Our Current 2017-2018 Season:

Our Current 2017-2018 Season:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ties That Bind: Maureen Mansfield Tests Her Faith in Greetings!

Maureen Mansfield as Emily Gorski (seated, center) seeks divine intervention to restore peace in her home.
PHOTO: Jan Cartwright
Interfaith marriage pulls on family ties in a way that tests a couple’s commitment to one another.  Sometimes the knot gets pulled even tighter as the couple’s bond is strengthened.  And sometimes the ties are strained to the point of breaking.  In Greetings!, when Andy brings his Jewish atheist fiancĂ© to meet his traditional Catholic family on Christmas Eve, it’s a recipe for disaster … with hilarious and poignant consequences.
In the Farmington Players production of Greetings!, Maureen Mansfield plays Emily Gorski, Andy’s mother.  Maureen can definitely relate to the show’s theme of “marrying outside of your religion.  I did this.  In my family, it wasn't as big of a deal as it is in the show, probably because I had previously dated outside my faith, but I can certainly relate.”  Maureen describes her character Emily as “a deeply religious wife and mother.  She's not the brightest log in the fire, but often has surprising insight. I really enjoy the comedy that comes from the naivety of my character.”  Maureen also enjoys the “challenge of playing the submissive Catholic wife, a far stretch from who I am. It's also a challenge for me to respond to my characters' family in ways that I personally would not.  For instance, if my real life child was hurt, I would run to him, while my character retreats.”

Maureen recalls watching another production of Greetings! and thinking she “had it all figured out in the middle of the first act. It was going to be your typical, lovely holiday show.  At the end of the act, all of a sudden I sat up and thought, ‘Wait, what just happened?’  I couldn't wait for intermission to be over so I could see how it turned out!  So it's a lovely holiday show … with a twist!”
Maureen is originally from northwest Detroit and has lived in Farmington HIlls for almost 30 years, including about 20 years as a member of the Farmington Players.  She calls the Greetings! cast “one of the most talented and thoughtful casts I have worked with.  The amount of work each person is putting into their character is awesome.  And it's all because of our incredible directorial team who is pushing us to be better than we ever thought we could be!”

Greetings! has 10 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from December 1 – 17, 2017.  The show is proudly sponsored by Jill Jones and Cadillac Travel.  Author Tom Dudzick also penned our successful production of Miracle on South Division Street.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Usually Droll Jim Moll Plays it Straight in Calendar Girls

Jim Moll as John (seated) is fighting a battle that inspires the women of Calendar Girls
Jim Moll is used to being the center of attention onstage. His grand stature, booming voice, and larger than life personality make Jim hard to miss.  The former principal knows how to command attention and respect.  He often portrays over-the-top characters like Roger DeBris in The Producers and Big Julie in Guys & Dolls, and he’s even played God onstage.  But in the Farmington Player's production of Calendar Girls, Jim is fine with giving the ladies the limelight.

Jim plays John Clarke, the husband one of the “Girls.” Jim describes his character as “a wonderful guy who provides motivation for the women of the WI to take their clothes off.”  Without giving too much away, the women’s calendar is a fundraiser to fight cancer, which afflicts John in the play.  Jim says that Calendar Girls’ “reminder that cancer is an insidious disease that needs to be fought hits home for me. The underlying theme of fighting cancer is one that many will have experienced.”

Jim notes that other themes of the show include “recognizing the potential that ‘middle-aged’ women have, often not validated, to be empowered to confidently affect change and be seen as people who can exert themselves in society.  Given our political climate right now, these ideas are especially important.”  While these ideas are important, most patrons will probably be wondering, “Yes, but what about the nudity?”  Jim assures audiences that the “nudity is really very tame and is handled thoughtfully and with care.  Having been on the Barn stage as a member of The Full Monty cast that bares it all in a much more raucous manner, I can relate to the feelings this provokes among my current cast mates. They're handling it well, and our directors are ensuring that nobody will feel exploited or ... overexposed.”

Jim is glad to be playing a supporting role to these bold and empowered women, and he knows audiences “will love seeing the relationships between the characters and will be able to relate to their situation. And, the cast is made up of fun and energetic actors who are fearlessly portraying their characters.” 

Calendar Girls has six performances remaining at Farmington Players Barn Theater, but this weekend is virtually sold out. Get your tickets now for the final three shows: October 12, 13, 14. The show is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney.  Tickets are available online at 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Mary Ann Tweedie is the Life of the Party in Calendar Girls

Mary Ann Tweedie as Chris (far left) leads the girls with a bit of liquid courage before their photo shoot
Sometimes art echoes life in a way that warms the heart. Calendar Girls – which opens TONIGHT (Friday September 22) at the Farmington Player's Barn Theater – is based on the true story of middle-aged British women who posed nude in a calendar to raise money to fight cancer.  The story of the real-life “Girls” inspired a movie and then a stage play.  And just like their British counterparts, Barn cast and crew members have created their own risquĂ© calendar!  Proceeds from calendar sales and opening night’s 50/50 raffle will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Mary Ann Tweedie, who plays Chris, admits that “the nudity was a bit intimidating at first but I think it will be fine.  The phrase ‘the art of the play’s nudity lies in what is withheld,’ sums it up entirely!”  Mary Ann describes Chris as “the leader of the calendar project and the instigator of many of the other nontraditional events that they do in the WI and she is basically the life of the party. She makes her friend Annie’s life more fun and lively.  She loves holding court and being the center of attention. … She certainly doesn’t fit in with the image of a traditional WI member, baking cakes, knitting, making plum jam etc.  She likes to have fun, drinking, laughing and being the center of attention.  This need to be the center of attention is what eventually affects her and Annie’s relationship.” 

Mary Ann relates well to the longtime friendships in Calendar Girls because “I have been a barn member for 27 years and have made many longtime friends at the Barn.  It shows the ups and downs of friendships and what it takes to make an enduring friendship work. This cast has been one of the nicest groups of people to work with.  The ladies have been a lot of fun and working as an ensemble has been a pleasure.  Nancy Cooper has been a great director and her insights have helped us all understand our characters.”  (In fact, Nancy played Chris in St. Dunstan’s performance of this show last year.)

Mary Ann is confident that audiences will absolutely love this show.  In addition to being “loaded with great older women parts,” Calendar Girls “has something for everyone.  I have seen it live twice and each time the audience reactions were amazing.”  Plus, the fund-raising aspect of the calendar sales will enable patrons to connect with the cause of fighting cancer – a disease that impacts almost every family.

Calendar Girls has 11 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from September 22 – October 14.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Healing By Rebelling: Laurel Stroud Breaks Taboos in Calendar Girls

Annie (Laurel Stroud, left) has her doubts about her best friend Chris (Mary Ann Tweedie, right) 
We live in a virtual society.  People experience much of life remotely or vicariously, through the lens of traditional or social media. While many of these “channels” can simulate real life, sometimes there’s just no substitute for being there in person.  Such is the case with Calendar Girls, which opens at the Farmington Player's Barn Theater on Friday September 22.  While many people know and love the 2003 movie, you really need to experience the play in person to understand the characters’ vulnerability, particularly when it comes to baring more than their souls on stage.

Laurel Stroud plays Annie, one of the play’s protagonists.  Laurel describes Annie as “a normal woman, happily moving through life when it hands her a tragedy. Life as she knows it is turned upside-down.”  Seeking to make something positive out of a bad situation, Annie and several other middle-aged women raise money for a local hospital by posing nude for a calendar.  As Laurel says of Annie, “At first she is distracted by the calendar, but eventually she has to deal with it. My challenge is portraying a woman going through grief in an unusual way.  She thinks her best friend is in her corner, but then starts to doubt.”

Like Annie, Laurel overcame her own doubts to become a Calendar Girl: “I felt it would be a personal stretch for me, getting out of my comfort zone. This show celebrates woman in her most glorious phase. It takes a taboo and says: Beating cancer is more important, and shows how breaking a taboo can give relief and growth in the process.  Seeing it onstage makes it more personal than watching a movie.  There will be more of a connection.”

So is Calendar Girls just a female version of The Full Monty?  No, not at all.  Laurel explains how the use of nudity is just a vehicle to illustrate the broader themes that run through this show, including: “Dealing with grief, the power of friendship, personal awakening and growth, and the beauty of ‘women of a certain age.’ That beauty, we discover has a lot, maybe more, to do with the inside as well as the outside.  The nudity has been handled with professionalism and humor, so it has not been an issue for me.  I think in the show, it's a type of rebellion leading to some healing. Maybe that's true in real life too.”

When Laurel is not onstage or backstage at the Barn, she works by day editing the clip sheet for Ford Motor Company. Her interests include cooking, baking, bike riding, and “sitting out on the patio with some coffee.”

Calendar Girls has 11 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from September 22 – October 14.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

First Time’s A Charm for Suzy DuCharme in Calendar Girls

Suzy DuCharme (far right) plays Cora, one of the Calendar Girls that grins and bares it.
Suzy DuCharme is making her Barn debut as Cora in the Farmington Player's production of Calendar Girls. As those familiar with the 2003 movie know, this show is based on the true story of a British Women's Institute (WI) chapter that raises money for a local hospital by posing nude for a WI calendar.  As director Nancy Cooper says, “These women touched by grief, used the strength of their friendship to do the unthinkable… they literally took their community, and in fact the world by storm, and raised thousands of dollars in the process.”

Suzy enjoys playing Cora because “she is like me in many ways. Has a past that was not the easiest, but still enjoys life and has built trust with the other women (characters).”   Suzy works as a hospice nurse for Kindred Hospice, so she deals with mortality every day. Her own mother passed from cancer a few years ago.  These experiences prepared Suzy for Calendar Girls because, as she says, “I believe the themes are finding the good in tragedy and learning how to lean on others. Audiences will enjoy this show because there are a lot of times to laugh. Even the sad moments don't last long before there is some comic relief. A lot of people will be able to relate to the relationships in this show.”

The relationships between the female actors also provides a strong bond.  Suzy says, “The nudity is a little scary, as I am self-conscious, but also a little liberating. These women are non-judgmental and I feel very secure in this.  I wanted to be in Calendar Girls because it is a show that praises the middle aged woman – that does not always happen in other shows. There is beauty in aging!”

Suzy resides in Clarkston with her husband, Ben and they have two children in college. She enjoys karaoke, dancing, Zumba, yoga, and theatre, which is an interest she share with her mother. 

Calendar Girls has 11 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from September 22 – October 14.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

From Belfast to the Barn: Sharon Baynard Returns to the Stage in Calendar Girls

Sharon Baynard as Calendar Girl Celia
As the song goes, "It's a Long Way to Tipperary."   And it’s even longer to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where Sharon Baynard studied acting many calendars ago at the Lyric Theater.   Sharon grew up in Belfast during the Irish Civil War in the 1970s before coming to America.  Sharon is making her long-awaited return to the stage as Celia in Calendar Girls at the Farmington Players.   The play is based on the 2003 movie Calendar Girls, which depicts the true story of a British Women's Institute (WI) chapter that raises money for a local hospital by posing nude for a WI calendar … a becomes a media sensation in the process.

Sharon describes her character Celia as follows:  “Celia has money; shopping is her favorite past-time, and she likes to play golf. She indulges in the finer things in life and drives a Porsche (what else?). However, don't be fooled: she is more at home with the women of the WI than with her golf girls. The women of the WI are down to earth and Celia doesn't feel the need to put on any airs or graces with them.”   Sharon loves Celia because “she has a lot of spunk to her. The challenge is showing her rebel side as well as her insecurities.”

Sharon describes the play as “a journey of women recognizing their worth outside of the knitting, cooking and gardening projects of the WI. I wanted to be in Calendar Girls as I had the seen the film and knew it was based on a true story of courageous women supporting each other. The play brings a sense of reality to the story that you can't feel as much by watching the film. Audiences will enjoy this show as they can see themselves in the many women it represents.”

Celia is one of the Calendar Girls that poses nude for the WI calendar. How does Sharon feel about baring more than her soul on stage?  “Regarding the nudity, it is Art! I have gone on a diet and have been hitting the gym, need I say more!” 

Sharon loves acting and recently appeared in the Cinetopia International Film Festival in a short film called Task Force, playing the part of the Mother. Her goal one day is to be on Broadway!  When she is not pursuing acting, Sharon is learning to play the saxophone and likes to practice hot yoga.

Calendar Girls has 11 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from September 22 – October 14.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Noah Babala and Forrest Gabel Break the Mold in Mid-Winter Break

Forrest Gabel as Ben (left front) and Noah Babala as Auggie (right front) play it for laughs in Mid-Winter Break
One of the joys of theater is pretending to be someone else.  Whether that is a slightly exaggerated version of your usual self, or the complete opposite of your own personality, trying on another persona is something that all actors enjoy.  In Mid-Winter Break, a family friendly musical comedy coming to the Farmington Players Barn Theater on June 2 – 4, 2017, two young men take different approaches to this common conundrum. 

Noah Andrew Babala plays the dual roles of Auggie Sommers and Mike the Waiter.  As Noah explains, “both of these roles are both extremely comedic. With these roles you MUST step out of yourself and be the most outgoing you have ever been!”  Playing for laughs is not a stretch for Noah, a self-described “class clown,” who has had many other comedic roles ranging from Gingy in Shrek to Teddy Brewster in Arsenic & Old Lace.  Noah says that making people laugh is “the best thing ever.”

Forrest Gabel is small for his age, so he “usually plays the innocent younger kid. This role challenges me a little to be more hardened. I play Ben who is a middle school kid who is a little bit of an outcast and gives everyone in school a hard time, jokingly.”   Forrest is excited to be in Mid-Winter Break because “it is an all original musical, written by our director Kandi Krumins, and I think the music is cool and has a lot of energy and variety of styles. I really think the audience will enjoy it because it's new music and you don't get a chance to see original musicals very often.  I am really enjoying singing and dancing and can't wait to get in front of an audience with this show.”  Noah also wants to “experience the perks of being in an original show. Because it's not only an outgoing, plot twisting performance, but this cast is hilarious and so energetic. Definitely one of the best casts I’ve worked with out of all 17 productions I’ve performed in!”

Noah attends Waterford Mott High School. He enjoys “making my own bedroom under my stage name, Noahandrew, on soundcloud and youtube! I plan to make a living in theatre and music.”   Forrest is from Walled Lake and some of his favorite roles include Nathan in The Full Monty at the Barn and Morton Jr. in Enemy of The People at The Hilberry Theatre. His passions include acting, drawing, music and Minecraft.

Reserved seats for Mid-Winter Break are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.  All tickets are only $12 and show times are as follows: Friday, June 2, 8pm;  Saturday, June 3, 8pm; and Sunday, June 4, 2pm.  One weekend only!