Fun House Theatre and Film
Directed by Jeff Swearingen
Set Design by Joseph Cummings
Costume Design by Tanya Paknejad
CAST (from the performance reviewed):
Lynley Glicker as Dana
Kennedy Waterman as Shelly
Lizzy Greene as Raimi Roma
Marisa Mendoza as Willa
Zoe Smithe as Georgina
Laney Neumann as Blayne
Ingrid Fease as Jenny Link
Memorie Triegle as Lemonade Stand Girl Cora
Photo Credit Chuck Marcelo
Reviewed Performance 5/9/2013
Reviewed by Joel Taylor, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Founded by Bren Rapp and Jeff Swearingen, and located in Plano, the Fun House Theatre and Film is a unique and successful arts education and entertainment organization that focuses on the development of young actors. Rapp brings her years of experience working in sports and entertainment marketing and combines it with Swearingen’s comedy skills, genius writing, directing, and being able to successfully bring out young talent’s best in productions. You may be convinced you are watching a national touring cast, then the bench seat you are sitting on, in an intimate environment, surrounded by supportive parents, will bring you back to the reality that the cast is actually a highly-talented group of young actresses that will have you looking forward to experiencing their next production. And you should experience the next production, as each I have seen at Fun House had me looking forward to coming back.
And the creative team at Fun House Theatre and Film has successfully struck again, this time with Daffodil Girls. This is an original work written by Jeff Swearingen, the resident Artistic Director at Fun House, and inspired by David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.
The actresses in this production range in age from about 7 to mid-teens. Before you say you aren’t sure you want spend money to go see a kiddie show, I will tell you that the two productions I have seen at Fun House were equal to, and in some cases better than, several professional shows I have seen over the years.
Daffodil Girls is not, in the truest sense, a remake of the high-powered story of Glengarry Glen Ross in which desperate real estate agents are prepared to engage in a number of unethical acts - lies, threats, intimidation, bribery, burglary - to achieve their goals. But the snappy, biting and witty script and the ultra-talented young actresses in this show will have you buying into the very serious business of cookie sales . . . at all costs!
The set design by Joseph Cummings is so good it made me want a tree house like that of my very own. Outside of the tree house is the local watering hole. In this case it is the local lemonade stand, staffed by the young girls that serve the patrons their drinks. The lemonade stand looks like what you would picture any neighborhood lemonade stand to be. Camouflage -type netting hangs over the down stage right area. The genius of this set design, though, is what is inside the tree house.
Picture in your mind the board room or conference room of a high-powered company, in which the over-stressed sales personnel meet to make deals and brag about the deals they have made. Now, replace that vision with a room that includes slogans on the walls, reminding you of less polished versions of motivational sayings in any sales conference room, wall color choices that blend young innocence with the corporate world, and the ironic touch of using stacks of cookie boxes for the desks and furniture.
Costume designs by Tanya Paknejad may have been inspired by the uniforms of another scouting organization, especially seen during annual cookie drives, including berets, blouses, skirts, high stockings and the all-important achievement badge sashes. The striking differences are the use of the daffodil yellow colors. While the uniforms lean towards parody, there are enough differences in styling and the way the uniforms are worn to make them uniquely Daffodil Girls.
The Light and Sound Crew of Doak Campbell Rapp and Jaxon Beeson do an excellent job of making sure that all of the acting areas are well-lit and are effectively heard.
Anytime a stage production is loosely based or inspired by the original film, there may a tendency to study the movie and try to copy the characteristics of the actors that made the film so successful.
This seems to be the case in this production. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to learn from the great actors such as Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Alec Baldwin and Jack Lemmon. Though several of the talented actresses in stage channel the original actors, they also include enough of their own personalities and talents to make the roles their own.
Most of the action takes place in the conference room of the tree house, where each character connives and struggles to be the top in cookie sales and will stop at almost nothing to achieve this and the prize and badge that goes with it.
It is in the tree house where each character plots their strategies, frustrations, hopes and dreams - from trying to get the key selling spots in front of the grocery stores to selling to sports teams instead of having to walk door to door. It is where actresses, such as Laney Neumann, as Blayne, colorfully, puts down and tries to demean the younger Daffodil Girls by telling them that they do not have what it takes to succeed. That they will never be as successful as she and the older, more experienced girls, and they can only hope to someday be as successful as she. This is also where Lizzy Greene as Raimi Roma arrogantly stands up to everyone with an “in your face” attitude, stating she can do what she wants and will win the top
sales prize and the prestige that goes with it.
It is also enjoyable watching Marisa Mendoza, as Willa, whose parents are the leaders of this Daffodil troop. Mendoza plays Willa as pensive, stubborn and when trouble happens, the one who will get to the bottom of it. Kennedy Waterman, as Shelly, is so much fun to watch as she tries so hard to gain the approval of her parents and friends by succeeding as the top in cookie sales by doing what all good sales people do…
When you watch the confrontational scenes in the tree house, you will marvel at each actresses’ ownership of their roles, the way they are not afraid to tackle the adult scenes and conflicts, brilliantly written for a younger age level.
The play’s pacing and the actresses’ understanding of the deeper levels of the story further demonstrates their talent and that of the director. Fun House Theatre and Film’s Daffodil Girls is seriously funny and will have you laughing as you watch the young girls handle the highly competitive business of…. cookie sales. This show is seriously funny!!
Fun House Theatre and Film at Plano Children's Theatre
1301 Custer Road, Plano, TX 75075
Brought back by demand from June 5th through 8th Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at 7:30 pm, and Saturday at 11:00am. All Tickets are $8.00.
For info go to www.funhousetheatreandfilm.com or call them at 214-564-5015.