|Rob Wise (left) as Al Kaline |
with Kyle Bushre (George Noonan) and Gary Weinstein (Earl Noonan)
Rob Wise likes the idea of being in a show that not everyone is going to know. As he said, “Far more people know Jeff Daniels than they do The Vast Difference.” While everyone knows Daniels as the Michigan actor, playwright, and founder of the Purple Rose Theater, very few are familiar with his quirky 1993 comedy, which opens at the Farmington Players on September 23. In a nutshell, The Vast Difference explores sexual stereotypes that examine the difference between men and woman. It is also a pun on the vas deferens, the part of the male anatomy that gets snipped during a vasectomy. The main character in our play – George Noonan – needs a vasectomy. As a flight attendant and the father of five girls, George turns a routine visit to his urologist into a psychotherapy session about life, the insignificance of the modern-day man, and the vast difference between stewards and stewardesses.
Rob Wise plays seven (7!!) male characters that embody some of the stereotypical males in George’s world, which he describes as follows: “Lyle (an arrogant airline passenger), Bob (a member of a men’s support group), Jim (a member of George's gym), Bartley (an old timer at the barbershop), the Executioner, a Tigers Bleacher Bum, and Tigers legend Al Kaline.” While all Michiganders know Al Kaline, all Rob’s other characters are purely fictional, and some don’t even speak at all. So how does Rob prepare for the challenge imbuing each of these characters with life? “For me, the preparation has been mostly about determining each of my characters purposes and backgrounds because they all have to be distinguishable from each other. My main focus has been on what sets them apart from the others. Is it the way the speak? Is it their mannerisms? Is it an accent?”
Rob thinks audiences will enjoy The Vast Difference because “it challenges them to think beyond what is happening on stage. It has a great balance of humor and emotion that makes the whole experience very human. As far as gender roles and how they have changed, I believe that we are certainly ahead of where we were when this show was first performed (in 1993). We still have a long way to go and I look forward to a day when the term ‘gender roles’ doesn't mean anything to anyone.”
One of the major themes of this show is the relationship between George and his father, and whether George has lived up to his father’s expectations. As Rob says, “we can all relate to how bad we all felt when we disappointed someone we love and care about. I relate greatly to the relationship between George and his father, and how at the center of it all the love between a parent and their child is completely unwavering. My experiences with my own disappointments and my own father have helped me to relate more to what's happening around me in this show.”
Rob is 31 and has been in over 30 stage shows in his lifetime, but this is his first at the Barn. He lives in Warren with his wife, Nickie, and their nearly two-year-old daughter, Delaney. Rob serves as Vice President of the Ridgedale Players in Troy, but by day works as a trader for a scrap metal recycling company.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-553-2955.