Our Current 2018-2019 Season:

Our Current 2018-2019 Season:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Jared Lane Strolls Down Memory Lane as Stanley in Brighton Beach Memoirs

Jared Lane as Stanley Jerome ...
... during early rehearsals for Brighton Beach Memoirs

Neil Simon’s family drama Brighton Beach Memoirs is set in Brooklyn in 1937.  While that is over 80 years ago, in many respects, the family dynamic hasn’t changed all that much, and the experiences we all share as families are fairly universal.  In the Farmington Players’ production (opening September 28), Jared Lane plays Stanley, the oldest son in the Jerome family.  As Jared says, “Family dramas like these are timeless. Even if some of the specifics seem dated, everyone goes through puberty, everyone has a falling out, everyone makes mistakes. This show really brings to light the saying ‘when it rains, it pours,’ which I think any family can attest to at some point in their lives.”

Jared describes Stanley as “an eighteen year old man whose main drive is to emulate the hardworking, strong principled nature of his father, Jack.  Jack is counting on Stanley to help out financially, and Stanley is desperate to prove he is up to the task. However, Stanley's principles and attempts to make extra money only end up backfiring, leaving him conflicted and embarrassed.” Jared says he can definitely “relate to Stanley in how I tried to cover up my mistakes. At seventeen and eighteen, I was no stranger to making mistakes. The thought of owning up to these mistakes and confessing them to my parents was almost always out of the question. Even minor mistakes, a bad test grade for example, was cause for me to pack my bags and move away. Like Stanley though, I eventually learned that the consequences are far less severe when you're honest and upfront.”

In Brighton Beach Memoirs, the family starts as a collective unit.  But, as Jared observes, “over the course of the play, we watch these characters grow apart from each other, as they look inwardly into who they are and what they want to be. In the end, however, these personal journeys only solidify the closeness of the family. That's what this show's about: Growing as individuals, to grow closer as a whole.”  Jared’s favorite moments playing Stanley are “my scenes with my younger brother, Eugene. I've never had a younger brother, but I imagine I'd act a lot like Stanley if I did. Despite Stanley's mistakes, he's good natured and caring.”

Jared grew up in Midland, but has been living in Auburn Hills while he pursues his undergraduate studies at Oakland University. He’s majoring in creative writing with a double minor in history and communication and is the president of the University's competitive Speech Team. Jared’s hobbies include writing, reading, going on walks, and raising his two cats, Caesar and Augustus. He says, “this is my first show with the Farmington Players, but I can already tell that it's a special community theater and have enjoyed getting to know the cast and crew of this wonderful production.”

Brighton Beach Memoirs has 10 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from September 28 – October 13.  The show is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Taylor Dalton is Not Nice as Little Red, and That’s Good!

Taylor Dalton is sassy as Little Red Riding Hood, but she still has a weakness for the Wolf (Keith Janoch).
PHOTO:  Jan Cartwright

In the classic fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood is a bit ditzy.  I mean, how naïve do you have to be to mistake your grandmother for a wolf?  But in Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods, “Little Red” is no pushover.  In the Farmington Players’ production, Taylor Dalton brings an edge to the character.  As Taylor says, “I love my girl Red because she’s sassy, tough, and very blunt. She’s so much more than just a little girl who gets eaten by a wolf; there’s more depth to her and she’s more dynamic here than in her other fairytale stories and that’s what I love most.”  Even though Taylor looks totally adorable as Red, her biggest challenge with the role is “finding ways to make her more likable to the other characters. Little Red is quite honest and she speaks her mind which may annoy some characters, but deep down she means well and she cares very deeply about those around her and I want to make sure that shows.”

In developing her character, Taylor has focused on “the difference between nice and good. In the song I Know Things Now, Little Red sings about that. As I was rehearsing the number I had this revelation that just because someone is a nice person doesn’t mean they are a good person. Take the wolf for example. He’s very nice to Red and says all the right things but he doesn’t have good intentions. That theme resonates with me the most because after some self-reflection I realized I have tendency to mesh the two together. I think ‘oh this person is so nice, they must be good which means I can trust them’ but that isn’t always the case.”  Into The Woods has also taught Taylor to “be careful of what you wish for. There have been multiple times where I’ve pursued a dream or a wish and things didn’t turn out how I’d hoped or didn’t turn out how I thought they would. But in those moments, you learn a lot about yourself and about what you need versus what you want. Then, you find new dreams and new wishes to strive towards. I think any experience that doesn’t go your way presents a lesson to be learned which helps us grow as individuals.”

Taylor loves this show because “it features a multitude of characters we all know and love but with a twist. Not only do the stories intertwine in interesting ways, but this show gives you a deeper look at each character and reveals their motives, their hopes, their dreams, and their uncertainties. Into The Woods humanizes these classic tales and makes it easy to relate to one or many of the characters.” Into The Woods is Taylor’s first show since high school (she recently graduated from Oakland University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and a minor in Theatre), and Taylor has “missed that feeling of being in a production: the feeling you get when you’re rehearsing and things are starting to come together; the feeling when you step on that stage and the lights hit your face and everything just feels warm and right in that moment. I could not have picked a better place to get back into theatre and back on the stage. Everyone in the Farmington Players family has been so kind and welcoming and supportive. This cast and crew are phenomenal and I cannot say enough good things about them. I feel very much at home when I am at rehearsal and it’s all very surreal for me; I keep waiting for someone to pinch me and tell me it’s all a dream!”

Into the Woods has 12 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from April 27 – May 19.  The show is proudly sponsored by Tru-Vista Wealth Advisors.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Couple Finds Solace as Cinderella’s Parents in Into the Woods

Seάn ÓTuathal finds her inner "Faery" as Cinderella's spirit mother
PHOTO by Heidi Gabel
In Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, the woods are where the magic happens. Fairy tale characters come to life and live out their dreams.  And when your name is Seάn ÓTuathal – which in Irish means "of the Faery Folk," – the play has even deeper meaning.  In the Farmington Players production, Seάn plays Cinderella's mother, who is actually dead, but her spirit inhabits a hazel tree Cinderella planted at her grave. Seάn says, “I love playing a tree spirit, it's kind of an homage to my Irish heritage. Also, I love playing the loving mother who gets to say, 'yes' to her daughter and support her dreams. Everyone has dreams, some have support systems which help them to at least strive for, if not realize them. Some do not. I did not. Playing a mother who supports her child's dream is cathartic for me; it puts something to rest.”
As a psychology major, Seάn can get pretty deep in deciphering Sondheim’s hidden meanings:  “I like how he takes the Shakespearean convention of removing people from society (where we have the illusion of control), into the woods (where magical things happen); also, how short-sighted we are; how we are never happy with what we have (and need to learn to be); how it often takes great challenges to make us see the light. I like especially how Sondheim gives voice to the outsider; how all sides are valid, not just ‘Our side.’ That's an important one these days.”

Cinderella’s father is played by Seάn’s real-life husband Bart Burger, who says, “Playing Cinderella's father has been wonderful, especially being able to share the stage for the first time with my wife, Sean. Cinderella's father is an interesting character, as I believe he is searching for a rebirth of hope and connection which he lost with the death of Cinderella's mother. He found some of it when he married his second wife, but that has dwindled. He spends the show trying to recapture this.”  As Seάn says, Into the Woods is “a work of profound meaning for my husband and I. We have been lost in the woods for several years now. Knowing ‘No one leaves for good,’ is a great comfort to us.”

Seάn hopes that audiences “not only enjoy the clever way the messages in this show are presented, but leave the theatre with something to think about. To me, that's key.” Seάn and Bart have both really enjoyed their first experience at the Barn.  Bart says, “I have always found theatre as an avenue of connecting and touching others. That has been a dream of mine, which is why I have been doing theatre most of my life, and also why I became a psychotherapist.”  Seάn adds, “This cast is great. Folks are funny, and friendly, and so talented! Our directors are wonderful. It's really a thrill to be surrounded by all this professionalism, especially since I am a neophyte.”

Into the Woods has 12 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from April 27 – May 19.  The show is proudly sponsored by Tru-Vista Wealth Advisors.  Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle on opening night (April 27) will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Barb Bruno Is Wicked Good as Evil Stepmom in Into the Woods

Barb Bruno delights in playing Cinderella's villainous Stepmother 

“It's always more fun to play the ‘villain’!” So says Barb Bruno, who plays Cinderella's Stepmother in the Farmington Players production of Into the Woods.  Bruno is no stranger to dark Steven Sondheim musicals, having played Sarah Jane Moore in Assassins at the Barn in 2014.  So how does Barb channel her evil side to get into character as the Stepmother?  As she says, “The trick with villains is that not one of them feels like they are doing anything wrong. In their minds, they are usually correcting some injustice that's been done to them.  Of course, the Stepmother is a total narcissist, so pretty much anything that doesn't serve her own agenda is an injustice.  The other trick is to give them depth and make them people; not a one dimensional, ‘hey...I'm evil!’”  Barb’s biggest challenge with this role is that “there is a very compressed amount of time on stage to say who she is, and to see the character change – broken as the world around her falls apart.  It's challenging to say that in a short amount of time, and so the subtext and the layers of the character become more important to show it in an economical way.” 
Barb knows audiences will love Into the Woods “for the same reason that Wicked is so popular … a different spin on characters we all know from childhood.  The music is wonderful and it is a very strong group of singers and actors in the company, not to mention brilliant designers and dedicated technicians, all of whom are committed to bringing their best to the stage.”  Barb also thinks the classic battle of good versus evil makes for a compelling story line.  As she says, “I'm fascinated by the themes of morality in this show ... what is right, what is wrong.  There's recurring dialogue about wrongs needing to be punished.  Reminds me of Gandhi – ‘An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.’  EVERY character has a perspective on right and wrong.  … It's the moral ambiguity of this show that gets right to the same ambiguity we face on a daily basis and leaves a lot of food for thought.”
Barb is originally from New York and has been in Michigan for a few years. She lives in a log cabin, grows lots of veggies and has just started to produce her own maple syrup! She’s truly enjoying her return to the Barn: “I am very much enjoying being with old friends on this show and making new ones. Most of all, it's just a lot of fun to be in a musical!”

Into the Woods has 12 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from April 27 – May 19.  The show is proudly sponsored by Tru-Vista Wealth Advisors.  Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle on opening night (April 27) will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Wendy Krekeler Fishes Her Wish as the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods

The Baker (Jason Wilhoite) and his Wife (Wendy Krekeler) are menaced by the Witch (Allison Boufford)
PHOTO by Jan Cartwright

Be careful what you wish for!  This is one of the underlying themes of Into The Woods, Steven Sondheim’s dark musical based on fairy tale characters that opens April 27 at the Farmington Players Barn Theater. (Proceeds from the opening night 50/50 raffle will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.) In Wendy Krekeler’s first role at the Barn, she got the part of the Baker’s Wife, a dream come true for her:  “It’s one of my favorite shows! The music is beautiful, the themes are so profoundly interesting, personal and relatable, and the story is dark but with plenty of humor!  I love fairy tales, but I love the twists and turns the second act takes. I’ve been a fan of the show since I saw my parents play Cinderella and her Prince in Into The Woods when I was about eight years old!”  Wendy inherited her love of theater from her parents, Sue and Kirk Krekeler;  Kirk played King Arthur in the Barn’s production of Spamalot last year. 
Wendy describes the Baker’s Wife as being “content to love her husband, but wishes for a bit more than an ‘ordinary’ life. She’s good hearted, well intended with a bit of a sarcastic flair! I love singing her music. This role is challenging because this character could possibly come off as someone who is constantly nagging her husband, but that’s not who I believe she is at heart. It’s challenging to find the depth of her longing and make it relatable to the audience!”  Wendy enjoys a great rapport with the Baker, played by longtime Barn veteran Jason Wilhoite, and Wendy is “so flattered and honored to be in this production. After seeing shows at the Farmington Barn, I’ve wanted to be a part of the excellent productions they put on, and I can’t believe I get to work in this theatre, with such kind and talented people! Thanks to director Kristi Schwartz for taking a chance on someone she didn’t know and letting me play this wonderful role!”
Wendy can relate to the show’s themes of pursuing your dreams, despite uncertain consequences.  As she says, “Always wanting more, but not even truly understanding what it is that you want, is such a relatable experience. The constant struggle that I’ve had between pursuing my passions and living a stable life is something that I can definitely relate to, specifically in MY character!”  In her own life, Wendy has tried to balance her loves of theater and family.  After studying theater in college, she chased her dream to NYC, where she worked at The Late Show with David Letterman and saw many Broadway shows.  However, as she recalls, “I missed my home and family, so I returned to Michigan and began performing with children’s theatre companies in the area, as well as teaching theatre. I’m so happy to have returned to Michigan; I don’t feel like I would’ve found my passion for children’s theatre in NYC! I also create children’s media; I’ve written a children’s book and am working on creating a puppet show for YouTube. I also have an incredible set of supportive theatre lady friends that I don’t think even exist in NYC! I  have an amazing family and I fell in love with my wonderful boyfriend. Michigan is my home and the theatre community is amazing here!”
Into The Woods has 12 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from April 27 – May 19.  The show is proudly sponsored by Tru-Vista Wealth Advisors.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Henderson and Bickerstaff Strike a Chord in Agatha Christie Mystery

Jarrod Henderson as Philip Lombard and Maggie Bickerstaff as Vera Claythorne
meet their match in Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None
PHOTO by Jim Kelly
It is said that opposites attract, and in the case of Philip Lombard and Vera Claythorne, the magnetism is palpable.  In Agatha Christie’s murder mystery And Then There Were None, Lombard and Claythorne are romantically linked from the opening scene.  In the Farmington Players production, Jarrod Henderson plays Lombard, a former army captain and adventurer that Jarrod describes as “a cultured man who is not keen to boundaries. At times he’s a flirt but that doesn’t stop him from observing the people in the room. Playing this role has been a true joy. I like how my character is a total badass.”   In contrast, Maggie Bickerstaff plays Vera, a dutiful secretary who is never off duty.  But Vera is no shrinking violet, and she certainly finds her voice during the drama.  As Maggie says, “Vera is very observant and strong-willed, and I absolutely love playing women who aren't afraid to make some noise and stand up for themselves. I think the biggest challenge is just being aware of the stark differences between how women presented and conducted themselves in the 1930s versus how we do so today.”

To prepare for their roles, both actors drew on their own experiences.  Like Lombard, Jarrod has sense of adventure, saying, “I love going on adventures to other places. It truly is exciting getting to absorb other cultures and communities. I most often get to do this when I compete in male pageantry across the states.”   For Maggie, it was tuning in to Vera’s keen sense of attentiveness:  “I think there is something to be said about keeping on your toes. Sometimes the stakes are high and sometimes not so much, but a show like And Then There Were None can really make you aware of the importance of always having your head in the game.”

Both actors have a musical background, but were attracted by the opposite experience that a dark drama offered.  Jarrod embraced the challenge of a non-musical role, his first straight play since college, saying, “I wanted to go for it. One can only play the comic relief, token and featured dancer so many times. This character allows me to tap into something new.”   Similarly, Maggie majored in vocal performance at Grand Valley State University and has a private voice studio for students.  But she has always been a Christie fan: “I grew up watching the PBS Masterpiece Poirot series with my family, so Agatha Christie has always held a place in my heart. When I saw the casting call for one of her most famous murder mysteries, I had to be a part of it!  Christie is a master of creating intensity in every moment and audiences will be hooked.”

This is Jarrod’s fifth show at the Farmington Players and he thinks “the storyline is unlike any I’ve seen at the Barn. Laurie Smalis’ direction for the show showcases it to its full potential.”  As a Barn newcomer, Maggie says, “the entire cast and production team have been beyond welcoming and kind to me, and I hope to have the opportunity to perform here again!”

And Then There Were None has three remaining sold out performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from February 23 – 25, but same-day tickets are sometimes available by calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.  The show is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Eric Nogas Sounds Off As Captain Fred in Classic Christie Mystery

Eric Nogas as boat captain Fred Narracott, who "has a little bit of pirate in him."
PHOTO: Jan Cartwright
In the Agatha Christie classic murder mystery And Then There Were None, every character is both a suspect and a potential victim.  The first character to speak is crusty boat captain Fred Narracott, who has just ferried guests over from the mainland to Soldier Island, off the coast of Devon, England.  Unbeknownst to the visitors, it will be a one-way trip for most of them!

In the Farmington Players production (February 9 – 25), Eric Nogas plays Narracott, the ferry boat captain.  Eric explains how he prepared for his character:  “Agatha Christie had pretty detailed descriptions of all of the characters in the book except for Fred.  So it was really wide open for me.  All that we know is that he comes from the west country of England.  I did a lot of research on the west county and its accent. I found out it is where the famous Pirate Blackbeard comes from. So maybe Fred has a little bit of pirate in him.”

In addition to playing Narracott, Eric also designed sound for the show.  The weather is a key element of the story, and Eric takes great care to add realistic sound effects to help set the mood of each scene. As Eric says, “Sound is something that I love doing and finding the right music or sound effect is so enjoyable to me and the Barn has given me a great opportunity to explore this passion.”  He’s currently Sound Chair for the Farmington Players, and he has also designed sound for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Becky’s New Car, Spamalot, Calendar Girls, Greetings, and the upcoming Into the Woods, in which he will also be performing.  And Then There Were None is Eric’s first non-musical role after making his stage debut in Spamalot last year.

Eric observes that Agatha Christie mysteries are timeless: “Even though this novel was written almost 80 year ago, human nature has not changed all that much.  Put 10 people in a room that you know nothing about and one tends to make judgments or assumptions about people because of the way they look, their job, how they dress, their accent etc.  Christie does a wonderful job of weaving a web of mistrust and misunderstandings.”   He adds that this “show has been well cast and patrons will find some familiar faces on stage but will be delighted by the newcomers as well.”

Eric lives in Farmington with his wife Christa and kids Jack and Sydney.  He has been part of local youth theater for the last seven years, including stage managing, assistant directing and set building. He works as Branch Manager at Snelling Staffing Service’s Southfield office.

And Then There Were None has 9 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from February 9 - 25.  The show is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Karen Southworth Provides Service with a Smile in Agatha Christie Mystery

Karen Southworth as Ethel Rogers takes no guff from her husband Thomas (Rick Mickley)
as Anthony Marston (Jeff Graham) helps himself to a spot of whiskey
PHOTO: Jan Cartwright
The faces we wear in public often vary depending on who our audience is.  This is especially so of those “in service” – the manservants, maids, cooks and butlers who make up the domestic staff.  This dichotomy is especially sharp in And Then There Were None, which opens February 9 at Farmington Players Barn Theater.  Karen Southworth plays Ethel Rogers, a cook, who along with her husband, manservant Thomas Rogers (Rick Mickley), are engaged by the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Owen to prepare their island estate for a house party.  But as the story unfolds, both the guests and staff regret having ever accepted the invitation, with its potentially deadly consequences! 

Just as in Downton Abbey, the divide between the staff and those they serve is one of the subplots of And Then There Were None.  As Ethel Rogers, Karen’s character is deferential and gentile when speaking to the gentlemen and ladies of the house.  But when addressing her husband Thomas, Ethel has a whole different demeanor and dialect.   As Karen says, “Ethel is very nervous, and provides some of the humor in the beginning of the show, along with her husband, Tom Rogers and boatman Fred Narracott (played by Eric Nogas). Mrs. Rogers is a working class character, so the dialect is not as formal as some of the other characters, so that is a challenge.” But Mrs. Rogers knows how to turn on the charm when addressing her so-called superiors.

Karen enjoys reading murder mysteries and crime dramas and has also “performed in a couple of comedic murder mysteries with Get a Clue Mystery Theater …. so this is definitely a genre I enjoy!”  And Then There Were None represents a chance for Karen “to be part of an ensemble cast, and to work with my friend and our director Laurie Smalis. Laurie and I met back in 1993 when we were both in Anything Goes at the old Barn! I took dance lessons with her for several years, and I was in a couple of shows she directed with Get a Clue.”

While Karen often helps backstage with lighting at the Barn, it’s been five years since she was onstage.  This show represents a reunion with cast mates Tony Targan, Gary Weinstein and Jarrod Henderson from Legally Blonde, the Musical and she and Tony were also in Annie, both in 2013.  In this show, Karen’s scenes are “mostly with Rick and Eric, and I really have to try not to laugh most of the time! We have a great crew, too, and I am looking forward to all the details coming together.”

And Then There Were None has 9 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from February 9 - 25.  The show is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Eric Goldstein’s “General” Faces Dementia and Death with Dignity

General MacKenzie (Eric Goldstein) is off his rocker as he loses his grip on reality.
PHOTO:  Jan Cartwright
In Agatha Christie’s murder mystery And Then There Were None, the characters’ discussion often centers on one another’s mental state.  To be the murderer, one must have both the “nerve” to do it, and also be “mad” or crazy enough to carry out the deed.  Which is kind of a paradox if you think about it.  The same brain that is clever enough to plan a murder must be crazy enough to go through with it. 

In Farmington Players Barn Theater’s production of And Then There Were None, Eric Goldstein plays retired WWI General John Gordon MacKenzie.  Discipline and order is central to his being, and yet, he is clearly losing his grip on his faculties. Eric describes the General as a man who has “lived a long life weighed down by responsibility and the burden of having made decisions that destroyed and saved the lives of thousands of human beings.  These include those close to him as well as those wholly unknown.  I enjoy his struggle to carry that internally and maintain his dignity.”  The General is a paradox:  he lives in the past but seems to welcome the “blessed relief” of impending death.  Eric believes the “great challenge of this role is to project these internal struggles as they are brought out during the course of the play with face, posture and reaction -- as the path of his arc is not revealed with ongoing dialogue.” 

Eric’s legal experience as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Livonia informs his character as he observes how “those who feel their responsibilities often wonder how different things could be if different decisions had been made. We all carry within us the struggles to carry our doubts, ambitions, and regrets, perhaps more and more as our lives move forward in time.  My character is weary of the struggle -- I am not.”  This is Eric’s debut performance at the Barn, a long-awaited experience:  “It is a wonderful house -- and its community truly loves it.  The play itself is a quality piece.  Round that out by the culture of quality that this theater group exudes.  Everyone involved is ‘here to work’ and put on a good show.  As this is a well written story, all the better.  The audience will be glad they came.”

And Then There Were None has 9 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from February 9 - 25.  The show is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Michelle Feneberg Is Sharp As Acerbic Miss Brent in Agatha Christie Thriller

A disapproving Miss Brent (Michelle Feneberg) surveys the situation
as General Mackenzie (Eric Goldstein) looks on.
PHOTO:  Jan Cartwright
Rude. Righteous. Relentless.  These three Rs describe Miss Emily Brent to a T.  Miss Brent is one of ten characters at the center of And Then There Were None, the Agatha Christie classic murder mystery in which everyone is both a potential murder victim and a suspect. 

In the Farmington Players production (February 9 – 25), Michelle Feneberg plays Emily Brent in her first show at the Barn and her first play anywhere since high school!  Michelle describes Miss Brent as “an uptight, fanatically religious Bible thumping spinster who can be unbelievably rude in her comments to other cast members. What I like most about playing her is that she is the complete opposite of me, so I can really explore what it is to be rude and nasty. A real alter-ego.”  Michelle has modeled Emily after certain fanatical people from her youth in South Africa: “Overly pious people who would proclaim moral judgment on others without even the slightest concern for the mitigating circumstances these poor people found themselves in. They never showed any empathy for others and everything was simply black or white, there were no grey areas to consider.” 

In rehearsal as Miss Brent, Michelle’s words cut like a knife and she spares no one’s feelings. But in real life, Michelle is so nice that she feels bad about playing a bitch. As she confides, “I find it simply exhausting to be so uptight. I really feel quite drained after practicing Miss Brent’s lines because of her steadfast beliefs and vehement opinions. And although it is fun to spit my words out rudely, I am also grappling with the uncomfortable way that it makes me feel. I could just never speak to anyone the way Emily does, and as I utter my lines I tend to want to apologize to my fellow cast members or at least give them a look with my eyes to say I don’t mean it.”

While playing her opposite personality type is challenging, Michelle does have one advantage over her fellow actors.  Her native South African dialect is a natural fit for the English dialect required of her character. As she says, “I was a little more comfortable auditioning for this role knowing I would not have to learn an American accent. It is a bit of a cheat for me that my accent is close to the British accent. I have done a fair bit of film work over the last seven years, primarily in China, but there is not a lot of film work here in Michigan. So community theatre is a great opportunity to continue following my passion.” 

Michelle knows that Barn patrons will enjoy And Then There Were None because the “audience will be kept on the edge of their seats guessing who the murderer could possibly be, and who could be murdered next. I think the audience will also enjoy seeing the great talent we have on stage. I have been blown away at the professionalism of the cast members as well as their ability to adopt a foreign accent. It is a talent I really admire, because you have to have an ear for accents - like an ear for music.”

Originally from South Africa, Michelle has spent the last 17 years living in Germany, UAE, China, and the USA, moving for her husband’s job. She loves reading, learning languages, writing stories and articles, and ballroom dancing. She is also a professional speaker on international cultural topics.

And Then There Were None has 9 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from February 9 - 25.  The show is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Gary Weinstein Channels Colombo in His Role as Detective Blore

Gary Weinstein models his bumbling Detective Blore ...

... on another famous detective.
Like any good magician, murder mystery author Agatha Christie is well-versed in the art of misdirection.  And in her classic “whodunit” And Then There Were None, no character is better at this sleight of hand than detective William Henry Blore. Gary Weinstein plays Blore in the Farmington Players production. As Gary says, “the diversionary tactic that Agatha Christie uses in the writing of this story is one of the things that I think the audience will enjoy the most – Look, over here while something else is going on over there – totally misleading you.  A true ‘whodunit.’”

Blore is a retired investigator for the Central Investigation Department (a C.I.D. man), who now runs his own private detective agency.  Gary describes Blore as “a Columbo-like character, who is selfish, self-centered, and doesn’t have a clue who the murderer is.  His simplemindedness lends him to be the perfect character for the play’s comic relief.  His Cockney accent and his suspicious mannerisms are the things that I find most challenging in this role.”  Blore’s obsession with food and drink is also cause for comedy … and concern. As another character complains, “Do stop thinking about your stomach, Blore.  This craving for food and drink will be your undoing.”

Despite its comedic moments, And Then There Were None is definitely a drama. Ten strangers have been invited to an island mansion by an unknown host. Each one has something in their past that they wish to hide. As the play unfolds, these secrets are revealed, sometimes with fatal consequences. As Gary observes, “one of the overriding themes of the story is how a simple act, or an accident, has the ability to alter the course of one’s life, and how, if not in the moment of the incident, we may ‘pay for it’ in the long run.”   

Gary has played a number of challenging and exciting roles on the Farmington Player’s stage, including Earl Noonan in The Vast Difference, Tony in The Full Monty, Mr. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank, Robert in Boeing Boeing, Dr. Einstein in Arsenic & Old Lace, and Renfield in Dracula, to name a few.  As with his past Barn experiences, Gary “truly enjoys working with such an incredibly talented and dedicated group of actors, directors, and crew.”  Gary also likes golfing, travel, and working in his Novi jewelry store, Weinstein Jewelers, the show's sponsor.

And Then There Were None has 9 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from February 9 - 25.  The show is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Mister Rogers’ Deadly Neighborhood: Did The Butler Do It?

Rick Mickley plays  dutiful manservant Thomas Rogers
PHOTO: Jan Cartwright
In the typical “whodunit,” the butler is always the prime suspect.  In the classic Agatha Christie murder mystery And Then There Were None, Rick Mickley plays manservant Thomas Rogers, and he is certainly not beyond suspicion.  In fact, all ten house guests and staff are both potential suspects and murder victims.  When the bodies start to drop, Mister Rogers’ neighborhood is most definitely deadly!

Rick Mickley is a veteran performer at the Farmington Players Barn Theater, and he’s no stranger to dark dramas, having played Count Dracula in the Barn’s 2013 production of Dracula. By contrast, And Then There Were None presents different challenges for Rick.  He describes his character Thomas Rogers, the recently hired butler of the island estate, as “your typical, loyal, competent, obedient, English manservant who enjoys his job and the luxuries it affords him and his wife.”  Mrs. Ethyl Rogers is played to great comedic effect by Karen Southworth, and she and Rick banter and bicker like an old married couple.

Rick says he has been a big huge fan of Agatha Christie “since I learned to read. Murder mysteries have always fascinated me, and she’s arguably one of the best. Reading Ms. Marple and Hercule Poirot methodically solving the crime, with the twists and turns through the intrigue and mayhem of Agatha’s mind, kept­­ me occupied for hours.  As a Pretrial Services employee for Oakland County, I see true crime every day. I won’t say that growing up reading murder mysteries led me to my position, but I absolutely believe it made me far more observant along the way.”  Rick observes that the theme of this show is “survival of the fittest. If you’re smart and sharp in this play, you stay one step ahead of the killer, but if you don’t....  Similarly, you have to be smart and sharp to get by in this life. Responsibilities, like murderers, just don’t go away by themselves.”

Rick is thrilled to be back on the boards at the Barn: “Playing Mr. Rogers will be an exciting opportunity to show the audience my love of theater. I hope they’ll love the play as much as I do!”  He credits his cast mates with “encouraging me with their hard work and dedication to their roles to be the best I can be.” Director Laurie Smalis and A.D. Rob Wise are “tough, and they are challenging each of us to find our character and embrace the role.”

And Then There Were None has 9 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from February 9 - 25.  The show is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.