‘Queen of Lansing Theater’ returns to the BoarsHead stage

By |2006-03-30T09:00:00-05:00March 30th, 2006|Entertainment|

LANSING – It’s seemingly been ages since the undisputed “Queen of Lansing Theater” last appeared on the BoarsHead stage, but local fans of Carmen Decker are in for a treat when the acclaimed actress returns in the world premiere production of “Moonglow” beginning March 30.
A co-production with Ann Arbor’s Performance Network Theatre, the poignantly funny drama by Kim Carney delighted audiences and critics alike during its initial run earlier this year. And who was the talk of the town? Why, none other than Decker, of course, since the production served as the actress’s Detroit area debut. It was a warm welcome for both the play and its talented star.
“It’ll be interesting to see if it plays any differently here than it did in Ann Arbor,” the actress laughed from her home in the Lansing area last week. “I thought Ann Arbor audiences seemed to like it very much.”
In “Moonglow,” Decker plays an elderly woman moved against her will to a home for Alzheimer patients. Although it takes her a while to adjust to her new surroundings, she eventually meets another resident with whom she has an affair. However, given their states of dementia, she believes he’s her long-ago ex-husband and he thinks she’s his beloved wife.
Carney’s delicious script is based upon her own mother’s experiences in a similar facility, and it was she, Decker believes, who suggested the actress for the lead role. Although Decker wasn’t thrilled about the daily commute to Ann Arbor, she accepted the role – and treated herself to a hotel room across the street from the theater. “It wasn’t the Grand Hotel,” she chuckled, “but it served its purpose.”
It was a nice experience, Decker said. “It was exciting to do a new play with a new director in a new theater, and with actors I’ve never worked with. I liked the director [Jim Posante]; he’s very kind; he’s a generous director.”
But it’s the BoarsHead where the Illinois native and four-time Wilde Award nominee is best known. After earning a master’s degree from the University of Iowa, Decker and her sons moved to Lansing where her then-husband found a job in the art department at Michigan State University. A couple of moves – and several years – later, Decker returned – sans husband. “I couldn’t think of any other place to go.”
So she began appearing in musicals staged by Lansing Civic Players. “I did all kinds of things I had no business probably doing,” she recalled, but the wives of BoarsHead founders John Peakes and Richard Thomsen spotted her in a production of “Gypsy” – and the rest is history. Since then, 33 years, three artistic directors and more than 100 productions have passed, and plans call for Decker to appear in two more shows next season.
But for now the popular actress is focused on “Moonglow.” “I took Kim’s lines and did what I could with them, and one hopes one has done it truthfully and honestly,” Decker concluded.

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