|Joel Hunter plays high-school senior Jason Willette|
If the audience feels uncomfortable whenever Joel Hunter appears onstage, he’s doing a great job. In Rabbit Hole, Joel plays Jason Willette, who Joel describes as “a quiet, under-the-radar senior in high school. He's not super athletic or incredibly popular. He doesn't do much that would get him in trouble, or do anything really unusual. He's down-to-earth, well meaning, and honest. He's a good egg.” Despite being such a nice, normal guy, Jason is also the cause of a family’s misery, as the driver in the accident that killed Danny, a four year-old boy. Some of the tensest moments in the play include Jason’s interactions with Danny’s parents. As Joel says, “Despite the fact that Danny's death was an accident, it weighs on Jason. It's difficult for him to accept that what happened is no one's fault.”
Joel’s natural reticence comes in handy when playing Jason: “I can relate to Jason a bit. I may seem like a goofball to those who know me now, but whenever I am meeting new people or putting myself out of my comfort zone I become very much like Jason when he does that: nervous, unsure of what to say to avoid awkwardness, and hoping I don't make a fool of myself. I fit into Jason pretty well, actually. We do share a lot of similarities [such as a love of sci-fi], but I often find myself being a bit quieter when I play Jason and my articulation suffers. So that's something I've had to work on.”
Joel auditioned for Rabbit Hole based on a teacher’s recommendation without really knowing much about the show. He’s also never suffered the deep personal loss of a close loved one, saying “I’ve known kids my own age die, and two years ago, my aunt passed, but it has always been something surreal for me.” But this sense of freshness, of experiencing something new and surreal, keeps Joel’s performance authentically uncomfortable, which is a natural fit for the role of Jason.
Joel is a student at OCC and plans to transfer next year to a four-year university to major in theatre. This is his second show with the Farmington Players, having recently debuted as B.J. Gibson in the 1940s Radio Hour. Some of his favorite roles are Georg in Spring Awakening, Pony in Suburbia, and Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Rabbit Hole runs from February 15th to March 2nd at the Barn Theater, 32332 West Twelve Mile Road, Farmington Hills. Reserved seats for this drama sponsored by the Center for Financial Planning, Inc. are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.