Stormchasing among friends at Stormfield Theatre

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“I’m playful; I use the meridians of longitude and the parallels of latitude for a seine, and drag the Atlantic Ocean for whales. I scratch my head with lightening and purr myself to sleep with the thunder.” – Mark Twain

I like the sound of it: “Be a stormchaser at Stormfield,” Kristine Thatcher told the audience at the last weekend performance in October of mid-Michigan’s newest professional theater, Stormfield, which she founded in Lansing, MI.  Thatcher is artistic director at Stormfield Theatre (located in the Frandor Shopping Center at 201 Morgan Lane). So, with that request, I’m out passing the word along, to be a stormchaser at Stormfield.

Being among friends, enjoying the theatre’s first big production, Among Friends, was delightful. The play, written and directed by Thatcher, came alive with the three-man cast: local Equity actors John Lepard and Aral Gribble, as well as Bill Bannon from Chicago.

Thatcher’s script, Among Friends, is the story of three longtime friends, Dan (Lepard) who is  a real estate developer, Will (Bannon) who is a school teacher, and Matt (Gribble),  an appliance salesman at Sears.

Encore Michigan,  in a review, outlines the story well:

“Dan is by far the most successful of the three and appears to be a model citizen. But when Will surreptitiously discovers the lionized Dan cheating at cards, he decides to explore exactly how deeply the rot goes. Both funny and poignant, Among Friends plumbs the nature of friendship and the jealousy and resentment that sometimes lie just beneath the surface.

My husband and I, along with our friends, were familiar with Lepard, who is also director of the Williamston Theatre, which previously held the title for the newest professional theatre in mid-Michigan, having been founded in 2006.   We’d followed Lepard’s career there, and had seen Gribble in a production there.

Thatcher couldn’t have had three better actors for the roles of the three friends. We came away, transfixed, to put it boldly.  Among the four of us, Among Friends was instantly rated: Thumbs up!  For anyone who’s struggled with keeping an even keel in relationships with friends, Thatcher’s play is eye-opening, and enlightening.  And all three performances made it so.

In the program, Thatcher recounts how the play came into being, after she was challenged by a friend to expand on a scene between two men, that she’d written for “Emma’s Child.”  “So he gave me the following assignment: ‘Your play has to have a cast of three men, and take place on a unit set.’”

Almost to wit’s end, a visit from another friend at the cabin where Thatcher was working to create the script, turned out to be the trigger of a story idea (based on an experience of a couple of mutual friends) that, as Thatcher says, “came pouring out of me” the next day, an all-day rainy day.

Among Friends won the 1997 Scott McPherson Memorial Award from Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, where it premiered.

Stormfield Theatre is officially in place with this production, and noted Thatcher at the end of the show, the theatre plans to continue at the Frandor location, having been blessed with a long lease for the building, a former judo studio.  Stormfield may now add its voice to the artistic endeavors of theatrical mid-Michigan.

Performance information for Stormfield Theatre may be found at  www.Stormfieldtheatre.org. Phone: Arts Council Box Office at 517-372-0945.

Other links:

Stormfield Theatre, Frandor

About Kristine Thatcher: “The ‘Eye’ of the Storm” – artistic director and founder of Stormfield Theatre

Williamston Theatre, Williamston, MI: Executive Director John Lepard

The story behind the creation of Stormfield Theatre

“’What Thatcher hopes to make with Stormfield is a company based in the Old Town neighborhood of Lansing that produces new plays. The name comes from a work by a great American writer: Mark Twain’s short story, ‘Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.’ Thatcher says she asked McCabe, an old friend, for permission to resurrect the name and he was enthusiastic about it.’” – Kristine Thatcher in PerformInkOnline.

The Mark Twain element to Stormfield TheatreOne learns peoples through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect.” – Mark Twain

Among Friends review in Lansing City Pulse

LansingCityPulse talks about the new Stormfield Theatre and the autumn theatre season in Lansing

A “Stormchaser” lauds Among Friends and invites the public to join in the adventure of the new theatre

About Susan Parcheta 100 Articles
Susan G Parcheta dreamed of being an inspirational writer, even as heading off after college to a teaching job. While teaching was not her passion, words were -- writing many years for Livingston newspapers, especially in the areas of education, health and wellness. The dream continues: to inspire creative, healthy living and to explore new concepts of body, mind, spirit. Her signature theme “All Things Beautiful” invites you to embrace the beauty and imagine the possibilities that life has to offer. She lives in Gregory with her husband, Jerry, and their fluffy, pointy-eared -- and always lovable -- cat, Spock.