Our Upcoming 2014-2015 Season:

Our Upcoming 2014-2015 Season:

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.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Despite the Rumors, Ross Grossman Is Politically Correct

Julia Spina-Kilar and Ross Grossman do battle as Cassie and Glenn Cooper
Politicians are always at the top of the list of the most hated, least trusted professions.  So playing a politician and making him likeable is a challenge for any actor.  In Rumors, Ross Grossman of Farmington Hills plays Glenn Cooper, a local politician who is running for New York State Senator.  His wife Cassie Cooper, played by Julia Spina-Kilar, is unimpressed by his politician aspirations (Albany is not exactly Washington, DC), and the two feud constantly throughout the show.

Ross was attracted to this role mainly because of the husband-wife dynamic, saying, “it's not about what Glenn does for a living that I relate to, but the passion he has with his wife, whether the good kind (romance) or the misbehaving kind they show when they bicker.  Despite all the other shenanigans, the passion (both good and bad) is so real and earnest and what people have in real life.  With your husband or wife, you know exactly where the buttons are, even if you choose not to push them.  Glenn and Cassie push those buttons, AND with the passion of a marital spat – out  in public.”  The fact that Julia and Ross are good friends adds to the realism of their stage marriage, and Ross hopes “that genuine affection will play into the roles as a married couple.  Because as much as they bicker, there is a strong attraction in their passion for life and each other.”

Offstage, Ross works as a school psychologist, so it’s natural that he analyzes his character Glenn: “I suspect Glenn represents those among us who want to believe what is in front of them, mixed with his adept ease of trying to slide out of danger.  Glenn is not the brightest character of this lot, and he makes a lot of sincere but silly assumptions -- I'd like to think I'm a lot cleverer than him. The challenge is to play those assumptions as genuinely as possible, without looking like the village idiot, compared to his quick and witty friends.”  

Ross is especially attracted to the farce genre because “what makes farce funny is the characters taking themselves seriously, but in outrageous situations. Not just something that COULD happen, but more likely something that would never happen, due to the insane number of unlikely situations, plot twists, and incomprehensible choices that the characters make.  For me, it is a challenge for a character to take themselves as serious as in a drama, but in these absurd, outlandish situations, where their dedication to making bad decisions and interesting choices spin out of control, and make us all feel better about our own lives.” 

The Farmington Players' production of Rumors runs through May 17th and 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. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

The More Erin Osgood Changes, the More Things Get Insane

Erin Osgood and Jim Moll (3rd and 4th from R) exchange knowing glances as attorney couple Chris and Ken Gorman
When we first meet Chris Gorman at the beginning of Rumors, she is frantically seeking her husband’s guidance to cope with a crisis. But perhaps more than any other character, Chris transforms during the course of the show.  Erin Osgood of Brighton describes her character as “the younger second wife to Ken. Both Chris and Ken are lawyers, although Chris is a contract lawyer. She married Ken for his money and power (he's a litigator).”   At first, Chris is pretty passive and reactive, literally parroting the words that her husband tells her to say into the phone.  But over the course of the show, she emerges as her own person.  

Erin describes Chris’ transformation as follows: “Chris is really fun to play. Once she is introduced at the beginning of the play, her character goes through many changes: trying to deal with what's happening, trying to cover it up, even becoming quite tipsy. By the end of the show, she is more blunt and less worried about appearances.”  Erin’s ability to transform a character speaks to her strength as an actor.  In her most recent role at the Barn, she played Lexie Richards in The Dixie Swim Club.  Like Chris, there was a depth of character to Lexie that surpassed your superficial first impression. 

Erin really wanted to be in Rumors “because of Neil Simon! I just love his work.  I also had the pleasure of working on another one of his works, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, while I lived in England. It's so wonderful to be on stage with a great ensemble. It has been such fun! We laugh and snort at each other throughout rehearsals.” Erin knows that audiences will be laughing out loud at this hilarious farce, saying, “Audiences will love this show because it's a non-stop party. Nothing is funnier than watching people stumble through chaos and the craziness that unfolds.”

Erin is no stranger to the Barn, first appearing over a decade ago as Lizzie Curry in The Rainmaker, which was also directed by Cynthia Tupper. Some of Erin’s other favorite roles include the title role in Hedda Gabler, Claire in Boston Marriage, Elaine Navazio in Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and Mrs. Cheveley in An Ideal Husband.  Erin admits to being a “closet writer” and is working on a play right now. She is a dedicated volunteer for the Make a Wish Foundation, saying, “It is truly amazing to be apart of making a child's wish come true after that child is dealing with things no one should have to deal with.”

The Farmington Players' production of Rumors opens tonight (April 25) and runs through May 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.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Just the Facts, Ma’am: Officers Carlson and Schwartz Abide No Rumors

Getting the Cookie to Crumble:
Officers Pudney (Kristi Schwartz) and Welch (Erik Carlson) interrogate Cookie Cusack (Mary Ann Tweedie)
It’s not easy playing it straight when everyone around you is a crack-up.  Such is the challenge faced by two straight-laced cops in Rumors, a zany Neil Simon farce opening April 25th at the Farmington Players. Erik Carlson plays Officer Welch and Kristi Schwartz is Officer Pudney, and their “just the facts, ma’am” demeanor is in stark contrast to the lunacy that surrounds them.

When you are a smiley, perky, 3rd grade teacher like Kristi Schwartz, it’s not easy being mean.  Kristi describes Officer Pudney as a “serious, gruff, law enforcement officer.  There is not a lot of smiling going on in her character.  She is suspicious of everyone and the people at this party are no exception.  The biggest challenge I face is NOT smiling.  This show is very funny and the characters are cracking me up already.  It will be difficult to keep a straight face.”  Similarly, Erik Carlson finds his role as Officer Welch to be “challenging. The rest of the cast really crack me up and it is hard to maintain character with cast mates who are so funny.” 

Although Officers Welch and Pudney only appear in act two, as Erik says, “we really take charge when we are on stage, as well as have some fun at the expense of the other characters.”   Welch has a couple of longer soliloquies when the police question the dinner guests, who are frantically trying to cover up a scandal involving their host.  The evolving mystery will definitely keep audiences engaged in Rumors.  As Kristi says, “there is a kind of a mystery that the characters are trying to solve.  The show immediately starts with a problem.  I really like the idea that things are not always as they seem.  There are many interesting characters in this play.  They all assume that they know what is going on, when really none of them have a clue!”    Erik adds, “I think people will love the zany humor in Rumors. But they will have to keep on they toes in order to follow some of the twists and turns in the play. Be prepared for a wild ride.”

Erik last appeared onstage seven years ago as Old Man Carnes in Oklahoma, but he has been very active onstage and off at the Barn since becoming a member in the mid-1970s.  Some of his other favorite Barn shows include: Charley’s Aunt, Don’t Dress for Dinner, Bedroom Farce, How the Other Half Loves, HTSIBWRT, The Nerd, Blithe Spirit and South Pacific.  Kristi is a nine-year member, and shows her dedication to her Barn “family” by currently serving as Secretary on the Board of Directors.  She was last seen onstage as Elle’s Mom in Legally Blonde and is looking forward to making her directorial debut this fall in Arsenic and Old Lace.  While being a law enforcement officer is a new role for Kristi, perhaps it’s not as different as you might think.  As she likes to joke, “Having taught for 15 years now, I kind of have to ‘police’ a room full of children every day!”
The Farmington Players' production of Rumors runs from April 25 through May 17 and 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.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jim Moll Is Out of Control, and That’s a Good Thing

Jim Moll and Erin Osgood play a mercurial married attorney couple, Ken and Chris Gorman
Jim Moll is a take-charge kind of guy.  As a career educator and building principal (recently retired), he’s usually in control, or at least trying to assert his authority in stressful situations.   So Jim feels right at home playing Ken Gorman in the Farmington Players’ production of Rumors.  Jim describes his character Ken as “an attorney who has a fairly significant need to control the situation.  Unfortunately for him, he is rarely successful with this during the course of the show.  He is a guy who is fast paced and sometimes blustery.”  Jim admits that like Ken, the “need for control is one that I struggle with personally.  As principal, I knew first hand the frustrations of seeing a situation slip away from you and trying hard to get things back under control. Luckily for me, my real life experiences haven't spiraled out of control nearly as much as Ken's seem to during the show!”

Rumors is a zany Neil Simon farce where the characters try to cover up a scandal involving their dinner host, who has apparently shot himself on his 20th wedding anniversary. (It’s only a flesh wound.)  Jim and his stage wife Erin Osgood play one of five couples, which presents an interesting twist for Jim: “One challenge in this show is to develop a believable relationship between the characters -- especially between the spouses.  There has to be a depth of caring and a sense of a real partnership with the spouses which can be difficult to develop given the pace and the humor.”

Jim really wanted to be in Rumors because of his “fondness for Neil Simon's work. His writing style is both conversational and comic.  And, being a farce, this show relies both on the wonderful comedy of the script and sight gags and physical comedy.  The fast pace and frenetic style of the farce enhances his dialog and makes the humor even bigger.  What fun!”  Jim loves being reunited with one of his favorite directors, Cynthia Tupper, who “gives just the right amount of direction -- allowing us to develop character and have fun while staying true to her vision for the total experience of the show for the audience. “ 

Jim is a long-time Barn member whose more memorable roles include Roger DeBris in The Producers, Dad in Leaving Iowa, and Clifton Feddington in the 1940’s Radio Hour.   He’s also appeared in the movies, including as an Emerald City citizen in Oz the Great and Powerful.  Jim and his wife Denise have lived in Farmington Hills for the past 37 years.

The Farmington Players' production of Rumors runs from April 25 through May 17 and 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. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Rumors Are True: Frank Markus is a Very Funny Man

Frank Markus and Sue Rogers do battle as Lenny and Claire Ganz
Here’s a simple formula for comedy:  Frank + Markus = Funny Man.  He excels at comedic roles and last appeared onstage at the Barn in Red, White and Tuna 2011, playing several over-the-top characters.  In Rumors, Frank describes his character Lenny Ganz as “a guy who wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and has managed make it to the right side of the tracks by becoming some sort of tax/investment advisor. As such, he doesn't suffer fools lightly and has an acerbic wit that gives him a lot of fun laugh lines in this script.”  Frank relates well to Lenny because they are both “car guys”:  Lenny just bought a new BMW and knows what kinds of cars everybody drives in the play, while Frank admits to being an “inveterate car-lover from birth.” He now serves as Technical Director for Motor Trend magazine and travels the world reporting on the car business and driving almost every new car and truck made.

Frank was attracted to Rumors because “Neil Simon has a real knack for compelling, engaging dialogue, and he's written non-fiction books about the art of writing farce well.”   Unlike many farces that “rely too heavily on lowest-common-denominator sight gags and door-slamming for laughs,” Frank says that “the Rumors script doesn't rely solely on the physical humor, misunderstandings, and shared secrets to get the audience laughing. Rather, the plot and dialogue does that and the gags merely heighten the effect.”  Frank also enjoys being reunited with fellow cast-mates Mary Ann Tweedie and Sue Rogers, who all performed under Cynthia Tuppers’s direction in 1994's The Man Who Came to Dinner.  As Frank says, “it was impossible to pass up the chance to work once again with Cynthia Tupper. Tupper's facility with the farce genre keeps us actors on our toes so that we maintain the fast-is-funny comic timing on which farce relies. Most of us who were cast have worked with Cynthia and/or with each other onstage before, so the cast began this production already fast friends, intimately aware of each other's numerous capabilities and strengths. We've been having a lot of laughs ever since the first read-through.”

Frank was born in Chicago, but raised mostly in Memphis, Tennessee.  To pursue his love of cars, he came north for engineering school to get a job in Detroit's auto industry. After six years as a Chrysler engineer, as he says, “I ran away to join the automotive circus, and have written for and tech-edited car magazines since 1991,” including Motor Trend.  His first Farmington Players’ play was Mister Roberts in 1989.  Frank and long-time partner Michael Smith recently got married on the Barn stage, with the wedding officiated by fellow Rumors cast-mate Jim Moll.

The Farmington Players' production of Rumors runs from April 25 through May 17 and 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.