By Jessica Hickey, contributing writer

Michigan State Police Sergeant Artis White is no newcomer to the stage, but the role of cheating husband Sam Nash is a first for him. “Even though the show is a comedy, this particular role is straight, so it’s a challenge. I’ve never done that before,” he said. Prior this role, Artis has mostly played comic characters like Donkey in “Shrek” and, most recently, Lucien in “The Boys Next Door.”
Artis is one of many talented actors working with Owosso Community Players (OCP) to put on “Plaza Suite” later this month. Directed by Michael Windnagle, “Plaza Suite” is a three-act play with a unique format. Each act is a self-contained story, and the actors remain on stage through the entire act. The play explores the theme of marital relationships in all their joyful and frustrating variations.
“Artis has a great sense of timing,” says Lyn Freeman, who plays Sam’s wife Karen in the show. “I’ve seen him in many shows, but this is my first time acting with him.” Artis says Sam Nash is his most emotionally challenging role. “This is the first character I’ve played who’s not likeable,” he said, though each role has been challenging in its own way. “My most physically demanding role was Donkey (‘Shrek’) because I was in a full costume, and it was hot in there. Whenever I was backstage, I was in front of the fan.”
Artis got his start in theatre interpreting for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” It was a natural fit, as Artis earned his degree in American Sign Language with an emphasis on dramatic interpretation. A 28-year veteran of the Michigan State Police, Artis says his theatre experience has been helpful on the job. He spent five years as an undercover Detective Sergeant, where his acting skills came in handy. “I’ve never had a drink in my life, but when you go into a bar on an undercover assignment, you have to look like you know what you’re doing.”
“Plaza Suite” takes place in the renowned Plaza Hotel in New York City. Sam (Artis White) and Karen (Lyn Freeman) open the show, revealing the difficulties of keeping things fresh in an aging marriage. Act II introduces famous Hollywood producer Jesse (Quentin Brainerd II) and his former sweetheart Muriel (Casey Voss), who has tentatively accepted Jesse’s invitation for a brief rendezvous while he’s in town. The play closes with Act III, in which parents-of-the-bride Norma and Roy (played by Connie Curran-Oesterle and Timothy Ruwart) agonize over where they went wrong, as their daughter has locked herself in the bathroom on her wedding day.
“Plaza Suite” runs at the Lebowsky Center April 22, 23 and April 29 to 30 at 8 p.m.; April 24 and May 1 at 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.owossoplayers.com, or by visiting or calling the box office at (989) 723-4003.

Veteran Actor Tackles Difficult Role in “Plaza Suite” was last modified: April 13th, 2016 by Karen Elford