2022-23 season

2022-23 season

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Who’s Who in Annie: A 1930s History Lesson

FDR in 1933 (at age 51)
Annie opens this Friday at the Farmington Players, and while this holiday classic is a favorite of audiences young and old, the play is set 80 years ago in 1933.  So just as you need your playbill to know who’s who in the cast, you might not know all the historical players in this show without a program.  The following is a glossary of sorts – a list of 1930s people, places and parlance mentioned in the musical – to enhance your play-going experience. (Thanks to Karen Southworth and Jerry Gass for their contributions to this article!)

While everyone knows Franklin Delano Roosevelt (portrayed by yours truly), the members of FDR’s cabinet are not exactly household names. 
  • Cordell Hull (Charlie Gass) was FDR’s Secretary of State for 11 years.  He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his role in establishing the United Nations.   
  •  Henry Morgenthau (Mark Krumins) was FDR’s Secretary of the Treasury.  Born in NYC, he played a major role in designing and financing the New Deal.  He also shaped foreign policy and his “Morgenthau Plan” prevented Germany from ever again being a military threat.  
  • Harold L. Ickes (Jim Snideman) served as Secretary of the Interior for 13 years and was responsible for implementing much of FDR’s “New Deal.”
  • Frances Perkins (Anne Craft), Secretary of Labor, was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet, and served as Secretary of Labor for 12 years. She was largely responsible for the U.S. adoption of social security, unemployment insurance, child labor laws, and federal minimum wage.  
  • Louis Howe served as Secretary to the President, a similar role to today’s Chief of Staff.  Howe helped FDR shape the New Deal and the Civilian Conservation Corps. (In our production of Annie, Louis Howe is a woman, Louise Howe, played by Karen Southworth!)
In addition to the political figures, there are many other cultural references in Annie, including the following (source: Wikipedia) to name just a few:
  •  Beau Brummell (1778 –1840) was a fashion setter in England.  He is credited with introducing the modern men's suit, worn with a necktie. He claimed he took five hours a day to dress, and recommended that boots be polished with champagne. His style of dress is often referred to as dandyism. As Burt Healy sings, “Your clothes may be Beau Brummelly…”
  • Mickey Finn was a 1930s comic strip featuring the exploits of likable Irish-American police officer Michael Aloysius "Mickey" Finn in suburban New York, but a “Mickey Finn” also refers to a drug-laced drink (that the orphans dream of giving to Miss Hannigan).
  • Don Budge (1915-2000) was an American tennis player who was the world’s #1 player for five years in the 1930s.  Grace suggests that they get Don Budge to give Annie tennis lessons.
  • Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) was a justice of the Supreme Court of the US from 1916 to 1939.  In our production, Chris Falkowski plays the judge, who is summoned to perform Annie’s adoption ceremony.
  • Al Smith (1873-1944) was a politician who served as Governor of New York four times, but lost a 1928 presidential bid to Herbert Hoover, as regretted by the residents of Hooverville.
  • Friedrich Austerlitz, a/k/a Fred Astaire (1899-1987) was an American film and Broadway stage dancer.  In Annie, the Warbuck servants refer to “Fred and Adele.” Adele was Fred’s sister and first dance partner until she married in 1932, opening the door for his more famous dance partner Ginger Rogers.
  • Chiang Kai-shek (1887–1975) was a 20th-century Chinese political and military leader. His American-educated wife Soong May-ling was known in the United States as "Madame Chiang", who Warbucks wanted to invite to Annie’s party.
  •        Fiorello La Guardia (1882-1947) was the Mayor of NYC from 1934-45 and is described in Wikipedia as: "Irascible, energetic, and charismatic, he craved publicity and is acclaimed as one of the three or four greatest mayors in American history."  He was only five feet tall, although in "NYC" he is referred to as the "mayor five-foot-two."

The Farmington Players' production of Annie is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney, PC.  The show runs from December 13 to 29.  Tickets are sold out, but see www.farmingtonplayers.org for information on future shows.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rachel Biber Lives Her Dream Role as Miss Hannigan

Annie (Maryanna Lauter) and Molly (Hazel Ward) watch Miss Hannigan (Rachel Biber) take her "medicine"

Whether she’s dreaming about the demise of “Little Girls” or scheming with her brother against Oliver Warbucks, there’s just something about Miss Hannigan that resonates with audiences.  She plays the lady we love to hate and yet she is so good at being bad that you can almost sympathize with her at times … almost.   For Rachel Biber of Huntington Woods, playing Miss Hannigan fulfills a lifelong dream:  “I have wanted to do Annie since I first saw the movie with Carol Burnette.  While my sisters were fighting about which one of them got to play Molly or Annie, there was no discussion... I was Miss Hannigan and that was that.  This has been my dream role since I was 5 years old, and I am so thrilled to be here right now talking about this.”

Even though she is perfect for this role, it’s not easy being the bad girl sometimes.  As Rachel says, “I think what I enjoy and the most challenging aspect are one and the same.  Being a villain and being mean to those little girls is so much fun, but they are all so cute and I just adore them all. So as much fun as being allowed to yell ‘SHUT UP’ at a bunch of kids may seem, it can be very tough.”  Annie involves some physical humor between Rachel and the orphans, and at rehearsal she’s always careful to make sure that no one gets hurt.  

Despite Hannigan’s gruff exterior, Rachel is really a softie at heart, and has nothing but kind words for her cast mates: “Maryanna Lauter is wonderful as Annie, and is just such a great kid.  I’ve known her since she was tiny, and it’s so fun seeing her grow into such a talented young lady.  The cast is wonderful.  All of the little girls are fantastic and so much fun to work with, and the grownups are great too.  When I first heard Daniel Murray as Burt Healy start his bit and sing I was absolutely blown away.  I also love getting to play off of talent like Brandon Mace (Rooster) and Elizabeth Bartz (Lilly).  Every rehearsal is fun with them. We are always laughing.”

Rachel is dedicating this performance “to my sisters for being the Annie, Molly and Bundles in all of our living room performances of Annie so that I could always live the Hannigan dream, and to my mom for always being the world’s greatest audience member.”

Rachel has been involved with theater since she was 10. You may have seen her at the Barn in Barefoot in the Park (Corrie), Sweet Charity (Nikki), Gypsy (Louise), and most recently in Legally Blonde (Brooke Wyndham).  Other favorites include RENT (Joanne), A Streetcar Named Desire (Stella), Wonder of the World (Cass), and Sordid Lives (Bitsy Mae Harding). Rachel and her husband Berry are proud parents of Caleb (age 9).

The Farmington Players' production of Annie is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney, PC.  The show runs from December 13 to 29. Tickets are almost sold out and can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Third Time’s the Charm for Maryanna Lauter in Annie

Maryanna Lauter is ready to take center stage as Annie, her third time in this show
The Farmington Players’ production of Annie is a “family show” in more ways than one.  The show’s plotline centers on Annie’s search for her birth parents.  The holiday themed classic is certainly family friendly.  But perhaps the strongest family tie is the large number of direct family members who are sharing the stage. I count at least 14 relatives, mostly moms and daughters.  While it can be fun “playing” with mom, for 10 year-old Maryanna Lauter it also adds a little extra pressure. Maryanna plays the title role of Annie, and her mom Amy Lauter co-directs the show with Terie Spencer.  Maryanna admits, “I was a little worried about trying out because my mom was one of the directors.  I like it, but sometimes it's easier to take direction from Terie or other people on the Annie team” rather than her Mom.  

This is Maryanna's third time in Annie, previously appearing in the orphan chorus, and then as Molly (while Amy played Grace in both productions).  Her familiarity with the show definitely helped prepare her for her first title role (“This time I really was hoping to be Annie!”) but Maryanna has really been preparing her whole life to take center stage.  As Amy recalls, “Maryanna has been singing since she was very little ... but I distinctly remember when her ‘light bulb’ went off and she knew it was something she was good at. At age 5 or 6, she worked on music for auditions for Gypsy here at the Barn. She was singing kind of softly, and then the ‘Mama Rose’ in me told her to sing out. She belted it out in our living room, and I remember her saying, "I didn't know I could do that!" She is getting such an early start; I know if she continues to work hard she will achieve so much. I am very proud of her and look forward to seeing the audience react to her.”

My own opinion is that audiences will be blown away to hear such a powerful voice coming from such a “little girl.” Just like Annie, Maryanna’s contagious optimism will win people over. As she says, “I LOVE theatre and music! I hope to be on Broadway one day!” She likes that “Annie is very optimistic - she can turn anything from bad to good!”  Maryanna can also relate to the play’s “message of love, because pretty much everyone ‘falls in love’ with Annie. Ironically, Daddy Warbucks, who at the beginning of the show is not so sure about Annie, by the end he loves her so much he adopts her.”

Maryanna also has kind words for her fellow cast mates: “I just love Rachel Biber who plays Miss Hannigan. She gets to be mean to me in the show and I absolutely hate her in the show, which is the total opposite of real life. Also Dorne LeFere, Daddy Warbucks, is just wonderful. He is so silly in real life during rehearsals, and it's fun to goof around with him. Shannon Groves who plays Grace Farrell and I have so much in common - I love talking to her. She has such a pretty voice too! And all of the orphans are so nice and Hazel Ward is the cutest Molly ever. I love working with all the orphans and it is very fun to be on stage with all of them. We didn't even know each other before and now we are all such good friends.”

The Farmington Players' production of Annie is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney, PC.  The show runs from December 13 to 29. Tickets are going fast and can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nomadic Mace Family Feels at Home in Annie

Lily Mace as Tessie
Brandon Mace as Rooster

Nine year-old Lily Mace plays the orphan Tessie in the Farmington Players’ production of Annie.   Lily said, “I know how it feels to not have a place to call home.  Since my Dad is in the Army we have had to move around a lot.  I just turned nine and have already lived in Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and now Michigan!”

Lily’s Dad is Brandon Mace, who portrays the villain Rooster Hannigan in Annie.  Brandon said, “We have a home in North Carolina but don't really call anyplace home.”  The Maces are a military family and are here on orders in Michigan for three years.  While it is hard to put down roots, Brandon and Lily “wanted to find a show to do together that was close to where we lived, where we could sing and dance and have a great time.  Lily and I have done theatre separately but now we finally get to be in the same show!  It has been fun to go to rehearsals together and can't wait until the show begins.”

Brandon is an experienced performer and loves his role as the cocky Rooster, saying, “I have played a lot of good/nice guys, so it is fun to play an over the top, ridiculous bad guy.”  For her part, Lily exclaimed with Tessie’s signature line: “Oh my goodness! … This role is so much fun to play.  This is my first community theatre show and that makes it a challenge but I am learning so much and look forward to doing more shows.”

Brandon described Annie as a “classic show that you just can't go wrong with:  Good story, good music and 100% family oriented.”  He can personally relate to Annie’s optimism despite personal hardship: “I think Annie is about looking on the bright side and making the most of what life deals you.  Life is tough for a lot of people today; this show reminds us how important it is to hope for what tomorrow can bring and then get us out there to make it happen!”

Brandon also met his wife Krissi in the theater so it is definitely a family affair.  Brandon has performed professionally in the Washington DC area and locally with the Spotlight Players and Dearborn Theater Guild.  Lily loves dance and takes classes at Center Stage in Northville and has recently started voice lessons. 

The Farmington Players' production of Annie is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney, PC.  The show runs from December 13 to 29. Tickets are going fast and can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Come Explore Your Dark Side at Assassins Auditions

In Assassins, Stephen Sondheim delves into the minds of the nine men and women who have attempted to assassinate the President of the United States. The show uses the premise of a murderous carnival game to produce a revue-style portrayal of these assassins while also analyzing the promise and failure of the American Dream.  Auditions are this Sunday November 10th @ 1PM (Registration 12:30PM) at the Farmington Players Barn Theater (with possible call-backs on Monday November 11th @7PM).  See full details in the casting notice at: http://www.farmingtonplayers.org/documents/Castingnotice_v3_WEB.PDF and musical cuts on the homepage at http://www.farmingtonplayers.org/

As Director Michael Smith says, "Besides the challenges of singing Sondheim, Assassins provides a unique opportunity for an actor to play a dramatic historical character. I want to help each actor to develop living, breathing personas of iconic villains from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald and we've pulled together a crack team of production personnel to make that happen."

So, what makes a good bad guy?  In her online essay, The Art of Playing a Villain, Astra Poyser provides some great insights:

“The truth is, maybe we're not so different from the ‘bad guys’ after all. And that's really what makes a good villain -- someone you can relate to -- someone whose motives you understand. I can't stand the ‘oh, he's insane and chaotically evil’ excuse; madness is rarely played realistically, and too often it just seems like a justification for whatever behavior appeals to a player at a given moment. Villains have their reasons for doing what they do, and many of them may not even think of themselves as ‘villainous.’  Villains have their own dreams and ambitions; their problem is that they don't give much thought to who they have to trample on to get there. They're selfish that way, but some of them have redeeming qualities, as well. And that is another key to playing a well-rounded, interesting, multi-faceted character. Don't make 'em just purely evil -- throw a little light into the shadows.  They may have their own code of morals, skewed as they are. They may have honor and integrity -- just not when it comes to the "right" issues. They may be capable of great love and compassion -- but just not for people as a whole. And it's the little things, really, that set a good villain apart from all those cardboard cutouts that seem to exist merely to twist their mustaches and mutter, ‘Coises, foiled again!’  Give your villain depth, and vulnerability, and aspirations, and charisma -- give him a *personality*. You may find that the experience is more rewarding than you imagined.”  (Excerpts above;  for full article, go to http://www.topmudsites.com/article05.shtml)

The real life assassins (and their intended targets) are:

·       John Wilkes Booth: (President Abraham Lincoln)
·       Charles Guiteau: (President James Garfield)
·       Leon Czolgosz: (President William McKinley)
·       Giuseppe Zangara: (President-elect Franklin Roosevelt)
·       Lee Harvey Oswald: (President John F. Kennedy)
·       Samuel Byck: (President Richard Nixon)
·       John Hinckley: (President Ronald Reagan)
·       Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme: (President Gerald Ford)
·       Sara Jane Moore: (President Gerald Ford)

The Farmington Players' production of Assassins is proudly sponsored by Center for Financial Planning, Inc.  The show runs February 14 through March 1, 2014. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

For a Bloody Good Time, Call Dracula

Need something fun to do on Halloween?  Come to the Farmington Players Barn Theater prior to the Halloween night performance of Dracula!  Ticket-holding patrons to that night’s show may enter the costume contest judged by “Sara” of “The Stoney & Bill Show” on 97.1 FM The Ticket. The winner will receive a Visa Card worth $50.  Contest starts at 7:00 and curtain is at 8:00.

Even if you don’t want to dress up, you’ll still be in for a bloody good time. “Yes, there will be blood!” said technical director Keith Janoch. “We are brewing up blood recipes” for various scenes.” In addition to blood, Janoch said, “we are touching all avenues of effects: Electronics, glowing eyes, plumbing to duct fog around the stage, flame effects, and of course, lighting.”  Janoch’s background as a mechanical engineer prepared him well for the technical challenges posed by Dracula, but he confesses that he got his start with electronics “as a kid doing haunted houses in the basement!”

The Farmington Players' production of Dracula is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  The show’s final three performances are October 31, November 1, and November 2. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Count Dracula May Suck, But This Dracula Certainly Won’t! (Guy Knows Why)

Guy Copland as Professor Abraham Van Helsing
with the madman Renfield (Gary Weinstein, seated)
"Believe in what you cannot. That is the essence of faith. To accept what cannot be proven." So says Professor Abraham Van Helsing, who tries to get others to see the truth, even if it requires them to believe in what they cannot see.  Guy Copland plays Van Helsing in the Farmington Players production of Dracula, which opens this Friday October 2nd.  Guy describes Van Helsing as a “philosopher and metaphysician who is ahead of his times. The most advanced scientist of his day, he knows more about obscure diseases than anyone in the world. He is noble, worldly, and has studied Count Dracula for many years. And thus, knows of his secret and that vampires do exist.”

Despite this superior knowledge, Van Helsing tries to convey his message in a manner that allows others to find the truth.  As Guy says, “He knows more than anyone else. Yet, he is humble by all means and not arrogant at all. Just a man who can see things not only as they are, but as what they could be, and goes about his business like any other person. Mainly because the world isn't ready for some truths. … He answers a question with a question, or a riddle, in a way to help whomever he is speaking with realize for themselves the obvious answer, which is something that is not usually normally accepted or excepted. As Van Helsing says, ‘I have learned not to belittle anyone's beliefs - no matter how strange - for it is not the ordinary things which close our minds, but the extraordinary things. Those mysteries on the fringe of our thinking.’" 

Guy can relate to the mysteries of Dracula from some extraordinary personal experiences, including “the fact that I did see a UFO not once but twice in the same night over a car factory one October many years ago, and have seen, heard, and felt the presence of ghosts when I worked at The Phoenix Theater back in the early 1980's. … I guess the fact that I have indeed seen, heard, and do believe all my encounters to hold true, is the same as Van Helsing who knows of vampires and their existence, yet doesn't parade around telling people about them. After all, there are a great many people would think us mad for doing so.”

Guy speaks glowingly of his “top drawer” cast mates: “Meredith Deighton (Mina), who is a delight to work with, David Galido (Dr. Seward) who is perfect in his role, and Gary Weinstein who creates an absolutely memorable madman as Renfield.”  Guy is no stranger to professorial roles, having last graced the Barn stage as Professor Horace Gilmer in To Kill A Mockingbird.  Guy is also a talented voice actor (see his website at www.motorcityvoiceover.com).

The Farmington Players' production of Dracula is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  The show runs October 11 through November 2. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Meredith Deighton Is a Ray of Light in Delightfully Dark Dracula

Meredith Deighton (Mina) comforts Keith Firstenberg (Harker)

“This Dracula is dark. It's sexy. It's full of mind-blowing effects and I couldn't be more ecstatic to be working on this particular version.”  So says Meredith Deighton, who plays Mina in the Farmington Players production of Dracula.  Meredith had no interest in playing in a “campy” Dracula, saying, “I was hesitant when I saw the audition notice, thinking it would be more along those lines.” But director John Boufford assured her that his Dracula would be very faithful to Bram Stoker’s original, right down to the last bloody detail. 

Boufford also used the image of a duck – calm on the surface, paddling like hell under the water – to describe her character.  As Meredith says, “There is an innate calm about Mina. Even in her darkest hour, she remains steadfast, calm and hopeful. She is referred to as a ‘light’ by several characters in the show. I absolutely agree she is a light. She has this wonderful juxtaposition about her in that she has this ethereal aura, yet I feel is one of the most grounded characters in the show.”

To find the strength she needs to play this role, Meredith recalls a quote by the great actor Meryl Streep, who once said, “acting isn't about being someone different. It's finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.”  Like Meryl, Meredith “tries to find bits of myself in every role I play. The challenge for me in playing Mina will be tapping into my inner warrior – the fearless, yet grounded part of myself – and put that into my character.”

While Meredith is making her Barn debut in Dracula, she is certainly no stranger to theater.  Meredith tours the midwest nine months out of the year with the Michigan Shakespeare Festival's productions of Romeo and Juliet (as Juliet) and Macbeth.  She also performs at Performance Network in their Children's Network series show Big Bully (Betty). She has worked professionally in several local and regional theaters, and her film credits include All of My Friends on Barrett Street (Kelsey) and Five Year Engagement (Thanksgiving guest).

The Farmington Players' production of Dracula is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  The show runs October 11 through November 2. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rick Mickley Feels the Burn as Dracula

Jen Beitzel as Lucy is no match for Rick Mickley as Dracula
Rick Mickley is no stranger to pain. As a former athlete, he has had two knee surgeries, a hip replacement, a screwed together shoulder, a triple hernia, ankylosing spondylitis (a painful spinal condition) and various broken bones.  And yet as a track coach at West Bloomfield High School, he has to demonstrate proper technique to his student athletes and overcome his own pain and physical limitations to help them imagine what is possible.

By playing through the pain, Rick has tapped into a source of strength that will serve him well in the title role of Dracula.  As Rick explains, “I have to show my students how to put the shot, throw the discus, and pass the baton. And to teach them that while they are standing still, life is going on and will pass them by, so enjoy each hard-working, sweat-pouring, funny, happy moment, even every minute experience, because life is pressure, and a ‘Dracula’ could come at any second and take it all away. I'm grasping Dracula and encouraging all my athletes to come, because it's about me overcoming my physical obstacles to make it the most enjoyable experience for the audience that I can.”

Rick is no stranger to the Farmington Players stage, having most recently played the admirable Sheriff Heck Tate in To Kill A Mockingbird. But this time he seems to relish playing the bad guy – and being the one inflicting pain – saying, “Dracula is about power and control and good versus evil. Life is about striving to do your best to overcome obstacles and to not let the bad guy get in your way or get you down. Very few people want to be controlled and told what to do. Dracula is like ‘Big Brother’ and is always watching you and knowing what you're doing at all times.”  Plus, there’s the whole immortality thing that’s appealing: “This guy is immortal and he has haunted and preyed upon millions of people for centuries. The challenge is going to be making Dracula my own, after he has been played by some of the greatest actors of all time. Vampires are still huge, and Dracula is the greatest of them all!” 

The Farmington Players' production of Dracula is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  The show runs October 11 through November 2. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

David Galido Finds His Focal Point: Fear of Loss

David Galido explores the depths of Dr. John Seward
David Galido has travelled all over the world as a logistics officer in the United States Air Force, but the journeys that he finds most intriguing are those inside the human mind.  In the Farmington Players production of Dracula, David plays Dr. John Seward, the head of a lunatic asylum, suitor to Miss Lucy Westenra, and former pupil of Professor Van Helsing.  David astutely analyzes his own character as follows: “Seward is dealing with loss almost from the moment we meet him, and that loss only grows greater as the story unfolds.  It is also fun to examine the question: what kind of a man is it that chooses to work with madmen as his life's ambition.  Seward is playing pretty close to edge of his own humanity as we see in his interactions with Renfield, his pet project in the asylum.  And as the supernatural events of the play continue to grow more fantastical around him, Seward often loses his grip on the mask of control he shows the world.  Playing Seward gives me the chance to explore some intense emotions – anguish, bitterness, depression, rage, jealousy, fear.”

David also likes how Dracula explores the juxtaposition of good and bad within each character: “Even our ‘heroes’ have these secrets within them that they're holding back from each other.  Most of the characters have to deal with some kind of battle between their ‘good’ self – prim and proper behavior, being upstanding citizens with high values and faith in God and what is right – versus their ‘bad’ self – animalistic, desirous, a hunger for power, life, sex, whatever form that might take.”  The very thought that “a creature is out there, draining your life from you, taking your personhood and transforming you into something else – something, I don’t want to say ‘demonic’, but purely animalistic, is a scary thought.  And if you are turned, then you will be the instrument of your loved ones downfall as well.  It’s a fascinating world to play in.”

Even if you are not struggling with your own inner demons, David thinks that there are some universal truths that will resonate with all audience members:  “All of the characters in Dracula are afraid of losing something – their lives, their sanity, their loved ones, their power, their souls, their chance at immortality.  I think that's the theme I relate most strongly to in this play – that of loss – the fear of losing those that you love the most.  I, like most people, have had to deal with the loss of family, friends, other loved ones.  Hopefully, I can channel my personal experiences into my performance.”

Originally from Novi, David majored in Theatre at Albion College, and theater-related pursuits have taken him to Denmark, NYC, Ohio, and Los Angeles.

The Farmington Players' production of Dracula is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  The show runs October 11 through November 2. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Jennifer Beitzel Fears No Evil … and That's Scary!

Jennifer Beitzel plays good-girl-gone-bad, Lucy Westenra
Jennifer Beitzel knows more than you might think about the struggle between good and evil.  Not that she’s a “bad girl”, but it’s a bit unnerving to learn that her biggest challenge in playing Lucy Westenra in Dracula “is not so much playing vampire Lucy, as it is playing human Lucy. You'd think it would be easier playing a human, but because - in my own experience - I feel I'm quite a bit more worldly than Lucy, it is a constant challenge to reel myself back to a very naive, almost child-like state of mind.” 

Jennifer is a newcomer to the Farmington Players, but she’s about to make a big entrance as Mina’s friend Lucy.  As Jennifer describes her character, Lucy is “transformed from a young woman with her whole life ahead of her to a bloodthirsty vampire. What I like most about playing Lucy is the dramatic transformation that takes place within her. She is on the losing side of a battle between innocence and malevolence, and being able to play both ends of the spectrum is very exciting!” 

Jennifer was drawn to this production because it is more closely based on Bram Stoker's original novel, which she has loved since she was a teenager.  She also prefers Tod Browning's 1931 film version of Dracula to the newer campier portrayals.  Jennifer thinks audiences will be drawn to this particular version of Dracula because “it pushes the envelope with the audience's - and at times, the actors' - comfort level. There are scenes that, even in these first few rehearsals, are a bit unnerving. It's these lingering, silent moments - when the viewers aren't sure what's going to happen next - that will make your skin crawl and send shivers down your spine. Also, lots of chivalry and blood, which is always fun!” 

In drawing on her own experience while studying for her role, Jennifer can “definitely relate to the battle between salvation and damnation on a more earthly level. I have been witness to some of those closest to me struggling with addiction or personal demons. Because I'm playing Lucy, I have to put myself in their shoes and look at the struggle from a different point of view. Lucy has to experience the fear of the unknown and then being pushed headfirst into it. It's both intriguing and terrifying at the same time!”

Prior to her Barn debut, Jennifer worked with Spotlight Players in Canton as choreographer for Hairspray, Barnum, and My Fair Lady. She is also director of the Luna Dancers in Royal Oak.  Her onstage roles at Schoolcraft College include Romeo & Juliet, Marat/Sade, and Shakespeare in Hollywood. She works on her own local non-profit arts center for disadvantaged youth called the Metropolitan Center for the Arts, Inc.

The Farmington Players' production of Dracula is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  The show runs October 11 through November 2. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Face Your Fear: Dracula Auditions Are Near!

Count Dracula is ageless, capable of appearing both old and young.  Like his character, Dracula as art has multiple incarnations, having been adapted for stage and screen since the 1920s.  There are even some campy Dracula musicals!  But when the Farmington Players stage Steven Dietz’s 1996 faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, it will be timeless, dark and terrifying.  And bloody!

Dracula will kick off our 2013-14 season and will also be the first show to be performed on our new stage floor.  The floor’s trap door will contribute to the many special effects that director John Boufford and technical director Keith Janoch have planned for this production, which adds to the intrigue and fear factor.  

Key characters with age range and accents (which are helpful but optional at auditions) include:  

DRACULA (ageless), needs no introduction, but gets to say lines with a Transylvanian accent, such as:  "I want your fear. For your fear, like a current, rushes through your body. Your fear makes your heart pound, it renders your veins rich and full. Your fear hemorrhages deliciously within you."  

LUCY (20’s; British). A hopeless romantic admired by many suitors. Best friends with Mina, and a victim of Dracula’s seduction. 

JONATHAN HARKER (20’s to early 30’s; British). Fiancé of Mina. A young attorney sent to Dracula for a nefarious purpose. 

MINA (20’s; British). The true heroine of the story. Jonathan’s fiancé. 

VAN HELSING (Late 30’s to 50’s; Dutch). A professor well versed in the dark arts. 

JAMES SEWARD (20’s to 30’s; British). One of Lucy’s suitors who attempts to save her life. 

RENFIELD (30’s-50’s). Multiple Accents. Actor must be able to go from raging extremes to intense calm. He is the narrator of the story, and the one who understands every other character although he is deemed the lunatic. 

Those brave enough to face their fears and audition should appear at the Barn Theater on Sunday, August 11th (Registration at 12:30; Auditions start at 1:00.) Mandatory rehearsals are September 29 and October 6, 7, 8, 9.  Show dates are October 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 31 (yes, on Halloween!) and November 1, 2.

For audition sides, go to the website at www.farmingtonplayers.org. Send questions to johnboufford@gmail.com.  Other key members of the production team include assistant director Alisha Gellin and co-producers Kristi Schwartz and Laurel Stroud.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Meet the Candidates! Members to Elect Board at Annual Meeting on June 22

All Farmington Players members should plan to vote for the Board of Directors.  Elections will be held at the annual meeting on Saturday June 22nd at the Barn.   Absentee ballots are available (instructions in the latest edition of Barnstorms).  Five candidates (including two incumbents*) are running for four spots.  As printed in Barnstorms, here are your Board candidates in alphabetical order. (Apologies for outdated photos):

Maureen Mansfield* joined the Farmington Players in 1996, and in the years since she has served on almost every  committee and chaired several, including casting, 50-50, and props. Right now she is having a blast on the Ticket/Box  Office Committee. She is currently serving on the board as Director of Building, taking care of our beloved Barn. Her  theater credits are too long and varied to list but she is very active on both sides of the stage, directing and acting and she just produced the blockbuster Legally Blonde. Maureen was so proud to be named our 2009 Torchbearer! She would  love to continue her work on our Board and hopes you will vote for her!

David Reinke: I have been a member of the Farmington Players for the past 10 years and it has been an amazing  experience. I have had the pleasure of working directly with over 25 Barn Productions in a variety of different positions  including sound, lighting, producing, stage manager, & as a cast member. Next season I am hitting the ground running by  Stage Managing Dracula & Co-Producing Annie with Jill Jones. I have seen the Barn grow so much in my 10 years here  and am proud to be a part of this great organization. I believe my leadership experience, drive, and determination make  me an excellent candidate for the Board of Directors. If elected I look forward to the challenges and rewards that come  with making crucial decisions that help make the Farmington Players the continued success that it is.  

Kristi Schwartz has been an active member for eight years. Since 2005 debut in Comic Potential Kristi has been  involved in all facets of the barn. She served as props chair on Pagans and Moon Over Buffalo, and worked props and  hair on Guys and Dolls and Whose Wives... She co-produced Escanaba in Da Moonlight, Chapter Two, and Gypsy.  Other stage roles have included Oklahoma, Over the River and Through the Woods, and A Funny Thing Happened on  the Way to the Forum. She had her assistant directorial debut with It’s a Wonderful Life. And Kristi has also done lobby  decorations, served on the play reading committee, and choreography. For next season, she has signed up to co-produce  Dracula and to choreograph Assassins. When Kristi is not at the Farmington Players Barn, she enjoys spending time with  her family in Canton. Keith, her husband, and three children (Colin, Allie, and Drew) are a constant joy! Kristi is a teacher at Bentley Elementary School.  

Laurel Stroud* has been member of the Farmington Players for 10 years and Board Director, of Communications for the  past two. She has been a part of many Barn, productions, serving in various roles; including producer, assistant director,  and props chair, and has been blessed to be onstage many times. Laurel has, enjoyed her stint on the board and hopes  to continue serving this great group.  

Tony Targan has been a member since 2011 and has felt at home since he first set foot on the Barn stage as Carmen  Ghia in The Producers. Since then he has also appeared onstage in A Christmas Carol, Whose Wives Are They Anyway? and Legally Blonde, the Musical. Tony has contributed backstage as assistant director in To Kill A Mockingbird, as coproducer ofThe Dixie Swim Club, and with props in Rabbit Hole. Tony’s biggest role has been with marketing and  publicity, as he has been a prolific writer of articles and blog posts. His newspaper articles featuring Barn productions  have appeared in the Farmington Observer, Oakland Press, and Detroit Jewish News. And his Playing The Barn blog –  with over 16,000 hits on his 79 posts – has profiled cast members in all Barn productions since Mockingbird. If elected,  Tony plans to continue his marketing and publicity efforts and would like to use the Barn’s newsletter (Barnstorms) and  website to archive more of the Farmington Players’ illustrious history. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Amy Poirier Gets a Gold Star as Endearing Paulette

Amy Poirier plays Paulette, the lovable hairdresser 

Although she’s last in order of appearance, Amy Poirier’s Paulette is first in the hearts of most audience members who’ve seen Legally Blonde, the Musical at the Farmington Players.  Amy describes Paulette as “Elle’s confidante, a lonely-heart hairdresser with a hilariously left-field obsession with Ireland. Paulette is brash and funny and longs to find a man for herself.” Like Elle, Paulette “relates to being hit by the negative wave created by a guy in her life. Elle and Paulette support and encourage each other throughout the show, becoming each other’s champion and instant best friends.”

Amy has great chemistry with Heather Dolan (Elle): “Working with Heather has been amazing – she is a true professional, a lot of fun, and extremely talented.”  Amy also has cool karma with Michael Rose, who plays Kyle, her love interest.  Amy’s favorite scene is “definitely ‘Bend and Snap’ – I just love that entire scene, from first meeting Kyle the UPS guy to the big dance number with Elle and the Greek chorus. It’s such an empowering moment for Paulette.” Being true to oneself is the central theme of Legally Blonde.  As Amy observes, “When you look beyond the stereotypes, the comically witty dialogue, and the occasional use of legal jargon, the audience will find that Legally Blonde is about one thing: Being yourself and never letting others knock you down because of it. The message is: I just need to be who I am. I don’t have to be like this person or like that person. And if they don’t like me, well, then that’s too bad. I’m going to still be who I want to be. For myself, this is a lesson that has come with experience and age. That’s what strikes a chord with the audience and with me personally.”
While Amy seems perfectly cast as Paulette, she found it challenging to play someone who is so insecure, saying, “in most areas of my life I’m pretty confident and sure about what I want, who I am, and the people I want to surround myself with.”  Amy has done a great job of contrasting Paulette's vulnerabilities with her strengths.  In the course of ‘Bend and Snap’ alone, Paulette transitions from “being unsure about herself and not thinking she has anything to offer to being loud and brash and funny. She has so many hilarious lines in the show. Paulette is an unforgettable character role that the audience can’t help but fall in love with her and root for her throughout the show.”
Amy’s other onstage roles at the Barn include Mazeppa in Gypsy, Shirley Markowitz and others in The Producers, and Ronette in Little Shop of Horrors. Amy works as an engineer at GM and is a very busy mom of three amazing kids. The Farmington Players' production of Legally Blonde, the Musical is sponsored by TruVista Wealth Advisors.  The show opened April 26 and runs through May 18. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.