2022-23 season

2022-23 season

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.