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The arts are alive at Cedar Crest

Professional-quality theater and music groups just steps from home

Created date

April 17th, 2018
Jay and Joan Ludwig rehearse for an upcoming Cedar Crest Players performance.

Jay and Joan Ludwig rehearse for an upcoming Cedar Crest Players performance.

Cedar Crest may only be 30 minutes from New York City, but residents only have to travel down the hall for professional-quality theater and music opportunities and entertainment.

This month, the Cedar Crest Players, for example, will perform a new version of Antigone by Bryan Dowries in the community’s 250-seat performing arts center May 4 at 7:30 p.m.

“The language has been updated to make it more accessible to modern audiences, but it does not lose the poetic sense of the original [by Sophocles],” says community member and Players Artistic Director Joan Ludwig.

Notable experience

Joan holds a master’s degree from the University of Illinois and taught high school acting and English for 25 years. She coleads the Players as well as Playwrights Workshop with her husband Jay, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and taught college-level theater and acting for 50 years. The couple also teaches a playwriting class, and the participants perform their plays for neighbors.

While they often direct, Jay and Joan will be acting and producing Antigone. David Greenwood, an active member of the Cedar Crest Players and Playwrights Workshop, will direct the play. “He has written a large number of delightful short plays, which have been performed here,” Joan says. “He is a very fine actor and was the superstar of our recent Vaudeville Show.”

David was an actor and director for 18 years. He appeared in off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway, and regional productions, and directed three Ibsen plays in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The Antigone cast includes Joan Ackerman (Tiresias), Adele Forster (Ismene), Bob Kurland (Guard), Jay Ludwig (Haemon), Joan Ludwig (Antigone), Julie Lubash (Chorus 3), Sue McConnell (Eurydice), Paula Rogoff (Chorus 1), Saul Scheier (Creon), Rita Shedlin (drummer), Ed Sholander (Messenger), and Doris Woolf (Chorus 2). Alice Ruggieri has been asked to understudy all the women’s parts. Joan will produce the show.

“David’s reaction when I asked him to choose and direct a show was—loosely quoted—‘I can’t believe it! I never dreamed I would be directing again at this point in my life!’” Joan says.

“I think I really felt the same way when I realized that Jay and I had come to Cedar Crest just as there was a need for us to help,” she continues. “None of us expected to be teaching, writing, directing, acting, producing, etc., ever again. I believe it has helped all of us to be calling on our training to keep us growing as theater artists.”

For the musically inclined, Cedar Crest has several music groups—from the Cedar Crest Chorale to a drumming circle.

Dan Valerio has enjoyed singing since grade school, has been a cantor in the Catholic mass for 40 years, and now performs with the Cedar Crest Chorale. “The satisfaction is in being able to sing and being part of a group that puts on two performances a year—winter and spring. The excitement and passion that we generate results in a huge audience and sold-out shows,” he says.

He adds that their musical director, George Swope, makes the music come alive. “We have an excellent director who keeps us alert, selects wonderful music, and makes it a fun experience for everyone,” Dan says.

Dan and his wife Lucia both sing with the Cedar Crest Chorale, as well  as the campus’s Catholic choir. “My wife and I enjoy participating together and being with other singers,” Dan says.

Can’t beat it

Stanley Rothman had no prior drumming experience, but he did enjoy ballroom dancing as a hobby for many years. Now he’s able to continue feeling the beat as a member of the drumming circle, which meets weekly and performs monthly in Cedar Crest’s on-site continuing care neighborhood.

“We’re doing a lot of good by entertaining people in the continuing care community at Cedar Crest,” Stanley says.

The group’s four members play African hand drums called djembes. When they visit their neighbors in continuing care, they provide their audience with small instruments like tambourines and maracas so they can drum along to songs like “The Glow Worm.”

“I have a preference for dance music because my hobby was ballroom dancing, but we can drum to folk songs or anything that has a particular rhythm. It has to be fast enough. If it’s too slow, it’s not interesting,” Stanley says.