‘Greetings!’ production offers holiday laughs, message

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published December 13, 2017

 Alex Macksound sits while Bob Cox. In the back row stands Bob Hotchkiss, left, Amy Lauter, center, and Maureen Mansfield — all in the Christmas offbeat comedy “Greetings!”

Alex Macksound sits while Bob Cox. In the back row stands Bob Hotchkiss, left, Amy Lauter, center, and Maureen Mansfield — all in the Christmas offbeat comedy “Greetings!”

Photo provided by Jan Cartwright

FARMINGTON HILLS — What do you get when a Catholic family, preparing for Christmas, is introduced to their son’s Jewish fiancée, who is also an atheist?

The offbeat Christmas comedy “Greetings!” by Tom Dudzick, of course.

The Farmington Players’ production, which opened Dec. 1 and runs until Dec. 17, centers around Andy Gorski — played by Bob Cox, of Ann Arbor — who arrives home for the holiday with his Jewish fiancée, Randy, played by Amy Lauter, of Farmington Hills. Tensions rise as beliefs clash. 

In a press release, Dudzick told the Farmington Players that his work is partly based on his own history and former girlfriend, who was Jewish.  

“I thought it might be fun to imagine what it would be like to take her home to Buffalo to meet my very Catholic parents, maybe on Christmas Eve, and write a play about it,” Dudzick said in the release. 

Another addition to the story is Andy’s mentally challenged younger brother, Mickey, played by Alex Macksound, of Farmington Hills.  

According to the press release, Mickey turns everyone’s belief system upside down with a stunning revelation.

“A spirit of sorts comes through him (Mickey) and really speaks about people’s beliefs and faiths, and kind of shakes up everybody,” said Lauter.

Lauter said that her character — Jewish by birth, atheist by choice — had situations occur in her life that made her question things.

“A lot of interesting conversation ensues when they (Gorski’s family) find out about her non-beliefs,” Lauter said, adding that in the end, everyone questions what might be out there.

The press release states that the parents in the working-class family from Pittsburgh are Phil and Emily Gorski, played by Bob Hotchkiss, of Bloomfield Township, and Maureen Mansfield, of Farmington Hills.  

Dudzick said in the press release that the characters are a “precise portrait” of his own parents.  

“My father used to gripe and grumble all day, just like Phil. And my mother did her best to keep her good humor,” Dudzick said in the release. “Like Phil, my father was a ballplayer, but basketball, not baseball.”

Director Barbie Weisserman, who is directing “Greetings!” for a second time, said that the production is being staged by the Farmington Players for the first time. 

She said that the moral of the production is acceptance, nonjudgment and re-examination.

She added that the production is touching for a lot of audience members.

“People walk out crying — it is so moving (that) it’s funny,” she said. “There are surprises all along.”

She added that her favorite part of “Greetings!” is at the very end of the play, when loss is fully looked in the face.

“A family member whose wellbeing is in peril — and my favorite part is I feel it when the actors do it. I feel it, and I still cry,” she said. “That is my favorite part — the cast is phenomenal.”

Lauter said that the cast has worked “extremely hard” under the tutelage of Weisserman and a co-director. 

“They pushed all of us kind of further than maybe we were expecting, but in a good way. To get as real as possible, to kind of look within,” she said.

Lauter added that the scaled-back production (with a five-person show on one set) allowed time to focus on the acting and the emotions.

“I’ve seen people coming out in tears, people coming out laughing … a lot of really incredible, touching moments,” Lauter said.

Cox said that his character lives in New York and is a business professional. He added that he is similar to his character in that they both have a sense of humor. Cox said he actually auditioned for the younger brother role.

“It works out better that way,” he said of the current casting.

“People tell me it touched them,” he said, adding that the show is about bringing the spirit of Christmas into more people’s lives.

“Love and tradition, spirit of Christmas, and a sense of wonder” are what Cox said the show presents.

“I think this show definitely brings a sense of wonder to the stage,” he said.

Showtimes will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 14-17. Reserved seats and tickets are available at both www.farmingtonplayers.org and the box office — call (248) 553-2955 or email boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org.

On Dec. 14, “Thrifty Thursday,” tickets cost $16.

The Farmington Players Barn is located at 32332 W. 12 Mile Road.