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‘A matter of self-expression’

Theater group sets the stage for another outstanding performance

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December 24th, 2013
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They’ll make you laugh. They’ll make you cry. They’re the Cedar Crest Players, and you’re in for a show. 

Jan. 14, George Swope makes his debut as the new director of the Cedar Crest Players in their performance of two skits written by Nick Dalfino, a writer and playwright who lived at the Pompton Plains, N.J., community.

Swope, who also serves as musical director for two community faith groups, says activities like the Players and Cedar Crest’s 150 other activities play an important role in community life. “It helps make the community a stronger place when people who live together get to work together on something they enjoy,” he says. 

Activity for everyone

Players member Janet Boeck says the group provides opportunities for community members who have long loved the stage to continue performing. It also gives novices a chance to learn. And everyone gets a chance to socialize and entertain their neighbors. 

“Our goal is to involve as many people as possible of our 20 to 25 members,” she says. 

Plus, she adds, “It’s an entertainment for our community as well as for our members.”

“Many of the folks in the group have been a part of community theater or acted throughout their lifetime and they can continue here,” Swope says.

Janet, for example, has been active in Little Theater productions since college and performed with the Maplewood Strollers, in Maplewood, N.J., before moving to the Erickson Living community. “I was very happy to find I could participate here,” she says. 

For Adele and Robert Forster, moving to Crest provided them a chance to return to the stage. “We’ve been in many shows in the past and missed the stage. We are very happy to find a group like this one,” they say.

For Jean Cioffi, it’s simply “a matter of self-expression.”

“We can be silly or we can be serious,” she says. “We use scripts because it’s more difficult to memorize things now, but regardless of our age, there’s no reason why we can’t express ourselves. It’s great fun, and we enjoy it.” 

Carolyn Krause sums up the common thread beautifully:  “Why stop now?” she says.

While many members were involved in theater before moving, other members, like Jack Stern, are finally accomplishing a life-long goal. “I’ve always wanted to act,” Jack says. “Now I finally have the opportunity.”

Regardless of their experience level, Janet says, age has nothing to do with their enjoyment level. “If you have a deep interest in something, you find joy in doing it no matter what,” she says.

In sharing that deep interest, Players reap the social and cognitive benefits of staying active and engaged.

“Having on-campus activities like this eliminates the hassle of transportation and makes it more likely that people will continue to stay engaged and social with others who have similar interests as they age,” Swope says of all three groups he leads at Cedar Crest. 

Branching out

Monty Kuttner started the Players five years ago after moving to Cedar Crest, and he now serves as advisor. “I’ve always enjoyed being on stage and assuming another persona,” he says. I had been active in community theater [before moving here], so I decided to start a group here about five years ago.”

The group started with short, one-act plays or scenes from well-known productions like Arsenic and Old Lace, The Odd Couple, and The Sunshine Boys.

They read script in hand in Cedar Crest’s 250-seat performing arts center for two performances a year. 

This year, the group looks forward to branching out into TV. They prepared a commercial in Cedar Crest’s in-house TV studio for the January performance. “It’s an opportunity to do something else—it involves writing, and most people haven’t done TV before,” Janet says.

Swope also plans to grow the Players over the next year and more. He aims to prepare full one-or-more-act plays “so we can utilize more people.” 

He also plans to add performances of each production. “Any time you put together a play, it’s a lot of work. When it’s over after one performance, what you get out of it is lopsided from what you put into it.”

The Cedar Crest Players perform Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. in the performing arts center. Tickets cost $5. The show is open to the public. For tickets, call Amanda Mulligan at 973-831-3635.

 

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