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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gingerella’s Great at Playing it Straight

Mike Gingerella plays it close to the vest as the straight-laced Reverend Duncan Wooley
Leading Ladies is a fun-filled farce with crazy characters that are willing to do just about anything for love and/or money.  In fact, the “ladies” are actually cross-dressing gents that are determined to steal an inheritance, until one of them falls in love with Meg, their intended victim.  In counterpoint to this frivolity is the Reverend Duncan Wooley, the straight-laced minister that is already engaged to Meg.  In the Farmington Players’ production of Leading Ladies, Mike Gingerella of Royal Oak plays Duncan.   Mike carefully navigates the tightrope of playing it straight when all around him are a bit loopy.  As he says, “Playing the antagonist is always a challenge. In the role of Duncan, the trick is to present him in such a way that, although the audience may not like him, they don’t hate him. It’s also a challenge playing the straight man in a farce. Besides holding back the temptation to laugh, it’s important to be as sincere and straightforward as possible to present a counter balance to the bizarre behavior displayed by the other characters in the show.”

Mike is no stranger to this genre of comedy, having played in Noises Off, and he especially enjoys farces “because they are so difficult to do well. When successful, there’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve got the audience in the palm of your hand. It’s not unlike the ‘high’ experienced by stand-up comedians when they the have a great show.”   Like other well-written plays by author Ken Ludwig, Mike knows that the Ladies script is loaded with “a treasure trove of terrific jokes, sight gags, puns and slapstick. And just like a great drama’s ability to move and inspire an audience, a great comedy provides an entertainment experience people will find themselves laughing about for weeks after.”

I had the pleasure of working with Mike several years ago when we appeared as dysfunctional brothers in the comedy Funeral for a Gangster.  Mike recalls the experience fondly and says, “I’m proud to be part of Tony’s directing debut, and have been impressed by the enthusiasm and attention to detail he brings to the creative process.”   Mike’s own journey to the stage has been a circuitous one.  After working as an automotive writer, Mike made his Barn debut in 2008 as George Schneider in Neil Simon’s Chapter Two.  He says that experience “reignited a passion in me that led to my decision to pursue a career as a professional actor, and to teach theatre at the university level.”   Mike went back to school and is currently a fourth-year theater major at Wayne State University, and will be pursuing an MFA degree in acting next year.  In addition to making his professional debut in the Water Works Theatre Company’s production of Hamlet, Mike’s other favorite roles include Don Browning in Leaving Iowa, Phillip Gellburg in Broken Glass, Al Manners in Trouble In Mind, Garry Lejeune in Noises Off, Father Flynn in Doubt: A Parable, and Dr. Jim Tennyson in Dr. Cook’s Garden.

The Farmington Players' production of Leading Ladies opens November 28 and runs through December 20.  The show is proudly sponsored by Cadillac Travel Group. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.



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