Between funding squeezes, competition from new media and plain ol' hard times, metro Detroit's small theaters are up against some harsh challenges. The good news, however, is that they're hanging on, creating plenty of live entertainment worth watching, and a new venue has even been established. As the theater season winds down, here are some of the local offerings that could use your support.

The veterans at the Detroit Repertory Theatre are staging the U.S. premiere of Wrongful Life, by Australian playwright Ron Elisha, in which a young daughter hates her life so much she decides to sue over being born in the first place. Sound hard to take? Wait till you see the play's avaricious, pompous and overprotective characters. What starts out as an extended joke takes an almost chilling turn. At the Detroit Repertory Theatre (13103 Woodrow Wilson, Detroit; 313-868-1347; detrepth@aol.com). Five stagings a week, Thursday through Sunday; $20 at the door, $17 in advance; call for ticket availability; runs until May 20.

Over at downtown's Detroit's donation-only Abreact Performance Space, Wilde Award-winning director Mike McGettigan has a new political satire up on stage, entitled Whackjob! The play, written and directed by McGettigan, depicts a woman who has begun to question the American Dream, and who has been institutionalized in an asylum for the "patriotically deficient." Though the story sounds a bit harsh, don't "misunderestimate" McGettigan's comic touch. At the Abreact Performance Space, 442 E. Lafayette, Detroit; reservations@theabreact.com; runs Friday and Saturday nights through May 19; donation-only.

The laughs keep coming. At Hamtramck's Planet Ant Theatre, the Planet Ant Improv Colony's Before and Laughter, one of Planet Ant's most successful improv colony shows, has been reprised after 10 years, to help mark the little theater's longevity. The comedy is set during TV's golden age, chronicling the backstabbing high jinks of the cast of a fictional program, The Happy Family Fun Show. At Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff Ave., Hamtramck; 313-365-4948; mikeybrown@planetant; performances Thursday through Sunday; tickets $15 general admission, $10 for students and seniors.

Eastpointe's Broadway Onstage, is bringing a Sherlock Holmes-inspired drama, Sherlock's Veiled Secret, to the stage. Amy Arena will take the role of Violet Sheridan, a sculptress summoned to meet the retired Sherlock Holmes, who reveals to her that he is her father, but little else. Sheridan resorts to her own sleuthing, coming into contact with the women who've known Holmes in the past. At Broadway Onstage Live Theatre, 21517 Kelly Rd., Eastpointe; 586-771-6333; bonstage@aol.com; runs Friday and Saturday until May 19; $16.

And that's not the only period drama this month. The Jewish Ensemble Theatre is mounting what looks like a well-appointed production of J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls, a British period drama, in which Inspector Goole calls on the wealthy Birling family to investigate a young girl's shocking death? What will the investigation bring to light? Find out for yourself, at the JET, 6600 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-788-2900; runs Wednesday through Sunday until May 19; $29-$39;

And this month has a sweet theatrical surprise, a new company taking the stage. Ferndale's Who Wants Cake? company has found a home at the Ringwald Theatre. After last year's successful Vampire Lesbians of Sodom met success at a Ferndale coffeehouse, the company decided there was enough demand in Ferndale for a repertory theater. The theater's first production is a movie parody, Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy, which promises to be a campy send-up of the 1987 yuppie sex tragedy. At the Ringwald Theatre, 22742 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-556-8581; performances Friday through Monday; scheduled to open April 27 and run until May 22; $10-$15; visit whowantscaketheatre.com for more information.

Michael Jackman is a writer and copy editor for Metro Times. Send comments to mjackman@metrotimes.com

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