BWW Interview: Miranda Jane of GRUMPY OLD MEN at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
The romantic comedy Grumpy Old Men first came to life as a film in 1993 starring Jack Lemon, Walter Matthau, and Ann-Margret. With book by Dan Remmes, music by Neil Berg, and lyrics by Nick Meglin, Grumpy Old Men was adapted to the stage as a musical described by critics as "unconventional but sincerely sweet" (Leo Buck at buckingtrends.me). Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre takes on this delightful story of friendship and love February 20-March 28. Miranda Jane plays the role of Ariel, Max and John's beautiful and eccentric neighbor.
BWW: Tell us a little about yourself.
JANE: I'm Miranda Jane, and I've been a professional entertainer since I was 16. I was born and raised in Arkansas. I've been performing since I was about six-years-old in one capacity or another. I was in a dance company in high school, then I got my theatre degree, and I've been doing this ever since.
BWW: What excites you most about being part of this show?
JANE: Because this show is based on a popular movie, many people are familiar with the characters and storyline. But the musical is a relatively new show that hasn't been produced a lot. It's been exciting being part of a show that is both familiar and brand new at the same time. This is a new way of looking at the story-they've made it a musical and updated a few things about the storyline. For me, it's been interesting taking on a role that was made famous by Ann-Margret in the movie because they really developed the character of Ariel even more for the musical.
BWW: Without giving away too much of the story, tell us a little about your character.
JANE: Ariel is eccentric and vivacious. She moves to this small, sleepy, cold Minnesota fishing town and injects it with life and color. She's an artist. She's carefree, with this wild red hair. When she comes to town, she grabs everyone's attention because she's not what they are used to. Most of the people have lived in the town their whole lives, and many even have generations of family members who have lived in the town. Ariel blows into town with her artistic flare and charms everyone. As the story progresses, we see how she becomes this prize to be fought over between John and Max.
BWW: What is your favorite song in the show and why?
JANE: There are a lot of really fun songs. I'd be lying if I didn't say that Ariel's big number "Heat Wave" is really my favorite. That would be my ego answer. But there's a song that Grandpa Gustafson has in the show called "Life is All About Livin'" that is one of my favorites because it's very uplifting and fun. It has a vaudeville style, and it reminds you to seize the day and make the most out of life. Robert Marcus does a great job performing it in this production. When I'm listening to the show every day, that is the song that I love to hear. As a character, my favorite song to sing is the duet Ariel has with John in Act II called "The Mirror Lies" because it's sweet and poignant.
BWW: Which song in the show do you think audience members will go home humming?
JANE: There are so many catchy songs in the show that stick with you, it's hard to pick one. The opening number, "Wabasha", is very fun. Trying not to give anything away, there is a character in the show that is sort of the villain of the show-she has a song called "Snyder Comes Along". That is the song that I always wake up with in my head. It reminds me of a quintessential big musical song. Maureen O'Hara does a fabulous job selling that number.
BWW: What do you think audiences will love most about this production?
JANE: It's so relatable. You've probably met versions of every one of these characters at least once in your life. It takes place in a real town. We often think of musicals as shows that take us out of reality because not many people burst into song and dance in the middle of the grocery store. But this is the most real musical I've ever been a part of. It's so fun to perform and to watch because it is so easy to identify with. The characters and storylines are relatable. Everyone knows those two guys who have this old beef that goes back years. The overarching themes of the show are ones that we all need to hear sometimes-it's not over till it's over, seize the day, you're never too old to live the life you want to live and to make the most out of it. We all know these things, but it's nice to be reminded of it. Another thing that is unique about this show is that it features leads who are older. So often we see a stage full of 20-year-olds. It's a nice opportunity for audience members who are no longer in their 20s to see themselves represented on the stage.
BWW: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
JANE: Come see the show! It's a great way to experience a familiar story in a new way. I'm so glad they had the idea to make this movie into a musical-it gives us a chance to engage with the story in a fun way.
Grumpy Old Men takes the stage at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre February 20-March 28. Visit www.dutchapple.com for tickets!