2022-23 season

2022-23 season

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Danielle Morris Finds Empowerment as Enid Hoopes

Don't you dare insult Gloria Steinem ...
... or you'll incur Enid's wrath! (Danielle Morris)

One of my favorite moments in our production of Legally Blonde, the Musical, is when Enid Hoopes, played by Danielle Morris, defends fellow feminist Gloria Steinem. When Enid perceives that Vivienne (Jamee Perryman) has insulted Gloria’s honor, Enid chases her off stage with a voracious roar that is truly fearsome. But despite Enid’s tough exterior and rough edges, Danielle is really a gentle soul with a sensitive and caring nature. 

Danielle describes Enid as “a strong-willed lesbian feminist.  Enid is very independent, very commanding and insatiably funny.  I love her character ... her dynamics.” The audience first meets her in the Harvard Variations, where Enid sings that she’s "on the legal track, because this country’s out of whack and only women have the guts to go and take it back."  Enid also strikes up an unlikely friendship with Elle Woods (Heather Dolan), and as they bond, she “gets to be part of the pink roller coaster of fun that is Elle and creates some really great comedic moments!”

While Enid and Elle are physical opposites, they both share the common experience of being judged based on their looks.  Danielle can also relate to this, saying, “It is so easy to judge a book by its cover.  Whether we are looking at a beautiful blonde from Malibu or a butch lesbian that has climbed her way to success.  As a bigger girl in the theater community, I have had my share of disappointment.  Sometimes you stand in front of a directorial team, and no matter your artistic capabilities, you will not be considered because you do not ‘look’ the role.  It stands true even outside of this community.  We all as humans have passed judgment.  I've been told so many times, ‘I am so happy I got to know you.  You're different than what I first thought.’”   Danielle echoes the empowerment theme of Legally Blonde, saying, “the biggest lesson to take away from this show is believe in yourself. Love yourself.  Trust yourself. Do things for you.  It's okay to fall, it's how you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and face the world with your own empowering colors.” 

Danielle calls Theater her “best friend through some insanely dark moments in life.  I am able to shut out my problems and the world’s problems and embody a fierce character.  You see the smiles and the enjoyment in the audience and with your cast mates.  You build and grow relationships with people you may not normally know.  You walk away with new family, friendships you will take with you forever.”  Danielle shares her love of theater and the arts with her two children, Cadence (7) and Brayden (6). 

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.

Friday, April 26, 2013

This Time, It’s Personal: Why Our Blonde Has More Fun

The Woods family (Kristi Schwartz, me and Heather Dolan) accept that Elle is "doing this for love"
This is my 76th blog post featuring members of the Farmington Players, and while I love to shine the spotlight on my fellow actors and directors, this one is about me.  Tonight we open Legally Blonde, the Musical to a sold out house.  I am so excited to be back on stage at the Barn for the first time in over a year, so please indulge my personal reflections about how much this show means to me.

As a member of the ensemble, I play several minor and often unnamed characters. But as Konstantin Stanislavsky famously said, “There are no small parts, only small actors,” so I am trying to bring each of my characters to life by drawing on my own personal experiences.  My primarily role is Elle Woods’ Dad (in my mind, he’s named Winston Woods) who appears in golf attire and is often accompanied by Elle’s Mom, deliciously played as a luscious lush by Kristi Schwartz.  As Dad, I try to dissuade Elle (Heather Dolan) from attending law school on the “foreign” east coast.  This is especially ironic since my own daughter is currently a Michigan law student, and she aspires to work in the East.  While I don’t want Elle to move away, ultimately I approve because she is following her heart and her happiness comes first.

My other roles include Pforzheimer, one of a trio of Harvard admissions officers (along with Karen Southworth and Gary Weinstein) who debate Elle’s admission to law school in What You Want, a prison guard in Whipped Into Share, a department store clerk in Take It Like A Man, a construction worker who (along with Connor Rhoades and Kyle Kimlick) admire Paulette (Amy Poirier) in Bend and Snap.  When I’m not onstage, I’m usually singing offstage or moving set pieces, so there’s rarely any downtime in this fast-moving production.

The other aspect of this play that makes it more personal for me is the Boston setting.  Harvard is in a Boston suburb, and characters like Paulette are clearly locals.  While I have never lived there (my parents moved from Worcester – pronounced Wusstah – a month before I was born), I have run the Boston Marathon five times, including 11 days ago, when I was just two blocks away from the bombings.  This horrible incident reminds me not to take life for granted and to do what I love doing while I can.  It also makes me treasure the people in my life.  I will always remember the warm welcome I received in my first rehearsal back at the Barn.  This cast and crew shares a mutual admiration and respect for one another that makes being in Legally Blonde a real love fest.  Love is one of the central themes of this play, and I truly believe that our love for one another will shine through in our performances. It may sound like a cliché, but just like Pforzheimer sings, “Yes, we believe in love, how bout you?”

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, April 23, 2013

Connor’s Roads Are Twisted, But All Lead to Laughs

Connor Rhoades (seated third from left) as the pretentious Aaron Schultz

Legally Blonde, the Musical is a high-octane, non-stop, laugh-a-minute, action-packed bundle of emotions and energy with a risqué sense of humor.  Come to think of it, so is Connor Rhoades, who constantly keeps his cast mates in stitches with his off-color one-man comedy routine. This may explain why he is so well suited to this show.  Already in his twenty-second play at age 20, Connor was born to perform and has embraced his ensemble role in Blonde with gusto.

Connor plays a variety of parts that show off his comedic range, including a UCLA frat boy, a snobby Harvard Law Student named Aaron Schultz, and Carlos, the ostentatious friend of Nikos who makes a “big announcement” in Gay or European. As Connor says, “Carlos is possibly the wackiest character I have ever played! Getting to go crazy and sing the end of Gay or European is definitely my favorite part of the show!”   Connor has tapped into the “sassy physicality of Carlos” which he finds the most challenging part of his role: “He is such a flamboyant character, and it’s vital for him to be over the top.”

Connor can personally relate to a common theme of Legally Blonde, which is “following your dreams, no matter what people tell you. Ever since I was a young child I wanted to work in animation. People have told me that there are few career options in animation, but today I am working toward my degree in character animation” at the College for Creative Studies.

Legally Blonde is Connor’s second show at the Barn, having debuted last year as Nicky in Avenue Q, when he was often joined at the hip with Blonde director Jason Wilhoite as they operated puppets together.   Connor says “ever since Avenue Q, I have loved working at the Barn. The idea of rehearsing a show in the space in which you perform is wonderful.”   He has done several shows with many of his cast members, including Jason, Alison, Keshia, Alisha, Rachel, Kyle, and Nick, which he finds “incredibly rewarding!”

Some of Connor’s other favorite roles include: Into the Woods (Jack), Grease (Roger), Wizard of Oz (Cowardly Lion), Hairspray (Edna), The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [ABRIDGED] (multiple roles), and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (William Barfee).

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, April 11, 2013

Kristi Schwartz Plays Her Opposite as Elle’s Dumb Blonde Mom

Kristi Schwartz puts on the ditz as Elle's Mom, but they couldn't be more different.

Similar to Elle Woods, Kristi Schwartz is no dumb blonde!  Kristi grew up a “blonde cheerleader in the advanced math class” who sought her own glass slipper before learning to stand on her own two feet.  As Kristi says, “Many people assumed that because I was blonde, and a cheerleader, I didn't have much going on upstairs.  However, I was in the advanced math class program in my high school and did well academically.  I actually relate to the theme of "Following a Man", too.  Growing up, I always wanted a "Prince Charming" to sweep me off my feet and rescue me.  Looking for that glass slipper was a goal from when I was a little girl.  However, this led me to a marriage when I was too young to know the difference.  Seven years ago, I had a divorce, which really shaped who I am today.”

Also like Elle, who learned that self-reliance could be “So Much Better,” Kristi now knows that “a man will never complete me. I complete myself!  I have always been a pretty independent woman; however, this taught me that I do not NEED a man.  I knew in my heart that I wanted one for companionship, but I did not need one to survive.  I have since been remarried to Keith (the most wonderful soul around).  Together now for over five years, we are a partnership of individuals who compliment each other and bring out the best in both of us.  I needed that alone time as a single mother to realize that I could be complete on my own.”

As a member of the Blonde ensemble, Kristi has several roles, most notably Elle's Mom; she also plays a dancer/band member in "What You Want", a customer/bookish client in the salon and during "Bend and Snap".  While she is “most comfortable” playing Elle’s Mom because she is a mother of three children – Colin (14), Allie (11), and Drew (3) – Kristi finds it challenging to play a character who is so “very different from me.  She is a rich, possibly drunk, mom who is very superficial.  Elle's Mom would probably still follow a man around. She hasn't probably learned that lesson that Elle has about self- discovery. This is so hard because I am a very independent woman who has had to take care of myself in a lot of ways.  Also, my children always come first in everything that I do, so it is difficult to imagine that superficial part. I've always had to work extremely hard for everything that I have.”

Despite these challenges, Kristi wanted to be in Legally Blonde (her first onstage role in over three years) “because I really wanted to be back onstage at the Barn.  The Barn Family is extremely important to me. Part of being in a show is about the crew and cast you are working with at the time. These people are fabulous!”

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.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bailey Boudreau Plays “Prom King” Warner with Warmth and Heart in Legally Blonde

Bailey Boudreau adds depth to the superficial Warner Huntington III

When you first meet Bailey Boudreau, you will probably believe whatever he tells you.  He has this innocent, charming, boy-next-door demeanor.  When he said he was the same age as his character (19 year-old first-year law student Warner Huntington III), I accepted that as fact.  I was surprised to learn later that Bailey is really 33.  Once during rehearsal, he delivered a line so convincingly that a cast mate responded, “Really!?”  Without missing a beat, Bailey deadpanned, “No, that’s my line.  It’s called ‘acting’, people.”
Bailey has been acting most of his life, and much of his life revolves around the theater.  He has experience with directing, teaching, choreography, costume and set design, and stage management.  And he has performed onstage in more than two dozen shows both in community theaters and professionally in Michigan, Chicago, Boston, Florida, and even on tour with the North Carolina Theatre Company, playing Peter in The Diary of Anne Frank.

So what inspired Bailey to make his Barn debut as Warner?  It turns out that Legally Blonde is one of his all-time favorite musicals, which is ironic considering his initial skepticism:  “When I heard the film was being turned into a musical, I was totally against it. I accidentally stumbled upon it during the MTV airing and I was blown away. And hooked. I've loved it ever since and it has become one of my favorite shows. It has heart, humor and brains. Gotta love that.”

Bailey is perfectly cast as Warner, who is often caught in the middle between Elle and Vivian, the rivals for his affections.   Bailey describes Warner as “the quintessential prom king. He is the guy we all went to school with and most likely hated. He is a fun role to play, because he is a rare combo in theatrical plotlines; an antagonist who also happens to be an ingenue.”  Bailey’s biggest challenge in playing Warner is “to look beneath his selfishness and his superficiality to find the heart. Even the worst of high school bullies has a vulnerability they are trying to protect. When those are revealed, the character becomes so much more complex. It's easy to play him as the bad guy, the jerk, the stuck-up rich boy. It's not so easy to find out why he does what he does and make him a sympathetic character.”

In addition to bringing out the complexities in his own character, Bailey hopes that audiences will see that Legally Blonde has a deeper meaning: “I think the main theme we can all relate to is being judged with a preconceived notion based on only our physical appearance. This is something that will always be an issue in our society, no matter how advanced we may become. Another great theme that I can identify with is the idea of finding your own self-worth, and learning not to be dependent on another person for your happiness. Self-love is imperative to loving another, in my opinion, and it is very hard to learn that kind of love.”

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, April 2, 2013

Meet Donna Wolbers, the Secretly Sweet Mean Girl in Legally Blonde

Donna Wolbers bring out her fierce side as the mean girl in Blonde

One of the great things about acting is that you get to step outside of yourself and become a character that may be totally unlike you or even your complete opposite.  When Donna Wolbers auditioned for Legally Blonde, the Musical, she tapped into her natural perkiness: “I figured I could pass as a sorority girl. I tried to be especially bubbly and cutesy during the audition, shooting for a sorority sister part.”  But to her own surprise, she was cast as “all the non-lead mean girls; namely Courtney, Whitney and my most notable character, Chutney.  I was surprised to discover my roles as I am enjoying bringing out my inner mean girl.  She doesn't come out often but the audience will get the pleasure of seeing her. Hopefully no one gets hurt!”

As you may recall from the movie, Chutney is the key witness in the Brooke Wyndham murder trial.  Her hair literally stands out (think “totally tragic perm”) as a major part of her character.  Chutney is sarcastic, snarky and impatient with Elle Woods during her cross-examination.  Donna says, “I've experienced specific challenges with each character,” but with Chutney, “I've really had to step out of the box for that role!”
Donna has had to stretch herself and step outside her own comfort zone in Legally Blonde.   She jokes, “Me getting into a musical is actually comparable to Elle getting into Harvard!  I hope I fare as well as she does!”  But on a more serious note, Donna compares Elle’s journey to her own self-discovery: “Elle tried something completely new (admittedly for the wrong reasons) and found out that she is so much more than she realized.  A few years back I left my teaching degree behind to experience life in the medical field.  While it was completely foreign to me (I used to get sick when my brother got shots), I love the field and am constantly encouraged to work towards my dream of becoming a Physician Assistant.  I never knew how much I love to learn about how we work and can't wait see what else I learn about myself.”

Donna is a big fan of local theater, and of this cast and crew she says, “I've seen many shows featuring many of these people and I almost feel like I'm working with local celebrities!  Also, everyone is so talented, I'm definitely learning a lot from working with them!”  She is married to Jason, her high school sweetheart, and is excited to become an aunt (her brother and sister-in-law are expecting a baby soon).  

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.