Entire cast (including playwright Freda Glow, second from left, holding flowers)

By MYRON LOVE
The diningroom at the Gwen Secter Creative Retirement Centre at Sid Glow Place was packed on Wednesday, August 28, as appreciative Gwen Secter members enjoyed the latest theatrical offering of the centre’s own “Wits and Skits” players.

 

 

 

 

 

The theatre group was founded five years ago by long time Gwen Secter member Phyllis Dana as a vehicle for exploring issues related to growing older. Past performances dealt with concerns such as elder abuse, loneliness, loss and being involved in community.

Last year’s production focused on the generational conflict where seniors want to remain in their homes, while their children want them to sell and move into apartment/condo or assisted living.

This year’s production, “Pleasantville Place: a radio Play”, was written and directed by the talented Freda Glow (who also wrote and directed the two other most recent plays). The cast included Phyllis Dana, Marianne Dordick, Claudia Dubovsky (who was also assistant director), Vanessa Ortiz, Josephine Rehel, Karen Reimche, Izzy Shore and 101-year-old Ralph Wild.

The play, Glow notes, takes place in a seniors assisted-living residence and the benefits and drawbacks of life in that environment. The play also delves into infidelity and forgiveness and seniors’ searching for love and companionship.
“Pleasantville Place” opens with Eunice (Phyllis Dana) and Caroline (Claudia Dubovsky) talking about their upcoming exercise class during which Carol mentions the new resident – one Charlene Ferrara (Karen Reimche) – a name that Eunice recognizes as that of a woman with whom her late husband, Ed, had an affair. Eunice’s distress is further compounded when a second woman that Ed had affair with – Hannah Boychuk (Marianne Dordick) – also moves into the building.
In addition, Eunice is afraid that she may have burned down Hannah’s house – which was next door to Eunice and Ed. She can’t quite remember but does remember waking the next morning to find an empty gas can near her bed. (We find out in the end who really burned down the house.)

It turns out that Hannah and Charlene recognize Eunice but don’t think that she remembers them. Similarly, Eunice doesn’t think the two ladies remember her.
Moving on from there, Hannah and Charlene and Eunice and Caroline separately begin speculating about the unattached new guy in the complex. That would be William (Izzy Shore), a widower in his mid-70s, who – as reflected in a conversation with the other new guy, Irwin (Ralph Wild) – is also eager to connect with one of the eligible widows in the residence. Irwin, on the other hand, just wants to be left alone.

In short, William connects with Caroline – in a boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girls, boy and girl make up in the end - and Hannah and Irwin form a couple. In the end, William and Caroline marry in a traditional Jewish ceremony (presided over by Gwen Secter program co-ordinator Dan Saidman) with Hannah catching the bouquet.

Playwright Glow throughout the play interspersed songs from the great American Songbook, the Beatles and Broadway. The first three numbers – “Stormy Weather”, “Yesterday” and “If he Walked into My Life” (From “Mame”) as sing by Eunice with new lyrics from Freda Glow reflecting Eunice’s state of mind.
The other songs – “Hey There”, “Lover, Come Back to Me”, “Let’s fall in Love”, and others were sung with original lyrics. And the play ended with all of the players singing “Happy Days Are Here Again”.
I am looking forward to next year’s production.