|Ansley Barnard (kneeling) as Kaitlyn struggles with a bassinet as adoptive parents|
Allie (Shalya Curran) and Kevin (Jason Wilhoite) look on, during early rehearsals.
PHOTO: Laurie Smalis
In Let Nothing You Dismay, adoptive parents Kevin and Allie await the birth of their child on Christmas Day. Against their wishes, their extended families descend on the hospital to welcome the new addition. Eight actors play 22 roles in this crazy holiday farce, which makes its Midwest premiere at the Farmington Players (November 30 – December 15). Ansley Barnard plays three roles, and she has clearly put a lot of thought into each of her characters:
“Kaitlyn is easily discounted as a dumb blonde and is often ignored or put down by other people. While she can be a bit silly, mostly she's loving, helpful and hardworking. She wants everyone to feel as happy as she does and strongly believes in the importance of family. Playing Kaitlyn is a joy because of her never-ending enthusiasm. …
“Brianna is quite mysterious. Playing her is an interesting challenge in movement because she spends a lot of time on stage without speaking. She is someone that will make an immediate impression on someone, but also fades into the background unnoticed. It's a tricky balance. I take inspiration for Brianna's character from the most eccentric artists I've met and enjoy bringing out her dramatic side. Brianna can be severe and sarcastic, but she finds endless amusement in the pitfalls of other people's lives. …
“Angela is a fun character to play because she's almost completely unlikable. I want the audience to see her the way her sister Allie does: selfish, domineering, and arrogant. But Angela is also someone that refuses to settle, and I like that about her. Even though she's abrasive, she is productive and driven. As with all the characters in the show, Angela is trying to keep her family on track even if her priorities are somewhat questionable.”
The predominant theme of Let Nothing You Dismay is family, and the extended Gordon and Sapperstein families definitely put the "fun" in "dysfunctional"! Ansley thinks “LNYD will showcase that sort of crazy loving relationship. My husband and I got married this year, and I can relate to Kevin and Allie's experience blending their families. Luckily our families are not this intense, but there's always a little apprehension when you bring everyone together for a big event. You just can't plan for everything.” She knows audiences will love this show because “everyone has found themselves in an awkward family event at least once. There's at least one character in the show that will remind you of someone you know and hopefully you'll laugh along with us.” The cast has definitely enjoyed itself during rehearsals, and keeping a straight face can be challenging. As Ansley says, “I'll often start laughing in rehearsal when one of the actors nails a good line or brings something new to their character. I think audiences will pick up on how much fun we are having and make it a fun experience for them.”
2018 has been a whirlwind year for Ansley. In addition to getting married, she traveled to Italy and Japan, and performed in two Barn shows (Into the Woods). She comes from a family of professional actors, and is returning to the stage after a 10-year hiatus to focus on her engineering career. Originally from the west coast, Ansley moved to Michigan four years ago to work in the auto industry. She used to design and test bodywork for IndyCar, and now works in software. But her most out-of-this-world experience was last year while “pursuing my teenage dream of becoming an astronaut.” Ansley served as an “analogue astronaut for a program called HI-SEAS. It's a NASA-funded Martian analogue mission to study … the psychological challenges of being isolated and confined for years at a time for these longer missions. Six of us were selected to live in isolation for eight months in a remote dome-shaped habitat on the side of Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. The geography is desolate and we didn't leave the habitat except wearing protective suits. We had no phones, no Internet, and no live communication with other people. It was unlike any other place I've ever been and it was both as special and as difficult as you might imagine.”
Let Nothing You Dismay has 10 performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater from November 30 – December 15. The show is proudly sponsored by Weinstein Jewelers. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.