Thursday, February 12, 2009

we're in the paper!

cast photo

Here's a really nice review from the Michigan Journal:

A Nice Family Gathering

by Anton Anderssen
Posted: 2/10/09

"You can always tell a Norwegian, but you cannot tell him much," said Thad AArdål, at the monthly meeting of the Sons of Norway, Nordkap Lodge.

Norwegians are known for their persistence, or as others might say, stubbornness. I come from a long line of Norsemen, going back over 1,000 years, and I know from family legends, a Scandinavian can be a real stitch.

Now showing at Rosedale Community Players is the comedy "A Nice Family Gathering," written by Norwegian-American Phil Olson.

Scandinavians are known for being emotionally reserved, nothing like the Italians who scream and yell and fling their arms at every opportunity. In the play, Carl Lundeen, Junior (played by the effusive Joseph Marzka) is visited by the ghost of his recently deceased father. Carl, the elder, regrets never having told his widow he loved her during their long marriage, and his soul cannot rest in peace until his message of love is made known to her. So he harasses Carl Junior to channel his spirit.

Joseph Marzka is thrilled to play the role of Carl. "I like him because he's the nicest guy in the world; he takes everything in stride. Obviously in any family there are issues of sibling rivalry among brothers and sisters. Carl adores his mother - he's definitely a mamma's boy."

The story line is interesting due to the dichotomy of not knowing his father cared for him, feeling alienated and frustrated, when in reality it was the exact opposite.

"There are times when you get caught up in daily living, and you just don't see how much people love you - you put your horse blinders on and don't really see the world around you," said Marzka.

And on a more scandalous note, it's always intriguing to catch up on those family secrets that are usually hidden in the closet, like who's drowning in debt, who got pregnant without being married, who's driving a BMW when he should be driving a Volkswagen, who is sterile, who's having a nervous breakdown, who's going senile, who's got a stash of cash squirreled away, and who feels like committing suicide.

"The actors did such a great job, I felt like I knew them all," said Diana Pianko of Oak Park. "Their individual characters came through so well."

Michèle Stevenson, an actress with SRO Productions in Southfield, was greatly impressed by the quality of the performance. "I felt bad for Stacy because I know what it's like to be the youngest child. I was the last of six children, and I felt all my life like I had to fight just to be noticed."

Stacy (played by Lisa) delivers a hilarious presentation of the last-born, who is treated as if she were simply an afterthought.

"A Nice Family Gathering" has this type of humor in it. Some parts of it are hysterical. The characters on stage fit real people.

Carl drives a truck for Pillsbury, and dreams of being a journalist. He gets no respect - the crazy old woman next door tells him his head is too large, and carries on about his size 13 feet.

Barbara Mathers, who plays Widow Lundeen, makes demented comments exactly the way my nanny did after she developed Alzheimer's. At one point I laughed until I had tears in my eyes. It's almost as if Phil Olson and I had the same old senile nanny.

Mary David, who came with over 50 of her closest friends from the Saint Andrew's Society, said she loved this play, especially the ending, which was an about-face to the zany pace of most of the play. "It suddenly turned into a bit of a tear jerker, just as you got to feel for the characters."

Ron Cunningham of Hazel Park loved Widow Lundeen. "Every time an uncomfortable situation arose, her solution was always to change the subject and ask 'Who wants pie?'" He laughed, "She's channeling Aunt Bea!"

"I love the family interaction in this play," said Claudia Scott, producer of the show. "I think the cast did a great job developing these characters. I think when the audience watches it, we can relate to the characters and the awkward family situations, and maybe find a little bit of our own family in this show."

The actors are, without doubt, superb. They won first place in ActFest, a biennial statewide theatre competition, for the past two championships.

A great part about this production is the theatre setting. Instead of being squeezed into a tiny seat, packed like sardines in rows, Rosedale Community Players offers cabaret seating. Instead, viewers sit at a large table, with a comfortable, padded chair, and soft candlelight. It would be a nice night out for a Valentine's treat. What makes this theatre unique is they allow you to bring a picnic to enjoy while watching the show.

Scott David, president of Saint Andrew's Society of Detroit, brought in dozens of pizzas and salads and desserts for everyone to enjoy. It was really a fun way to see community theatre.

You don't need to be Norwegian to enjoy this "Nice Family Gathering" - the Scotts loved it, and so will you. For tickets and reservations, please call Margaret Bross at (313) 537 7716 or RCP (313) 532 4010. For further information, visit

© Copyright 2009 Michigan Journal

1 comment:

Gen said...

What a great review! And you got a mention! YAY!