2022-23 season

2022-23 season

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lovely Sarah Lovy is Adorable as Audrey in Leading Ladies

Sarah Lovy as Audrey is No Dumb Blonde
Ken Ludwig’s play Leading Ladies is set in Pennsylvania Dutch country in 1952.  It was a more innocent time and people were willing to believe the world as presented to them in the movies, theater and TV.  Of all the characters, Audrey, a 20 year-old blonde bombshell, best represents that blend of innocence and naïveté, but she turns out to be much more than the stereotypical “dumb blonde.”   In the Farmington Players production, Sarah Lovy plays Audrey with wit, charm and intelligence, bringing a depth and maturity to her character beyond her years.

Sarah says, “I love playing Audrey! She’s a little like me in the sense that she likes to try out new big words and is always open for learning. What I love about Ken Ludwig characters is that a lot of them don’t fit into a standard character archetype (ex; the brains, the muscle, the beauty).  Sometimes the pretty one is the klutzy one, or the smart one does something outlandishly stupid to achieve something. They’re human, and these silly high stakes are real and important to them.  With Ken Ludwig shows, you’re always in for fun farce!”

Audrey’s character has even been the subject of a master’s thesis!  In Beyond Blonde: Creating a Non-Stereotypical Audrey in Ken Ludwig’s Leading Ladies (2009), Christine M. Young described Audrey as follows:  “For Audrey in Leading Ladies, understanding the dumb bombshell stereotype allowed for a mix of two stereotypes: the bombshell and the girl-next-door, and the opportunity to develop a nuanced performance. Mixing the two created an interpretation of Audrey that refrained from overt sexuality, allowing Audrey and Jack to fall in love based on story line and personal traits instead of proximity and superficiality.  Her mistakes are made out of innocence instead of unintelligence. This also made her jokes funnier; instead of laughing at a stereotypical dumb blonde, the audience was engaged with an innocent, slightly wacky character who made endearing mistakes.”

In the play, Audrey makes an immediate connection with Jack when she collides with him on rollerskates.  I asked Sarah if she had ever experienced love at first sight like Audrey.  Sarah answered, “Of course I’ve experienced love at first sight, I’m 20!  Every love is a big deal to me right now. I think something foolish I do for love is try to make myself into a totally different person so they will love me back, and I’m slowly learning – very slowly – that me is enough. That’s kinda what I like about my character. Herself is enough.”   Audiences are sure to find Sarah’s adorable portrayal of Audrey to be way more than “enough.” She steals several scenes, including playing Shakespeare with a Marlon Brando accent!

Sarah hails from West Bloomfield, and moved to Berkley last year.  She works for the Murder Mystery Company performing murder mystery dinners.  She’s also a part of the digital series Wicked City Girls.  By day, she works at Panera Bread and “sings Paul Simon SUPER LOUD when I’m in the back.”   Sarah has really enjoyed her first show at the Farmington Players, saying, “This cast and crew and director is so much fun to be around and they could not have been more welcoming! I come for the theater and stay for the people. They are what make the process relaxing and fun!

The Farmington Players' production of Leading Ladies opens November 28 and runs through December 20.  The show is proudly sponsored by Cadillac Travel Group. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dan Tarjeft Plays from His Heart as Lovelorn Butch

Dan Tarjeft (right) as "Butch" is yukking it up with his stage dad "Doc" (Jim Snideman)
“Follow your heart.”  In the Farmington Players’ production of Leading Ladies, Maxine gives Meg this advice, assuring her that it is always the best path to happiness.  Dan Tarjeft, who plays our Butch Meyers, connects with this theme in the play, saying, “I can relate to following your heart (wherever that leads), appreciating the arts, and bantering with family.”  In Dan’s case, it is his love of theater that has brought him to the Barn stage for the first time.  Dan is confident that audiences will love this show because “everyone loves to laugh! This particular production of Leading Ladies has many side-busting moments on top of an already hilarious script.”

Dan describes his character Butch as “a bit of a simpleton who tends to take everything a little too extremely. I most enjoy playing with his enthusiasm, and the most challenging part about the role is the dancing. I'm inexperienced as a dancer, and learning to dance well enough to be good at dancing poorly is an interesting challenge.”  Butch’s love interest is Audrey (played by Sarah Lovy), but Butch’s father Doc Meyers (Jim Snideman) encourages him to marry for money, not for love.  Although Dan can commiserate with the lovelorn Butch, he admits, “I've never done much of anything specifically to impress a girl. I'm not very conscious of those sorts of things.”

While Leading Ladies focuses on romantic love, Dan thinks it is also about "the bonds of friendship."  Butch and Doc share some nice father-son moments in this show, and Butch confides to Meg, his best friend, about his feelings for Audrey. Dan himself is good friends with cast member Lance Alan (Jack Gable), and he says he’s had “a lot of fun working on the production; everyone I've worked with is excellent, without exception. Leading Ladies is terrifically cast! I can't help but picture the actors that play the parts when I read the script.”

Dan grew up in Trenton, MI, and is a Computer Science student at Wayne State.  Most of Dan’s recent theater experience is with the Rosedale Community Players, including roles in Picasso, Deathtrap, Superior Donuts, Leaving Iowa and in various one-act plays as part of the RCP One-Act Festival. 

The Farmington Players' production of Leading Ladies opens November 28 and runs through December 20.  The show is proudly sponsored by Cadillac Travel Group. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dour Doman Plays It Sweet and Sour as Auntie Florence

Ellen Doman plays feisty Florence Snider who is unhappy with her physician, Doc Meyers (Jim Snideman)
In the Farmington Players’ production of Leading Ladies, Ellen Doman play surly millionaire Florence Snider, the richest woman in York, Pennsylvania.  Florence is supposedly on her deathbed, yet seems revived by the sudden reappearance of her long lost nieces, “Maxine” and “Stephanie,” the apparent heirs to her fortune.   Florence doesn’t even notice that her “nieces” are actually imposters, Leo Clark (played by Keith Firstenberg) and Jack Gable (Lance Alan), who have dressed as women to stake their claim to her fortune.

Ellen describes her character Florence as an “elderly, wealthy, crusty woman.  I do not think that the two first adjectives apply to me, but my husband would attest to ‘crusty’ now and then.  Florence, having two sides to her personality, gives me the chance to be both sweet and ornery. (Personally, I like ornery better!).”  On stage, Ellen enjoys sparring with Mike Gingerella, who plays the reticent Reverend Duncan Wooley, saying “While they are supposedly friends, I can see how he drives Florence up a wall, so no matter what he says to me, I answer with impatience as though I would literally like to wring his neck.” 

Ellen said, “The thing that appealed to me the most about the show is the sheer absurdity of two men even thinking that they could pull the hoax off about them posing as ‘long lost nieces’ of Florence. I don't think you could have found a more perfect pair to play the roles of Maxine and Stephanie. Their timing is great, not to mention their English dialect. The quick changes in gender and dress will provide the audience with many laughs.”   While Ellen is not the “leading lady” in this hilarious farce, she takes pride it throwing herself fully into the part: “The size of a role is of mere importance to me, but big or small, I try to give it all that I have.” 

Love at first sight is one of the themes of Leading Ladies.  Ellen can attest to that phenomenon, “considering that my husband and I have gone together since juniors in high school!  Guess you could say we are practically joined at the hip when you consider all that we do together. We are involved in various activities both inside and out of the Barn. In short, you could say "Domans live life to the fullest!”  Ellen last graced the Barn stage in 2011, as the frisky “Hold Me, Touch Me” character in The Producers.

The Farmington Players' production of Leading Ladies opens November 28 and runs through December 20.  The show is proudly sponsored by Cadillac Travel Group. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gingerella’s Great at Playing it Straight

Mike Gingerella plays it close to the vest as the straight-laced Reverend Duncan Wooley
Leading Ladies is a fun-filled farce with crazy characters that are willing to do just about anything for love and/or money.  In fact, the “ladies” are actually cross-dressing gents that are determined to steal an inheritance, until one of them falls in love with Meg, their intended victim.  In counterpoint to this frivolity is the Reverend Duncan Wooley, the straight-laced minister that is already engaged to Meg.  In the Farmington Players’ production of Leading Ladies, Mike Gingerella of Royal Oak plays Duncan.   Mike carefully navigates the tightrope of playing it straight when all around him are a bit loopy.  As he says, “Playing the antagonist is always a challenge. In the role of Duncan, the trick is to present him in such a way that, although the audience may not like him, they don’t hate him. It’s also a challenge playing the straight man in a farce. Besides holding back the temptation to laugh, it’s important to be as sincere and straightforward as possible to present a counter balance to the bizarre behavior displayed by the other characters in the show.”

Mike is no stranger to this genre of comedy, having played in Noises Off, and he especially enjoys farces “because they are so difficult to do well. When successful, there’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve got the audience in the palm of your hand. It’s not unlike the ‘high’ experienced by stand-up comedians when they the have a great show.”   Like other well-written plays by author Ken Ludwig, Mike knows that the Ladies script is loaded with “a treasure trove of terrific jokes, sight gags, puns and slapstick. And just like a great drama’s ability to move and inspire an audience, a great comedy provides an entertainment experience people will find themselves laughing about for weeks after.”

I had the pleasure of working with Mike several years ago when we appeared as dysfunctional brothers in the comedy Funeral for a Gangster.  Mike recalls the experience fondly and says, “I’m proud to be part of Tony’s directing debut, and have been impressed by the enthusiasm and attention to detail he brings to the creative process.”   Mike’s own journey to the stage has been a circuitous one.  After working as an automotive writer, Mike made his Barn debut in 2008 as George Schneider in Neil Simon’s Chapter Two.  He says that experience “reignited a passion in me that led to my decision to pursue a career as a professional actor, and to teach theatre at the university level.”   Mike went back to school and is currently a fourth-year theater major at Wayne State University, and will be pursuing an MFA degree in acting next year.  In addition to making his professional debut in the Water Works Theatre Company’s production of Hamlet, Mike’s other favorite roles include Don Browning in Leaving Iowa, Phillip Gellburg in Broken Glass, Al Manners in Trouble In Mind, Garry Lejeune in Noises Off, Father Flynn in Doubt: A Parable, and Dr. Jim Tennyson in Dr. Cook’s Garden.

The Farmington Players' production of Leading Ladies opens November 28 and runs through December 20.  The show is proudly sponsored by Cadillac Travel Group. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

To Be A Boy, Or Not To Be

Keith Firstenberg as Leo Clark as "Maxine" and Lance Alan as Jack Gable as "Stephanie" 
When I tell people that I am directing Leading Ladies at the Farmington Players, they usually ask me if I am “in the show” too.   While I am not a cast member, in reality, I am “in” this show more than any other that I have ever acted in.   Ken Ludwig (author of Lend Me a Tenor and Moon over Buffalo) has written another brilliant farce.  Each of the eight cast members is perfectly suited to his or her role.  The set has been beautifully constructed and decorated.  But make no mistake:  This is “my” show.  Not “my” as in “mine” alone, but in that the show reflects my creative vision and has my fingerprints all over it.  I have blocked the actors’ stage movements, including over 100 entrances (which is a lot, even for a farce).  I have suggested subtle ways to get more laughs from each punch line.  And I have been consulted on everything, including costumes, wigs, furniture, paint colors, Shakespeare, and even sword fighting.  (Yes, there is a sword fight!)  

While I am new to the director’s chair, I know from my own acting experience what actors respond to.  Actors are not puppets or marionettes, so I try not to give line readings or ask them to parrot back what I’ve said.   And no matter how experienced, all actors need “T.L.C.”  For some, that means Tender Loving Care, but for others, it simply means Time to Listen Carefully to what each actor is saying, both verbally and through body language. By definition, actors are very vulnerable when stepping out on stage, so my job is observe what is working and to make adjustments to get the best performance out of each person.  It’s part teaching, part cheerleading, and part psychology, but if I act my “part” well, all the other pieces should fall into place when the cast gels.

So, why should you come see Leading Ladies?  Have you ever been in love?   Have you ever done something foolish to be with the one you love?   Do you love to laugh?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then this show is for you.  Leading Ladies is about the crazy things we do for love.  In our show, Shakespearean actors Leo Clark (Keith Firstenberg) and Jack Gable (Lance Alan) scheme to steal an inheritance by posing as long-lost relatives, Maxine and Stephanie. But when the cross-dressing “ladies” fall in love with real women, they must switch between their male and female identities. As author Ken Ludwig says, cross-dressing is “just part of the joy we get out of our sexuality. There’s a bit of the female in all men and a bit of the male in all females; it’s just how we're made. To see it emerge full blown like that can be very funny and very joyous.”

The Farmington Players' production of Leading Ladies opens November 28 and runs through December 20.  The show is proudly sponsored by Cadillac Travel Group. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.