|"Nervous? Who me?" Kyle Bushre (left) as George Noonan with Sa'Ku Floyd|
PHOTO by Jan Cartwright
The Vast Difference opens with protagonist George Noonan strapped to a gurney, about to undergo a vasectomy. Most of the play’s action takes place in George’s mind while he’s under anesthesia, which explains some of the bizarre imagery and absurd humor in the show. But ultimately, this quirky comedy by Jeff Daniels is a touching tribute to fathers and sons, and how that bond shapes so many of our life choices.
In the Farmington Players production, Kyle Bushre plays George, who he describes as “a guy struggling to grab hold of the kind of manliness he saw in his father and his father's heroes, Al Kaline and John Wayne. George sees his dad as the epitome of a man's man, and George simply isn't. He's a flight attendant on a regional airline, has a wife who nags him, five daughters who look like him, and the constant unsettling feeling that his father wouldn't be proud of the life he's living. On top of all that, he's contemplating a vasectomy, which he sees as the final assault that will triumphantly destroy the last bit of man left in him.”
Kyle draws on his relationship with his own father when playing opposite Gary Weinstein, who plays George’s father Earl Noonan. As Kyle says, “There is a genuine love between George and Earl, and playing those heartwarming moments of joy and loss between father and son are the most rewarding for me. I think Gary and I have developed quite a bit of chemistry in playing that relationship. He's an outstanding actor, by the way. His performance alone is worth the price of admission for this show.” In real life, Kyle’s father had a heart attack earlier this year and flat-lined for 17 minutes before doctors revived him, so “coming that close to losing my dad was one of the reasons I wanted to do this show about a guy and the dad he admires.”
The Vast Difference was first performed in 1993, and Kyle calls author Jeff Daniels a “prophet” for “correctly identified a slide toward gender ambiguity and the downplaying of masculinity that we see today. I think Daniels does a good job nostalgically reflecting on the days when ‘men were men and everybody knew it’ while at the same time suggesting that even in that by-gone era, the men had vulnerabilities that should be considered part of what it means to be a man.”
Despite the show’s more serious themes, Kyle knows that audiences will love this “mad-cap romp with razor-sharp wit that is absolutely absurd.” Four guys in this show – Sa’Ku Floyd, Charlie Gass, Rob Wise, and Armand Banooni – each play about half a dozen characters, and “these guys are funny.” A native Michigander, this is Kyle’s first show at the Barn, having moved back last year with his wife after a 13-year absence. In a stroke of luck (or perhaps fate), he found out about the show by doing a Google search of "community theatre." Kyle is the pastor of Doxa Church, a new church in Rochester Hills.
The Farmington Players production of The Vast Difference is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney. The 12 performances run from September 23 to October 15, 2016. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at email@example.com or 248-553-2955.