Some 23-year old actors would be daunted by the prospect of portraying a cranky middle-aged man. But Ethan Hedeen is unfazed by his role as SheriDan Whiteside in Paul's Players upcoming production of the classic comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner.
"I've never played my true age in any role," says the Livonia native and graduate of the musical theater program at Western Michigan University. Hedeen, who already has more the 20 theatrical productions under his belt, says that playing an older person "takes a certain mindset. I just have to be careful not to overdo it!"
Hedeen is not the youngest cast member in the show, which runs November 16, 17, and 18 at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church. That distinction belongs to Bernard Pagarigan, a 17-year-old senior at Franklin High School. The multi-generational cast also features Livonia residents Rachel Kain, Katie Frame, Rebecca Roberts, Rachel Harkness, and Ginny Hurst, as well as Richard Hutchison from Royal Oak and Karen Curtsinger from Canton.
Working with actors from a wide range of ages and backgrounds is one of the things Hedeen most appreciates about community theater. "I grew up in a theater family," he says, referring to his parents who are both active participants in local theater groups. "I love watching people get the acting bug."
Hedeen caught the bug in seventh grade when he participated in a comedy workshop at Second City. His interest in musical theater peaked during his years at Churchill High School, where he was involved in both the all school vocal music and CAPA programs.
He plans to base his adult career in comedy, and hopes to return to Second City as soon as the opportunity arises.
Playing SheriDan Whiteside - an acid-tongued theater critic from New York City who wreaks havoc on a midwestern family when forced to recuperate in their home - gives Hedeen a chance to refresh his comedy skills. "Where else but community theater could I get an opportunity like this?" he say. "Playing a leading role this far out of my age range is a great challenge and a lot of fun."
The Man Who Came to Dinner runs November 16 and 17, 2012, at 7:30 p.m., and November 18, 2012, at 2:00 p.m., at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, 27475 Five Mile Road, Livonia. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for children 12 and under. To reserve tickets, call 248.347.4134, or e-mail email@example.com.
Paul's Players is a community theater group based in Livonia, Michigan, and housed in St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, 27475 Five Mile Road. The group was founded in 2011 by Patricia Hutchison, a retired Livonia Public School music and drama teacher. Its mission is to provide opportunities for people of all ages to participate in drama and musical theater. Now entering it's second full year, the group's most recent production was held in July 2012, and was a musical workshop of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat featuring a cast of 30, ranging in age from 5 to 50, and coming from seven different communities in the metropolitan area. Other productions during their 2011-2012 season included Remember When, a salute to veterans of World War II, a musical review, Love Notes, featuring local actors/singers Allison Boufford and Jason Wilhoite. Each year in June, Paul's Players also sponsors Broadway Bound, a musical theater camp for middle school students.
Also coming up for the 2012-2013 season are the musical Quilters, and Jerry Smith, Family and Friends, an evening of musical entertainment, featuring long time Livonia educator and musician Jerry Smith, and members of his musical family.