Former actor leads drama troupe in first production

SENIORS ACT FOR JOY

August 18, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

A photo caption accompanying an article on the South Carroll Seniors Light Repertory Theater in Wednesday's Carroll edition should have identified the woman pictured as Nelle Schaffer.

4( The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

It's the worst storm in 20 years of Navy flying. The instruments are going out. Soon, the whole plane is "crevulating."

Into the chaos steps flying ace Walter Mitty, alias Joe Broussard, member of the South Carroll Seniors Light Repertory Theater.

The new drama troupe, launched in July, is housed at the South Carroll Senior Citizens Center and has about 12 members.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Under the direction of George Everett, the players are preparing material to perform this fall, including James Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

Mr. Everett coaches Mr. Broussard on the character transformation from the mild-mannered Mitty into a war hero who can save the day when things are crevulating (a Thurber-ism for falling apart.)

"It's Errol Flynn and Clint Eastwood and John Wayne all lumped into one body," he says, demonstrating how to communicate machismo with a swagger, the tilt of an imaginary hat and the careless toss of an imaginary pilot's scarf.

It is the troupe's first reading of the play. Mr. Everett says he is still working on helping his players learn to communicate through expression and movement, and to feel comfortable performing in front of others.

"Did you have your coffee this morning?" Mr. Everett asks after someone muffs a line and someone else bursts into giggles. "Did everyone have their Metamucil this morning?"

"I love the instructor," said actress Edna Abelson, who plays several roles. "And I love the experience."

She said Mr. Everett was relaxed and not intimidating.

"He didn't give us big fat scripts to take home," she said.

Mr. Everett, 66, has been involved in theater since the early 1950s. He has performed in the movies and on TV and radio.

"I did the parachute jump with John Wayne in 'Flying Leathernecks,' " he said.

The theater is his fifth career, he said. In the past, he has been a Marine, a commercial fisherman, a substance abuse counselor and a clinical director with the Carroll County Bureau of Addictions.

In November, he will delve full-time into acting and directing. He is moving to the Eastern Shore, where he plans to be involved with dinner theater, community theater and improvisation groups.

Mr. Everett said theater work keeps him on his toes.

"You have to keep your mind very active while you're on the stage," he said.

For older people, he said, acting also means "finally getting a chance to express the fantasies they've always had."

Ms. Abelson said one reason she became involved is that, "I enjoy going to plays and all, and I always wondered what went on behind the scenes."

Mr. Everett said older people tend to prefer comedy and light material.

"We're just looking for the serenity, the peace, the love and the joy," he said.

Seniors sometimes have "a little more difficulty" acting, he said, because they find it harder to reach down and bring out their emotions.

"They've been through so much and they've experienced so much," he said. "There's just too much world that they've seen."

One problem facing the troupe is a shortage of male actors. Only two men now participate, Mr. Everett said, and very little material has been written for a predominantly female cast.

Seniors interested in joining the company, or anyone interested in directing the troupe after Mr. Everett leaves in November, should call center manager Bev Sharpsteen at 795-6629.

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