."
— Helen Weingarden,
enjoying life at
Lisa Melinn is the new
production manager at
Ferndale's edgy Ringwald Theater.
SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
loud-mouthed, liberal and
Jewish, with fierce political
and social views she is not
ashamed to broadcast, Lisa Melinn
shares many of the aforementioned
characteristics with the characters she
likes to portray on stage, like Zillah
Katz, in Tony Kushner's A Bright Room
Since her first role as Snoopy in
Willoway Day Camp's production of
You're a Good Man Charlie Brown
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September 6 • 2012
at age 5, Melinn's theater career has
led her from her hometown of West
Bloomfield to Syracuse University,
where she graduated with a major in
drama, to the performing arts scene
in New York City, where she regularly
auditioned for roles while working at a
gym, to back home again to be a part
of the Metro Detroit arts scene.
Her reasoning: "Detroit needs me
Melinn, 38, is the newest talent
addition to Ferndale's Ringwald
Theatre. In her new role as production
manager, she says that, sometimes,
her job is "organizing chaos" as she
coordinates with directors and actors
to make sure they don't need to do
anything but direct and act.
"I have seen shows [at the Ringwald]
for the past five years," says Melinn,
who also will act as assistant director
for the Ringwald's first production of
the season, Shopping and F'ing
by Mark Ravenhill. Set in London, it
follows a crowd of drifters who conduct
hedonistic and destructive lives in a
seedy area of London.
"The plays at the Ringwald are
really risky and daring. The first show,
if you can get past the title, is a really
fabulous show," says Melinn. "It has
so much to say about youth and pop
culture and where we are as a society."
The Ringwald, known for its hot-
topic productions on race, gender,
sexuality and religion, complements
Melinn's own personality and views,
she says. "I like things that are kind of
out there and push people's buttons."
Melinn, who sports several tattoos,
including one with the Hebrew words
"tikkun olam" on the inside of her
right wrist, shares her local influences.
"I sang in the Congregation Shaarey
Zedek youth choir and loved it. I
always loved the music at services; it
was the best part," she says. "I worked
at the Second City [comedy club] here
for a time; I just think Jews are funny.
My biggest comic icon was Gilda
Radner. In fact, most of my favorite
playwrights are either gay or Jewish, or
Lisa Melinn on the stage of
Ferndale's Ringwald Theatre
both, so this theater seems to be the
perfect place for me."
Melinn feels "lucky that I grew up in
a really liberal, tolerant environment,"
with a supportive mother and
grandparents. "I think the brand of
Judaism I was raised with has room
for everyone," says Melinn, who has a
younger brother also in the arts.
"My mother is that wonderful type
of open-minded Jewish mother who is
really willing to listen to anything. She
has really been willing to come along
for this ride."
Melinn currently lives in Berkley and
also teaches improvisation and acting
at Oakland Community College.
Although she has worked in various
theater positions as an actor, director,
producer and writer, including a
one-woman show she wrote called
Melinnoma that she performed at the
Miami Improv Festival, Melinn says she
is focusing on her new job right now
while continuing to work toward her
"I have my selfish goal and my lofty
goal," says Melinn. "My lofty goal:
Create more art in Detroit and make
people aware of it.
"My purely selfish goal," Melinn
adds, "is to maintain a constant role in
the performing arts. I say all the time: I
am doing what I said I was going to do
with my life when I was 5, and I don't
know how many people can say that. I
think that is its own reward." El
Shopping and F***king runs
Sept. 8-24 at the Ringwald
Theatre, 22742 Woodward
Ave., Ferndale. The produc-
tion contains nudity, violence
and adult situations and is
for mature audiences only.
$10-$20. Show times and
tickets: (248) 545-5545;