2022-23 season

2022-23 season

Friday, January 27, 2012

Coming Home to the Barn

Diana McSweeney plays Karly McGachen

The McSweeney name is synonymous with the Farmington Players.  For years, Bob and Emily McSweeney have been permanent fixtures at the Barn.  When Bob passed away last year it was a huge loss for the Farmington Players and our theater family.  Their daughter Diana has been living in Arizona for years, but recently decided to move back home for a time, to be closer to family after her father’s passing.

It’s been 16 years since Diana last graced the Barn stage, but she hasn’t missed a beat.  Last October, she produced 3 Men and a Tenor, which only whet her appetite to get more involved.  Next, she contributed to the ‘lights’ team for A Christmas Carol which inspired her to carry on the family tradition and hit the stage again. Diana says, “It is remarkable to work with such a talented and supportive group of volunteers.”

In Whose Wives, Diana plays Karly McGachen, the scheming wife of David McGachen, played by John Boufford, who is determined to get revenge for her husband’s suspected infidelity.  As Diana says, “Karly is confident, quick thinking and decisive.  She is a little entitled, self-absorbed and can be manipulative, but with good intentions.  She is just used to getting her way, all the time.”   Karly is the perfect counterpart to David because they both are constantly maneuvering and persuading others to go along with their half-baked schemes. Diana likes that Karly is “focused on trying to push David’s buttons instead of really understanding the situation.  Her one mindedness sets her up for outrageous behavior.”

Diana wanted to be in Whose Wives because “I just love a good farce.  Fast paced, demanding, yet fun and worth every minute spent preparing.  Each person has to be able to step outside themselves and get absorbed into their character, no matter how absurd they act at times … I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of this show and forge some new friendships in the process.”   Welcome home, Diana!

Whose Wives Are They Anyway? opens Friday February 17 and runs through Saturday March 3.  For tickets, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mary Ann Tweedie and Mrs. Carlson: Separated at Birth?

Mary Ann Tweedie plays Mrs. Carlson

When I auditioned for Whose Wives Are They Anyway?, I was impressed by the talent of my fellow actors.  But one “character” stood out above all others as a natural for her part.  There was no question that Mary Ann Tweedie was Mrs. Carlson.  As Mary Ann acknowledges, “I enjoy the fact that Mrs. Carlson is so much like me in real life.  This part has been a no brainer for me!”

“Mrs. C” as she is often referred to by my character Wilson, is loud, outspoken, full of righteous indignation, and just a little bit full of herself.   Now, I’m not saying that Mary Ann also possesses those qualities, but I will say that it hasn’t been too hard for her to get into character for this play.   Mary Ann describes Mrs. Carlson as “the moral compass of the golf club.  She is a straight laced, by-the-book kind of gal and is going to make sure there are no ‘sexual shenanigans’ taking place in her club!” 

Mary Ann’s main challenge with playing Mrs. Carlson is “to make her likable at the same time as making her irritating …. I also love farce and the challenge it presents to an actor.  Timing is always very important with farce and it is very fun to watch a show like this come together.   I was in Noises Off a few years ago and it was a similar kind of show and I had a great time with that.” 

Mary Ann “found this play a few years ago when I was the head of the play reading committee and I remember thinking it would be great fun to bring these characters to life.”  In her typical self-deprecating fashion, she adds, “I am so glad we are able to do this show before I was too old to be in it!”     

A Barn member for 21-plus years, some of her past favorites include Noises Off (Dotty), State Fair (drunk pickle judge), The Man who Came to Dinner (Lorraine), The Female Odd Couple (Olive), Sylvia (Kate), Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 (Bernice), Light Up the Sky (Irene) and You Can’t Take It With You (Penny).

Whose Wives Are They Anyway? opens Friday February 17 and runs through Saturday March 3.  For tickets, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players". 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

No Small Wonder: Alisha Gellin Gets Big Laughs

Alisha Gellin as Tina

While her previous roles with the Farmington Players have been smaller parts (Frenchy in Sweet Charity and Delores in Gypsy) that might have escaped your notice, you won’t be able to miss the diminutive Alisha Gellin in Whose Wives Are They Anyway?    Alisha plays Tina, the receptionist at the Oakfield Golf and Country Club, who gets talked into playing “Mrs. Baker.”  Despite her initial reluctance, Tina has an easy time embracing her role and a hard time keeping her clothes on!

Alisha describes Tina as follows:  “She is a sweet girl but has backbone. She will only let things go as far as she feels comfortable with…. At the end of the day she’s just a nice girl trying to do the best she can …. Basically she’s just trying to help these two guys out and trying to make it through one uncomfortable situation after another.”  Alisha has a lot in common with Tina: “We are the same age, heck, we even have the same occupation even though she works in hospitality and I’m in medical.”  Despite these similarities with Tina, Alisha thinks “This makes it hard to play sometimes. Personally I find it’s much easier to play your opposite than someone similar to you.”  And though she holds a theatre degree from Eastern Michigan, Alisha feels that “Comedy is hard. It’s much harder to play than drama is. It’s all about timing and playing off each other and doing just enough but not too much…. Finding a balance can be difficult because sometimes playing it as seriously as you can makes it ten times funnier than playing up any type of shtick.”

Like Tina, Alisha is playful and a good sport at rehearsal, and her positive energy rubs off on everyone around her:  “Theatre brings a joy to my life that nothing else seems to compare. Being in this play has helped bring happiness and laughter back into my life. I can thank my fellow cast members for that!”

Whose Wives Are They Anyway? opens Friday February 17 and runs through Saturday March 3.  For tickets, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Monday, January 16, 2012

Maureen Mansfield De-Lights as Dragon Lady

Maureen Mansfield as D.L. ("Dragon Lady") Hutchison
In Whose Wives Are They Anyway, Maureen Mansfield plays D.L. Hutchison, who she describes as “a type-A personality … a smart, self-assured woman who is ready to kick some butt when she takes over as President” of the Ashley Maureen Cosmetics Company.  To her new male subordinates, D.L. stands for “Dragon Lady” when she interjects her overbearing personality into their personal lives.  But make no mistake:  there is nothing Down Low about D.L.   She is right up front, in your face, and anything but shy when it comes to asserting herself and her opinions.

Maureen enjoys playing D.L. because the role puts her in the center of the action in this fast-paced farce.  “My biggest challenge is to play the ‘straight guy’.  My natural inclination is to try and make people laugh and I have to fight it for this role.  It's harder than I thought it would be!”  Always the boss, D.L. tries to influence the behavior of all those around her, even the reluctant honeymooners that she encourages to perform their marital “duties.” 

For years, Maureen has been busy behind the scenes of The Farmington Players on the casting committee, and now as a board member and our Director of House.  She also was the stage manager of Red White and Tuna and directed A Christmas Story.   Maureen's first show at the Farmington Players was Sylvia, directed by Dennis Broadhead, so when she heard that he was directing Whose Wives, she knew it was time  to return to the stage: “I haven't actually been on stage at the Barn since the new theater’s opening show, Present Laughter [in 2003].  Knowing that Dennis was directing was just the push I needed to audition. ... Dennis does a fabulous job with physical comedy.  He just knows what's funny. I've directed John Boufford and Geoff Wehner and they both have an incredible sense of comedic timing.”

Maureen also shared some interesting facts about the Whose Wives cast and crew, which contains: four current and three past board members; three past and one current Torchbearer; and at least nine directors or assistant directors.  With so much experience, Whose Wives is certain to De-Light audiences!

Whose Wives Are They Anyway? opens Friday February 17 and runs through Saturday March 3.  For tickets, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players". 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Will the Real Mrs. Baker Please Stand Up?

Laurel Stroud is the "real" Mrs. Baker

The hallmark of Whose Wives Are They Anyway? is disguise, deceit, and mistaken identity … all in the name of job preservation.  To give you an idea of how crazy this show is, there are three characters that all claim to be “Mrs. Baker.” Laurel Stroud plays Laura Baker, John Baker’s “real wife,” but she is upset to learn that there are others apparently vying for his affections.   According to Laurel, “Laura is a sweet, simple, dare I say innocent housewife. Her life is neatly defined and she can't imagine anything upsetting it.  Nor does she have the tools to deal with it when it does” go awry.   Laura Baker can’t cope with John’s suspected infidelity, but she is a likeable character because “she really cares about her marriage and her husband and takes steps to get him back.  She is very trusting, even though it gets her in some sticky situations,” according to Laurel.

Laura spends much of her time onstage in tears, so Laurel’s biggest challenge is to be a crybaby without whining: “Laura cries a lot, and it's a challenge for me to keep that funny and not annoying.  There's not a lot of depth to Laura, but I need to make sure she's not completely one-dimensional.”   In rehearsal, Laurel strikes the right balance between being a basket case and keeping her head on her shoulders.   She makes Laura a sympathetic character that audiences will surely love to laugh at, while still rooting for.  Laurel “wanted to be in Whose Wives because I've always wanted to be in a farce.  Good comic timing is very hard, and I want to learn to do it well.  I also love it when audiences laugh.”   

Laurel has jumped right back on the Barn stage after just completing her role as Catherine Dickens in A Christmas Carol.  Other favorite Barn roles include Mom in Leaving Iowa, Essie in You Can't Take It With You, and a tap-dancing showgirl in The Producers.  Offstage, Laurel is a Board member and serves as Director of Communications and Education. 

Whose Wives Are They Anyway? opens Friday February 17 and runs through Saturday March 3.  For tickets, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Who's On Farce?

In Whose Wives Are They Anyway?, the fun begins when two executives arrive for a golf weekend and unexpectedly run into their new boss. When the boss comments that “no one who went golfing for a weekend without his wife would ever work for me”, the guys have to produce “wives” on short notice because their real wives are away for the weekend … or so they think!   This crazy farce includes many comedic situations with people running in and out of bedrooms, plenty of double entendre, and a heavy dose of sexual innuendo.

In this Farmington Players’ production, I play Wilson, a 60-ish handyman at the Oakfield Golf and Country Club.  Wilson is a curmudgeon and a hypochondriac, constantly citing imagined ailments as an excuse to get out of work, and he is never far from the comedic action.  In studying for my character, I got to thinking:  What is it that makes comedy funny?  Is it the material itself, funny actors, or the situation?  For example, in Abbott and Costello’s classic comedy routine, “Who’s On First?”, the dialogue is straight-forward and delivered straight-faced.  In response to Costello’s barrage of questions, Abbott’s rapid fire answers are mostly one-word, often just “Yes.”  The answers are not funny, but the situation (Costello’s growing exasperation) is.  The audience shares in the joke, but neither character is trying to be funny.

To gain insight into what makes a good farce, I interviewed Michael Parker, the author of Whose Wives.   Mr. Parker said, “Our philosophy of farce is that if you put unreal characters in unreal situations, the result is trite and silly. The characters must therefore remain very real and the actors must never be allowed to go over the top. The minute anyone starts trying to be funny, the play is dead in the water.  So no comedians, just good actors. … I urge everyone again to keep the characters real, and do not become caricatures.”

Just as with Abbott and Costello, timing is everything in comedy.  In Whose Wives, there are times when several people are all talking at once on the telephone.  Mr. Parker suggests that “The telephone sequences must be fast and slick. Practice, practice, practice. If someone screws up, there is no way to recover. If done correctly, it will bring the house down.”  To find out whether we can pull it off, come check in at the Oakfield Golf and Country Club and check it out for yourself. 

Whose Wives Are They Anyway? opens Friday February 17 and runs through Saturday March 3.  For tickets, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".