Our Current 2017-2018 Season:

Our Current 2017-2018 Season:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Love Letters



After 13 performances in 17 days, A Christmas Carol has successfully completed its whirlwind run.   I’d like to use my final post about this show for some personal reflections.  (I’ll try not to get too sappy or sentimental.)  The holiday season is a time to celebrate, rejoice and give thanks.  But it is also a time to remember, and sometimes the loss of a loved one can be especially poignant at this otherwise festive time of year.   If I can speak for the cast and crew of A Christmas Carol, we are especially thankful that our performances touched members of our local community in so many ways.   It was nice to hear patrons’ positive post-show comments, and nicer still to have some of our youngest audience members approach us for autographs.  But it was two letters we received that meant the most to us.

Marian Myles sent us the Snoopy card pictured above, along with a handwritten note that read (in part) as follows:  “I enjoyed your barn and the play so much!!  … I was so excited to be there and it got me out of my winter-holiday blues.  I miss my sister Nancy so much but I know God is taking care of her with his angels.  She would want me to be happy and celebrate her life every day.  … What a miracle performance.  It lifted my heart and soul.  I felt like Scrooge [dancing] in that London attic, my spirit lifted.  … P.S. I had to give each cast member a big kiss for a very enjoyable play!  It felt great.”

Gillian Faust (originally from London, England) expressed the following sentiments:  “I want to express a sincere and hearty ‘Thank You’ for a most delightful evening earlier this month.   My husband, a huge fan of the original movie, enjoyed the different interpretation of the story and I was thoroughly delighted with the polished performances and especially impressed with the young actors who were as professional as any I’ve seen on the stage.  The English accents, especially the East End cockney dialect, were ‘spot on’ and the English Country dancing was brilliantly choreographed and perfectly executed.   Without exception, the actors were talented and I particularly enjoyed and was moved by that beautiful duet performed by the two young lasses.  With many thanks, and the best of British luck for a continued successful run. … Happy Christmas and God bless us, every one.”

To paraphrase Scrooge, the true happiness cannot be measured out in dollars.  As a Carol cast member, I am more than glad to be paid in smiles.  

For information on upcoming shows in 2012, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955.  Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When Amy Lauter Sells Out, Audiences Buy It!

Amy Lauter plays Mrs. Stanfield
and all the single ladies
When Charles Dickens hands out the roles in our version of A Christmas Carol, he asks Mrs. Stanfield, played by Amy Lauter, to portray “all the young and available ladies.”  Amy embraces this task with enthusiasm: selling it, selling out, and never selling herself short.  For example, when director Nancy Cooper first encouraged Amy to play her Charwoman character as crazy, Amy admits that her characterization was not working well:  “So I was trying to think of a way to be uninhibited and ‘drunk’ is what came out. Nancy words were, ‘if you are gonna play it that way – give it your all – sell it,’ so that is what I have been working towards.”  Amy has been so convincing as a drunk that even an accidental fall on opening night seemed so in character that the audience didn’t even catch on.

Amy’s other characters are equally charming, playful and distinctive.  She plays hide-and-seek as Bob Cratchit’s daughter Martha. As Mrs. Stanfield, she teases husband “Stanny” by plucking away his violin bow, claiming that “several alley cats would disagree” that he plays a fine fiddle.  And she practically steals the show as Mrs. Fred’s Sister, whose infectious laughter is as unique as her name is generic.  Amy came up with Mrs. Fred's Sister's giddy laugh at Nancy’s suggestion and made it her own:  “The laugh is a little contagious – once I got it, I got it, and love doing it. Fred’s parlor scene started out feeling like a bit of a ‘throwaway’ – but has blossomed into one of the most enjoyable scenes in the show.”

Amy’s favorite character is Belle, who was engaged to the young Ebenezer Scrooge: “I really like playing Belle, as she is pivotal in the ultimate destruction of Scrooge’s personality and lifestyle. I can relate to her on a better level than the other characters as well… so I find her a little easier to understand.”  Amy’s portrayal of Belle as a young woman who is torn between her love for Ebenezer and her need to stay true to herself is truly one of the most poignant moments of the play.  We begin to understand how the loss of that love transformed young Ebenezer into bitter old Scrooge.

To watch Amy on stage, it is easy to believe that she is really having fun: “I have been having a ball on stage – this is truly an ensemble show – and we have a very solid cast and crew. In terms of the overall experience, I have really enjoyed being a part of this cast – and can honestly say it has been one of the best casts I have been a part of in terms of chemistry and balance. We are all constantly laughing and enjoying each other’s company backstage – I think we can all say that. I have also appreciated the way the kids have all been treated as well – all of the adults in the show have treated them as equals – cast mates.

As Bob Cratchit would say, “That’s a high compliment indeed,” as Amy is a veteran of several Barn shows, including GypsyProof, Guys & Dolls, Oklahoma and It’s a Wonderful Life. She recently produced To Kill A Mockingbird and has also directed shows including Miracle on 34th Street and Chapter Two. 

Tickets for the remaining performances of A Christmas Carol (December 15th through 18th) are available at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Christmas Carol Calls To All Creeds

Armand Banooni (far right) as Young Ebenezer
dances with Belle as Scrooge looks on.

So what’s a nice Jewish boy doing in a play like this?  Armand Banooni might not be the most likely actor ever to be cast in A Christmas Carol, but he fits right in with the Farmington Players’ production of Charles Dickens’ classic tale.   Armand says, “When I was given the chance to be a part of A Christmas Carol I wanted to be in it not only to improve my English accent under the expert tutelage of our own Joan Boufford, and not only to have another chance to work with Nancy Cooper as my director, but also to be part of a Christmas show for the first time.”

Like most actors in the show, Armand plays several characters, starting with Frederick Dickens, Charles Dickens’ nephew:  “Fredrick is the kind of person who enjoys a good laugh and has a good sense of humor.  He enjoys the ‘theatricals’ Charles Dickens often has them perform.”  Frederick is charged by Dickens to play a number of characters, including Fred, Peter Cratchit, Young Ebenezer, Ole Joe, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Armand’s favorite character is Fred, and observes that “though his uncle Scrooge is less than cordial to him, Fred still has nothing bad to say about Scrooge and won’t give up on him.  He has a slightly irreverent attitude, which I tend to have as well, as he makes fun of his uncle.  But he cares about the people in his life and enjoys being the consummate host.”

Even though Armand is Jewish, he finds the message of A Christmas Carol to be universal:  “It is a play about redemption and repentance.  We find ourselves rooting for Scrooge as he is given the chance to examine his life and see how and where it went astray.  Scrooge is given a unique chance to change how he lives his present life and thanks to a glimpse of his possible future, change the dire outcome that could befall him.  We are shown that it’s never too late to change ourselves for the better.”

Opening weekend was a great success, so remaining tickets (through December 18th) are selling fast.  Buy yours today at www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Friday, December 2, 2011

All the Creatures Were Stirring ... It's Opening Night!

The Cratchit Family, observed by Scrooge.


There is nothing like the excitement, anticipation and trepidation of opening night.  I imagine it is what a tightrope walker must feel when he first performs without a safety net.   As Roger DeBris said to Carmen Ghia in The Producers, “Will they love us?  Will they hate us?  The anticipation is killing me!”   Unlike The Producers, which was an over-the-top, anything-goes comedy, A Christmas Carol is more about the story than the gags.  Don’t get me wrong. There are still plenty of amusing moments, and even some slapstick comic relief, but A Christmas Carol’s brand of humor is clever and witty, not crass and crude.   The strength of this performance is the genuine warmth and creativity that the actors bring to the stage in this holiday classic.

Most people know the basic story line:  Ebenezer Scrooge, a hard-hearted miser, thinks that Christmas is for fools who should be “boiled in their own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through their heart.”   He is visited by various ghosts who show him glimpses into his own past, present and future.   Scrooge is humbled, redeemed, and truly transformed by the experience, and ultimately becomes a generous and gregarious celebrant of the Christmas holiday.

What you might not know is that the Farmington Players’ production of A Christmas Carol begins not with Scrooge, but with the tale’s author Charles Dickens (both enthusiastically played by Dorne Lefere).   When Dickens’ family and friends gather for a Christmas Eve celebration in his home, instead of telling them all a story, Dickens puts his guests to work in performing the tale that we now know as A Christmas Carol.   This play-within-a-play context shows the family members creating their own magic with various accents, despite limited costumes and props.  The 10 actors portray over 40 characters and are also onstage observers of each other’s performances, which helps bring the audience into the action.


We hope that you come out to Barn to see what we have created.   
Some tickets remain for opening weekend and other dates (through December 18th) are selling fast, so buy your tickets today at www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Monday, November 28, 2011

This Lemon’s Not Sour

Jim Pierce pulls no punches as...

.... the real Mark Lemon
When Jim Pierce tells people that he is acting in A Christmas Carol, “everyone I know immediately assumes I am Scrooge.”  Despite this self-deprecating self-assessment, Jim is no miser when it comes to spreading goodwill and holiday cheer.  Jim’s main character is Mark Lemon, who in real life was a close family friend of the Dickens’ and editor of the humorous publication “Punch.”   While Jim enjoys playing Lemon because he “possesses a sharp and biting wit and is slightly hedonistic,” Lemon is actually a softie, affectionately known to the Dickens’ children as “Uncle Porpoise.”  As Lemon, Jim also plays all the roles that are the “most well-rounded,” including the First Portly Gentleman, Mr. Fezziwig, and The Fat Man.  Jim is well cast in these parts and his sardonic wit and quick sense of humor never cease to entertain his fellow cast members.

Jim often works on the technical side of shows, but he relished the opportunity to act for director Nancy Cooper.  He believes that the main themes of A Christmas Carol – “greed, lack of empathy and redemption” – are just as relevant today, as so “many people still have their minds fixed on the almighty buck.”

Jim feels that the cast help one another raise each other’s game:  “Not only has it been challenging to live up to the vision and expectations of the directors, but raising and maintaining one's level of acting skills to match that of the other cast members is daunting. Since this production begins with historical characters who interact before the play within the play unfolds, a true ensemble developed quickly. Everyone has brought to life a myriad of distinct characters.”

A Christmas Carol opens this Friday December 2nd.  For tickets, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Monday, November 21, 2011

Amy P Debuts as A.D. in A.C.C.

Amy Poirier


To those who remember seeing Amy Poirier onstage, it might be a little hard at first to take her seriously as assistant director of A Christmas CarolAmy debuted with the Farmington Players as the sassy stripper Mazeppa in Gypsy and most recently played Shirley (“Keep It Gay”) Markowitz and other hilarious roles in The Producers.  Amy’s willingness to throw herself into new and edgy roles makes her well-suited to the challenges of assistant director.  Plus, as a technical training project manager for GM and a very busy mom to three kids, Amy is a natural at teaching and organizing.

While Amy is quickly finding her own “voice” as assistant director, she credits director Nancy Cooper with being a strong mentor: “Not only have I have learned a lot about production and directing from Nancy, we have had so much fun working together.  Nancy is continually looking at each of the characters and coming up with different ways to help make them more interesting to the audience.  … Nancy reinforced to me how important character development is, especially in this play where everyone plays so many different roles.”

What does Amy see as the main difference between directing and acting? “With directing you feel more pressure upfront to put an entire show together – you are responsible for more than just yourself and it can be a little daunting, but also more rewarding.    I’ve also really enjoyed being able to watch the show at each rehearsal from the audience’s viewpoint, something as an actor you’re not able to do when you’re actually in the show.”

Amy believes that the lessons of A Christmas Carol still ring true today: “This story allows us to still have that hope that people who seem mean will change.  The notion of the holiday spirit being a redemptive one and everyone being able to surrender to it is something that can appeal to most individuals. … And isn't that what Christmas is all about – at least one day of the year when all is right with the world, and God has blessed us "every one"!”

To win free tickets to opening night of A Christmas Carol for a friend or family member, send an email (deadline extended to November 27th) to AChristmasCarol@farmingtonplayers.org and tell us why they are deserving. (Scroll down to my November 1st blog entry for full details.)  But don’t wait to buy your own tickets, which are going fast.  Go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Magical Day at the Barn

The Wonder Merchants:
Craig Alan, Andrew Dakota, Bruce Florek and Pooch


Saturday November 19th will be an action-packed day at the Farmington Players Barn Theater.   Come early, stay late, and enjoy all the festivities.  The fun starts at 2:00PM with The Wonder Merchants. Four fabulous magicians and humorists are ready to mesmerize families.   This event is fun for all ages and all proceeds support The Farmington Players! Tickets are only $10 presale or $12 at the door. Call 248-553-2955 or buy online at www.farmingtonplayers.org. The “Wonder Merchants” include Craig Alan, actor, magician and mind reader with more than 15 years of performing experience from coast to coast; Andrew Dakota, an international award winning magician, consultant to top entertainers, and inventor of some of today's most startling magical illusions; Bruce Florek, skilled at dipping into his “bag of tricks” to dazzle children and transport them to a place of wonderment; and “Pooch,” whose mission is to astound and delight audiences of all ages.  The event is sponsored by McCabe Funeral Home of Farmington Hills.
Next, the Chili Cook-off will begin at 6:00 pm.  We currently have NINE entries of original, fresh, delicious homemade chili! Come and support our cooks: Emily/Diana McSweeney, Tim Timmer, Jason Wilhoite, Mike Smith, Vicki Grulke, Margaret Gilkes, Guy Copeland, Laurel Stroud and Amy Lauter. Who will win? Only you can decide!

At 7:00 is the membership meeting, immediately followed by the premiere of an original script written and directed by Anne Craft, One Last Chance, starring Mike Smith, John Lauter, Tim Timmer, Jan Jacobs, Val Knol, Marilyn Zerlak and Ellen Doman. 

Last but not least will be the long awaited farewell to the Fraternal Order of Pop Men.
As reported in the November issue of Barnstorms: “This highly secretive order has been likened to the Masons, but with fizz and without buried treasure. Originally convened as custodians of the late, lamented soft-drink dispenser, the order has unfinished business:
Initiation of its final pledge, Tim Timmer.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stephen King Scares Me

A Stephen King by any other name...
... would still be very scary!



When you’re named Stephen King, you’d better be able to command attention and respect.  Like the legendary horror movie writer with the same name, our Stephen King is not someone to be trifled with.  Steve is an accomplished martial artist with over 30 years experience, having earned his 6th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  He also teaches at Olympian Tae Kwon Do in Canton and has studied fight choreography at The Action Film Academy in New York.  

In A Christmas Carol, Steve’s main character is John Forster, Charles Dickens' best friend and confidant, who is a bit full of himself.  In turn, Forster’s specialty is playing a number of ghosts, some of which are very scary indeed.   Steve says “my favorite to play is The Ghost of Jacob Marley.  I get to really let it loose and tell Scrooge what he is facing.”  Other ghosts include the more jovial Ghost of Christmas Present, and silent yet scary Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.  In addition, Steve portrays the Second Portly Gentleman (who solicits Scrooge for a donation), Dick Wilkins (young Scrooge's apprentice friend) and the Man with Handkerchief (an unsympathetic mourner). 

Steve is well-suited to his roles and debuts with the Farmington Players after a 10-year absence from the stage. “A Christmas Carol is still very relevant today because there are a lot of ‘Scrooges’ out there in our world. Charles Dickens is saying you could still be well off but don't forget about the little guy.  If it wasn't for Bob Cratchit, Scrooge couldn't operate.”   Steve practices what he preaches as the Ghost of Jacob Marley: “I've always wanted to be an actor and can relate to Jacob Marley when he talks about remorse.  But it's never too late to do what you want!”
  
To win free tickets to opening night of A Christmas Carol for a friend or family member, send an email by November 19th to AChristmasCarol@farmingtonplayers.org and tell us why they are deserving. (Scroll down to my November 1st blog entry for full details.)  But don’t wait to buy your own tickets, which are going fast.  Go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Laurel Stroud Can't Miss As "Mrs."

Laurel Stroud plays Catherine Dickens among other "Mrs."



Christmas wreaths made of laurel and other evergreens symbolize strength, as evergreens last throughout the harshest of winters.  Like her namesake, Laurel Stroud is both strong and enduring.  In A Christmas Carol, she plays many mothers and wives whose strength of character is important to the story.  As Mrs. Cratchit, she hides her tears and says, “I would never show weakness to your father.”  She’s also outspoken in expressing her disgust for Scrooge, something her humble husband Bob would never do.  Mrs. Cratchit is Laurel’s favorite character: “She has the biggest range of emotions, and the most lines.”

Laurel also plays Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Fred (Scrooge's nephew's wife), Mrs. Dilber (a laundress who steals from the deceased), and Catherine Dickens, Charles' wife.  Laurel sees Catherine as “very proper and frustrated dealing with her husband's games during a dinner party.  But she is a good sport and plays along.” 

Laurel is also a good sport, serving in many different capacities at the Barn.  Offstage, she is on the Board, as Director of Communications and Education.  She was last seen onstage in the chorus of The Producers, as a tap-dancing showgirl.  Her other favorite Barn roles include Mom in Leaving Iowa, Essie in You Can't Take it With You and Jennie in Chapter Two

Laurel truly understands the message behind A Christmas Carol: “The main theme is to not get so focused on the day-to-day business of life that we lose sight of what we do all that business for.  There are people in our lives we love and who love us.  That should not be taken for granted.  Another thing I hope is brought out is the idea that there are people around us who need help, and most likely there is something we can do to help them.”

To help a friend or family member win free tickets to opening night of A Christmas Carol, see my November 1st blog entry.  But don’t wait to buy your own tickets, which are going fast.  Go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Monday, November 7, 2011

Like The Dickens

Dorne as... 
Dickens




















It is hard not to like Dorne Lefere, who plays both Charles Dickens and Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.  At rehearsals, Dorne’s devilish sense of humor keeps everyone on their toes.  He can be simultaneously self-deprecating and self-promoting.   And he never met an innuendo he didn’t like.   But behind all his frivolity is a serious actor with an amazing ability to memorize lines and capture the essence of his characters. A Christmas Carol is his tenth adventure at the Barn.

I first met Dorne during The Producers, when he was Max Bialystock and I was Carmen Ghia.   Now, as the mild-mannered Bob Cratchit, I face the full brunt of his wrath as the mercurial Scrooge.  Dorne enjoys the role because “It is fun to transition the character throughout the play from despised to (almost) beloved.”   He also loves the portrayal of Dickens as a “fun-loving and frustrated thespian” and the challenge of playing two characters who are so vastly different: “The story is so timeless and uplifting that you can’t watch it without coming away feeling good.  I also liked that Dickens and his guests actually perform the story.”

Dorne credits director Nancy Cooper with excellent casting: “In all seriousness, after our first rehearsal I couldn’t imagine anybody else in each of the respective roles.  Everyone is perfect.” But with typical unseriousness, Dorne adds, “Even Forster, who frankly seems a little too much at home wrapped in chains.  I don’t even want to go there.” 

Audiences are in for a real treat when they come to see A Christmas Carol, but if you take Dorne too literally, you might not want to sit in the front row:  “Of all the versions of this classic I have seen, I think that Donald Duck really nailed the Scrooge character best. I plan to introduce some slight spitting and drooling as an homage to his rendition.”

To win free tickets to opening night of A Christmas Carol for a friend or family member, send an email by November 19th to AChristmasCarol@farmingtonplayers.org and tell us why they are deserving. (Scroll down to my November 1st blog entry for full details.)  But don’t wait to buy your own tickets, which are going fast.  Go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tis the Season to Win Tix to A Christmas Carol

This year's holiday show is a twist on Charles Dickens' classic tale, A Christmas Carol. This is not your grandfather’s Christmas Carol.   In our version, Charles Dickens' beloved ghost story comes to life in a whole new way, as seen through the eyes of Dickens himself. The author gathers his family and friends for a Christmas Eve celebration and draws them into the process of creating the classic tale. As the people in Dickens' life are transformed into the familiar characters of A Christmas Carol, we are reminded of the real meaning of the holiday season, which is not only a joyous time spent with family and friends, but also a time of providing for those in need.  As the First Portly Gentleman says: "it is a time when want is keenly felt, and abundance rejoices." 

To encourage this spirit of giving, The Farmington Players is giving away one pair of free tickets to A Christmas Carol for opening night, Friday, December 2nd at 8:00PM.   To win the tickets, send an email to AChristmasCarol@farmingtonplayers.org and tell us in 100 words or less why your friend or family member deserves a free pair of tickets.   Reasons can include hardship, that they love the tale, or could use a good laugh. The best (most thoughtful, humorous or poignant) entries might even be posted here, in future blog entries of Playing The Barn, so be creative.

Entries must be submitted by November 19 (one per household, please).   Winners will be notified by email by November 25.   Please include your name and hometown with your email.   
For tickets, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call 248-553-2955.  Find us on Facebook at "Farmington Players" http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000154976336


Monday, October 31, 2011

This Bird Has Flown

A.D. Tony Targan and Director Michael Schacherbauer giving notes at rehearsal.
Photo by Dave Ewick

Now that To Kill A Mockingbird has closed, I want to share some personal reflections from the past four months.   We really didn’t know what to expect at auditions in June, but we got an amazing turnout of 60 actors, including many newcomers to the Barn.  We were very lucky to have such talented kids try out, and Nina White, Patrick Vietor and Nicholas Zupancic quickly stood out as Scout, Jem and Dill.  Rehearsals started in July with table work and once the actors got on their feet, things really started to click.   August and September were challenging with rehearsals four nights a week, but everything came together by opening night.  As word of mouth spread in October, we closed to enthusiastic audiences and full houses by the last weekend.

Mockingbird was my first experience as an assistant director.  I learned so much just by watching director Michael Schacherbauer:  How to block movement so that the focal point is on the right actor; How to use lighting and sound to strike the right mood; How to organize all the moving parts that need to come together.  But most of all, I learned to trust my own instincts.   On an interpersonal level, I learned what each actor needed from me to do their best, whether it was praise or correction.  Sometimes it was just being there.  Kandi Krumins told me that I was her security blanket … Just seeing me in the front row every night during rehearsals checking lines gave her confidence.  

Mockingbird was a bit risky as a choice for a fall production, but the play was successful by any measure, including financially.   I am also proud to work with so many fine African-American actors, including Grover McCants, Vanessa Davis, James Hodges, Camille Jamerson, Elizabeth Hemmingway and Adrienne Kelly-Webb.  I have so much respect for their professionalism in dealing with the racial themes of the play.  Like Jean Louise Finch, we will always remember our time together in Maycomb, Alabama.

For more information, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call 248-553-2955.  Find us on Facebook at "Farmington Players" http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000154976336

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kandi’s “Can Do” Attitude Makes Mockingbird Fly

Kandi Krumins:  Photo by Jan Cartwright

Kandi Krumins plays Jean Louise Finch, the adult Scout, and serves as the onstage narrator of our play.  Originally cast as Miss Maudie, Kandi quickly embraced her new role when the initial Jean Louise dropped out unexpectedly.  Kandi willingly jumped in with both feet and made a seamless transition to Jean Louise.  She even dyed her blond hair brown to match Scout.  

Kandi feels that the use of a narrator “really helps the audience better understand the play, and I think the narration adds great depth to the story. The characters are introduced as young Jean remembers them, which adds some levity to this otherwise ‘heavy’ story.”   As the youngest of six children, mother of two, and long-time middle school teacher, Kandi felt well prepared for this role: “I'm guessing that most people go back in time and try to make sense of their childhood -- particularly with the things we didn't understand and crave resolution with.  I know I've done it many times.  I can relate to Jean Louise, and feel very comfortable playing her role.”

Kandi says she has gained some valuable life lessons from Mockingbird:
“(1) Remember, your children are watching you.  At some point they WILL question what roads you travelled in life.  When that time comes, hopefully you can look into their eyes and feel good about your answers.
(2) The people you choose to spend time with affect who you are.  Choose your friends based on the content of their character...not the color of their skin, height, weight, age, etc.
(3)  Many hardships are really blessings in disguise.  Sometimes it just takes a while to see it.”

She also has some great insights into the directors’ roles in making Mockingbird hum: “It's the fine-tuning of good directors that makes the whole thing RUN, like a machine.  All the parts need to mesh together, or we break down.  The funny part is, we people on stage get most of the credit, individually.  It's kind of like thanking the individual parts of a fine car for its performance, instead of recognizing the brilliance in the mechanics that put it all together.”

Kandi’s warmth and sense of humor comes through onstage as Jean Louise and she deserves kudos for her fine performance in this show, which includes three more performances on October 20, 21 and 22.  Get tickets while they last at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling 248-553-2955.  Find us on Facebook at "Farmington Players" http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000154976336

Friday, October 7, 2011

This Boo Wouldn’t Say Boo

Nina White (Scout) and Dave Ewick (Boo) clowning around at rehearsal.

The reclusive Boo Radley is a central figure in To Kill A Mockingbird.   Jem Finch first describes him like an animal:  “Judging from his tracks, he’s about six and a half feet tall, eats raw squirrels and all the cats he can catch.  His teeth are yellow and rotten, his eyes pop out and most of the time, he drools.”   In the course of the play, we come to learn that this pre-judgment of Boo – like most prejudices -- is far from accurate. 

I asked Dave Ewick his impressions about the challenge of playing multiple roles in Mockingbird, including Boo Radley.  Dave describes his characters as follows:

“My first character is Nathan Radley [Boo’s older brother].  My take is that he's a guy who thought he was "free" of Maycomb, only to be brought back through his sense of responsibility to his family when his father died and Boo needed a caretaker.  Nathan isn't necessarily happy, but he is resigned to his fate.  He sometimes resents having to come back home, so can be a little short with folks, but he's a good man.  I see him as more educated than most in Maycomb.

“My second character is the nameless "big man". I see him as a typical '30's redneck, farm boy; part of the background of the town.  Due to his size, he's a bit of a bully and likes to throw his weight around.  Due to a lack of education, and a typical southern home life; he's a bit of a racist.  He likes to go out with the boys for a drink or two, then enjoys the rowdy things the guys do.  While he doesn't like Bob Ewell any more than most, he willingly drinks with him and hangs out with him in the group.  

“My final character is my favorite.  Boo Radley isn't seen on stage until the very end, but his presence is felt throughout the play.  The descriptions of him really push the audience into thinking he's almost a monster.  … My view is that Boo is a gentle soul, and that he was over-protected by his family ….  Boo loves to watch Jem and Scout at play.  He feels safer with children than with adults or older kids, who scare him.  … To me, Boo represents innocence and his actions show that he wants to protect the innocence of others.  While the kids have been afraid of him, his only thoughts have been affection and curiosity for them.”

Dave’s thoughtful character studies help him bring these characters to life, and he has certainly made the most of his few lines in the play.   For example, Nathan Radley’s first line, a terse but simple greeting of “Afternoon,” always brings a laugh from audiences.  Dave really helps us see these characters as more complex than we might assume based on first impressions: “I've been using these thoughts to guide me in my reactions.  There are so many ways to see "the other" and to realize how it can affect our lives - this is just one facet of so many ways to see it.”  Well said, Mr. Boo.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Every Night Is Opening Night

Grover McCants as Reverend Sykes and townspeople Elizabeth Hemmingway and Adrienne Kelly-Webb observe the trial from the "colored" balcony with Jem, Scout and Dill.  Photo by Tom Bigwood.


To Kill A Mockingbird finally opened this weekend.  I say “finally” because it has been months in preparation since auditions in June, and rehearsals that ran from mid-July through September.   It was very gratifying to see all our hard work pay off.   On opening night, every actor had a little extra pep in his step.  Lines were delivered with more energy and enthusiasm.  Cue pick-ups were tight.  And despite a few glitches that only the directors would notice, the show went off without a hitch.

Every audience is different, and as director Michael Schacherbauer likes to point out, “Every night is opening night for that audience.”   He encouraged the cast to keep their focus and to perform with the same energy level in every show.  Each audience reacts in its own way.   Friday’s opening night crowd was in the mood to laugh, and found humor in the eccentric characters that make up Maycomb, Alabama, the fictional setting of the play.   The first act is relatively light compared to the heavier themes of the courtroom scene.  But even Sheriff Heck Tate’s announcement of someone’s death drew incongruous laughter, perhaps because it was unexpected.

By comparison, Saturday night’s crowd was more subdued.   They were clearly engaged in following the play, but less vocal in their responses.   I sat with friends who absolutely loved the performance, but it was just not a laughing matter to them.  Given the play’s serious themes of racism and prejudice, this is not surprising; it just reinforces how every audience experiences the play differently.

When my friends asked me if seeing the play as assistant director was like “giving birth” to my creation, I responded that “It is more like seeing your daughter go off to college.   You know that she is ready, but it is still a little hard letting go.”  This cast is certainly more than ready to deliver another top-notch performance, so I encourage you to come see another “opening night” real soon.

Tickets are available at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling 248-553-2955.  Find us on Facebook at "Farmington Players" http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000154976336
  

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