Our Current 2017-2018 Season:

Our Current 2017-2018 Season:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Mary Ann Tweedie is the Life of the Party in Calendar Girls

Mary Ann Tweedie as Chris (far left) leads the girls with a bit of liquid courage before their photo shoot
Sometimes art echoes life in a way that warms the heart. Calendar Girls – which opens TONIGHT (Friday September 22) at the Farmington Player's Barn Theater – is based on the true story of middle-aged British women who posed nude in a calendar to raise money to fight cancer.  The story of the real-life “Girls” inspired a movie and then a stage play.  And just like their British counterparts, Barn cast and crew members have created their own risqué calendar!  Proceeds from calendar sales and opening night’s 50/50 raffle will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Mary Ann Tweedie, who plays Chris, admits that “the nudity was a bit intimidating at first but I think it will be fine.  The phrase ‘the art of the play’s nudity lies in what is withheld,’ sums it up entirely!”  Mary Ann describes Chris as “the leader of the calendar project and the instigator of many of the other nontraditional events that they do in the WI and she is basically the life of the party. She makes her friend Annie’s life more fun and lively.  She loves holding court and being the center of attention. … She certainly doesn’t fit in with the image of a traditional WI member, baking cakes, knitting, making plum jam etc.  She likes to have fun, drinking, laughing and being the center of attention.  This need to be the center of attention is what eventually affects her and Annie’s relationship.” 

Mary Ann relates well to the longtime friendships in Calendar Girls because “I have been a barn member for 27 years and have made many longtime friends at the Barn.  It shows the ups and downs of friendships and what it takes to make an enduring friendship work. This cast has been one of the nicest groups of people to work with.  The ladies have been a lot of fun and working as an ensemble has been a pleasure.  Nancy Cooper has been a great director and her insights have helped us all understand our characters.”  (In fact, Nancy played Chris in St. Dunstan’s performance of this show last year.)

Mary Ann is confident that audiences will absolutely love this show.  In addition to being “loaded with great older women parts,” Calendar Girls “has something for everyone.  I have seen it live twice and each time the audience reactions were amazing.”  Plus, the fund-raising aspect of the calendar sales will enable patrons to connect with the cause of fighting cancer – a disease that impacts almost every family.


Calendar Girls has 11 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from September 22 – October 14.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Healing By Rebelling: Laurel Stroud Breaks Taboos in Calendar Girls

Annie (Laurel Stroud, left) has her doubts about her best friend Chris (Mary Ann Tweedie, right) 
We live in a virtual society.  People experience much of life remotely or vicariously, through the lens of traditional or social media. While many of these “channels” can simulate real life, sometimes there’s just no substitute for being there in person.  Such is the case with Calendar Girls, which opens at the Farmington Player's Barn Theater on Friday September 22.  While many people know and love the 2003 movie, you really need to experience the play in person to understand the characters’ vulnerability, particularly when it comes to baring more than their souls on stage.

Laurel Stroud plays Annie, one of the play’s protagonists.  Laurel describes Annie as “a normal woman, happily moving through life when it hands her a tragedy. Life as she knows it is turned upside-down.”  Seeking to make something positive out of a bad situation, Annie and several other middle-aged women raise money for a local hospital by posing nude for a calendar.  As Laurel says of Annie, “At first she is distracted by the calendar, but eventually she has to deal with it. My challenge is portraying a woman going through grief in an unusual way.  She thinks her best friend is in her corner, but then starts to doubt.”

Like Annie, Laurel overcame her own doubts to become a Calendar Girl: “I felt it would be a personal stretch for me, getting out of my comfort zone. This show celebrates woman in her most glorious phase. It takes a taboo and says: Beating cancer is more important, and shows how breaking a taboo can give relief and growth in the process.  Seeing it onstage makes it more personal than watching a movie.  There will be more of a connection.”

So is Calendar Girls just a female version of The Full Monty?  No, not at all.  Laurel explains how the use of nudity is just a vehicle to illustrate the broader themes that run through this show, including: “Dealing with grief, the power of friendship, personal awakening and growth, and the beauty of ‘women of a certain age.’ That beauty, we discover has a lot, maybe more, to do with the inside as well as the outside.  The nudity has been handled with professionalism and humor, so it has not been an issue for me.  I think in the show, it's a type of rebellion leading to some healing. Maybe that's true in real life too.”

When Laurel is not onstage or backstage at the Barn, she works by day editing the clip sheet for Ford Motor Company. Her interests include cooking, baking, bike riding, and “sitting out on the patio with some coffee.”

Calendar Girls has 11 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from September 22 – October 14.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

First Time’s A Charm for Suzy DuCharme in Calendar Girls

Suzy DuCharme (far right) plays Cora, one of the Calendar Girls that grins and bares it.
Suzy DuCharme is making her Barn debut as Cora in the Farmington Player's production of Calendar Girls. As those familiar with the 2003 movie know, this show is based on the true story of a British Women's Institute (WI) chapter that raises money for a local hospital by posing nude for a WI calendar.  As director Nancy Cooper says, “These women touched by grief, used the strength of their friendship to do the unthinkable… they literally took their community, and in fact the world by storm, and raised thousands of dollars in the process.”

Suzy enjoys playing Cora because “she is like me in many ways. Has a past that was not the easiest, but still enjoys life and has built trust with the other women (characters).”   Suzy works as a hospice nurse for Kindred Hospice, so she deals with mortality every day. Her own mother passed from cancer a few years ago.  These experiences prepared Suzy for Calendar Girls because, as she says, “I believe the themes are finding the good in tragedy and learning how to lean on others. Audiences will enjoy this show because there are a lot of times to laugh. Even the sad moments don't last long before there is some comic relief. A lot of people will be able to relate to the relationships in this show.”

The relationships between the female actors also provides a strong bond.  Suzy says, “The nudity is a little scary, as I am self-conscious, but also a little liberating. These women are non-judgmental and I feel very secure in this.  I wanted to be in Calendar Girls because it is a show that praises the middle aged woman – that does not always happen in other shows. There is beauty in aging!”

Suzy resides in Clarkston with her husband, Ben and they have two children in college. She enjoys karaoke, dancing, Zumba, yoga, and theatre, which is an interest she share with her mother. 

Calendar Girls has 11 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from September 22 – October 14.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

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