Teens bring musical theater to seniors
● By J. Chambless
Who doesn't love a Saturday matinee at the theater? On July 11, the cast of "Nice Work If You Can Get It" -- a 2012 Broadway musical consisting of music from George and Ira Gershwin -- brought the magic of musical theater to area seniors.
The cast of teens from several area high schools is mounting this feel-good musical at the Barley Sheaf Players in Lionville. They have been rehearsing for over two months, and are opening their production on Friday, July 17. Every year before they begin performances, the teens take the opportunity to share their love of musical theater with area seniors who may not otherwise be able to make it to the theater for a show.
teens, along with director Ron Quirk and musical director Marie Anderson, spend
one Saturday each year traveling to retirement homes and assisted living
facilities. They spend an hour or two performing songs from the show and
talking with the residents. It is an afternoon that both the teens and the
seniors greatly enjoy.
This year at Simpson Meadows retirement community in Downingtown, approximately 50 residents gathered in the meeting room to hear the teens. As the teens began singing the classic Gershwin melodies, it was clear that the residents were enthralled to invite the young performers into their community.
One resident, who thanked director Ron Quirk after the performance, said that she had sung for several decades with the 49ers Chorus of Chester County. Bob McMackin, another resident, said that he came to the performance because of the excellent reputation that the Barley Sheaf Players have in the community.
It was not just the residents who had a ball, however. The teenage cast members loved performing for the adoring audience. Autumn Alexandra Phillips, a junior at Regina Lumis Academy, said that this was her first time performing with the Barley Sheaf teen cast, but it certainly won't be her last.
"It's so much fun to be able to sing for people who know the Gershwin songs," she said. Likewise, those teens who are veterans of the annual Barley Sheaf tradition say that having the opportunity to get to know the residents is one of their favorite activities.
Kelsey Young has been a part of the teen show for the past six years and says that she loves hearing the jokes that one of the residents tells to her every year when the teens come to perform. The kids tell the residents about the work they put into the show, and the residents share their own life experiences -- theatrical and otherwise -- with the next generation of performers. All in all, it is a rewarding day for everyone involved, and one that both the teens and the seniors look forward to each year.
Nice Work If You Can Get It runs July 17-26 at the Barley Sheaf Players theater, located at 810 N. Whitford Road in Lionville. The theater also produces six adult shows per season, including a holiday show in December, and runs a summer camp for kids. For information about the Barley Sheaf , or to order tickets, please visit www.barleysheaf.org or call the box office at 610-363-7075.