A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, the play opening Village Players' 90th season, examines a man's struggle to balance his life between politics and conscience in the time of Henry VIII. At this time, we might want to call the play, "A Play for Election Year." Get a first look at the cast in the photos below!
This Tony Award-winning drama details the end of the life of Thomas More, the man who held the title of Chancellor of England, his country's highest political office. He wanted to remain loyal to the king and at the same time to his conviction of conscience. He fought King Henry VIII, and eventually lost his head.
As director Dale Feldpausch says, "What attracted me to this play is the idea of a man staying absolutely true to himself in the face of enormous pressure, and at the risk of losing everything. How refreshing it would be, in our time to have statesmen who did not change their stances based on the latest focus group findings or survey results." Feldpausch is the president of Village Players for the current season. He lives in Ferndale and is a self-employed real estate appraiser.
Thomas More eventually became a saint; but during his life, he was known for his wit and humor. Much of it is liberally displayed in the play.
Mike Dundas, the actor who plays Thomas More, seems to recognize the importance of his role and the questions it seeks to answer when he says, "I feel as if I have a huge responsibility." Dundas, who lives in Southfield, is married to the Stage Manager of the show, Pam Dundas to whom he offers "thanks for her patience with three months of chanted, muttered, and shouted Oxford English around the house." Both are are very active in the Wing and a Prayer Players, a theater group associated with the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Birmingham.
The antagonist and the apparent villain of the piece, is Thomas Cromwell the prosecutor. While More struggles with conscience and duty, Cromwell shows little guilt or regret as he "does his duty." Stephen Sussman, an architect who lives Bloomfield Hills and practices in Birmingham, plays Cromwell. Steve says of his character that he was not a real villain. "He really wasn't a bad guy."
The exact character opposite of the conscientious More is Richard Rich, the young man who succumbs to the lures of power and glory and eventually betrays More. He is played by Brendan Alpiner of Franklin. The youngest member of the cast, Alpiner is a senior at Birmingham's Groves H.S. But he must be old beyond his years since his Rich is no callow youth, but a multi-faceted antagonist.
Playwright Robert Bolt conceived the character of The Common Man, who takes many roles in the play and who represents all of us who observe and make judgment about the happenings of the world. Gradually, he takes on the guilt of what he observes. He is portrayed by Ralph Rosati, a veteran of area community theaters.
This is a play about a serious subject, but it is also a play that takes place in the court of Henry VIII, full of its majesty and trappings. Audiences who have seen the many movies and television shows that feature the Tudors will recognize the names: Henry VIII (Scott Welborn of Troy), Cardinal Wolsey (Gary Mach of Beverly Hills), Cranmer (Bryan Conroy of Royal Oak).
Director Feldpausch wants the audience to participate in the historical drama, but then ask itself the question, "What would you give up in order to stay true to your beliefs?"
A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS plays Sept, 7, 8, 14, 15 at 8 p.m.; Sept. 9 & 16 at 2 p.m. at Village Players Playhouse, 34660 Woodward, Birmingham (2 blocks south of Maple). Visit www.birminghamvillageplayers.com for tickets and more information.
Photos courtesy Village Players.
Joyce McGookey of Royal Oak, Mike Dundas of Southfield, Kori Beilaniec of Livonia
St, Thomas More (Mike Dundas of Southfield) is confronted by his prosecutor (Stephen Sussman of Bloomfield Twp.)
Stephen Sussman of Bloomfield Twp., Mike Dundas of Southfield, Brendan Alpiner of Franklin
David Reinke of Novi, Mike Dundas of Southfield