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Macomb alumnus starring in "Hockey, The Musical!"

In his second-grade Christmas pageant, Greg Trzaskoma was the only kid who didn’t need a microphone.  That booming voice and personality would do him well after coming to the conclusion, while selling television sets at Montgomery Ward, that he wanted to be an actor.

“So I went back to Macomb,” says Trzaskoma, who had briefly attended here after high school with less than stellar results, “But something changed in me and I loved it.”   

Perhaps it was because he had found his calling.

Trzaskoma took acting classes and won lead roles in Macomb theater department productions of Jesus Christ Superstar (Pontius Pilate) and Grease (Teen Angel).  He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre from the University of Detroit (Mercy) and Master of Arts in Theatre from Wayne State University, followed by awards and critics’ praise while performing at the Hilberry Theatre, Jewish Ensemble Theatre, Planet Ant Theatre and other local venues.  And, then, there was that gig with the Pistons in the early 2000s.

“After years of Shakespeare, Sophocles and Moliere,” mused Trzaskoma, at the time, “I am the ‘O’ guy.”

That’s “O” as in the red one Detroit Pistons’ guard Jerry Stackhouse painted on Trzaskoma’s stomach as part of a popular series of television commercials that paired him with local blues legend Thornetta Davis.  Now, the University of Detroit Mercy and Macomb theater instructor and founder/director of the Warren Civic Theatre is starring in the much heralded Hockey, The Musical!, written by Mitch Albom, Detroit sports-journalist and bestselling author.

“He’s very hands-on,” says Trzaskoma of Albom. “His brother, Peter, is directing it but he was in England during the auditions, so Mitch ran auditions here and Peter watched and directed via Skype. Very 21st century.

However, Hockey - The Musical!, thinks Trzaskoma, is timeless.

“It should be called Detroit and Red Wing Hockey – The Musical,” muses Trzaskoma, shown here on stage at The City Theatre. “It’s very Detroit-centric with many references to our city and special appearances by celebrities and Wing greats like Steve Yzerman via video clips.  But Mitch has done a nice job making it not too inside. Non-hockey fans seem to be enjoying the heck out of it as well.”

So much so, in fact, that the musical’s run at The City Theatre in Detroit, which began in May, has been extended by three weeks - through July 10.  Albom calls his first musical, “Spamalot with hockey sticks.” While Trzaskoma, who plays the dual roles of Stanley/Terry, says that unlike Albom’s previous work, “There’s no message, no deep theme. Just laugh.”

Greg Trzaskoma