2022-23 season

2022-23 season

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Rumors Are True: Frank Markus is a Very Funny Man

Frank Markus and Sue Rogers do battle as Lenny and Claire Ganz
Here’s a simple formula for comedy:  Frank + Markus = Funny Man.  He excels at comedic roles and last appeared onstage at the Barn in Red, White and Tuna 2011, playing several over-the-top characters.  In Rumors, Frank describes his character Lenny Ganz as “a guy who wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and has managed make it to the right side of the tracks by becoming some sort of tax/investment advisor. As such, he doesn't suffer fools lightly and has an acerbic wit that gives him a lot of fun laugh lines in this script.”  Frank relates well to Lenny because they are both “car guys”:  Lenny just bought a new BMW and knows what kinds of cars everybody drives in the play, while Frank admits to being an “inveterate car-lover from birth.” He now serves as Technical Director for Motor Trend magazine and travels the world reporting on the car business and driving almost every new car and truck made.

Frank was attracted to Rumors because “Neil Simon has a real knack for compelling, engaging dialogue, and he's written non-fiction books about the art of writing farce well.”   Unlike many farces that “rely too heavily on lowest-common-denominator sight gags and door-slamming for laughs,” Frank says that “the Rumors script doesn't rely solely on the physical humor, misunderstandings, and shared secrets to get the audience laughing. Rather, the plot and dialogue does that and the gags merely heighten the effect.”  Frank also enjoys being reunited with fellow cast-mates Mary Ann Tweedie and Sue Rogers, who all performed under Cynthia Tuppers’s direction in 1994's The Man Who Came to Dinner.  As Frank says, “it was impossible to pass up the chance to work once again with Cynthia Tupper. Tupper's facility with the farce genre keeps us actors on our toes so that we maintain the fast-is-funny comic timing on which farce relies. Most of us who were cast have worked with Cynthia and/or with each other onstage before, so the cast began this production already fast friends, intimately aware of each other's numerous capabilities and strengths. We've been having a lot of laughs ever since the first read-through.”

Frank was born in Chicago, but raised mostly in Memphis, Tennessee.  To pursue his love of cars, he came north for engineering school to get a job in Detroit's auto industry. After six years as a Chrysler engineer, as he says, “I ran away to join the automotive circus, and have written for and tech-edited car magazines since 1991,” including Motor Trend.  His first Farmington Players’ play was Mister Roberts in 1989.  Frank and long-time partner Michael Smith recently got married on the Barn stage, with the wedding officiated by fellow Rumors cast-mate Jim Moll.

The Farmington Players' production of Rumors runs from April 25 through May 17 and is proudly sponsored by TruVista Wealth Advisors.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Julia Spina-Kilar is the Bad Girl with a Heart of Gold

Julia Spina-Kilar rehearsing as Cassie Cooper with Ross Grossman as Glenn
At first blush, Julia Spina-Kilar is funny, quirky, and a little offbeat.  In that respect, you could say that she’s similar to another hyphenated Julia (Louis-Dreyfus) that has a facility for making people laugh.  Our Julia plays Cassie Cooper in the Farmington Players upcoming production of Rumors, a zany Neil Simon comedy.  In the play, the Deputy Mayor of New York suffers a self-inflicted gunshot wound on his 20th wedding anniversary, and five couples conspire to keep the truth from one another – and the police – as the cover-up spirals out of control in hilarious fashion.

Julia describes Cassie as the “angry, insecure arm-piece for her State Senate candidate husband Glenn.  She enters pushing Glennʼs buttons and threatening divorce. This continues throughout the play, along with her display of deep breathing and crystal ‘worship,’ much to Glennʼs worry. He does not want to tarnish his political image or reputation.  Cassie does not care!”  Julia loves being the “bad girl” in the play, as Cassie goes to extreme lengths to provoke and embarrass her husband.  But as she says, “the challenge is to not have the audience think she is just a constantly nagging witch. Creating a little empathy would be nice. But Iʼm not sure I can, because she truly behaves badly!”  

Julia saw Rumors as a great opportunity for middle-aged actors: “Plum roles for females over 40 are rare and Rumors provides them. Director Cynthia Tupper and I have wanted to work together, so having her direct is a double treat for me. I also enjoy working with this glorious cast! Our different characteristics meld together well. We each ‘fit’ our partners and play off each other with ease.“   The natural chemistry between the couples is important to keep things real, which is essential for farce.  As Julia says, “People enjoy comedy, especially farce, because it is a ‘tick-tock’ away from reality. At the same time, Rumors is a situation people might be able to relate to or at least enjoy watching at a safe distance! People panicking, behaving badly and showing their true colors is most likely somewhere in everyoneʼs experience.”  (When asked to reveal her own “bad girl” experiences, Julia demurred coyly, saying, “I’ll never tell!”) 

Despite her own personal losses, Julia finds fulfillment in bringing joy to people onstage and off: “Sadly, Iʼm a widow and it is odd to be on stage without my husband Ted beaming in the audience. But, it is a joy to perform once again, and Iʼm most honored to have the opportunity to be involved in theatre both on and off the stage at The Barn. Itʼs 'community' theatre, after all! Shows donʼt come together by waving a magic wand. The magic is in the friendly, talented membership and the many opportunities for involvement.”  Julia also gives back in other ways.  She’s a 33-year organ transplant recipient and counsels kidney donors and recipients as a Beaumont Nephrology Peer Mentor. In addition to her many Barn credits, she has also performed with the Power Center, Utah Shakespeare Rep., Birmingham Village Players, and SRO.
The Farmington Players' production of Rumors runs from April 25 through May 17 and is proudly sponsored by TruVista Wealth Advisors.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.