Did you know that there are over 800 senior theater groups in the U.S. and around the world? That it all began with Stagebridge in Oakland, California, in 1978? Well there are, and right here amongst us is one such group of lively, committed and gifted actors involved in a lively and committed theatre group, called the Center Stage Players.

These are people who are mostly new to acting, people who love to perform plays and who do it well. Started in 2002 by Frank Wicks with 55 Plus (now known as People Plus), Center Stage Players is lovingly, professionally and often hilariously directed by the able everybodyknowshisname Al Miller, founder/artistic director/chief cook and bottle washer of the magical Theater Project in Brunswick.

I recently had a chance to spread my wings and try acting — it wasn’t my choice, but I was invited by the Center Stage Players to read a poem I wrote many years ago. While I thought my insides would shake straight out of my ears from stage fright, once I got into reading one of my poems I was suddenly an Oscar winner, Joan Crawford, and I did not want to get off stage. (They do not ever employ “The Hook,” I promise.)

Well, it wasn’t exactly a stage — it was a flat floor, but I was ready to start thanking all the little people. It was marvelous! Hey, just because people pass the age of 50 doesn’t mean they can’t have wonderful new careers. Retirement lets us, right? Yes. It does.

Center Stage Players is a “readers’” theatre and they perform at local retirement communities and centers all around the Brunswick area. I’ve personally attended lots of their performances over the years, and folks, let me encourage you to give yourself a treat and go to see this group.

Many of the plays are written by members of CSP so if you fancy an Arthur Miller struggling to come forth, you can submit your plays to the group for consideration. The most able and talented Millie Ackley, who joined CSP in 2003, writes lots of them. In fact, she’s recently authored one that will be performed in their next show.

The show is entitled “Who cares”: Two 20-minute plays separated by a five-minute interlude of poetry and music. Part one, “A Profusion of Roses,” written by Marcus Steinour, is about the compassion and understanding of a family member who has taken on the task of caregiver. Part two, entitled “Plain & Simple,” written by Millie Ackley, is a lighthearted look at relationships at a summer arts and crafts colony and how the group comes together to help an elderly couple.

The shows are open to the public and will be performed on:
April 9 at 1 p.m., at Coastal Landing;
April 16 at 1:30 p.m., at Thornton Oaks
April 19 at 2 p.m., at Sunnybrook
April 26 at 1:30 p.m., at People Plus
Dates and times to be determined for The Highlands and The Theater Project.

Currently, the names of the Center Stage Players are Millie Ackley, George Hardy, Jean Konzal, Bill Konzal, Judy Olson, Deborah Pierce, George Phipps, Marcia Sewall, and Susan White.

Wouldn’t you just love to see your name added to this list of remarkable actors? Joining CSP is fun, it’s satisfying, it’s rewarding; all the good stuff of life and at this point, we actually should be doing the “good stuff,” and lots of it.

One of the best parts of CSP, at least for me, is that none of the actors have to memorize scripts, so for a person who seriously suffers from Fear of Forgetting One’s Lines (that’d be me), there’s no problem. Actors have their scripts in their hands and it’s OK and even encouraged to look at them throughout the performance.

You can join this remarkable group, male or female, any persuasion, but you really should be 60 or older. Is this rigidly enforced? No. But it’s helpful. Not chiseled in granite helpful, but it can’t hurt! There’s just one tiny little catch, you have to be available to meet every Monday morning from 10:30 to noon at Thornton Oaks.

If any of you reading this has a yearn to join, get in touch with Millie Ackley at 729-5883. Your inquiries will not be ignored and in fact will be most welcomed.


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