Nobody's doing children's theater around here the way Jeff Swearingen, Bren Rapp and the kids of Fun House Theatre and Film in Plano are doing it. We liked their all-youth Man of La Mancha and were impressed by their all-kid Hamlet. Now they're taking on a darker American classic, but in a fun way, with Daffodil Girls, Inspired by David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, opening May 9.
Based on an idea by Rapp, Swearingen has written and directed the comic homage that switches Mamet's plot about the high-stakes competition for "leads" in real estate for the high-pressure tactics some scout troops use to move boxes of cookies.
Or as Swearingen puts it, "In the cutthroat world of cookie sales, it's eat or be eaten."
With an all-girl cast ages 7 to 14, Daffodil Girls works as black comedy, says Swearingen, because the young actresses play it like a drama. Swearingen says he's worked with his cast -- Kennedy Waterman, 10, as Shelly; Lizzy Greene, 9, as Raimi Roma; Laney Neumann, 14, as Blayne; Marisa Mendoza, 13, as Willa; Lynley Glickler, 10, as Dana; and Zoe Smithey, 7, as Georgina -- to master Mamet's trademark fast-paced crosstalk in the dialogue.
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In their troop treehouse, four Daffodils lie, cheat and steal to sell more cookies than their competition. The "closer" and her three pals collide with regional management as they struggle to sell enough cookies to keep their "flower patch" from being disbanded. As in Glengarry, there are rewards for closing deals. First prize: a birthday party with a pony. Second prize: School supplies. Third: The troop gets shut down. "Always Be Growing," says the tree house bulletin board.
Swearingen, who still acts on local stages and does improv on weekends, says fans of Glengarry will recognize his versions of Mamet's key scenes. There's a takeoff on the Alec Baldwin motivational speech from the movie, with the regional bigwig warning "Kool-Aid is for closers." There's the tearful phone call for the Shelly character. And the play's confrontation in the Chinese restaurant now takes place at a lemonade stand.
And though unlike its inspiration there are no bad words, Daffodil Girls is still recommended for audiences age 10 and up and parental guidance is suggested. Sorry, kids, that's the way the cookie crumbles.
Daffodil Girls, Inspired by David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross plays at 7:30 p.m., May 9-12 (with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday) at Plano Children's Theatre, 1301 Custer Road, Suite 706, Plano. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.