|Nancy Cooper (right) as Blanche Morton with her stage sister|
Pamela Martin (left) as Kate Jerome
PHOTO: Paul Manoian
Of all the characters in Brighton Beach Memoirs – Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical play about a Jewish family in 1930s Brooklyn – Blanche Morton experiences the greatest transformation. In the Farmington Players production (opening September 28), Barn veteran Nancy Cooper plays her opposite in Blanche. As Nancy says, “playing Blanche allows me to demonstrate a different side of myself. I consider myself to be a strong, determined, self-reliant person, and Blanche is quite the opposite. She lives at the mercy of other people, and is dependent for her living. She is insecure about her abilities as a mother, and about her worth as a woman. I have had the same insecurities at different times in my life, and have to tap into those feelings, which for me are quite uncomfortable.” However, during the course of the play, “Blanche confronts her insecurities and truly grows as a person. That is the type of character development all actors long to portray!”
Brighton Beach Memoirs is the 18th Neil Simon play performed by the Farmington Players, and although Nancy is a long-time member, this is the first time she’s been in one of his productions. As she says, “I have always admired Neil Simon’s work. I love the way he writes in such a natural flow of speech for an actor, and his characters are fully developed and well-rounded.” Director Maureen Mansfield believes “this play is about the humanity, compassion, virtues and failings of the very real characters onstage and the constant collision of love, anxiety, fear and frustration that shapes their relationships. 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.”
Nancy echoes the play’s “family ties,” saying “the strongest theme for me in this play is ‘family sticks together.’ No matter what happens to you, you know that family is always going to be there. You may lose a job, or even lose a spouse, but nothing is too big that family can’t help you through. I have always found this to be true in my own life. I have experienced many up and downs, many successes and many losses, and at the end of the day, it is always my family that is standing by my side.” Nancy believes family is the reason that Brighton Beach Memoirs is still relevant today, “because it is about family, and family is always relevant. The topics of growing up and becoming who we are meant to be will always be relevant.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.