Our Current 2019-2020 Season:

Our Current 2019-2020 Season:

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Lark Haunert Relates to Giving Up the Stage for Love in Drowsy

Lark Haunert is the center of attention as Janet van de Graaf in The Drowsy Chaperone
PHOTO: Jan Cartwright

Unless you’re from Canada, you’ve probably never heard of Janet van de Graaf, a Canadian improv artist and television actress.  But even if you have, you’d never guess that what started out as a spoof of old musicals at her engagement party in 1997 would evolve into a 2006 Broadway musical – The Drowsy Chaperone – about a 1920s musical called The Drowsy Chaperone, in which the lead character is called – wait for it – Janet van de Graaf!  Talk about art imitating life!

In the Farmington Players production of Drowsy (April 26 – May 18 at the Barn Theater), Lark Haunert plays her “dream role” of Janet, who she calls “funny and sweet, and while the struggle she faces – giving up the stage for love – is presented as comedy, it is definitely something I identify with.”  Although Lark is a model of physical fitness – she is an elite runner and teaches Zumba classes – she says “Janet is one of the more physically demanding roles that I've ever played.  Just standing still, her songs require a lot of breath support so putting them together with the dancing has been a challenge that I have really enjoyed pursuing!”  

Just like the show’s narrator, the Man in Chair, Lark can relate to “how visceral an experience listening to musicals can be.  The Man in Chair takes you through how much he loves The Drowsy Chaperone and how it relates to times and experiences in his life.  While the presentation of this is comedic, it is also endearing and heart warming.  Not only does the show itself pay homage to the genre, while not taking itself to seriously, it also embodies what I love most about musicals: how the music and story can make us feel, connect with other things that are going on in our daily lives, or allow us to escape them for just a little while and be swept into the music and story.”  

Lark knows musical theater lovers will enjoy Drowsy because the show “contains most archetypes in musical theater rolled into a funny story with cute, funny, endearing music, clever dialogue, and lots of dance numbers!  It really is a fun and entertaining show that I hope many, many people get to see!”

Lark grew up in Canton and moved back here a few years ago, and is raising her 10 year-old son, CJ.  She currently works at the University of Michigan.  Lark has really enjoyed her first experience at the Barn:  “Performing makes me feel alive, and it has truly been wonderful working with this cast and crew.  I am new to the Farmington Barn and everyone has welcomed me with open arms.  I am so grateful to have been cast and share the stage with this dedicated, talented and fun group!”

The Drowsy Chaperone has 12 performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater from April 26 – May 18.  The show is proudly sponsored by Tru-Vista Wealth Advisors.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Barbara Bruno IS the Drowsy Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone, a Play About the Play, The Drowsy Chaperone!



Barbara Bruno is the Chaperone, who is often drowsy from drink. 
The Chaperone is the favorite character of the Man in Chair (Edmond Guay)
PHOTO: Jan Cartwright 
Acting is an interesting balance of fantasy and reality.  Actors dress up and get to pretend to be someone else, often a character that possess qualities or powers that they can only dream of.  And yet, the best actors’ performance draws from their own experience, keeping it real while living someone else’s life.  Such is the juxtaposition facing Barbara Bruno, who plays the title role of the Chaperone in the Farmington Players production of The Drowsy Chaperone (April 26 – May 18 at the Barn Theater).

In the play, the Chaperone is often drowsy from too much drink.  Barb describes her character as “this wonderful grande dame of the theater with a touch of the bar room bawd about her.  It's great fun to play the sophisticate in one scene and then broad physical comedy in the next.  What's challenging about the role is that she isn't written with a lot of ‘jokes’ in her lines.  All of the comedy comes from what the actor chooses to do with it, what the actor brings to it.”

Drowsy is narrated by the Man in the Chair, who takes the audience on this ride.  The Chaperone is the Man’s favorite character.  As Barb says, “He loves her for how fabulous she is.  The challenge is playing that in ways that are grounded in who you are - trying to find the most appealing things about yourself and bringing them to the fore.  You simply can't copy what someone else has done with the role - it won't work.”  Barb tries to balance being grounded in reality with exploring the fantasy world created by the show: “As actors, we are fortunate to be able to play in a fantasy world, complete with costumes and orchestrations!  In truth, I spent most of my childhood re-enacting my favorite books and movies and embodying my alter ego, who was everything I was not:  brave, strong, powerful.  Fantasy is a way we can get in touch with those qualities we don't believe we possess.  The funny thing, though, is that the very ability to imagine those qualities means that they are within you.  The Chaperone is fun and confident, and I've noticed that these aspects have seeped into how I feel about myself.  It's good to remember in those times when I'm feeling down on myself that there are wonderful things about ourselves that, once we imagine them, we can bring out into the light and into our lives.”

Barbara knows that audiences will relate to Drowsy’s themes of escape: “It's all about escape - and we all need that.  Life can be unrelenting drudgery - the song As We Stumble Along summarizes the struggle that is just living life. There's always something else that needs to be done or some problem that needs to be solved. We all need an escape from it every once in a while.  There's nothing so comforting as spending some time in a fantasy world where you are everything you ever hoped you could be in a world that is exactly as you think it should be.”

While Barbara has enjoyed her other Barn performances including Stepmother, Into the Woods; Sara Jane Moore, 
Assassins; and Leta Encore, Ruthless, she considers the Drowsy cast to be “one of the most wonderful groups of people that I've ever seen assembled for a production.  Everyone gets along famously and we're having a truly wonderful time. It's such an incredibly talented group.  If folks have even a fraction of the fun we're having, they are going to have a marvelous time!”

The Drowsy Chaperone has 12 performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater from April 26 – May 18.  The show is proudly sponsored by Tru-Vista Wealth Advisors.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Madeleine Bien is Tres Bien as Drowsy Ensemble Member


 
Madeleine Bien (left, kneeling) is part of the talented ensemble
that plays multiple roles in The Drowsy Chaperone
PHOTO: Jan Cartwright
The Drowsy Chaperone is a show-within-a-show narrated by an unnamed man in a chair who takes the audience back in time has he recalls his favorite 1920s musical entitled – you guessed it – The Drowsy Chaperone.  The Farmington Players production of Drowsy runs April 26 – May 18 at the Barn Theater. 

Like many musicals, Drowsy involves larger than life lead characters and a small ensemble that sings, dances, and portrays multiple supporting roles.  In the Barn’s production, ensemble member Madeleine Bien plays such diverse characters as a maid, a monkey, and an aviatrix's assistant.  As Madeleine says, “Since the characters are already inherently different, it's pretty easy to jump from one to the other.”

In Drowsy, one of the lead characters Janet is struggling to decide whether she wants to leave the stage with all its fame and fortune for a husband she just met. She even loses her mind over it at one point in the show. Madeleine can relate to certain aspects of this struggle.  As she says, “It's extremely relatable for me as I've often considered the very same thing, whether I wanted to make a career out of my passion for the stage or give that up to focus on starting a family. Fortunately, it's not as black-and-white as that. Many of us in the cast have families of our own and are able to maintain the busy rehearsal schedule that the show requires while still keeping up with everything at home. It certainly speaks to the devotion of the cast and their ability to put on an amazing show despite having many other things to juggle in ‘real life’.”

Madeleine knows that audiences will love Drowsy because of “The TALENT. The comedy, the timing, the music, the people. There's something for everyone in this musical.”  She fell in love with this story because of the comedy and the music, saying, “I have a huge appreciation for musicals that can make me laugh (like, really laugh, not just chuckle), with music you can belt to, all topped off with a big crazy dance number!”

Madeleine hails from Southfield and studied theater at Wayne State University in Detroit before transferring to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo to major in French. She has organized an improv Meetup, a French Meetup, and an A-Capella quartet. She works at Volkswagen Group of America. Madeleine says, “The cast of this show always finds a way to make me laugh, on or off stage. They are a phenomenal bunch of people that I hope to have the pleasure of working with again in more shows to come. Cynthia Tupper, our director, is fantastic, and finds unique ways of pulling the show together to make it an unforgettable musical.”

The Drowsy Chaperone has 12 performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater from April 26 – May 18.  The show is proudly sponsored by Tru-Vista Wealth Advisors.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.


Monday, April 8, 2019

Putting on the Ditz: Julia Turner is Ditzy Flapper in Drowsy

Julia Turner (left) as Kitty and Lark Haunert (right) as Janet with Barbara Bruno (center) as the Drowsy Chaperone
PHOTO:  Jan Cartwright

The Drowsy Chaperone is a parody of American musical comedies in the 1920s, and any portrayal of the Roaring Twenties would not be complete without a flapper girl!  A “flapper” is defined as “a fashionable young woman intent on enjoying herself and flouting conventional standards of behavior.”  Julia Turner plays Kitty, a ditzy flapper girl in the Farmington Players production of Drowsy (April 26 – May 18 at the Barn Theater). 

Julia describes Kitty as “very sweet and very na├»ve.  She is not the brightest but has good intentions.   Kitty is a bit jealous of Janet and craves the spotlight because she truly believes she is a star.”  Julia says she “fell in love with Kitty” on her first reading of the script: “The character description for Kitty literally read ‘dumb blonde chorine’ and of course the running joke now is that I was perfectly type-cast for the role!”

Julia believes that “most people have their one show, book or movie that they are enamored with and see themselves as a part of the story.  As a little girl, I was captivated by The Little Mermaid.  As far as I was concerned, I was Ariel.”  Similarly, as Julia says, “The Man in the Chair has so many personal connections and memories that go along with The Drowsy Chaperone and takes the show to heart.” Drowsy is actually a show-within-a-show, jumping from the Man’s narration in the present back to the 1920’s. The Man’s passion for Drowsy draws the audience in and their experience is enhanced by his enthusiasm for it.

Julia describes The Drowsy Chaperone as “a period piece with fun, colorful costumes, big dance numbers, and even blindfolded roller skating! This show is fun and cheesy but has a lot of heart, and you can’t help but to love the characters. The blatant jokes and stereotypes in this show are over the top and hilarious.  Audiences will relate to Janet’s conundrum of whether to stay in the spotlight or settle down as a wife.  Everyone knows a Mrs. Tottendale, who you can’t help to love even though she may have a few screws loose.” 

Julia’s involvement in theater started in high school in Toledo (Surprise!) Ohio.  After moving here a few years ago with her husband from West Virginia to Royal Oak, she was inspired to return to the theater.  Julia made her Barn debut last year as Rapunzel in Into the Woods.  Julia is “so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this fun, fast and hysterical show.  The Farmington Players have given me the creative outlet I’ve been craving alongside an incredibly talented, supportive and HILARIOUS cast and crew.” When not performing, Julia enjoys travelling, watching and playing sports and spend most of the summer either boating on Lake Erie or off-roading on trails in Northern Michigan.

The Drowsy Chaperone has 12 performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater from April 26 – May 18.  The show is proudly sponsored by Tru-Vista Wealth Advisors.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.


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