Our Current 2015-2016 Season:

Our Current 2015-2016 Season:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dave Reinke Grins and Bares It as Reg in The Full Monty

Dave Reinke (left) takes charge as union leader Reg Willoughby
Desperate times call for desperate measures.  But just how far would you go to earn money to take care of your children?  This moral dilemma is at the center of The Full Monty, now playing at the Farmington Players through May 21.  The show focuses on the plight of unemployed steel mill workers some 18 months after their plant closed in Buffalo.

Dave Reinke plays Reg Willoughby, the union leader who urges the men to do what they can to take care of themselves, rather than grousing about what their union can do for them.  As Dave says, “having been divorced, a single father of three kids, I can relate to the struggles that the men go through.”  And like Reg, “I have faced unemployment a couple of times.  Just a sign of the times in Detroit.”

In The Full Monty, things start to get interesting when some of the men decide to become strippers – like Chippendale dancers – to make some quick cash.  When Reg auditions as a complete amateur, Dave embraces the role completely:  “The challenge is I had to create my own striptease as I audition to be a part of the Monty Men.  It was a lot of fun but also challenging.”  Reg’s sincere, awkward, failed attempt at a striptease is one of the audience’s favorite moments of the show.  It is so bad, it is good.  

As Dave says, “the show has a warm heart at the center of all the fun. A group of unemployed steelworkers overcome fear, self-consciousness, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness to become the most unlikely group of exotic dancers. Often, musicals tend to depict a story and characters that are larger than life in surreal situations. But, this show is about ‘us’ – real people in real situations facing real issues forced to decide on the best solutions for them. It's a beautiful story that challenges the heart. A show that ‘strips’ down all defenses and demonstrates that family is first.”

Dave has been active as a Barn member for 13 years both on and off stage.  Next season, he will be directing the Jeff Daniels comedy, The Vast Difference.  Dave worked on the original production in 1993 when he was an apprentice at the Purple Rose Theatre Company.

The Farmington Players production of The Full Monty is proudly sponsored by TruVista Wealth Management, but all remaining performances are sold out.

        

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Becky Fisher Strikes Comedy Gold as Zesty Jeanette in Full Monty

Becky Fisher steals the rehearsal scene as Jeanette Burmeister in her Barn debut
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then Becky Fisher must be bursting to be back on stage. As she says, “I was actually a stay-at-home Mom for over 20 years, and took years off from the theater as well. When it was time to return to my career, and to performing, it would be an understatement to say I did so with gusto!”  Similarly, Becky’s character in The Full Monty has an infectious enthusiasm for the stage.  Becky plays Jeanette Burmeister, who she describes as a “wisecracking chain-smoking piano player, who just shows up at auditions ... ‘piano and all’! Bored with just ‘sitting and rocking’, Jeanette’s heart beats faster when she hears ‘some boys from the old mill are putting on a show.’ Given the opportunity to come out of retirement, Jeanette says, ‘I haven’t milked my last cow yet’, and jumps at the chance.”

Although she’s a newcomer to the Farmington Players, Becky is quite familiar with The Full Monty, having performed in the ensemble of a production several years ago.  In fact, it is the only show she’s ever repeated.  Why?  Because “The Full Monty is the epitome of a feel-good show; for the performers as well as the audience. Many people mistakenly think The Full Monty is nothing more than a voyeuristic opportunity to leer at naked men, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. This show is so much more than that. It’s about friendship and working toward a common goal. It’s about loving your family so much, you’ll consider doing something *way* outside of your comfort zone. It’s about pulling yourself up out of desperate situations. It’s about the journey being more important than the destination.”

Becky is a natural when it comes to comedy, but playing Jeanette does present some challenges.  As she says, “This part is a blast to play, but a challenge vocally, because Jeanette is a low alto … and I’m a soprano! An even bigger challenge is maintaining Jeanette’s deadpan persona, since The Full Monty is filled with so very many hilarious scenes. It’s one of the funniest shows I have ever seen. If you enjoyed the British movie, you will love the musical.”

Some of Becky’s favorite stage roles include “Sally” in Follies, “Muriel” in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and “Emma Goldman” in Assassins (all at Birmingham Village Players), as well as “Parthy” in Show Boat, “Ma Strong” in Urinetown, “Patricia Fodor” in Crazy for You, and one of the Liebeslieder Singers in A Little Night Music (all at Stagecrafters). When she is not the husky-voiced Jeanette, Becky sings soprano in a professional a Capella group. By day, Becky works in the area of Grants & Funding.

The Farmington Players production of The Full Monty is proudly sponsored by TruVista Wealth Management. The show is definitely R-rated for sexually suggestive content and language.  There are 12 performances from April 29 – May 21. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or 248-553-2955.

        

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Michael Rea Fights Battle of Bulge as Dave Bukatinsky in Full Monty

Michael Rea as Dave Bukatinsky:  Before there was Spanx, there was ... Saran Wrap?
PHOTO by Marilyn Krol
For an actor, sometimes the toughest roles to play are those that hit close to home.  While “method” actors like to channel real life experiences to shape their character’s emotions, separating yourself from your stage persona can get complicated at times. In the Farmington Players production of The Full Monty, Michael Rea plays Dave Bukatinsky, who he describes as “jovial and fun-loving, but he has to face some serious demons: his weight, his depression and anxiety over being out of work, his sometimes complicated relationship with his best friend, Jerry.  By the end, he finds the self-confidence that had been pretty hard to come by.  Exploring these ups and downs and being alternately strong and vulnerable is what I love most about playing Dave.”

Like Dave, Michael can relate to “struggling with weight, depression and self-doubt. And having a wife who supports you through your lowest lows. I have been Dave many times in my life.”  Michael has been enjoying the process of becoming Dave – he’s even “stepped up to the plate” to gain several pounds for the role – and he has no qualms about baring more than his soul onstage, saying, “How many times in your life to you get an opportunity to do something like this?”   Michael knows that audiences will love The Full Monty because “the whole show is hilarious. The production quality is really high.  Everything about this show is just fun.  The story is about figuring out how to believe in yourself, and that is pretty timeless.  As for everybody else involved in the show, WOW what a talented group.  All I can do is work my ass off trying to keep up.  I am having so much fun and I can't wait until opening night.”

Michael grew up in Clawson and now lives in Livonia. He’s 38 and holds two engineering degrees.  When he’s not working or rehearsing, he says, “It's all about family.  And occasionally karaoke and really good beer.”  Farmington Players production of The Full Monty is proudly sponsored by TruVista Wealth Management. The show is definitely R-rated for sexually suggestive content and language.  There are 12 performances from April 29 – May 21. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Just Like The Full Monty, Katie Gunning is a Great Comeback Story

Katie Gunning (center, holding the blue G-string) plays Joanie Lish, who's single and ready to mingle
PHOTO by Anne Craft
Everybody loves a feel-good, comeback story.  We all root for the underdog, and if you’ve lived in the Detroit area for any length of time, you’ve probably had your own share of ups and downs, whether personally or professionally.  That is why The Full Monty resonates with audiences.  The musical is set in Buffalo in the Nineties after a plant closing, but it could just as easily have been set in Detroit.

In the Farmington Players production, Katie Gunning plays Joanie Lish, who works with Pam at the factory and is a good friend of Georgie's. Katie describes Joanie as “a single, working girl, and she's definitely ready to mingle. You can tell that she's a little boy crazy and maybe it's because she's looking for the right one or maybe it's because she's just having fun. I like to think it's a little bit of both. She's a lot of fun to play. She's got some great, comedic one-liners, and I'm loving the dancing and singing she gets to do.”

Katie has also had a recent “comeback” in her own life, as she spent much of last year battling cancer.  Now that that is behind her, she is “very focused on making 2016 a year where I do things that make me happy and doing this show definitely brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart.  I have always had a passion for singing, acting and dancing and this was an opportunity to weave all those wonderful things together.  I have met so many wonderful people working on The Full Monty. The cast and crew are all such lovely, fun people, and I feel blessed to get to play with them every week.”  

Beyond the wonderful musical numbers, Katie knows that audiences will love The Full Monty because “this show has themes that transcend time: relationship/marriage problems, being unemployed, dealing with the fall-out of divorce and children involved, body image, discovering your sexuality, etc. These are all serious themes, but they're painted in a light where they're easy for people to digest because they're saturated in humor. There is so much comedy in this show, from the conversations to the songs, it's going to have people rolling in the aisles. And even if some people may initially be nervous about the nudity involved, they will quickly find out that they're going to be laughing so much, they won't be uncomfortable, they'll be rooting for all of the characters involved.”

Katie lives in South Lyon and moved back to Michigan in 2011 with her husband after living in New York for 7.5 years. She has worked in fashion, television and radio. Since the birth of her daughter in 2012, Katie has been a stay-at-home mom, saying, “I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to be with her every day, even on the days where she is a total three-nager.”  Katie’s hobbies include knitting and other crafts, playing volleyball and the piano (not at the same time), and singing karaoke.


The Farmington Players production of The Full Monty is proudly sponsored by TruVista Wealth Management. The show is definitely R-rated for sexually suggestive content and language.  There are 12 performances from April 29 – May 21. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Eric Henrickson Transforms Loneliness into Friendships in The Full Monty

Eric Henrickson (second from right) plays loner Malcolm MacGregor, one of the six "Hot Metal" dancers.
PHOTO by Anne Craft
In the Farmington Players production of The Full Monty, Eric Henrickson’s character Malcolm MacGregor describes himself as “a complete loser who still lives at home with his mother."  As Eric says, “Malcolm starts the show as a very lonely man. He's let his sick, domineering mother pretty much dictate his life, and he feels cut off from the world around him. He doesn't have any friends because he's spent so much time taking care of his mother. But things turn around quickly for him when he becomes part of this ragtag group of amateur strippers. He finally has some friends, and he gains the confidence to be his own man.”

In developing his character, Eric tapped into his own experience, saying, “With Malcolm, I can relate to his loneliness. It's never gone to the extreme Malcolm feels, but it's definitely been there. And not too long ago, a friend from another show committed suicide. He was in his mid-20s. The visitation was held in a huge room in the funeral home, and it was packed and overflowing into the hallway, and I thought, ‘With all these people, how bad was it that he felt he had nowhere to turn?’ So as I started working on lines for that scene in the show, that experience jumped to the front of my thoughts.” 

Fortunately, Eric’s family is very close and he can rely on them and his network of friends to get through any hard times. Similarly, Eric thinks that local audiences will connect with the story of The Full Monty, saying, “As we continue to pull ourselves out of the economic downturn, I think everybody in Michigan can relate to a bunch of guys who were laid off in a plant closing and unemployed for more than a year. We still have divorce, we still have crushed dreams, we still have insecurity, we still have domineering mothers, we still have suicide ... These are all issues that aren't going away anytime soon.”  And like Detroiters, the “show is blue collar but has a sweetness underlying it. It's a cliché, but it has heart. Movie translations don't always go well, but this one made it. Every character comes to this moment with a real emotional need that goes beyond needing some quick cash. And it's those emotions that will keep audiences interested and entertained.”

Beyond connecting with these themes, Eric’s real motivation to audition was the opportunity to sing Malcolm’s song, You Walk With Me:  “It's such a beautiful song. I loved the movie when it came out, and the show when the tour came to the Fisher years ago, and since then, I've thought it would be great to play Malcolm. He's such a sweet character in a show that has its own sweetness.”  About his male cast mates, Eric says, “I kind of feel like we're echoing the show's story arc as we get to know each other through rehearsal. And I'm sure that first time we get on stage in our underwear, it won't be hard to act that feeling of awkwardness in that scene.”

Eric lives in Ferndale and worked at The Detroit News for 19 years as a copy editor, writer, food editor, and blogger (“Geek Watch”), and he now writes content for Meemic Insurance Company's website and runs their social media. His other big loves are baking (see his work at facebook.com/cupcookiebakery) and theater, having played Bill in Kiss Me, Kate at the old Barn, Rapunzel's Prince in Into the Woods at Ridgedale, and Linus in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Grosse Pointe.

The Farmington Players production of The Full Monty is proudly sponsored by TruVista Wealth Management. The show is definitely R-rated for sexually suggestive content and language.  There are 12 performances from April 29 – May 21. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or 248-553-2955.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Who’s the Boss? Jim Moll Loses More Than Control in The Full Monty

Jim Moll as Harold Nichols (seated left) has some 'splainin to do to his wife Vicki (Pat Rodgers)
PHOTO by Anne Craft
As a retired school principal, Jim Moll is used to being in control and serving as an authority figure.  In the Farmington Players production of The Full Monty, Jim plays Harold Nichols, the former plant executive who can’t quite come to terms with his own unemployment.  While being the boss is a fitting role for Jim, his portrayal of Harold takes him into unchartered waters.  But Jim is not afraid to dive into the deep end when it comes to challenging himself personally.   As Jim explains, “I am playing Harold Nichols, the laid off plant executive who is the oldest member of Hot Metal – fitting as I am the oldest member of the entire cast!  Harold is a devoted husband and, through the course of the play and interactions with the other men, finds a new side of both himself and his relationship with his wife.  I think Harold is well intentioned but misguided in his insecurities about his marriage and himself.  I like that he finds deeper meaning – even if it involves taking his clothes off in front of an audience!” 

The Full Monty is quite a departure from Jim’s previous roles, but as an actor, he thinks “it's important to stretch comfort levels and try challenging things.  I've been onstage quite a bit in ‘dad’ roles and comedic parts that have been great fun, but this one does take me to new experiences both in the obvious ‘revealing’ parts and in the amount of dance that is required.”

The Full Monty is set in Buffalo in the 1990s, in the midst of tough economic times that drive the men to take some pretty desperate measures.  Just like Buffalo, Detroiters have always found ways to persevere when the chips are down.  As Jim observes, “the themes of economic struggle faced both by the characters in the play and an entire city certainly ring true for us living in the greater Detroit area. What audiences will find, I think, is a combination of edginess in the language and topic with some very touching moments and songs.  The play is about relationships when you get beyond the surface – marriages, fatherhood, fulfilling responsibilities as a man – all of which rings true and are relatable.”

A native Detroiter, Jim has lived here all of his life except during college.  He served 40 years in public schools as a teacher, counselor, and administrator, and now consults part time for Oakland Schools.  Jim has been married for 41 years (so far) to his college sweetheart Denise.  In addition to acting in both community and professional theater, Jim is attempting to train for the Detroit marathon in October.  Jim says he is “so grateful to be a member of the Hot Metal 6 and appreciate my castmates support and the bond that has grown directly in relation to the amount of clothes we shed!”

The Farmington Players production of The Full Monty is proudly sponsored by Truvista Wealth Management. The show is definitely R-rated for sexually suggestive content and language.  There are 12 performances from April 29 – May 21. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or 248-553-2955.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Anne Frank Story Hits Close to Home for Two Family Men

Jerry Gass (left) as Mr. Kaler and Dorne Lefere (right) as Otto Frank share close family ties
PHOTO by Jan Cartwright
Anne Frank’s story would never have been told were it not for those who survived her.  In the Farmington Players production of The Diary of Anne Frank, Dorne Lefere and Jerry Gass play characters based on real people who continued to tell Anne’s story well after World War II:  Dorne portrays Otto Frank (father of Anne and Margot, and husband of Edith), and Jerry plays Mr. Kaler, who is based on the life of Victory Kugler.  It’s hard to imagine how life went on for Otto Frank after the war, but after publishing Anne’s diary in 1947, he eventually remarried a fellow Jewish survivor Fritzi Markovits, in 1953. The couple lived Switzerland until Frank died in 1980.   Victor Kugler was an employee of Otto Frank who helped run his business after he went into hiding.  As shown in the play, Kugler secretly bought supplies and money to the Franks, at great personal risk to himself and his family.  Although Kugler was arrested with those in the Annex, he escaped during a forced march from a concentration camp.  He remarried, moved to Canada -- where he gave talks in schools about Anne Frank -- and died in 1981.

Dorne Lefere can relate to the Anne Frank story because, like Otto, he knows what it’s like to have a close father-daughter relationship.  However, as Dorne says, “that close relationship cuts both ways.  I am constantly reminded that, unlike Otto Frank, I am a man who was able to: raise a daughter and watch her become woman; walk her down the aisle on her wedding day; and hold her own children in my arms and sing them to sleep.”  Dorne connects with Otto by “my being not only the father of a girl, but also now the grandfather of three girls. My oldest granddaughter is only a few years younger than Anne was when she first went into hiding.” 

Jerry Gass is married (to Jan Cartwright) and has “five fabulous kids, plus in-laws, and grandkids,” so he can also appreciate the joys of family and feel the tragedy of the lives cut short. As Jerry says, “I love that the play touches on aspects of family, loyalty, courage, and perseverance.  Visiting the Holocaust Center bonded the cast.  My memory of that day will always be not only what I saw, but who was with me when we saw it.”  Jerry feels strongly that “this play deserves to be embraced by audiences. Director Maureen Mansfield has shown great leadership in encouraging all of us to bring personal experiences into the show, and I believe it will resonate with anyone who sees it, regardless of their personal background or perspective.”   Dorne adds that Anne Frank is still relevant today because of the “parallels to the bigotry and suspicion exhibited by some of our political leaders and general population towards minority religious groups.”

Among his many passions, Jerry includes “my zealous allegiance to Michigan State athletics, Tiger baseball, and Summer-league softball.”  Dorne recently retired as a business owner and lawyer.  However, as he jokes, “I keep my membership in the Michigan Bar active in order to continue to represent my children in traffic matters, which activity constituted the bulk of my practice when they were teenagers.  I still get Christmas cards from several collision shops in the Detroit area.”

The Farmington Players production of The Diary of Anne Frank is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers. The show has three remaining performances from March 3 – March 5. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or 248-553-2955.

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