Our Current 2018-2019 Season:

Our Current 2018-2019 Season:

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.

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