2022-23 season

2022-23 season

Monday, November 26, 2012

Newcomer Jeffrey Nelson Has the Chops to Play “Pops”

Jeffrey Nelson is stogie-smoking "Pops" -- shown (L to R) with Dave Reinke (Lou), 
Joel Mapes (Stanley), and Michael Rose (Wally).

 Jeffrey Nelson may be a newcomer to community theater, but he already has the acting chops to play “Pops” Bailey, an old hand behind the scenes at The 1940s Radio Hour.   Jeffrey describes Pops as “complicated, complex, and complacent.  He is extremely agitated by the other characters because he feels that they don’t exemplify what it takes to do good radio.  He only has respect for one person -- Ann Collier -- whom he is enamored with.  Pops is homeless, but only shares this information with Ann, and the others appear to be oblivious to his circumstances.”   

Despite his character’s hard luck life, Jeffrey enjoys playing Pops because he is “genuine and what you see is what you get; there’s no gray area with him.  He is old enough to put others in their place.  I like that he gets to yell at everybody but they don’t get offended.  I like that at the end of the show, someone in the cast showed him kindness and love and he received it rather than allow his bitterness to reject it.”  Jeffrey sees Pops as a “tortured soul who is trapped in a situation that many people will identify with – unfulfilled dreams.  I believe Pops would have been a real radio star if things in his life turned out differently.  I want to go for my dreams and not look back when I’m Pops age with regrets.”

While 1940s is his first role on stage, Jeffrey has enthusiastically jumped into theater with both feet:  “Community theater is all new to me.  I am enjoying getting to know how it works and what it takes to put on a production.  It has been an amazing journey getting to know the other cast members and learning how amazingly talented they are.  I admit I was very guarded and quiet during rehearsals at first but I have come to respect them as artists and fellow lovers of quality theater.  I really want to step into directing more than be on the stage because then you can bring your own vision to life rather than the vision of someone else.”  Jeffrey has over twenty years of experience directing and producing shows with students during his stint as a teacher and administrator with Detroit Public Schools.   He will soon follow up his Barn debut with a company role in Curtains at Stagecrafters early next year.

The 1940s Radio Hour opens November 30th and runs through December 22nd.  Reserved seats for this musical comedy sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Taylor Alfano is “Putting On the Ditz” as Smart and Sassy Ginger Brooks

Taylor Alfano is Smartly Ditzy as Ginger Brooks

It’s hard playing opposites, especially when they are two sides of the same coin.  This is the challenge facing Taylor Alfano, who plays Ginger Brooks in The 1940s Radio Hour.  Taylor describes her character Ginger as “a waitress who always wanted to be more. She is a very clever girl, even though she acts dumber than she is when they are on the air.  It is not easy to play smart and ditzy at the same time. You have to have a lot more focus than you would expect, and when you add the dancing, singing and the rest of the show in, it does get a little overwhelming.”

Taylor loves being Ginger because of the relationships she shares with other characters: “Ginger and Clifton have a love/hate relationship that makes them more like family than they would like to admit. She plays tricks on him constantly and loves being late, just to make him insane. Ginger absolutely despises Johnny because of the way he treats women, and no matter how many times he tries, he will never win over Ginger. She does not fall for his charms or any of the games he plays with the other girls in the show.”  While Ginger loves the men’s attention, she also has “a huge heart. She took Connie under her wing when she first started in the show, and ever since then, they have been like sisters.”

Taylor wanted to audition for 1940's mainly to work with director Rachael Rose again:  “Rachael has become one of my best friends between 1940s and Little Shop of Horrors, and I couldn't be happier to be working with her again. She is so supportive and really puts her heart and soul into every aspect of the show she is directing.”  Taylor also expressed a love for Forties music, which has “stunning jazz harmonies that are pretty difficult, but when done right, they sound great. I have always wanted to sing ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ so that definitely drove me to audition. The Forties style is one of my favorites, and the actresses from those days were so wonderful.”

Taylor made her Barn debut this year as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.  Taylor graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree of fine Arts in 2011.  While there, she portrayed Cecile in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the wicked stepmother in Into The Woods, and Sally in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown!

The 1940s Radio Hour opens November 30th and runs through December 22nd.  Reserved seats for this musical comedy sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Now, Steve King Gets His Kicks Behind the Mike

Steve King as Sinatra wanna-be Johnny Cantone

"For everything we gain in life, there is something we leave behind."  This line from the Summer of '42 has special meaning to Steve King, who plays Johnny Cantone in The 1940s Radio Hour.  Steve regards the 1940s as “a simpler time that sadly we will never see again. All of my mom's brothers served in WWII and couldn't wait to go off and fight for our country. We are here because they were there sacrificing.”  That sense of loss, of something or someone left behind, also shapes Steve’s character.  He describes Johnny Cantone as “the featured vocalist and Frank Sinatra wanna-be. A former welterweight boxer past his prime, he’s very conflicted over whether or not he should stay with a show that he could do in his sleep (or in his case, drunk out of his mind) or to move on to something bigger.”  Similarly, Cantone is torn between two women: “Will he try to go back to his wife Angel who left him years ago or stay with Ann whom he has a strong history with?”

Steve enjoys playing this conflicted character, as Johnny is someone who “gets away with being full of himself because he is suave, cool and talented. I only wish I was that cool in real life. I have been known to trip over my own feet and tongue.”  He credits director Rachael Rose for her patience and for being a great teacher, as singing is a new challenge for Steve: “All my cast members are so talented with so many gifts I just feel lucky to be on the same stage with them.  Singing in this show is so important to me because I want be great at something different. I've been in martial arts my whole life, I'd like to succeed at something that does not involve kicking someone in the head.”  Steve is an accomplished martial artist with over 30 years experience, and he earned his 6th Degree Blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do in 2010. Steve has also studied fight choreography at The Action Film Academy.  Steve made his Barn debut last year in A Christmas Carol after a ten-year absence from the stage. He studied acting at Washtenaw Community College and played the role of Gary in I Hate Hamlet at The State Wayne Theater.

The 1940s Radio Hour opens November 30th and runs through December 22nd.  Reserved seats for this musical comedy sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dave Reinke Finds His 1940s Alter Ego in Stage Manager Lou Cohn

Dave Reinke IS the Stage Manager, Lou Cohn

Sometimes it’s hard to play yourself on stage, but sometimes the shoe fits so well, it’s hard not to.  When Dave Reinke first heard that the Farmington Players were performing The 1940’s Radio Hour, he approached director Rachael Rose about being the stage manager.  In the past 25 years, Dave has stage managed over 30 productions including 12 at the Barn.  As Dave recalls, “Stage managing is one of my favorite jobs backstage.  In speaking to Rachael she instead encouraged me to audition for the part of Lou Cohn, the Stage Manager in the play.  In reading the script I fell in love with the character because I could relate to him.  It was basically me in the 1940s.”

Although Dave is comfortable playing a role that is so close to himself, he has developed Lou’s character and sees him as the “entrepreneur’s entrepreneur.  Big shot.  Always trying to impress Ginger, the waitress whose job here Lou is responsible for. Keeps four or five conversations going at once, and all of them straight.  The surrogate boss during rehearsals which he conducts.  Officious and obnoxious sometimes. Hardass about the seriousness of his job.”   While other characters may aspire to stardom, Dave says that “Lou has no ambitions to be anything else but stage manager. He is perfectly content with a job that has plenty of authority and no responsibility. Cues the audience, Clifton, the band, the performers, performs the sound effects, runs the lights and controls all of the stage ‘effects’.”

Like a real stage manager, Dave faces the challenge of “keeping aware of everything going on as if I was the stage manager of the show.  I also do sound effects as a stage manager for a radio show of that era would be in charge of, so I have to always be on top of things.”  The radio show setting also appealed to Dave because he studied Broadcasting at Central Michigan University and took some history of broadcasting/radio classes.  Dave loves the chance to work with this director, cast and crew, and said “It's been great working with both old and new friends.  It is such an ensemble cast.”

Dave developed his love for stage management at the Purple Rose Theatre Companies Apprenticeship program.  He has been an active member of the Barn since 2003 where he has stage managed such shows as Noises Off, The Producers, A Christmas Story and A Christmas Carol.  Dave’s acting credits include Taming of the Shrew (Barn), Moon Over Buffalo (SRO) and A Man For All Seasons (Birmingham Village Players).  He works in Customer Service for a manufacturing facility and is the proud father of Adam, Hailey, & Brianna.

The 1940s Radio Hour opens November 30th and runs through December 22nd.  Reserved seats for this musical comedy sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jim Moll Plays “Principal” Role, Onstage and Off

The show must go on! -- Jim Moll as Clifton Feddington

Jim Moll doesn’t do anything small.  From his physical presence to his booming voice, he is larger than life.  No wonder he is such a commanding authority figure, having served as an educator and high school principal for nearly 40 years in the Birmingham and Royal Oak school districts.  Jim brings this same manic energy to his role as Clifton Feddington, one of the principal characters in The 1940s Radio Hour.  Clifton is the master of ceremonies of the radio show.  He is a bundle of nervous energy before the show, but a polished performer once on the air.

As Jim describes his character, “Clifton is an old hand in show business and the driving force behind the weekly radio variety hour. He's a bit of a nudge -- gets pretty worked up before going on the air, but all things seem to settle in once the on the air lights flash. He's at home behind a microphone and, despite his overly theatric nerves, the cast does like and respect him. He cares about the performers and about the ‘boys over there.’” 

By “boys,” Jim refers to the American soldiers fighting in World War II, which is a central theme of the play.  The action takes place in New York City on December 21, 1942, and the play is reminiscent of an actual radio variety show, with songs and commercials from the World War II era, including 40’s favorites such as “Strike Up the Band” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”   The 1940s music really resonates with Jim: “I'm easily the oldest member of the cast - my dad and the rest of his family all fought in WWII.  Forties music was common in my home when I was small, and many of the folks in my generation saw this time as the last time that the country was involved in a war effort that was worth fighting.  The show is a real joy to be a part of -- the music's great, the dialog clever and funny, and my character is a wonderful guy.  I love his hammy-ness when on air and his fluidity while on microphone.  He's a good guy, basically, and he is pretty genuine.” 

While Jim seems very natural on stage as Clifton, he admits that “finding the balance between the before-air and on-air Clifton is a challenge.  He's just so nervous and reactive before he gets in front of the studio audience -- and his mania can't take over for the audience.”   Jim is certainly not shy in front of audiences, having participated for years in Farmington School community musicals.  His Farmington Players’ credits include: You Can’t Take It With You (Paul Sycamore); Leaving Iowa (Dad); The Producers  (Roger DeBris); and To Kill a Mockingbird (Walter Cunningham)
The 1940s Radio Hour opens November 30th and runs through December 22nd.  Reserved seats for this musical comedy sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers are available now at www.farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.