2022-23 season

2022-23 season

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Shayla Curran Grows Through Motherhood Roles

Shayla Curran excels in dual roles.  Expectant mothers face different fears, whether birth mother (red-headed Lizzie) ...

... or adoptive mother Allie (with Jason Wilhoite as Kevin)
PHOTOS by Jim Kelly

If “necessity is the mother of invention,” then one actor inventing two very different mothers is a performance that needs to be seen. In Let Nothing You Dismay at the Farmington Players, (November 30 – December 15), Shayla Curran plays the dual roles of Allie, the adoptive mother, and Lizzie, the birth mother.  Shayla reflects on the challenges of playing these two opposite women:  “I realized that though they live very different lives, they would share similar fears about having a baby. Allie is a wife, a rocket scientist, has a high-achieving family, but unfortunately, can’t have children. Lizzie is young, poor, and got ‘knocked up by her Jet’s delivery man boyfriend.’ Adoption is very emotional for everyone involved; everyone feels some kind of fear. Is the birth mother going to change her mind? What if I wasn’t mean to be a parent? What if I regret giving this baby up? What if they don’t raise this baby the right way? Putting myself in the shoes of these two women, I wanted those different fears and emotions to tell them apart rather than their looks or lifestyles. It’s been challenging to flip between emotional mindsets rather than character traits, but it’s what makes them more relatable.” 

Growth is a major theme of Let Nothing You Dismay. Shayla observes, “Allie and Kevin are literally about to grow as a family while Lizzie and Leonard are about to grow emotionally as two people making a huge decision to give their baby up for adoption. Life is a road full of uncertainty, big decisions, and realizations that you might find from the most unexpected people.”  Shayla relates this to her own path to personal growth: “I see myself surrounded by my own set of kooky family members and friends that have stood by my side, even when I was being the biggest pain in the butt. Life will toss some hard situations at you, but you are never alone and growth is the doorway to happiness.” Shayla also equates leaping into her first-ever Farmington Players experience with her own growth as an actor: “Even though I’ve been involved in the theater community for most of my life, I actually had never set foot in the Barn before auditioning for this show. I was feeling an itch to try something new and meet people. I read the script and loved the challenge of playing multiple characters. I knew that this would be a fun opportunity to try something new.”  From the first day of auditions, Shayla knew she had made the right choice: “I remember being at auditions and thinking to myself ‘I’m having so much fun auditioning with these people, I could do this all day!’ I think that right there says it all.”

Even though Let Nothing You Dismay is not well known (the Barn is staging its Midwest premiere), Shayla knows that audiences will love this show as much as she does: “Let Nothing You Dismay is hilarious. It’s warm and fuzzy. It’s relatable. Everyone in the show has put so much thought into the characters and relationships that the audience is going to be able to relate to one or more situations and get a good laugh in.” 

Michigan born and raised, Shayla describes herself as an “outdoor, animal loving girl who also enjoys working and exploring in Detroit.”  She recently bought and renovated her first house and has performed in theater since she was 10 years old, first playing Woodstock in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.

Let Nothing You Dismay has 3 remaining performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater from December 13, 14, 15.  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.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Tristan Seaver Is Seriously Silly in Warm-Hearted Holiday Farce

Tristan Seaver plays three diverse roles:  DENNIS, the banker (with Kristi Schwartz as Tawny) ...

JERRY, a merry and gay old soul (with Shayla Curran as Allie) ...

... and RICH (upper right), the brow-beaten husband of Angie (in scrubs, played by Ansley Barnard)
PHOTOS by Jim Kelly

In Let Nothing You Dismay at the Farmington Players (November 30 – December 15), 10 actors play 25 characters in a fast-paced yet sophisticated farce centering on the birth of a child on Christmas Day.  As adoptive parents await their baby’s arrival, their entire extended families descend on the hospital.  The stakes are raised when the birth mother flees after having second thoughts about giving up her baby.  Amid constant costume changes and hilarious one-liners, the action is fast and furious. And yet, despite all the hilarity, the play’s messages about family and forgiveness are heartfelt and sincere.   As Tristan Seaver says, Let Nothing You Dismay is “the perfect mix of silly and serious.”
Tristan plays three very distinct characters and he enjoys the challenge in their “variety, their different backgrounds, manners of speaking, slouching, relationships, and world views. Each character has their own voice, posture, and hairstyle.”  Dennis is a thrice-divorced banker who only understands financial motivations.  Tristan calls him “a somewhat emotionally stunted individual. He does have feelings, desires, dreams, and goals, but he often can't express them well with other people, and he's gotten far too used to using money to fix his problems. It takes a little while for him to get into the swing of regular family interaction.”
Tim and Jerry are a gay married couple that arrive in ugly Christmas sweaters and matching Santa hats.  Tristan plays Jerry, who he describes as “a very interested observer. He's along for the ride and loves every minute he can be a part of it. Whether it's the hide-and-seek of finding the birth mother Lizzie, the relationship talk and distraction he has with adoptive mother Allie, or the bit of drinking he attempts with Tawny, he's mildly intoxicated with the whirlwind experience he's involved with.”
Rich is the browbeaten husband of Angie, a successful neurosurgeon.  Tristan imagines an inventive back-story for him:  “Rich has been beaten by life. With no stated accomplishments of his own, I assume that he's a househusband. He'd thought he'd gotten a winner with a Jewish wife that's intelligent, determined, and accomplished, but such a woman easily took the reins on his life and has never let go. He can't even control his kids, because they know that he doesn't have the final word in anything. He's similar to Jerry in that he's along for the ride, but he's a VERY unwilling participant.”
I asked Tristan if he can relate personally to the crazy families portrayed in Let Nothing You Dismay.  His response: “On several occasions I know for certain that I've ruined family meetings. Or at least made them far more interesting for all involved parties. But every time it happened I believe I was trying to follow through on the maxim of providing my family with what I decided they needed.”
Tristan was drawn to Let Nothing You Dismay because “it hit a lot of positives for me. I like doing community theater, I like meeting new people, I like farces, and I like playing multiple characters in the same show. This is my first show at the Barn, but everyone has been warm, welcoming, and wonderful.”  Tristan was born and raised in the Detroit area, and he recently returned from China.  He has worked as a teacher, missionary, line worker, and plastic factory worker, and currently drives for Lyft.  As for hobbies, he says, “When I'm not involved in theater, I enjoy other forms of pretending, like playing video games, playing Dungeons & Dragons, and weight lifting.”
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 boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.