May 21 • 03:14 AM

From behind the desk center stage

Denise Sherwin, 54, lands role in comedy at PIX Theater this weekend

Imlay City residents Kassandra ‘Kassie’ Vollmers and her mom, Denise Sherwin, share a laugh over Sherwin’s being cast in a comedy at the PIX this weekend. When the pair decided to become involved with Lapeer Community Theater, it was believed that Sherwin would work behind the scenes. photo by Catherine Minolli.

March 26, 2008
Though the job is hectic and more than a little bit stressful, Denise Sherwin is comfortable behind the desk in her post as Lapeer Regional Hospital's Emergency Room Clerk. After all, she's been employed at the hospital for the past 16 years.

Yes, things are hopping in the emergency room, but Sherwin's position isn't exactly 'center stage.'

But that's about to change for the 54-year-old mother of three. The emergency room clerk by day is now actress-by-night and will take center stage at the PIX Theatre this weekend in the comedy 'Having a Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Her.' Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. March 27 through 29, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on March 30. Tickets are $12.

Sherwin, who lives in Imlay City, will make her acting debut in the role of Mary, a wife of 29 years who's a little frustrated by the lack of romance in her relationship.

"It's not an unfamiliar situation," Sherwin grins.

Though her role may be familiar, performing on stage is brand new to Sherwin.

"It's the first time I attempted to do anything like this and believe it or not I'm having the best time," she says. "I'm terrified, yes. There's no other way to put it. It will be a success or I'll just look like a total fool to the whole county."

Sherwin's lighthearted attitude belies the effort she's put into preparing for the role. She's studied lines at every possible moment, rehearsed over and over again, and bought a tape recorder to help with memorizing dialogue and cues.

But lightheartedness overrides the stage fright, she says, because of her fellow cast members and her daughter, Kassandra Vollmers, who is also involved in the production.

"We are absolutely having the best time of our life," Sherwin says. "We are spending a lot of time together and the people we've met and are working with are just fabulous. We couldn't be enjoying it more."

The mother-daughter duo got involved with the Lapeer Community Theater Group after seeing 'A Christmas Carol' during the holidays. Kassandra had just moved to Imlay City, and they were looking for things to do and ways to meet people.

"We were so impressed," Sherwin says.

After the play, they filled out a survey after the performance indicating that they wouldn't mind getting involved in some way.

"I said to my daughter, 'C'mon, let's do it. You'd like to get involved and I'm sure they can put me to work,'" Sherwin says.

Her intention, however, was to work behind the scenes—an intention that completely backfired when she was chosen for the role and Kassandra took a job backstage.

"This so backfired on her," Vollmers laughs. "I've been getting a kick out it. When she got the phone call that said she landed the part she was 'Oh boy, what have we gotten into?'"

Still, being cast as Mary has opened up a whole new world to Sherwin.

"It's been such a wonderful experience that yes, I think I would do it again if there's a role that I'd fit," Sherwin says. "This has been very enjoyable, and I like it very much."

She's nervous, sure, but already has a plan should things not quite work out after the play's weekend run.

"I can always leave the county," she jokes.

That won't be necessary, says Sherwin's stage counterpart Rod Robertson.

Robertson, a seasoned actor, plays Mary's (Sherwin) husband Bill, an ex-Marine whom he characterizes as a cross between Archie Bunker and Al Bundy. He says Mary is a bit like Edith Bunker and Peg Bundy, so it all works well.

"Denise is a newcomer and her debut is marvelous," Robertson says. "It's a great play and it's really worth seeing."

Like Sherwin, Robertson credits a talented cast and excellent directors.

"Deanna Ziots is a new member, too, and I have to say she is incredible, a very natural stage presence," he says.

Director Mike Powell and co-director Cindy Childs are also doing a great job, Rod says, as is stage manager Andrea White.

"Mike and Cindy have allowed each actor to use a bit of artistic license in creating their characters," Robertson says. "It really is a great show."

Along with Sherwin, Robertson and Ziots, the comedy features Patrick Powell of North Branch and Michelle and Kyle Badgley of Davison.

The comedy revolves around relationship issues that many adults can relate to, Sherwin says.

"It's funny but it also sends a message and touches base with things going on today with regard to relationships and marriage," she adds.

Sherwin says she's proud of herself for taking on the role, even if it is a bit nerve-wracking.

"I always told my kids not to be afraid to try new things," she grins. "At least no one can call me a coward."

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