BWW Interview: Ashley Lane of INSPECTING CAROL at The Village Players Of Birmingham Says You're Going to Laugh!
The Village Players of Birmingham are kicking off the new year with an uproarious and zany comedy, Inspecting Carol, opening this weekend, January 18th and running through February 3rd in Birmingham. Behind the scenes of a struggling theatre's annual slapdash production of A Christmas Carol, rehearsals are at a standstill. Tim is no longer Tiny, Scrooge wants to do the play in Spanish, and their funding is on hold pending an inspection. When an impossibly bad actor is mistakenly identified as the inspector, the troupe does everything to accommodate his craziest wishes. Mistaken identities lead to side-splitting comedy as opening night draws and it seems only a Christmas miracle will save this production! Ashely Lane is making her directorial debut at The Village Players of Birmingham after directing at the Emerald City Theatre and Farmington High School. Lane was very passionate and excited to discuss with BroadwayWorld Detroit her love of the arts and why Inspecting Carol is such a fun and special show everyone should see. Check out her interview below!
BroadwayWorld Detroit: Can you give our readers a brief background of yourself and then your theatre career as an introduction?
Ashely Lane: I grew up in Beverly Hills, Michigan and started doing theatre at a very young age. I was extremely committed to becoming a professional actor and decided to pursue acting in college. I earned my B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana and then went on to receive my Masters in Acting from The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, California. After grad school, I spent six years in New York and Chicago acting professionally as well as teaching theatre at a variety of venues. I was fortunate enough to work at many regional theaters all over the country. I have been trained in all disciplines of acting, but I really found my niche doing classical theatre, particularly Shakespeare. I love me the good ole' Bard! I really cherish the time I spent away from home pursuing my dream. I was able to see so many different areas of the country and meet so many wonderful people along the way. I was also really lucky to do all of this with my husband, Patrick Lane, by my side. He is an actor as well and I feel really fortunate that we were able to pursue our dreams together. Patrick and I had our daughter, Grace, in 2016 and decided that we wanted to raise her near family, which is when we made the move back to Michigan. I am currently working in the public high schools, directing and coaching, as well as teaching theatre to young actors at a nearby dance studio. It gives me a lot of joy to share my passion with our up and coming performers!
BWW Detroit: How would you describe Inspecting Carol in your own words?
Ashely Lane: Inspecting Carol is really a love letter to the theatre! This show is a hysterical look at the lengths a theatre company will go to in order to prove their worth as an arts organization. Like any good comedy, chaos ensues and the results are laugh out loud funny! It has a ton of heart. At its core, the play is about the relationships that have formed in this Midwestern theatre group and how those relationships are what really keep the place afloat.
BWW Detroit: How did you discover Inspecting Carol?
Ashely Lane: Last season, I decided that I would like to put my name in the hat for directing at The Village Players of Birmingham. I took a look at the plays that were being considered by the Play Reading Committee and immediately fell in love with Inspecting Carol. I read several of the options and considered pitching a few, but once I read Inspecting Carol, I knew that if I was going to direct there, that was the show I would want to pursue.
BWW Detroit: What made you want to direct the show?
Ashely Lane: I still consider acting my first love and passion, but like any artist, I am trying to expand my creative abilities. Directing is something that has always scared me a bit, but I think that is a good thing! I have directed a lot of youth theatre, but this is my first walk into directing adults in a full-blown production. I have learned so much along the way and have been so fortunate to have such a wonderful cast and crew behind me. I truly appreciate their patience and talents! I think that I am able to direct in a way that is very helpful for actors, because I am one myself. I understand how specific things need to be and I hope I have been communicating clearly to my cast. The production side of things is where I still have so much to learn, so this entire experience has been a really great entry point for that learning. I have a lot of great people behind me, including a wonderful producer in Bryan Conroy, so that helps a lot!
BWW Detroit: Did you do any special research in preparing to direct the show?
Ashely Lane: I read the show several times. I think that is the place to start with any show - you have to know the play like the back of your hand. I did not have to do a ton of special research for this show because it is about a theatre group putting on a play and luckily, I know a lot about that! This play spoke to me so deeply because I have been in these characters' shoes. I know what it is like to want to create something fantastic and have a lot of obstacles in your way. I know what it is like to feel judged by outsiders when it comes to your work. I know what it is like to find a family in the theatre. These personal experiences have been what has inspired my entire process with this show. It has been a very nostalgic experience working on this show because it has brought back a ton of memories from various productions I have been a part of throughout the years.
BWW Detroit: Do you have a special pre-show ritual you do with the cast?
Ashely Lane: I like to lead a warm up before shows, some actors enjoy that and others do their own thing. I am fine with either! I will speak to the cast and give them a pep talk on opening night. I am really looking forward to those moments that we will have together before the show starts. The excitement and nervous energy is contagious! There is nothing better than spending a few more minutes together as a group before we share our work with the public.
BWW Detroit: Do you have a favorite moment in the show?
Ashely Lane: I don't want to give anything away because this is really a hysterical show that you have to see to believe! But I will say that there are a few moments when the whole cast is onstage and utter chaos breaks loose. Those moments are really funny and you get to see each character's specific nuances come to life. I also love the A Christmas Carol scenes within the play. It is fun to see the holiday classic come alive and go off the rails. I will leave it at that!
BWW Detroit: What makes The Village Players of Birmingham's production of the show special?
Ashely Lane: I think what makes this production special is all the similarities we can find between the The Village Players of Birmingham and the Soapbox Playhouse (the fictional company in the play.) There are so many little things that ring true because like the Soapbox Playhouse, the Village Players is a small, Midwestern theatre company just trying to put on great work. There are some fun nods to Village Players throughout the show, some subtle and some more obvious. You will have to see the show to understand what I am referring to!
BWW Detroit: Why should people come see The Village Players of Birmingham's production of Inspecting Carol?
Ashely Lane: If you want to laugh and keep the holiday season going a bit longer this year, Inspecting Carol is the show for you. What I love about this play is that it appeals to so many audiences. Theatre folk will love it because there are so many theatre jokes throughout the play - those who have ever worked on a show will get a real kick out of it. But even if you have never stepped foot inside a theatre before, you are going to laugh. This show has outlandish, slapstick humor that will appeal to anyone. Throw in some holiday songs and scenes from Dicken's classic tale and there really is something for everyone!
Inspecting Carol open January 18th and runs until February 3rd at The Village Players of Birmingham in Birmingham. For more information or tickets, call 248.644.2075 or visit www.birminghamvillageplayers.com.
Connect with Ashely Lane at www.ashleywickett.com.
Connect with The Village Players of Birmingham on Facebook at facebook.com/BirminghamVillagePlayers.