Theater troupe presents musical in Ann Arbor

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

A quartet of legal eagles will take to the stage when the Penny Seats Theatre Company presents the award-winning 1963 Broadway classic, "She Loves Me," July 26-28, Aug. 2-4 and Aug. 9-11, at the West Park Band Shell in Ann Arbor.

Saline resident Roy Sexton, vice president of Marketing and Planning at Trott & Trott in Farmington Hills, and Ann Arbor resident Lauren London, assistant general counsel for Robert Bosch LLC in Farmington Hills, take the lead roles, as workplace rivals who spend their days bickering and their nights falling in love as secret pen pals, while quirky co-workers deal with a spate of other problems.

They are joined by Matt Cameron, an associate attorney at Morganroth & Morganroth in Birmingham and the troupe's board vice president, who plays a singing, cantankerous waiter; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Sagolla of Ann Arbor, who will perform in the chorus.

The troupe includes several other performers and crew from around the area. "It must be some sort of record," says London, the troupe's president. "We often joke about how having lots of lawyers around keeps our tiny startup in line! But really it has been incredibly helpful as we negotiate various partnership agreements, enter our second year, and ramp up our programming."

The musical, about romance, mistaken identity, and old-fashioned social media, is based on Miklos Laszlo's play, "Parfumerie."

Sexton, board chairman of the Penny Seats, plays Georg Nowack, a man dedicated to his work and only capable of connecting with his true love through written letters. "He's completely befuddled when he's around Amalia face-to-face...in fact, they can't stand each other in real life," he says.

London plays fellow "lonely heart" Amalia Balash. "The comedy that comes from this tension is just priceless," she says. "I think audiences will have a ball!"

As will she. While many lawyers are naturally dramatic people, she says, theater also provides a happy escape from her daily grind and can be a great teaching tool for her legal life.

"It gives me a chance be someone else, to safely try new methods of interaction, to be bold in ways I haven't been," she says. "I think that by coaxing new feelings and actions out of me, it shows me new ways to interact with my clients and negotiating partners."

Sexton, a theater veteran with an MBA from the University of Michigan and an MA in theatre from Ohio State, finds theatre to be very therapeutic.

"I love to sing, and I love to spend time with my fellow Penny Seats. These are creative, vibrant people, and we energize each other every time we rehearse," he says. "Having worked in a law firm now for over a year, there's no end to the activity. It's one busy place, and the folks are so industrious and good-natured. I can't help but study them all day as I think about the characters we're playing in this show. Granted, our show is about a store and not a law firm, but the office dynamic is relatable no matter where one works."

Theater, with its use of language and characterization and motivation, appeals to the legal mind, he says. "Writing and speaking and understanding human psychology are key traits to successfully working a case, and I think those skills are key to being a successful actor as well. It's fascinating to go between each world--law firm and theatre-- on a daily basis."

For Cameron, acting is a wonderful way to give back to the community--and he appreciates that the troupe finds ways to accommodate everyone's busy schedules.

"I love the creativity and freedom to explore other aspects of the human condition."

Sagolla, a jazz vocalist whose first CD was released last year, is returning to live theater after a hiatus during which she went from being a lawyer in private practice to an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

"As a lawyer, we're often compelled to use arguments, reasoning, and analytical skills that are quite different from the spontaneous, creative, less controlled world of theater," she says. "I want to be a fun-maker and a joy-spreader, not just a logician."

This production will mark The Penny Seats' second summertime foray in West Park, located between Miller and West Huron in Ann Arbor. The troupe will once again partner with local caterer What's Cooking to offer pre-ordered picnic dinners from www.pennyseats.org or at www.whatscookinga2.com.

The shows start at 7 o'clock each evening. Tickets are $10 and $7 for ages 12 and younger and are available at www. pennyseats.org or from Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006.

Published: Thu, Jul 12, 2012

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