Our Upcoming 2014-2015 Season:

Our Upcoming 2014-2015 Season:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reality is All Relative: Weinstein IS Einstein in Arsenic

Gary Weinstein transforms into Dr. Einstein, to the chagrin of Mortimer Brewster (David Gallido)
In Arsenic and Old Lace, Dr. Herman Einstein is an unscrupulous plastic surgeon that helps people transform their appearance and change their identity.  In the Farmington Players production, Gary Weinstein plays Dr. Einstein, and Gary truly relates to how his character enables people to become someone else on stage.  As Gary says, “The prevailing thread in most of the Arsenic characters, as I see it, is that no one is who say they are.  I, from time to time, take on other characters within myself to get away from reality -- I don’t always want to be who I truly am.  I can relate to people wanting to change their appearance and who they are in the world and how they want other people to see them.”  

It’s hard to blame Gary for wanting to get away from reality sometimes.  In 2005, he lost his wife and two children instantly when a drunk driver took their lives in a tragic accident.   Gary has used his experience to help local directors create documentaries entitled: Project: Forgive and Transforming Loss.  As he says, “Although I will always wrestle with the grief of losing my family, I live a blessed life.  My mission is to inspire people to create a powerful future built on a foundation of forgiveness.”

I have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Gary a few times, and I have never met an actor who becomes his character so completely.  His preparation begins the moment he sets foot inside the Barn, and he never breaks character until the final curtain.  In Dr. Einstein, Gary has found his muse, saying, “I knew I was perfect for that role.”   Gary plays Einstein as “an alcoholic, German-Jewish, subservient, unlicensed plastic surgeon with a nervous disposition.”  As he says, “I enjoy letting myself go in the development of the character and speaking with a pseudo-German accent.  The challenge is to give myself the license to take ownership and development of the accent.” 

Despite the creepiness factor in this black comedy, Gary is certain that Arsenic audiences will enjoy the “excellent cast, direction, and humorous story line, which will provide a wonderful evening at the theatre.  You can’t help but love the sweet, old ladies while at the same time finding their ‘charity’ a bit gruesome.” Gary also notes that the female leads Cynthia Tupper (Aunt Abby) and Mary Ann Tweedie (Aunt Martha) “combine their experience as actors and directors and it comes through as a well developed, comedic partnership.” His own partner in crime Guy Copeland portrays Jonathan Brewster with a “seasoned characterization of the villain that makes it an absolute joy” to work with. 

When he’s not working at his jewelry store (Weinstein Jewelers of Novi) or acting on stage, Gary loves to golf.  He’s played golf in all 50 states (twice), and in 30 countries in the past 7 years with the goal of reaching 100 countries in 20 years.  Gary most recently appeared at the Barn as Renfield in Dracula and his productions include Legally Blonde, Little Shop of Horrors, The Producers, Miracle on 34th Street, and Fiddler on the Roof. 

The Farmington Players' production of Arsenic and Old Lace runs September 26 through October 18.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall, Malisow & Cooney, P.C.). Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sister Act: Tupper and Tweedie are Deadly Duo in Arsenic

Mary Ann Tweedie and Cynthia Tupper are a killer combo as the Brewster sisters.

In the Farmington Players’ production of Arsenic and Old Lace, Cynthia Tupper and Mary Ann Tweedie reunite onstage as the sweet-but-sinister sisters, and this killer combination is critical to the show’s success. Cynthia describes her character Abby Brewster, the older sister and the brains of the operation, as “velvet covered steel. Outwardly sweet, charitable and loveable, but she is not easily intimidated and knows how to get her own way.  She literally will kill you with kindness, while you are sipping her deadly elderberry wine.”  Mary Anne plays her sister Martha Brewster and together they conspire to put lonely old men out of their misery.  

As Cynthia says, “the chemistry between the sisters is crucial.”  Tupper and Tweedie’s 25-year friendship began when they appeared as Florence & Olive in the female Odd Couple.  More recently, they reprised their little old lady pairing as the two grandmas in Over the River.   Cynthia knows that audiences will love Arsenic and Old Lace because it is “purely escapist entertainment” that has “endured due to its excellent comedic writing and revealing that most people are never what they seem on the surface.  The play takes that premise to the extreme with a sweetness and sincerity that is a hallmark of the 1940's screwball comedies.”

Cynthia enjoys working with first-time director Kristi Schwartz, saying, “All of her teaching skills transition perfectly.  Besides being one of the most organized people I know, she has the ability to always stay positive when giving her acting critiques. Before we began rehearsals on stage she gave the cast her overall vision for the show and the characters.”  And even if you’ve seen Arsenic before, “there have been a couple of twists added in the staging and the ending moments of the show that make this production unique.”  

Cynthia calls Farmington Hills home and theater has been her hobby since grade school. As a Barn member for over 30 years, her credits are too numerous to list, but she is most proud of costuming over 60 shows at the Barn: “I love working on period shows from the 30's, 40's and 50's to make sure they are historically accurate.”  She is currently a freelance designer making custom and production samples and patterns.

The Farmington Players' production of Arsenic and Old Lace opens September 26 and runs through October 18.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall, Malisow & Cooney, P.C.). Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Third Time’s the Charm for Kori Bielaniec in Arsenic

Kori Bielaniec as Elaine with Mary Ann Tweedie as Aunt Martha
Sometimes you just can’t get enough of a good thing.  When Kori Bielaniec got the chance to play Elaine Harper in the Farmington Players’ production of Arsenic and Old Lace, she jumped at it. This will be the third time she’s played the same role, saying “I wanted to be in this show because it’s one of my absolute faves, and, well, the third time’s the charm. I’ve been in two previous productions, both when I was a senior in high school. It’s a classic, it’s a hoot to be in the show, and audiences adore it. Plus, any time you’re in a show where you get to use the trap door on the stage … priceless.”

Playing the “normal” one in a family of lunatics is sort of like playing the daughter Marilyn in The Munsters, but Kori spices up Elaine with her own brand of sass and spunk.  Kori describes her character as follows: “I play Elaine Harper, daughter of Reverend Harper, neighbor of the aunties, and, in the course of the show, fiancĂ©e of Mortimer. She’s an absolute sweetheart to the aunties, but I give her some sass when she’s dealing with her fiancĂ© and some incredibly misplaced bravery when she’s dealing with the bad guys. I love Elaine because even though it’s the 1940s and women were still somewhat ‘seen and not heard,’ she’s got some spunk.” 

Kori thinks that audiences will relate to Arsenic because the show “centers on a family. Everybody has a few loose cogs in their family wheel, though hopefully not sweet old ladies with murderous intentions. But this play shows how odd families can be and how you best deal with the consequences of your family — you’re stuck with them, you may as well deal! Personally, I infuse Elaine with my own trademark sass — Elaine gives Mortimer some looks that Kori would definitely give a prospective significant other. She’s really not that much different than me, except for being a minister’s daughter. And she’s braver than I am in dealing with the baddies.”

Arsenic is Kori’s debut with the Farmington Players and she loves the camaraderie with the cast and directors Kristi Schwartz and Jason Wilhoite (A.D.), saying, “It was really great how welcoming they all were. Kristi and Jason are absolutely terrific. I liked them the moment I walked into the building to audition. I really hope it’s in the cards for me to be back on the Barn stage again in the future. I’ve had a great time!” Kori began pursuing theatre in high school, and she considered graduate school for acting, but says, “I’m really not cut out to be a starving artist — I much prefer a solid paycheck, so it’s just my hobby now.” She’s on the Board at the Players Guild of Dearborn, and has also performed with Grosse Pointe Theatre, Birmingham Village Players, Barefoot Productions, and Canton Spotlight Players. Besides theater, her other interests include the Detroit Tigers, reading, writing, and shopping: “I also like to buy shoes. And jewelry. Lots of shoes and jewelry. It’s actually a problem.”

The Farmington Players' production of Arsenic and Old Lace opens September 26 and runs through October 18.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall, Malisow & Cooney, P.C.). Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reader’s Theater Troupe Headlines Members Meeting

This Saturday September 20 at 7:00PM, the Farmington Players will hold a membership meeting at the Barn Theater.   Old and new members alike are encouraged to attend to hear the latest updates from committee chairs.  It’s a great time to renew your membership, so download a membership form from the website (farmingtonplayers.org) and bring your checkbook!  $60 for new members, and $50 for renewing.

In addition, Board members Kristi Schwartz (Arsenic and Old Lace) and Tony Targan (Leading Ladies) will preview the shows they are directing.  And Anne Craft, the Queen of Concessions, is preparing (or purchasing) some delightful delicacies for members to enjoy. 

But the highlight of the evening will surely be the Reader’s Theater!  The troupe will read dramatic and humorous scenes from a few shows, including some that are under consideration for next season’s slate.   While the exact program remains a mystery – known only to directors Suzanne Rogers and Julia Spina-Kilar – I guarantee that you will not want to miss this all-star cast of performers: Joan Boufford, Nancy Harrower, Bonnie Fitch, Terrie Spencer, Jim Snideman, Jan Jacobs, Bob Hotchkiss, Ellen Doman, and Jared Kovach.

NOTE:  The Torchbearer awards will be presented on October 18 (closing night of Arsenic) and not on September 20 as previously announced.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Few Good Cross-Dressing Men

Chris Duva as Jack and Brent Barrett as Leo in the Alley Theatre Production of Leading Ladies, directed by the author Ken Ludwig; PC: T. Charles Erickson
The Farmington Players are holding auditions for Leading Ladies on Saturday September 13 at the Barn Theater.  Despite the feminine title, Leading Ladies actually describes two men who seek to steal an inheritance by posing as women.   It’s the old gender-bending gambit of deceit, disguise and mistaken identity. Sort of like Some Like It Hot meets Twelfth Night.  In fact, Twelfth Night is featured prominently in Leading Ladies, as the characters rehearse scenes for a planned performance of Shakespeare’s famous play.  Auditions are in the Barn Theater (capacity 232) and 12 performances are planned from November 28 – December 20.

In Leading Ladies, the two male leads (British Shakespearean actors Leo and Jack) must constantly alternate between their male and female roles.  There are five male and three female roles (including the lead, Meg), with age ranges from 20s to 70s; however, there are no roles for children.   Complete character descriptions and audition cuts are listed in the Audition Notice at the Farmington Players website, http://www.farmingtonplayers.org/documents/LadiesAuditionNotice.pdf   
Or check out the Facebook event page (“Auditions: Leading Ladies”) at https://www.facebook.com/events/1450495938544324/

As Director Tony Targan says, “Leading Ladies is all about love. Despite our best (or worst) intentions, love derails our well-constructed plans and makes us behave like fools for those we love and can’t live without.”  But love can be messy.  At first, Leo and Jack scheme to steal an inheritance from an old lady (Florence) by posing as her long-lost relatives, “Max” and “Steve.” But when the “nephews” turn out to be “Maxine” and “Stephanie,” the undaunted actors press on in drag. Hilarious complications ensue when Leo falls in love with Meg (who is engaged to Duncan) and Jack falls for Audrey (who is pursued by Butch, to the dismay of his father, Doc.  

Send an email to leadingladies@farmingtonplayers.org with any questions, or to request a copy of the script.  (No memorization is required for auditions.)   

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Casting Call for the Board and Arsenic this Weekend!


Calling all "hot dogs":  Come show off your talents on June 21 – 22, which is shaping up to be an eventful weekend at the Barn.   On Saturday the 21st, the final membership meeting of the 2013-14 season starts at 7:00PM with a HOT DOG BAR!  The meeting includes year-end presentations from each committee chair, with extra points for creativity!  (Who can forget last year’s cameo by the Queen of Concessions!)  Rumor has it that FDR and his Cabinet from Annie will make an appearance this year.  Last but not least, the hotly contested Board elections will be held, with six excellent candidates vying for four open seats. (See candidate bios at the end of this post.)  Ballots were distributed in the June Barnstorms and will also be available on site.  If you can’t attend in person, be sure to email your vote to vote@farmingtonplayers.org no later than Friday, June 20, indicating your selected candidates (up to four), along with Your Own Name in the body of the email to ensure no double voting.

On Sunday June 22, auditions for Arsenic and Old Lace will start at 1:00PM sharp, with registration opening at 12:30.   This timeless classic is a farcical black comedy that makes light of the Brewsters, an endearing family of homicidal maniacs and assorted crazies.  See the June Barnstorms or the Farmington Players website at http://www.farmingtonplayers.org/documents/ArsenicAuditionNotice.pdf for the complete audition notice, including descriptions of the 14 colorful characters.  Kristi Schwartz is making her directorial debut and can answer your questions at arsenic@farmingtonplayers.org

In alphabetical order, here are the bios of your Board of Directors candidates!  (NOTE:  For the winners, the next/transitional Board meeting will be Monday, June 23 at 7:00PM).

Erik Carlson  Erik has been a member since the mid 70’s with two previous two-year terms on the Board. He previously served as Vice President, Treasurer, House Director, Education Director, Casting Co-Chair, Director, CTAM rep, and Producer. He has worked on tech crews, “Front of House” positions, and FOPM. Erik was the recipient of the Farmington Players 2002 Torchbearer award. Appearing in 16 Farmington Player productions plus many workshops and spoofs, Erik is  retired from Oakland Community College.  He feels his past experience will provide our membership with a even view of productions, and the day-to-day running of our beloved barn. He looks forward to having the opportunity to serve again on our Farmington Players board of directors.

Anne Craft  Anne has served the Board for 3 years (appointed 1 year and elected for one term) at the Director of Membership.  Best known as the “Queen of Concessions”, Anne keeps the membership fed at every meeting and runs the concessions at the Barn.  Anne has been involved in many shows at the Barn, both onstage and backstage.

Amy Lauter joined the Farmington Players in 2004.  Since then, she has been very involved in many capacities at the Barn. Amy served on the Board for 5 years (appointed 1 year, and elected for 2 terms) as the Director of Marketing. In her tenure she made a concerted effort to get a standard look and feel for our marketing materials and would like to continue those efforts. Amy is currently serving her second term as a casting chair.  She served as assistant director for Moon Over Buffalo, and directed Chapter Two, Miracle on 34th Street, and last winter’s Annie (co-director).  Stage roles have included Claire in PROOF, Laurie in Oklahoma, Dainty June in Gypsy, Ann Collier in 1940’s Radio Hour as well as roles in Guys and Dolls, A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life.  She has also produced To Kill A Mockingbird and The Dixie Swim Club (co-producer), and she will be co-producing this fall’s Leading Ladies. If elected, Amy looks forward to being well fed by Laurel at the Saturday morning Board meetings.

Jim Moll  He has been an active member of the Players since 2010, having appeared in seven productions since then.  Along with his work onstage, Jim holds the record for most blood spilled and stitches earned during a strike of a set (not Brian Tupper’s fault), having the largest feet to wear a pair of women’s pumps during a show, being in the top five all-time 50/50 hawkers, and being the first officiant to perform a same sex marriage at the Barn – thanks to his ordination through the Universal Life Church of Modesto, California, and Frank and Mike’s willingness to get hitched.  Having retired from his day job after 40 years of public school service, time has become available to devote to other endeavors.  And, while he does some consulting work during the day, as a retiree he has the luxury of choosing where to next focus his efforts.  The Barn is a wonderful place to serve and a leadership role here would be a great fit for the next chapter of his life.  Being a board member would allow him to become even more active in the goings on at the Barn – though hopefully his blood-letting days are over.

David Reinke has been an active member for 11 years.  Since his 2003 debut as Stage Manager for Noises Off, he has been involved in many facets of the barn.  He's stage managed many productions including Noises Off, State Fair, Guys & Dolls, The Producers, A Christmas Story, Dracula & Rumors.  He's Co-Produced Oklahoma, Sweet Charity, Whose Wives Are They Anyways?, and Annie.  His on stage roles have included Taming of the Shrew and The 1940's Radio Hour.  David also directed a workshop of 12 Angry Jurors with an amazing cast.  David is the current 50/50 chair.  Next season David has signed on to stage-manage both Leading Ladies as well as How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  David feels his leadership experience, drive, and determination make him an excellent candidate for the board.  If elected he looks forward to the challenges and rewards that come with making crucial decisions that will help make the Farmington Players a continued success. 

Cynthia Tupper  Over the last 33 years, Cynthia’s contributions to the Barn have been numerous, varied and enduring.  She served four years as President of our group during the initial stages of the building campaign that built the modern barn.  In her last two-year tenure as President, we paid off the mortgage and installed our rigging & curtain system.  Her current interest in running for the board is to lend her past experience, historical knowledge, support and common sense to help keep things running smoothly and fiscally responsible.  Her primary interests at the barn include: Directing (13 shows), Acting ( 29 shows),  Costumes ( 62 shows) , Producer (7 shows).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

When Cookie Crumbles, Audiences Applaud!

Nick Szczerba  and Mary Ann Tweedie as the cutesy couple, Ernie and Cookie Cusack
Rumors is filled with rich characters:  “Rich” as in wealthy, and also as in complex, layered, and multi-faceted.  Of the four main couples, Ernie Cusack (Nick Szczerba of Brownstown) and Cookie Cusack (Mary Ann Tweedie of Novi) have the most loving relationship, and their pet names for each other are sweet bordering on saccharine.  Mary Ann describes her character Cookie as “a successful cooking show host and the only one at this dinner party that actually likes her husband.  I like playing her because she runs through many different emotions – from sweet, to snarky, to clueless.”  Cookie has a bad back, which sporadically spasms, sending her into gyrations of pain. As Mary Ann says, her “biggest challenge in this role is the physical humor that I have do to.  This may be my last show falling on the floor and crawling around! It's not as easy as it used to be.”  

Cookie is well matched with Ernie, who is a successful psychologist.  Nick thinks “some may see Ernie as brow-beaten, but I see him as a man who is truly in love with his wife, Cookie. I like playing Ernie, as he has some funny moments and can get quite frantic at times. I especially like the Second Act, where Ernie can just sit back and enjoy all the humor, action, and fun.”  This is actually Nick’s third time in Rumors, having played Lenny and directed the show previously. He wanted to be in it again “to re-unite with some long-time theater friends and to prove to the Tuppers [director Cynthia and set designer Brian] that I can walk through a door without taking it off its hinges.”

Mary Ann is not surprised that audiences have responded so well to this show, saying, “the dialog is hilarious and there are so many funny moments, what's not to like?  Farce is funny if it is fast and loud.  The fast pace really keeps you on your toes as an actor, and you can't lose your concentration for a minute. This show puts these wealthy people into ridiculous situations and shows how silly they can be trying to avoid the truth.”  Nick jokes that “people will enjoy Rumors for it's message: It has none.  You see, I believe that, above all, theater should entertain – and it certainly does with this cast.  Farce is funny when the actors truly commit to their parts.  I believe Mary Ann was the first to be committed.”

The Farmington Players' production of Rumors has three more performances: May 15, 16, and 17.  The show is proudly sponsored by TruVista Wealth Advisors.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.