Our Upcoming 2014-2015 Season:

Our Upcoming 2014-2015 Season:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Never a Dull Moment: Rebecca Dull is Sharp in Arsenic

Rebecca Dull (center) as Miss Witherspoon as she is about to imbibe wine offered by the aunties. 
Putting a new twist on a classic tale, the Farmington Players’ production of Arsenic and Old Lace introduces Rebecca Dull in the modified role of Miss Witherspoon.  As Rebecca notes, “this role is usually played by a man so I have had to create her with no examples to follow. Since the play takes place in the 1940s it would have been extremely unusual to have a woman in an executive position, yet here she is, head of Happy Dale. The directors wanted to explore the idea of the aunts changing tactics by choosing to poison a woman when all the other victims were ‘their gentlemen’.”

Rebecca calls Arsenic one of her “all time favorite shows ever since I saw it performed at my high school.  There are so many funny comments and references to things that I always seem to find something new every time I see the show.”  She loves how the murderous aunts become the protagonists, saying, “Audiences are drawn to these endearing ladies so strongly that when it is revealed that they are murdering people, the audience members are in disbelief. People are drawn right into the action as bodies are all over the house and they want the aunts to beat Jonathan Brewster, even though that means committing more murders.”

Rebecca is making her Barn debut after moving to Farmington Hills a year ago, having spent the previous 21 years in Grand Rapids.  She says, “This is a great area and I love the vibrant theatre community at Farmington Players, and even in the whole Detroit metro area. Being a part of this show with such talented actors and directors has been amazing. I am thankful for this opportunity to be on stage at the Barn.” Just before moving here, Rebecca completed her B.A. in Theatre Arts at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids. During that time she was involved in many aspects of theatre and “found that I very much enjoy working on props.” She won Cornerstone’s award for Best Technical Award for work on props in 2012, and even spent one semester working with the props master for Opera Grand Rapids.  Her acting credits at Cornerstone include Tuck Everlasting (Elemental, Constable), The Little Princess (Marietta), Sound of Music (Nun), and Taming of the Shrew (Servant).

The Farmington Players' production of Arsenic and Old Lace 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, October 3, 2014

Off-Beat Officers Moll and Reinke Add Comic Relief to Dark Arsenic

Dave Reinke (Lt. Rooney), Jim Moll (Officer O'Hara), and Jared Kovach (Officer Brophy) Lay Down the Law
In the Farmington Players production of Arsenic and Old Lace, the Brewster sisters literally get away with murder right under the noses of unsuspecting police officers.  Jim Moll (Officer O’Hara) and Dave Reinke (Lt. Rooney) play two of the cops, and this dynamic duo seems more concerned with self-promotion than crime fighting. 

Moll plays the “oh-so-affable and somewhat dim-witted police officer, Officer O'Hara.  He's well intentioned and a long time friend of the Brewster sisters -- especially Martha who likes to cook for him.  Playing him gives me the opportunity to unleash my hokey Irish accent and bumble around the stage in search of an audience for the play that he is writing -- in spite of what is occurring around him.”  Jim calls Arsenic “a classic, and a mainstay of theatre companies.”  In fact, this is the second time it has been performed at the Barn.  As he says, “It's fun to be in such a well known show and add my own twist on the character and to be in a show that has characters that rely so much on one another.”  

One of the characters that he relies on is Lt. Rooney, played by Dave Reinke. Dave describes Rooney as “the man in charge at the local police precinct. Very early on in the show we gain a pretty strong understanding of the caliber of men he has to manage under his watch. As such, he’s forced to run a pretty tight ship. Rooney has very little patience for blunders and mistakes, most of which deems inexcusable. He has a strong, commanding presence. He’s loud, decisive, and clearly in charge of every situation in which he finds himself.  It's a fun role as I have a lot of interaction with many different characters while having a commanding presence.  It's a lot like Stage Managing.”

In a bit of role reversal, Reinke and Moll are switching who’s the boss.  As Dave says, “I was last seen on stage at the Barn in 2012's production of 1940's Radio Hour, where Jim Moll played my boss.  Now I get to play his boss, which has been a lot of fun.”   Regardless of who is in charge, Arsenic is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.  Jim thinks it is “because the twist in plot is so delightful.  This is especially true when the sisters play things straight and earnestly, as our two ladies do.  Seeing the delight that the two little old ladies take in performing their ‘service’ to the lonely old men is great fun if it is believable.  Mary Ann Tweedie and Cynthia Tupper do a great job of conveying this.  And, since they've been onstage quite a bit together at the Barn in other shows, their chemistry together goes a long way to sell the humor.”   Dave also thinks “audiences will enjoy the show because of the chemistry of the cast and the humor.  The show is not your typical farce but a black farce where the humor relies on distasteful ideas, such as death by poisoning, in a way that the audience forgets to be appalled.”

When they’re not busy “policing” the Barn stage, Moll and Reinke each have a very full slate.   Jim recently retired as public school educator after 40 years.  He and his wife Denise celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this summer by going to NY and taking in several Broadway shows.  Jim has been quite busy on the Barn stage lately, appearing in the last three Barn shows (Assassins, Rumors, and now Arsenic).   Dave has either appeared on stage with, or stage-managed, most of his fellow cast members. His stage managing credits at the Barn include Noises Off, State Fair, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Producers, Proof, Dracula, and Rumors. Dave is current 50/50 chair at the Farmington Players and serves on the Board of the Rosedale Community Players.  However, his says his “best role is being Dad to three wonderful children, Adam, Hailey, & Brianna.”

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 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, fiancée of Mortimer. She’s an absolute sweetheart to the aunties, but I give her some sass when she’s dealing with her fiancé 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.)   

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