2022-23 season

2022-23 season

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rachel Biber Gets Whipped into Shape in Legally Blonde

Being a "fitness nut" helps Rachel Biber play cardio queen Brooke Wyndham

As a cast member in Legally Blonde, the Musical, I can attest to the fact that we have all been seduced, in different ways, by this show.  Whether it is the music, Elle’s contagious enthusiasm, or the empowerment theme, this show just draws you in and makes you want to sing along.  But for most people, cast, crew and audience members alike, the first Legally Blonde movie is the common bond.  Everyone knows and loves the movie, right? Well, maybe not at first blush.

Rachel Biber was not exactly a fan of the movie at first, but she had an interesting reason to go see it.  As she explains, “When the movie first came out, the only incentive I had to see it was that my sister's roommate at U of M was Jessica Cauffiel, the actor who played Margot. So, with hesitation, I went with my younger sister to the movie theater.”   Despite her initial reluctance, Rachel said that Jessica was “fabulous, and I was so happy to see a movie about overcoming stereotypes of ALL kinds, and loving each other exactly the way we are.  A fantastic explosion of pink independent girliness.  Fun AND a good message ... a true rarity.” 

In our production, Rachel plays Brooke Wyndham, who she describes as “the uber ambitious fitness queen, falsely accused and on trial for killing her husband.  I enjoy Brooke because she (like Elle) believes in herself and in the goodness of people. At the same time she will not be pushed around or taken advantage of.  She's a little scary, and I like that.”  Rachel’s biggest challenge to playing Brooke?  “Two words ... Jump Ropes!  Synchronized jump ropes at that, and singing while doing high impact cardio is quite a challenge as well.  Luckily I’m a fitness nut and I LOVE anything active and physical – running, dancing, yoga – if it involves sweating, I’m there.”  Rachel also loves the “upbeat and uplifting theme of the musical ... even though I never have been a sorority girl.”

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), and Gypsy (Louise).  Other favorites include RENT (Joanne), A Streetcar Named Desire (Stella), Wonder of the World (Cass), and Sordid Lives (Bitsy Mae Harding).  When not onstage, Rachel works at home in Huntington Woods as a nanny and she and her husband Berry are proud parents of Caleb (age 8).

The Farmington Players' production of Legally Blonde, the Musical is sponsored by TruVista Wealth Advisors.  The show opens 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.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Joelle Schade Steps to a Girl Power Beat in Legally Blonde

Joelle getting her kicks at rehearsal
Whether she’s jumping rope or demonstrating how to do the “Bend and Snap,” Joelle Schade brings energy and enthusiasm to all her roles as a member of the ensemble in Legally Blonde, the Musical.  Joelle’s commitment to her craft is apparent at rehearsal, as she is always thinking ahead to the next move or practicing a dance step.  You can just see the wheels spinning and know that she won’t be satisfied until she nails it, but her relentless pursuit of perfection makes everyone around her better.

As a company member, Joelle believes that “my role is to introduce depth to each scene in which I appear.  I particularly enjoy my ensemble role in Legally Blonde because of all of the amazing dance numbers. Any time I get to perform this many high energy dance routines, I'm there!”   Joelle commitment to dance is admirable given that she has had numerous foot and knee surgeries, but she admits that “the only real challenge for me has been Whipped into Shape – it's hard to re-learn how to jump rope as an adult!”  Her other roles in the show include Harvard Student, Hair Affair Cashier, and Court Stenographer.

Beyond the dancing, Joelle really enjoys being in Legally Blonde because, as she says, “I love the ‘girl power’ theme of the show.  I 100% support the message that women need to take control of their own destinies and not rely on a man to give them the life they desire. Don't get me wrong -- I love my husband Jeff but at the end of the day it's very empowering to know that I'm with him because I WANT to be and not because I HAVE to be.  It's a message I've tried to instill in my daughters even from their current young ages (Alexandra 8, and Nicolette 5).”

Despite being a sure-footed dancer, Joelle kind of stumbled into acting after completing her MBA from Wayne State in 2010.  As an incentive to get through the rigorous academic program, she promised herself that upon graduation, she'd do something “just because I love it.”  As she tells it, “I had no idea that community theater would be that outlet for me, but a well-timed wrong turn on 12 Mile had me staring at the marquee announcing Gypsy auditions at the Barn.  I have been hooked ever since!”   Joelle performs about one show a year and has also played Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray with the Park Players in Detroit and an ensemble role in The Producers at the Dearborn Players Guild. 

The Farmington Players' production of Legally Blonde, the Musical is sponsored by TruVista Wealth Advisors.  The show opens 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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Like Vivienne, Jamee Perryman Stands Up For Herself

Jamee Perryman plays the multifaceted Vivienne

Legally Blonde, the Musical, has the high-octane energy of a cheerleading competition, but while many characters fit sorority girl stereotypes, there’s more depth to some than meets the eye.  Other than Elle Woods, the character that changes the most during the play is Vivienne Kensington, who starts out as Elle’s rival for Warner’s attentions.

Jamee Perryman plays Vivienne, who she describes as “one of the strongest, most independent women I have ever had the privilege of playing.  She knows what she wants and goes for it, never giving thought to who she is stepping on in the process.  I really enjoy playing a strong woman, especially because she goes on a journey to discover her more sensitive side.”   While Jamee also loves Vivienne’s cynicism, she finds it a challenge to “keep a straight face during her sarcastic moments, which happen quite often.  I am sarcastic naturally, so that helps, but it will definitely be a struggle to stay in character, especially with this hilarious cast!”  (One of my favorite zingers is when Vivienne asks Elle, “Aren’t there girls going wild somewhere without you?”)

On a more personal note, Jamee can really relate to the play’s lessons about first impressions and female empowerment:  “My entire life I was judged on how I look.  I wasn't blonde, just big.  I got looked over for parts, jobs, even dates because of my size.  Elle's journey in this show should be a real empowering thing for many women.  I have since developed a healthier style, but the way I felt back then has stuck with me, and has made me a much better person.  I also think that the idea of getting backbone applies to my life.  Paulette spends the whole show gaining confidence and finally stands up to the person that has been walking all over her.  I was a lot like that when I was younger.  If you ask my friends and family now, I am the exact opposite.”

Jamee has wanted to do Legally Blonde for years, and although it has some “intense, emotional moments, as a whole, the show is pure fun.  If you don't leave dancing out of the theatre, we are doing something wrong.”  Jamee works as a middle school choir teacher in St. Clair Shores and lives in Clawson with her husband Scott.  Some of her favorite roles include Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Rusty in Footloose, and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof

The Farmington Players' production of Legally Blonde, the Musical is sponsored by TruVista Wealth Advisors.  The show opens 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.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Roy Sexton Plays a Shark in Prof’s Clothing in Legally Blonde

Roy Sexton as the morally dubious Professor Callahan

Back when I was a law student, I had a few professors that took particular glee in inflicting their own sadistic version of the Socratic method on their students.  They would answer every question with another question and try to get the student to paint herself into an intellectual corner, just to watch her squirm.  But none of them were quite as evil as Professor Callahan, the pompous, scheming villain in Legally Blonde, the Musical, who encourages his students to acquire a taste for “Blood in the Water” if they want to become successful lawyers.

In our production, Roy Sexton, a theater veteran making his Farmington Players’ debut, plays Callahan.  Roy describes his character as follows: “Callahan is technically the villain of the piece I suppose, but not in a malevolent, Snidely Whiplash way, but more of a postmodern, stealth villain. He is the preening, self-important teacher or boss many have had the misfortune of experiencing once or twice in their lives…but here’s the thing: he actually thinks he is making his students better.”  While Roy enjoys playing the bad guy, he says it is challenging to find that “balance between loathing and admiration, repulsion and likeability. I haven’t played too many ‘bad guys’ to this point, so I am really thrilled at trying to figure out the right chord to strike.” 

Roy loves the “rampant silliness” of Legally Blonde, but was drawn to the show more for its underdog story.  As he says, “An underdog who doesn’t know he or she is an underdog always really appeals to me. Elle Woods is a character who has connected all the dots in her life as she thought they were laid out before her … and has come up empty handed. She bought into this cruddy ‘princess’ culture stuff and finds out there is no prince charming, no reward … and then she doubles down and STILL tries to make the fantasy work. She is rejected by the supposed nerds that she would have stomped her Jimmy Choos [designer shoes] on in Cali, and then sees that there is all this untapped intellectual potential in herself. I adore that. At some level, I have been both the underdog and the insider at different times in my life, and I think I like being the underdog more … it motivates you, it connects you, it gives you empathy.”

Although he is new to the Barn, Roy enjoys the “wonderful sense of collaboration and camaraderie here that is rare and special.” Roy co-founded his own theatre company in Ann Arbor – The Penny Seats (www.pennyseats.org) – and had the lead role Georg Nowack in last summer's production of She Loves Me.  When not on stage, Roy works as vice president of marketing and planning for Trott & Trott, PC, a real estate law firm in Metro Detroit.

The Farmington Players' production of Legally Blonde, the Musical is sponsored by TruVista Wealth Advisors.  The show opens 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.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Do You Hear the People Sing? Membership Meeting Features Musical Workshop

Farmington Players’ members are in for a real treat on Saturday, March 16th.  After the membership business meeting that evening ends around 8:30, a musical workshop extravaganza will take center stage at the Barn, featuring songs from Les Mis, West Side Story, Wicked, Cabaret and other classics performed by fellow Barn members, including workshop co-directors Taylor Alfano and Rachael Rose.   

Several months in preparation, the workshop is Rachael’s brainchild: “The dream for me for doing this workshop was to basically say to the membership of The Farmington Players: if you've ever been too afraid to do anything like a musical; or if you've just been out of the saddle for too long; or if you're just a performance junkie ... come join us as we put together a performance that will teach the basics of how to read music, how to prepare and audition for a musical, and be inclusive of all elements of performing a musical. I wanted to keep the membership engaged and really teach them the skills and build their confidence for auditioning for musicals, especially at the Barn.  I think we've met this goal for sure because of the 11 people out of the workshop that auditioned for Legally Blonde, eight were cast, so that's really huge!”

Long-time member Karen Southworth talks about the evolution of musicals at the Barn: “Back in the 90's, the Farmington Players began doing musicals again. If you wanted to be in the chorus, you just had to sing in a small group. Now, we are doing musicals every year and even ensemble parts are more competitive. Through the workshop, I have learned to sight read music, sing harmony, learned about my own vocal range, and gained confidence! I wanted to be able to have the courage to sing a solo for an audition, and I did that for Legally Blonde ... And was cast! It has been a lot of fun, and I have so many new friends. Rachael and Taylor have given us so much encouragement, and the workshop members have also been very supportive!

New member Barb Bruno echoes this sentiment: “I joined the workshop when I joined the Farmington Players.  I hadn't done any singing in over fifteen years so it seemed like a great way not only to get to know Barn members, but also to get back into music.  This interlude of getting my feet wet has developed into more than I could have imagined!”  In fact, Barb recently showed off her vocal talents in Ruthless!, the Barn’s entry at Michigan AACTFest.

Similarly, Dave Reinke said, “the workshop has helped me better understand my vocal range and give me more confidence as a performer.  In the past I would never bother auditioning for a musical cause I never felt confident in my ability as a singer.  Working with Rachael and Taylor has given me that confidence.”

Jill Heffron had the best analogy: “Singing is sort of like golf ... a whole bunch of bad shots, then a moment of brilliance that makes you know you are capable (and keeps you coming back)! I have hit notes that I never thought could come out of my body. It doesn’t happen every time, but just knowing I am capable some of the time is a huge achievement for me!”   Jill credits Rachael and Taylor with instilling the “power of positive thinking into all of us. I've learned to open my mouth and let the power of the breath sing the notes.  Taylor and Rachael are two of the most professional and positive people I have ever met. Their words of encouragement and continual belief in the whole group have made this journey so much fun.”

In summary, Rachael said, “I can't wait for the membership to see just how hard everyone's been working and truly how much talent we have at the Barn!  We have really become a family... much closer than I would ever have imagined from my initial thoughts of putting something like this together.”

Farmington Players’ members, friends and family are all welcome to enjoy the free musical workshop performance, which starts at approximately 8:30pm, right after the business meeting.