Our Current 2017-2018 Season:

Our Current 2017-2018 Season:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Bob Cox­­­ Finds the True Meaning of Christmas in Greetings!

Family feud:  Bob Cox (son Andy) glares at Bob Hotchkiss (father Phil) as the Gorskis try to overcome their differences.
PHOTO: Jan Cartwright
These days, the Ghost of Christmas Present is sometimes confused with the goal of Christmas presents.  In a society that celebrates “shop till you drop,” Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.  Bob Cox, who plays Andy Gorski in Greetings! at the Farmington Players, places the holiday in proper perspective:  “The themes in Greetings! include overcoming differences, finding understanding, family, love, faith, philosophy and of course - Christmas!  I think every person with a family will understand what it's like to have differing views from their family. Watching a family overcome these differences warms the heart and is truly a perfect theme for the holiday season.  I wanted to be part of a group of actors who could bring a happy tear to peoples' eyes. Christmas is my absolute favorite thing in the entire world, and I'm happy to do anything I can do to bring the spirit of Christmas into peoples' hearts.”

In Greetings!, the ”differences” to which Bob alludes stem from the drama created when his character Andy brings his Jewish atheist finance Randi home for Christmas to meet his strictly Catholic family.  And while Andy tries to use humor to diffuse the tension, as Bob says, “The patience he got from his mother is overshadowed by the temper he got from his father.”  (Andy’s father Phil is played by Bob Hotchkiss, and the two Bobs also played father and son in Becky’s New Car last season at the Barn.) 

In the play, Andy’s brother Mickey (Alex Macksoud) has a mental disability that impairs his speech.  As Bob explains, “In Mickey's case, his goal - wanting to fix problems in his family - is made impossible because of his inability to effectively communicate with others; something that comes so easily to most people. Luckily for his family, Mickey is nothing if not resourceful!”  Bob can definitely relate to such challenges, saying, “I work in a Disability Support office, so I interact with individuals with varying physical and mental disabilities on a daily basis. We take things for granted that we don't even think of. My favorite student at the entire school is a woman who is wanting to get a business degree so she can open a soup kitchen in the area of Detroit that she lives in. … She wants to help them, but she has difficulty comprehending math due to her disability."  Seeing how other people bravely face their own challenges enables you to not take things for granted and to count your own blessings.  And isn’t that what Christmas is really all about?


Greetings! has four remaining performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater on December 14 – 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.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Amy Lauter Faces Facts Versus Faith in Greetings!

Jewish atheist Randi Stein (played by Amy Lauter) tries to explain her faith to her Catholic fiance's family
PHOTO: Jan Cartwright
Depending on your perspective, sometimes you must see things to believe them; other times, the belief comes first.  That’s why they call it “faith.”  Amy Lauter, who plays Randi Stein in Greetings!, considers “religious beliefs (or non-beliefs) – and how your feelings and opinions may affect those around you – to be a major theme of the show. It’s a tennis match between Spirituality and Factuality.”  The plot is loosely based on author Tom Dudzick’s own experience.  He wrote me that, “I had a Jewish girlfriend at the time, so I thought it might be fun to imagine what it would be like to take her home to Buffalo to meet my very Catholic parents, maybe on Christmas Eve, and write a play about it.”

Amy’s character Randi is Jewish and an atheist, which is in stark contrast to her Catholic fiancé Andy Gorski (played by Bob Cox) and his family. Amy describes Randi as “somewhat tough and a bit hardened, yet she’s meeting her fiancé’s family for the first time. So there is a mix of acting ‘normally as Randi’ to establish the character for the audience, as well as acting as one would when trying to make a good first impression.”  Amy can relate to Randi’s factual side, saying, “She is a very logical, factual person that doesn’t really believe things that you can’t physically explain. I tend to be that way as well.”  However, in the play, as in real life, sometimes things happen that defy explanation.  Amy describes how, “After rehearsing a scene in which Randi gets an unexpected phone call, I had a very strange phone call out of the blue from a woman I haven’t seen/spoken to in years. She says she didn’t even call me, she was on the phone with someone else, and somehow she called me. … She said there must be a reason I needed to call you, and that she was there if I needed her, and to stay positive. I have to say, I have felt so much better since that call. It was very surreal. It was one of those times when you are forced to say there is a reason for everything and that there is a bit of mystery in the world.”

While it’s no mystery that most people find comfort in traditional holiday shows, Amy believes that it’s “also great to experience a show that really makes you think. Greetings! is the type of show that our audiences will start out thinking one thing, and may end up thinking another. If anything, it is sure to provide some terrific post-show conversation with their friends and families. And will likely keep them thinking for a while after they see it. I believe that it’s funny, heart-warming, thought-provoking and satisfying.”

Amy lives in Farmington Hills with her husband John, son Ben and daughter, Maryanna. She spends a lot of time involved with theatre in some capacity, but this is her first time back on the Barn stage in five years.  Amy works in sales, for a large commercial print company, and she does a lot of the creative work (show flyers, lobby boards) for the Barn’s productions.


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.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Alex Macksoud Finds His Inner Child as Mickey in Greetings!

Alex Macksoud (seated center) plays man-child Mickey, who is based on the author's real-life brother.
PHOTO by Jan Cartwright
All actors love a good challenge, and playing a part that is different from your own personality can be difficult.  But playing someone who is mentally challenged is a unique test.  It requires care to play such a role for laughs, while not being insensitive or appearing to laugh at someone’s disability.  Alex Macksoud strikes this balance beautifully as he plays Mickey, a mentally challenged adult, in Greetings! which opens this Friday December 1st at the Farmington Players.

Alex describes Mickey as “a playful, lovable, pure-hearted person – who just so happens to have the mind of a toddler. I enjoy playing Mickey because he allows me to revert back to my younger days when I didn't have a care in the world and only wanted to play.”   Alex regards mentally challenged people as “the happiest, purest, most carefree people on the planet.” 

When I interviewed author Tom Dudzick, I asked him about his inspirations for Greetings!  I was surprised to learn that “Mickey” was based on a family member.  Mr. Dudzick said, “Growing up I had a mentally disabled brother, one year older than me. He had Down Syndrome. For the most part, all he could say was ‘Oh boy’ and ‘Wow.’ He's passed on now, but he was exactly like Mickey in the play.”  This touching revelation about the real Mickey makes the role especially poignant. 

Alex believes that Greetings! does a “fantastic job at bridging the line between drama and comedy.” Alex also finds the show’s themes of “faith and the strength of family during turbulent times” very relatable to audiences.  He can personally relate to the religious themes:  “Growing up devoutly Catholic and ultimately scaling back my faith, this play has a lot of great, familiar dialogue between father and son about the son's decision to alter his beliefs.”

Alex is a Farmington Hills native and now lives in Berkley. His hobbies include traveling, hiking, writing, and performing improv comedy. He holds a degree in Advertising from Central Michigan University. Regarding his cast mates, Alex says, “it has been an absolute pleasure to work with everyone, and watch each individual grow into their character with each rehearsal!”


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, 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 fiancé 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 risqué 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.

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