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Parody performances

Theater group has fun with life at Fox Run

Created date

October 27th, 2015

Like kids at a summer camp or college freshmen living together in a dormitory, the retirees at Fox Run have been having a little fun putting on comical plays that parody their lifestyle at the community. 

The plays lampoon different aspects of life at the Novi, Mich., Erickson Living community—the quirky personalities of residents and staff, the community’s unique traditions and inside jokes, and the inevitable challenges of growing older.

The idea for the satirical performances came from resident Geri Angel, who now serves as the business manager of the group, which has named itself Curtain Call. 

Helen Weingarden has served as the director for the first two performances. She says she has no professional theater experience but is a retired schoolteacher and did a lot of theater with her students. 

Ten fun-loving amateur actors have starred in the performances, and another five residents and staff members help with lights, sound, and set design.

“Curtain Call is just a bunch of hams,” Helen says. “It’s a fun group.”

Holiday improv

The first performance took place last year during the holidays. Helen says the group wanted to put on a Christmas-themed play. After brainstorming, they came up with an idea for a play about Santa Claus deciding to retire to Fox Run after many long years of delivering toys all over the world. 

Rather than stress over memorizing lines, the theatrical group decided to come up with a general plot and then perform the play as improv, which generated a lot of laughter.

“We talked about different scenes we were going to do and actors had to come up with their own lines,” Helen says. “That worked perfectly. Every time we had a rehearsal, it was different.”

Fox Run Associate Executive Director Fred Moschetta played the role of Santa Claus. 

Helen says the performance was well attended and that residents and staff enjoyed the comical portrayal of life at Fox Run. The community’s performing arts center was overflowing on the night of the first play.

“It was a big success,” Helen says. “Everybody loved it.”

Humor that resonates

Since their first play was such a hit, the members of Curtain Call got right to work on a second show, Helen says. For their next play, the actors parodied a group of retirees taking a bus trip to the Grand Canyon to see the sunset. Helen says that the idea of a big group taking a trip was ripe with opportunities for things to go wrong, and therefore, for poignant comedic moments.

“It was very funny. It made gentle fun of [ourselves]—we had a complainer, a gossiper, one that sleeps all the time,” Helen says. “That’s why everybody loved it—it resonates. We wouldn’t hurt anybody’s feelings.”

Curtain Call members create every element of the productions, from the concepts to the plots to the sets and props. It takes about six months to prepare a production, so after the last performance, they will get to work on a third play.

“We will probably do another one next summer,” Helen says. “It’s a very big undertaking. We had the cooperation of a lot of people to put this together.”