|Grayson Kennedy as Eugene Morris Jerome|
PHOTO by Paul Manoian
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.