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'A Nice Family Gathering' with village players

Dad, Mike Kaul, reads Carl's, James Sommers, newspaper column. (click for larger version)
November 03, 2010 - Whether it is the "middle child syndrome," the wealthy but still in need brother, the sister with the secret, or the elderly parent "losing it," Clarkston Village Players' "A Nice Family Gathering" is a heart touching comedy every family can relate to.

"I love the whole idea of the family, it's so different from other family shows I've done," said Director Al Bartlett. "I just felt this family was one where people will be sitting in the audience and they'll see their sister, their brother or their dad."

The play is about a family who gets together to celebrate Thanksgiving at mom's house. It doesn't take long to find out each family member has their own personal issue to deal with, but the one thing they all have in common is the death of their dad. However, Carl, the middle child hasn't quite lost him yet. His father's ghost has returned to ask Carl to help him fulfill one last task so he may rest in peace.

"For coming back after not being on stage for about 15 years, this is a heck of a change and to audition and get the lead role, it's been a joy and stressful all at the same time," said James Sommers, who plays "Carl." "My character, it's kind of the typical middle child. He is kind of upset everyone else has the attention and mad at dad for not paying attention to him. By the end it's a total emotional change."

Sommers said the play really hits home on some things.

Karen McClellan, plays the youngest sibling "Stacy" who is ignored and forgotten about by the entire family.

"She is totally different from me," said McClellan. "So, it's fun to play someone who is not like yourself."

Cindy Haaseth, who plays the weepy sister-in-law "Jill", agreed.

"It's a fun character to play because instead of being so serious all the time, my emotions help break things up," she said. "They make me a little younger on stage than I am, so that's always fun too."

James Hoxey who plays Jill's husband Michael described his character as the "only straight shooter of the play."

"He's a bit of a jerk of course, so it's always fun to be able to play that," he said.

Jan Cable who played the part of "mom" said she is the "monarch of the family."

"She loved her husband, and was a busy doctor's wife, so she had to make sure she was well kept up," Cable said. "She was also a very good mother."

Mike Kaul who plays the "Ghostly Dad" said he liked that nobody sees him.

"It kind of makes it easy because I don't have to react to a lot of stuff the other characters have to, I'm kind of separate," he said. I also like the fact he's kind of sarcastic and a smart aleck, but actually has a sensitive side that comes out."

Mel Case, who plays Jerry, dad's old golfing buddy, said it was nice to play a smaller part because he was able to watch more of what's going on in the play.

"It gives me a chance to get out of myself and not spend a lot of time at home studying lines," Case said. "This particular part was fun."

Shows are November 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13. Thurs. shows are at 7:30 pm, Fri. and Sat. shows at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m. To order tickets or for more information call 248- 575-4104 or visit www.clarkstonvillageplayers.org.

"We're in a time right now where sometimes people get away from this whole idea of a family and the unity of it," Bartlett said. "This is just a nice little play that reminds us the importance of the people in our lives, our families and the ones we love."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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