Our Current 2016-2017 Season:

Our Current 2016-2017 Season:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Amy Lauter Spreads Some 1940s Christmas Magic As Ann Collier

Amy Lauter is having herself a Merry Little Christmas as Ann Collier

Amid the commotion of The 1940s Radio Hour, veteran singer Ann Collier is a steadying force and calming influence.  Likewise, Amy Lauter feels an affinity for her stable character Ann: “I feel like Ann is one of the most ‘normal’ persons in the show. When up against so many crazy characters, I have to make sure I don’t get lost in the chaos. Many of the other characters in the show are very comical, or boisterous, or have some specific characteristic that makes them stand out. Connie’s the kid, Ginger’s the bubble-head, Johnny’s the drunk, etc. I have to make sure I subtly stand out.”

Amy certainly does stand out with her stunning vocal performances as Ann, including such 1940s standards as That Old Black Magic and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.  Amy has “always enjoyed the ‘old standards’ but the main reason that I really wanted to be in this show was because I knew my grandmother, my mother and father in-law would enjoy it. The music and content in this show is something that they can all relate to and remember. I thought it would be nice to be in a show that pays tribute to an era they lived through. My father-in-law Bob (who turned 90 this year), served in the Army Air Corp. Hearing about his time there has been very interesting.”

As Amy developed her character, she discovered that Ann is “similar to me in ways that I did not realize at first. Ann began singing as a young girl, and continued to sing while in school. Although she was the featured vocalist at the Cavalcade, she still has a day job, as well as a young son that keeps her busy. She is one of those people that has a lot to juggle, but gets it done.”  Similarly, Amy began singing at a young age and began doing community theatre at age 10. Once she found the Farmington Players, she has had to juggle working full time, raising kids, rehearsing and more: “I wonder myself how I do it at times, but I think being so busy all the time keeps me at my best. You have to get things done – because there is no time to lose – so you make it happen.”

Amy has been “making it happen” for eight years at the Barn, and her favorite past roles with the Farmington Players include Claire in Proof, Dainty June in Gypsy, Laurie in Oklahoma, and multiple roles in last season's adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

The 1940s Radio Hour closes this weekend with final performances on December 20, 21 and 22.  Reserved seats for this musical comedy sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Michael Rose Blooms as Wally the Delivery Boy

Michael Rose "mans up" as Wally the delivery boy

He tries too hard to curry favor, overpromises then under delivers, but eventually Wally the delivery boy becomes a man.  Similarly, Michael Rose has grown as an actor during the rehearsal process of The 1940s Radio Hour.  Michael describes Wally as follows: “He starts out the show very naive with a fascination -- bordering on obsession -- with becoming part of the broadcast.  He has the best intentions, but often underachieves.  He does everything he can to endear himself to Lou the stage manager.  He is star struck with Johnny, the featured vocalist.  He is enamored by the female singers but his naiveté keeps him from being any sort of player.” 

Wally wants so badly to break into show business, but after he gets his chance to be in the radio show, Michael says that he “realizes nothing has changed.  He is still treated like the delivery boy.  The luster of the being on the show begins to fade the more the war is talked about and the more Wally realizes what Biff (a musician leaving for the war) will face.”  At first, Michael was drawn to the role of Wally because of his comedic appeal, but eventually he learned to find the depth in his character.  “I have been trying to add subtle introspection of what I am doing and the pride that Biff has for what he is going to do for his country.  I am trying to convey all that building up to my final line where Wally convinces himself, ’I’m gonna sign up!.’”   Wally’s “transformation from bumbling young kid to determined young man was lost on me until the last few rehearsals when one of the cast members explained why and how to deliver that final line.  Now I get goose bumps every time I say it.”

Michael does a great job of conveying Wally’s innocence, while keeping his eagerness in check, saying, “the challenge I had playing this character was trying to not go over the top.  There were some parts that I had to reign in because it was too cheesy or just too much.”  And just like Wally has to prove himself worthy of the radio show, Michael “wanted to prove to myself that the last show (Little Shop of Horrors, also directed by his wife Rachael) was not a fluke and that I could do more than I expected of myself.  I have always seen myself as quiet shy person who doesn't like to be the center of attention.  However, I am finding myself excited and exhilarated being on stage and performing.  I hate to admit it but I do think I have been bitten by the acting bug.” 

The 1940s Radio Hour runs through December 22nd.  Reserved seats for this musical comedy sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Brittany Davenport Lives Her Fantasy as Classy Geneva Lee Browne

Brittany Davenport (left) as Geneva Lee Browne, with Grace Muawad, Taylor Alfano and Amy Lauter

In The 1940s Radio Hour, Brittany Davenport is living the dream.  Brittany plays Geneva Lee Browne, who she describes as “a beautiful, high-class black singer.  On a personality level, Geneva is basically everything I'm not.  She's loud, brassy, egotistical, flavorful, and self-assured to the point of being carefree.  She says anything and everything that she has on her mind and has no filter.  She's a star, and knows it, and wants everyone else to know it as well.”  As Geneva, Brittany offers soulful performances in Rose of the Rio Grande and I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good).

It’s not easy playing her opposite, but as Brittany says, “I love her attitude.  I know that's a weird thing to say, but I'm such a reserved person that playing Geneva gives me an avenue to do things that I would NEVER do myself.  I also love her confidence.  Geneva may be overly confident, but at least she knows her worth.  Being so stiff, shy, and conscientious myself, playing a character that is my polar opposite really is exhilarating!  In some ways, I'd even say Geneva Lee Browne is my fantasy.”  Brittany has been heavily involved in music since she was a young child: “I’ve been singing ever since I was able to open my mouth, and wrote my first song at 9.  I started playing saxophone when I was 10, guitar when I was 13, and picked up a little bit of piano at 15.  I was in a band in high school, and have continued to song-write all the way up to the present time. Music has always been a large part of my life.”

While Geneva is a self-assured star, Brittany is a perfectionist.  As she says, “These concepts really do collide, and the hardest part about playing her is getting out of my own head and just letting Geneva come out.  Brittany might be worried about doing everything perfectly and analyzing every situation, but Geneva is fabulous and knows anything she does will be so!”  Brittany loves the jazzy music of the 40's and also enjoys how the 1940’s singers, “even in times of strife, were able to use what resources they had to still look put together and glamorous!”

1940s is Brittany’s Barn debut.  She participated in theatre at Ann Arbor Huron High School and the University of Indianapolis.  Her favorite productions include Anything Goes, Wit, Dogg’s Hamlet Cahoots Macbeth, Family Names, and Into the Woods

The 1940s Radio Hour runs through December 22nd.  Reserved seats for this musical comedy sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

1940’s Youngest Cast Member Carries Herself with “Grace”

Grace Muawad is a natural as wide-eyed Connie Miller

At age 15, Grace Muawad is the youngest member of The 1940s Radio Hour cast, but she is poised and precocious beyond her years.  Grace plays the role of Connie, a 17-year-old girl who has recently moved with her mother from Utah to the Big Apple, hoping for a career in show biz with dreams of becoming a Rockette.  Grace describes Connie as “a small town girl who is new to the big city.  She is a little bit star-struck and wide-eyed while still being a typical teenager who doesn't like her mother checking up on her.” Grace really relates to Connie: “She's the youngest performer on the radio show, and I am the youngest actress in the cast.  We both love to sing and dance, and just as Connie has only been on the radio show for a few months this is my first production with the Farmington Players.  Also, Connie drinks a lot of Coke, and so do I!”  But while Connie always seems to be in love – she has a boyfriend, but is also infatuated with an older man – Grace is “a little too sensible and way too busy to have these problems, so I'm working on seeing love from Connie's naive point of view.” 

While not star-struck herself, Grace has been performing since she started dancing at age 5.  She “caught the singing and acting bug when I was about 11” and has been involved with the Michigan Opera Theater Children's Chorus and has studied musical theater at Interlochen Arts Camp.  Now a high school sophomore, she is involved in choir, student government and photography and continues her dance, piano and voice training.  She hopes to study performing arts in college. 

Grace really appreciates her directors and cast mates.  Director Rachael Rose has been “very warm and welcoming to me as a Farmington Player newcomer and a young person.  Rachael has lots of energy and a positive and encouraging manner.  She is also very musically talented.  And so is Jose Reyes, the music director.  The cast is lucky to have two such talented musical resources to draw from.”  Grace sees parallels between the cast and the characters in The 1940s Radio Hour: “Everyone comes to rehearsal from someplace else, generally from work or in my case, school or dance class.  So we all have other things on our minds as we race to rehearsals but we all love theater and put those thoughts aside when we are together, preparing to put on a show, just like the Cavalcade at WOV!”

The 1940s Radio Hour opened November 30th and runs through December 22nd.  Reserved seats for this musical comedy sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Who’s On First? Keith Firstenberg Plays Comedian, and Vice Versa

Keith Firstenberg (right) wears many hats as comedian/singer/dancer Neal Tilden

He’s funny and talented, can sing and dance, and yet he’s a little insecure about his own abilities.  Whether this describes Keith Firstenberg, or his comedic character Neil Tilden, is for audiences to decide, but The 1940s Radio Hour actor appears to be well-suited to his role.  Keith describes his character as follows: “Neal Tilden is the resident comic of the Feddington players.  He's been with the show from the beginning just like Ann and Johnny, but for some reason he just doesn't have the ‘star power’ that they do.  He loves being the go-to guy for all things funny, but wishes they would recognize more of his singing and dancing talent, because he really does have the skills to do it all (at least he thinks so.)”  

This convergence of actor and character might seem to simplify Keith’s job, but he says that his “greatest challenge has been keeping the ‘character’ separate from the ‘self’ because I have a tendency to absorb aspects of the role that I'm playing.  Neal and I are already so very similar. I relate to his unstated insecurities -- or maybe I'm just projecting my own onto Neal!  I also really enjoy Neal's sense of humor.  Or maybe I just like my own sense of humor!”  

Despite this schizophrenic split, Keith actually does a good job of keeping it all together on stage, and is a versatile performer.  His scene as a discombobulated diction coach is sure to have audiences in stiches, and yet he brings touching vulnerability to his own vocal rendition of Blue Moon.  Like his character, Keith is trying hard to belong and feel at home after recently relocating to this area from Traverse City, and Minnesota before that.  Keith says, “I've always used theatre to meet people in a new area and I usually find that they are ‘my people’ and I feel quite comfortable very quickly; The Farmington Players is no exception.”  Keith is “very pleased with the opportunity that I've been given in this show. I can showcase my acting, my singing and dancing with a great role and some fun music that one doesn't get to sing often.”   

Keith is making his onstage debut at the Barn after helping with lights for Little Shop and sound for Avenue Q and Dixie Swim Club, but he is no stranger to the stage.  A few of his favorite shows/roles include You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Snoopy), Evita (Che), The Foreigner (Charlie), and Fiddler on the Roof (Motel). He has also appeared in Man of La Mancha, West Side Story, Noises Off, The Producers, Urinetown, Into the Woods, Cabaret, Biloxi Blues, An Ideal Husband, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Book of Mathew Lebowitz.
The 1940s Radio Hour opened November 30th and runs through December 22nd.  Reserved seats for this musical comedy sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.  

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