Monthly Archives: May 2013

Review and Video of “Looking for Normal”


Did you know there is just one more weekend left to catch Looking for Normal, Actors’ final show of the 2012-2013 season! Last week reviewer Sue Merrell saw the show. She gave Looking for Normal 3 out 4 star review on From her article:

Although the central issue is one most families will never face, you don’t have to look too far to find lots of “normal” folks with responses that are far too familiar.

You can also preview a trailer of the show, here:

Performances this week are Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 PM. Tickets are selling fast, so be sure and reserve yours today by going to and clicking the big green BUY TICKETS NOW button!

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Opening Night and 2013-14 Season Announcement – TONIGHT

Actor Craig Hammerlind rehearses a scene for the upcoming Actors' Theatre production of "Looking for Normal", which opens May 23, 2013 Photo Credit: Dave Kagan, Sensitography

Actor Craig Hammerlind rehearses a scene for the upcoming Actors’ Theatre production of “Looking for Normal”
Photo Credit: Dave Kagan, Sensitography

It’s Opening Night for Looking For Normal. Do you have your tickets? Orchestra seats are mostly sold out, but there are still a few available at Click over and reserve yours today!

From Fred Sebulske, Director:

“I thought Looking for Normal was a play about being transgendered when I was first given it to read by Actors’.  Since I knew very little about the topic, it interested me.

As I began to dig deeper into the text, it became a play about the broader topic of identity and how gender and gender roles define us and often limit us, putting barriers that close us off from one another.

Now, as the play is about to open, I think the play is about ‘family’ and about how broadly we need to define that concept in order for us all to find our place.”

From Craig Hammerlind,  Roy:

“I was interested in doing this because the subject matter made me uncomfortable. I was fearful of it,” Hammerlind admitted. “So I figured I needed to face my fears. The only problem with doing this part was an internal one. I didn’t get it. So I wanted to understand it.”

The above quote was taken from a great article by Todd Chance on

Opening Night of the last show of the season is special for another reason too:

Tonight we announce the 2013-2014 Season!

Be there and be among the first to know what entertaining, innovative, challenging and thought-provoking theatre we’re bringing to West Michigan!

Also (yes! there’s more!) opening night features a reception by the fantastic West Michigan Caterer!

Opening Night Season Announcement


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Final Dress! “Looking for Normal”

It’s final dress night! Looking for Normal opens on Thursday and we are all excited over here! Make sure you get your tickets to opening night at:

Check out this great cast:

Dave Benson (Frank)Dave Benson Photo

Dave was last seen at Actor’s in the 2012 Grand Award winning production of August: Osage County. His role in this production marks the third time that Dave has been directed by Fred Sebulske; a fact that he is very proud of. Dave has also been seen on the Grand Rapids Civic theatre’s stage in Our TownCharlotte’s Web,Harvey, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Carlee Bleeker (Patty Ann)Carlee Bleeker Photo

Carlee makes her Actors’ Theatre debut as Patty Ann. Having appeared in 15 community theatre productions, some of her favorites include; Grand Rapids Civic Theatre: Willie WonkaSara Plain and TallThe Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Carol; Youth Theatre Grand Rapids: 13The Musical for which she won National Youth Theatre’s 2010 Outstanding Supporting Actress award in the role of Lucy in NYC; Circle Theatre: Annie and Honk!; Rockford High School:Footloose!.

Kitty Carrico Carpenter (Grandmother Ruth)Kitty Carrico Carpenter Photo

A veteran of many Actors’ Theatre productions, Kitty was last seen on the Actors’ stage in Frozen. Other Actors’ credits include: How I Learned to DriveOur Country’s GoodSideman. Most recently, Kitty was seen in Circle Theatre’s production of Steel Magnolias.

Jim Chervenka (Roy Senior)Jim Chervenka Photo

Jim is excited to be returning to the Actors’ stage after last appearing in last year’s Grand Award winning August” Osage County. This time, he returns with his wife Linda at his side. After 36 years as the Technical Director for the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Jim has retired and is now moving from backstage to on-stage; recently performing in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at Civic Theatre.

Linda Chervenka Photo Linda Chervenka (Em)

Linda was born in NYC, the oldest of 6 and an Air Force brat. She met her husband, Jim on the stage in high school in Dayton, Ohio. They were married on the stage at Aquinas College after they had both graduated; Jim with a degree in Speech and Drama and She with a BA in Theatre and Psychology. They have 4 children, all of whom are somewhat involved in theatre. Linda has directed plays at Circle Theatre, Aquinas, various high schools and Stepping Stones Montessori School where she taught creative dramatics for more than 27 years. She also taught acting and improv classes at Aquinas College for 10 years. Linda has been on stage at Circle a lifetime ago and in Free to Be You and Me at Civic Theatre.

Samantha Gauthier (Irma)Samantha Gauthier Photo

Samantha was last seen on stage in Circle Theatre’s production ofSame Time Next Year and she is thrilled to be working opposite Craig Hammerlind once again. She is also excited to once again perform with Kitty Carpenter, one of her cast mates from Steel Magnolias also at Circle Theatre.

Craig Hammerlind (Roy)Craig Hammerlind Photo

Craig is happy to be returning to the stage of Actors’ Theatre. He has previously been seen in Actors’ productions of The March of the Falsettos, Les Liaisons Dangeruse, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, A Man of No Importance and Rabbit Hole. He has also been seen in productions for Circle Theatre, Civic Theatre and Jewish Theatre of Grand Rapids. Professionally, he has worked at Tibbits Summer Theatre in Coldwater and Turkeyville in Marshall.

Andrew McClelland (Wayne)Andrew McClelland Photo

Andrew makes his second appearance at Actors’ Theatre since performing in last season’s Grand Award winning production ofAugust: Osage County. His recent theatre credits include Taming of the ShrewAntigoneThe Wednesday WarsHamletSense and Sensibility, and Milosevic at the Hague which was performed at the Joakiminterfest in Kragujevac, Serbia. Andrew is pursuing acting and theatre as a career and will be moving to Chicago in the fall.

Don Vanden Heuvel (Reverend Muncie)Don VandenHeuvel Photo

Don is making his third appearance on the Actors’ Theatre stage. He was previously seen in Bach at Leipzig and last season’s production of Ampersand. Other area credits include Duck Hunter Shoots Angel,Funny Money (Grand Award nomination), Rumors and See How They Run (Grand Award nomination), at Circle Theatre. He has also appeared in Laughter on the 23rd Floor and The Value of Names at Jewish Theatre of Grand Rapids.

Photo credit: Dave Kagen

Photo credit: Dave Kagen

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Behind the Scenes of “Looking for Normal”

A Brief History of Looking for Normal:

Director Fred Sebulske gives feedback as the cast and crew rehearse a scene for the upcoming Actors' Theatre production of "Looking for Normal", which opens May 23, 2013. Photo Credit: Dave Kagan, Sensitography

Director Fred Sebulske gives feedback as the cast and crew rehearse a scene for the upcoming Actors’ Theatre production of “Looking for Normal”, which opens May 23, 2013. Photo Credit: Dave Kagan, Sensitography

First performed as a workshop in the 1998 New Work Festival at the Mark Taper Forum, Looking for Normal received its first full production at the Geffen Playhouse in 2001 and featured Beau Bridges in the role of Roy. The Hollywood Reporter described it as “thoughtful and touching and full of wit and wisdom.” The play was subsequently adapted as the HBO original movie Normal (2003) and starred Jessica Lange as Irma, Tom Wilkinson as Roy and “Nashville” star Hayden Panettiere as the couple’s teenage daughter Patty Ann. The Actors’ Theatre production marks the first production of Anderson’s play in West Michigan

Jane Anderson, PlaywrightJane Anderson photo

Jane’s plays have been produced Off-Broadway and in theaters around the country, including Actors Theater of Louisville, The McCarter Theater, Long Wharf, ACT, the Geffen Theater and The Pasadena Playhouse. Her published plays include Looking for NormalThe Baby DanceDefying GravitySmart Choices for the New CenturyLynette at 3AM and The Last Time We Saw Her. Her most recent play, The Quality of Life, premiered at the Geffen Playhouse and was directed by the playwright.

Ms. Anderson resides in Los Angeles and in Marin County in Northern California with her spouse Tess Ayers and their son, Raphael.

Fred Sebulske, DirectorFred Sebulske photo

Next to Normal marks Fred’s 59th directed production for Actors’ Theatre. Recent directing credits include 2012’s Next to Normal,August: Osage County (Winner: 2012 Grand Award for Best Production of a Play), 2011’s Spring Awakening (Winner: 2012 Grand Award for Best Production of a Musical), 2010’s Distractedand recently, at Circle TheatreHair.  Among his many awards and accolades, he is the recipient of 12 Grand Awards for outstanding direction, the Norma Brink Lifetime Achievement Award and the Arts Council Arts Award.

Fred is the founder of Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids.

To see more “behind the scenes” photographs, check out this album of rehearsal photos on Actors’ Facebook page: Rehearsals for Looking for Normal.

Reserve your tickets for our final show of the 201202013 Season at!

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“Looking for Normal” Article on

Did you see this great article by K.D. Norris on mlive about “Looking for Normal”? Here is an excerpt:

Actor’s Theatre closes its season with a timely take on normal life

Samantha Gauthier, of GR, as mom and Craig Hammerlind, of GR, rehearse scene. Photo by Brian Forde

Samantha Gauthier, of GR, as mom and Craig Hammerlind, of GR, rehearse scene.
Photo by Brian Forde

K.D. Norris |

The Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids likes to choose plays that examine the human experience, are often thought provoking, and usually leave the audience with a smile on their face.
The group certainly has a play which lives up to that billing with Jane Anderson’s Looking for Normal, running May 23 —June 1 at Grand Rapids Community College’s Spectrum Theater, 160 Fountain St. NE.

“Looking for Normal will close out our season with the kind of play we are known for producing: entertaining, innovative, and thought-provoking live theatre,” said Jonathan Clausen, Actor’s Theatre director of development. “We felt Looking for Normal explores the transgender issue in a way that was sensitive and timely. It’s a warm, yet funny play.”

(Read the rest of the article here.)

“Looking for Normal” Opens Thursday night! Performance dates are May 23-25 and May 30 – June 1. Be sure and click over to and reserve your tickets today!

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