Our Current 2018-2019 Season:

Our Current 2018-2019 Season:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hannah Weinraub Chases Broadway Dreams as Nora in Brighton Beach

Hannah Weinraub as Nora glamming for the camera with sister Laurie (Meilin Hilton)
PHOTO by Paul Manoian

Sisters can be best friends, but they can also be rivals for their parents’ attention and affection.  This is especially true in Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, where teenage sisters Nora and Laurie struggle with the loss of their father, and vie for the approval of their widowed mother Blanche.  In the Farmington Players production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, Hannah Weinraub plays Nora, who she describes as a “very ambitious, bright and mature 16 year-old girl who dreams of being a dancer on Broadway.”  Like Hannah, Nora is “very close in age, has one sibling and shares similar dreams” of a theater career.  Hannah says, “I enjoy so many things about playing this role. First off, Nora is incredibly dramatic. She spends a lot of time during the show getting emotional and crying. As an actress, crying on stage is always a blast.”

To relate to her character, Hannah has had to “draw from my own personal experiences of feeling like I’m not enough. It isn’t really fun to go back to those feelings, but it has helped me realize that everyone feels like that about themselves. It is our job to choose whether or not we believe that.  Along with that, a relevant theme in Brighton Beach is inner peace.”   Peace is often hard to come by in the Jerome family, with seven people – including four teenagers – living in cramped quarters under one roof.  Hannah can relate to the fact that “everyone has family drama, and this play shows the inner workings of a family with quite a bit of it.” Director Maureen Mansfield echoes this theme: “No matter who you are or what your family is like, there is something about this show you can relate to.  It will hit close to home and open your eyes as to what your family truly means to you. Families still worry about unemployment, war overseas and keeping a roof overhead.  Puberty still hits, siblings still argue and families still support ... despite the setting, the issues are the same.”

Hannah knows audiences will love this show, saying, “I have never been apart of something so eye opening. Brighton Beach Memoirs shows audiences the true importance of being there for your family and also being there for yourself. Although there is a bit of serious material, the show is mostly a comedy with a dramatic flare. Honestly you’ll feel every emotion watching this show. Each character has a metamorphosis during the show. They each try to find their inner peace, which makes this show so extremely special.”  

Hannah calls Farmington Hills home and discovered her love of performing with the entertainment group, The Earth Angels. She appeared in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in 2016, and says, “I am so excited to be back on the Barn stage, especially with such a great group of people. Getting to know this cast and crew is an absolute joy.”

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.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Grayson Kennedy Puts Family First as Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs

Grayson Kennedy as Eugene Morris Jerome
PHOTO by Paul Manoian
Brighton Beach Memoirs is Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical tale about growing up in a Jewish family in 1930s Brooklyn. In Frank Rich’s New York Times review of the original 1983 Broadway production, he observed: “Far more than most Simon plays, ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ deals explicitly with the Jewishness of its people. While one might fear that this development could lead to caricature, it generally does not. Mr. Simon's characters - the seven members of the extended Jerome family of Brighton Beach - are, for all their archetypal manners, appealing. Even though Mr. Simon is trying to come to terms with his less-than-rosy Depression adolescence, he looks back not with anger but with an affection that is too warm to be fake.”

In the Farmington Players production, Grayson Kennedy plays 15 year-old Eugene Jerome, presumably the character modeled after a young Mr. Simon.  Eugene also serves as the plays narrator, frequently breaking the fourth wall to address the audience, to great comedic effect.  Grayson describes his character Eugene as “a typical, horny teen boy being raised in an impoverished Jewish family in the late 1930s. I relate a lot to Eugene in many ways; being the youngest of a family and growing up without money. Sharing these similarities with Eugene have helped me fully understand and emulate his problems on stage.” 

Director Maureen Mansfield describes Brighton Beach Memoirs as “a coming of age story with many themes. Most of all, Brighton Beach Memoirs is about family.  A family with bonds that are intense and unbreakable despite the wrinkles of real life.  A family that faces adversity but instead of having it tear them down, they find a way to have it bring them closer together.”  Family is also of paramount importance to Grayson, who says, “Growing up, I have always been tethered to my mother; she always offered me a shoulder to cry on, and no matter how angry I made her she was always there to help me. In recent years the roles have reversed as I now take care of her after her stroke. Without her, I don’t know where I’d be today. I’d be nowhere without my family.”

Grayson knows that audiences will relate to Brighton Beach Memoirs because “it’s flat-out hilarious. Neil Simon has masterfully crafted a realistic, hard-hitting family drama without sparing us of his trademark laughs. The cast and creative team is committed to putting on a great show, and I believe audiences will recognize that.” Grayson is entering his senior year at Grosse Pointe South High School and plans to pursue a BFA in acting next year. When he’s not on stage, Grayson says, “I work as a dishwasher at Jumps Bistro and take care of my mother. So far Brighton Beach has been an absolute dream, and my on stage family is really starting to feel like a real one.”

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.