Tag Archives: The Drawer Boy

Actors’ Theatre in the Grand Rapids Press

The Drawer Boy will end the Actors’ Theatre season on a sweet note.

By Sue Merrell | The Grand Rapids Press

Actors' Theatre production of "Drawer Boy." From left Dylan Harris as 'Miles', Greg Rogers as 'Angus' and G.M. Bud Thompson as 'Morgan'.(Photo credit: T.J. Hamilton | The Grand Rapids Press)

May 09, 2010, 8:50AM

“After all the angst of this year’s shows, it’s just a sweet play about two old farmers,” said director Fred Sebulske.

“Knowing the reputation of Actors’, people are going to come in expecting something darker and more complicated. It is complicated, but I hope people will go away with the idea that what has happened is something noble.”

First of all, “The Drawer Boy” is not the story of a boy hidden in a chest of drawers. The title refers to one of the farmers who liked to draw when he was a boy. But there is something hidden that will be uncovered during the course of the play…

Be sure and read the rest of the article, here on www.mlive.com.

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Actors’ Theatre 2010-2011 Season Announced…

at the opening night of The Drawer Boy! We have tons of great things in store for the 2010-2011 Season.  It’s our 30th Season and we have a wonderful line up of terrific shows.  Want to learn more?  Come check it out for yourself – get your tickets for The Drawer Boy today and be the first in the know!

Performances for The Drawer Boy:

May 13 – May 15, 8PM
May 20 – May 22, 8PM

Tickets range from $22.00 for adults to $8.00 for student rush tickets an hour prior to performances. For Thursday performances, a second ticket is $10.00 with the purchase of the first ticket at full price. The box office number to reserve tickets is (616) 234-3946. Or click below to purchase your tickets online:

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The Drawer Boy: The Power of Art

By: Michael Dykstra

We’ve saved the biggest surprise for last: The Drawer Boy, the fifth and final production of our 29th thrilling season, is anything but a “typical” Actors’ play. There’s no sex, no nudity, no drugs and no violence. It’s not set in a gritty urban environment, nor does it expose the sordid underbelly of Americana. And if you can believe it, not a single F-word is uttered over the course of two acts.

No, you haven’t wandered into that other theatre around the corner. While the expression of the ideas in The Drawer Boy may be a bit more subdued than the usual Actors’ fare, the ideas themselves are every bit as challenging and thought-provoking as any others we’ve tangled with this season.

The Tale of a Not-So-Simple Life
At its heart, The Drawer Boy is about the power of art and the potential of storytelling to heal as well as harm. The play is set in 1972 on a farm in Clinton, Ontario, where two World War II vets live a quiet existence working the land. Morgan and Angus have lived together on the farm ever since their enlisted days, Morgan serving as the caretaker for the mentally scarred Angus, who suffered a brain injury in a London bomb blast. The injury also robbed Angus of his youthful talent for drawing and transformed him into a savant-like math whiz, a trait that serves as the source for a good deal of the play’s gentle humor.

The routine these two gentleman have established is interrupted when Miles, a young actor, comes to their door. He’s working on a theater project about farm life and wants to experience it first-hand. Morgan agrees to let Miles stay at the farm as long as he earns his keep. Miles displays a woeful ineptitude for farm work, but he finds comfort in the after-dinner tale Morgan tells Angus every night under the stars. It’s a story of love and loss, of two English women who had accompanied Morgan and Angus back to their farm after the war with intentions of marriage, only to be tragically killed in a car accident.

When Miles invites Morgan and Angus to a rehearsal for the play he’s written, the duo discovers that Miles has “stolen” their story. For Morgan, it’s a devastating betrayal. For Angus, it’s the key to unlocking long-buried memories that conflict with Morgan’s oft-repeated tales. Thus begins an emotional yet understated journey that reveals the true history of Morgan and Angus’ relationship.

One of America’s Most Popular Plays
The Wall Street Journal reported that The Drawer Boy was the fourth most-produced play in the United States during the years 2000 to 2010, with 36 separate productions during the decade. (This list excludes the plays of Shakespeare and seasonal productions like It’s a Wonderful Life.) However, as with all Actors’ productions, it’s never before been staged in Grand Rapids.

It’s also never been staged in New York, either on- or off-Broadway. The closest it’s come is the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, a fabled theatre that has launched many a Broadway show. (Just not this one). This production, which debuted at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater in 2001 before moving to New Jersey, starred John Mahoney – the long-suffering father to TV’s “Frasier.” Audiences adored it. Broadway producers, not so much.

Canadian Playwright Michael Healey

Apparently, these producers didn’t check the box office receipts in Canada, where The Drawer Boy was an unqualified smash. It premiered in Toronto at Theatre Passe Muraille in 1999, and was subsequently staged at Toronto’s opulent Winter Garden Theatre before touring all the nation’s major regional theatres. The Canadian theater community awarded The Drawer Boy with the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play, a Chalmers Award and a Governor General’s Award.

The Drawer Boy was written by a Canadian, Michael Healey, who had himself ventured into the rural heartland of southern Ontario in the 1970s, interviewing local farmers and their families. Healey and a fellow group of actors use these experiences to create a “landmark Canadian theatrical event” – The Farm Show. This experience, in turn, inspired the playwright to pen The Drawer Boy as a tribute to the power of the performing arts.

This is a power Actors’ Theatre has been invoking to entertain and challenge audiences for almost three decades now. Just as Morgan and Angus are forever changed by viewing the play within a play in The Drawer Boy, we hope that every Actors’ production moves you to examine and refine your view of the world.

Performances for The Drawer Boy:

May 13 – May 15, 8PM
May 20 – May 22, 8PM

Tickets range from $22.00 for adults to $8.00 for student rush tickets an hour prior to performances. For Thursday performances, a second ticket is $10.00 with the purchase of the first ticket at full price. The box office number to reserve tickets is (616) 234-3946.

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A Backstage Peek at “The Drawer Boy”

Peaking over the shoulder of Steve Nardin, Sound Designer

It’s almost here!  The Drawer Boy by Michael Healy, Actors’ Theatre final production for the 2009-2010 Season, opens Thursday, May 13th! You won’t want to miss this fantastic production about trust, friendship and the healing power of art.

It takes a lot of hard work to put together a show, and the week before opening is a busy one! Currently, the team of designers are using their creativity and putting the final touches on the show – adding all those light, sound, set and costume elements that bring a play to life.  Cast and crew are working together on these last rehearsals, practicing the scene and costume changes, and getting everything down pat.  Everyone is working together to turn the Actors’ Theatre stage into a farm house in Clinton, Ontario in 1972.

Costumes, hanging in the scene shop, ready to go.

Tickets for The Drawer Boy are on sale now.  Seating prices range from $22.00 for adults to $8.00 for student rush tickets an hour prior to performances. For Thursday performances, a second ticket is $10.00 with the purchase of the first ticket at full price.

Performances of The Drawer Boy:

May 13 – May 15, 8PM
May 20 – May 22, 8PM

Click here to purchase your tickets online:

Or, call the box office number reserve tickets at (616) 234-3946.

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Together on the Same Road

by G.M. (Bud) Thompson

When we started rehearsing The Drawer Boy in March, Fred reminded Greg Rogers (Angus), Dylan Harris (Miles) and myself (Morgan) that the play takes place in Clinton, Ontario, Canada. Clinton is a small community in the farm belt of Ontario that was actually the hub of the original Farm Show; a theatre project which made Canadian theatre history back in the 70’s and serves as the starting point for the events in The Drawer Boy.

Herman & Johanna's farm in Clinton, Ontario, Canada (Photo © 2007 Freek Ramaker)

Having some time on my hands one day, I started searching the internet in hopes of at least finding some pictures of the Clinton area, just to get a feel for and a sense of connection to the region. I found a few pictures of sunsets and grazing cows that were taken in the vicinity.  But then I stumbled across a picture of a farm, actually in Clinton, that looked so much like the farm Angus and Morgan might live on that I felt I had been there already.

I was able to track it back to a photographer… in the Netherlands!  All of the text on the photographer’s website was in Dutch, but, with the help of an online translation program, I was able to determine that the farm he had photographed belongs to his brother, Herman.

The photographer’s website had an e-mail link.  Might it be possible, with his help, to establish a connection with an actual farmer in Clinton?  Using the online translator, I wrote an e-mail, with the message in Dutch and in English, explaining about our play, my finding his photo, and asking if he would ask his brother if we might contact him, should we need insights into Canadian farming.

Three days later, I received an e-mail from Frederik, the photographer, telling me that he had forwarded my e-mail to his brother in Canada.  A few days after that, my phone rang and it was Johanna, the wife of Herman, the farmer in Clinton.

Herman (in the white shirt) and his tractor (a tractor plays a major role in the beginning of THE DRAWER BOY) (Photo © 2007 Freek Ramaker)

Johanna and I had a long and wonderful conversation about farming, our play, and their life in Ontario. They bought their farm in the ’70’s (when our play takes place), had since gotten out of dairy farming and into sheep (dairy became too expensive and not cost-effective, an issue we address), and they had been to various theatre productions in the area, so they were more than happy to help.  One of the last things she told me was that, on nights when the moon is full, you can hear the coyotes howling in the distance.

In The Drawer Boy, I believe that Miles learns a valuable lesson about the beautiful… and fragile… relationship between life and art.  So have I.

Deep and sincere thanks to Frederik, Herman and Johanna for their warm welcome and willingness to help (and especially to Frederik, who gave his permission to use his photos here).

From Grand Rapids to Duiven, The Netherlands, to Clinton, Ontario, Canada, and back to Grand Rapids.  Frederik tells me that there is a saying in The Netherlands to remind them that we share the world: “Samen op Weg.”  Together on the same road.  It has been an honor to share this road.

To see more pictures of the farm, the Clinton area, or Frederik’s photos in general, visit:




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