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Community comedians ham it up

Actors’ group provides entertainment in more ways than one

Created date

October 12th, 2017
Riderwood’s Actors’ Studio Players puts on two or three variety shows every year. (From left) Sue Aiken, Amy Greenwood, Marilyn Gilbert, and Henry Schmaus.

Riderwood’s Actors’ Studio Players puts on two or three variety shows every year. (From left) Sue Aiken, Amy Greenwood, Marilyn Gilbert, and Henry Schmaus.

 

Sue Aiken acted just one time in an elementary school performance and didn’t take the stage for many years after that. But when she moved to Riderwood 12 years ago, she heard about the Actors’ Studio Players, a long-standing group of residents who put on entertaining variety shows two or three times a year. Even though she hadn’t acted in decades, Sue decided to join the group.

“I said, ‘Oh, that sounds like fun,’” Sue recalls. “I got involved shortly after I moved in.”

Comedic relief

Now, Sue and neighbor Selma Barnett are the producers of the Actors’ Studio Players. About 18 residents typically participate in the shows, performing skits, monologues, and music. Elizabeth White plays the piano, and Alan Mayers sings. 

Sue says the skits cover a wide variety of topics, but they try to stay away from politics to keep the mood light. 

“We try to do as much comedy as possible,” Sue says. “The shows are not much more than an hour, but I think we could go on even longer—we’re a bunch of hams.”

Like Sue, most of the residents who perform in the shows are amateur actors with the exception of Amy Greenwood, who played the granddaughter on the radio show “Ma Perkins.” 

“She is the one professional in our group,” Sue says. “Other people have acted a bit at other times, maybe in high school and college, but most of us are novices.”

Practice makes perfect

To make it less intimidating for people who want to join in the fun, the Actors’ Players Studio performers aren’t required to memorize their lines. But they do put in quite a bit of practice in order to present a great show that keeps their neighbors coming back for more entertainment. 

About seven weeks before each show, they begin meeting for two-hour rehearsals every week. The week of the performance, they practice in Riderwood’s on-site Encore Theatre to make sure they have worked out all the kinks. 

The shows are free of charge and are a big hit with Riderwood community members. The last performance was in April, and another show is slated to take place this month. 

“We get a good crowd,” Sue says. “I’d say we usually have three-quarters of the auditorium filled.”

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