Elderville, an “almost entirely new” operetta by Ellen Farnum, offers a rollicking, humorous take on aging. The setting is a Brigadoon-like place where, if you wander in and don’t leave, you quickly age to 82. After that, you stay 82 forever and life is idyllic: the soup is never too hot, there’s always a bathroom nearby, and there’s time for a nap every day. While finding humor in aging, Elderville also celebrates the delights of being free from the pressures of youth and work and the joy of having time to relax and follow one’s passions.
When two young professionals mistakenly walk in and lose their cell phone connection, they’re invited to join this community of contented senior citizens. This celebration of age is expressed by the actors, singers, and dancers, all of whom qualify for the senior discount with the exception of the two youthful leads, Ashley Bullard and Michael Kaye. They face a difficult decision: will they stay or will they leave?
The music is adapted from the scores of Gilbert & Sullivan’s tuneful operettas, but with timely new words by Ellen Farnum: the famous “We’ve got them on a list” chorus from The Mikado, for example, lists “the telemarketer who likes to call your house at ten” and “the folks who start the Christmas season way before its time” as among those who will “not be missed.”
Elderville also celebrates Sandwich history and tradition by offering a lively summer musical on the stage of the Sandwich Town Hall. From 1953 until 2000, these summer musicals — often Gilbert & Sullivan operettas —featured local citizens. Elderville also honors the memory of Bob Bates, who directed Sandwich musicals for decades and whose inspiration changed forever the experience of music for the citizens of Sandwich and nearby towns. Since Bob shuffled off this mortal coil in 2000 (his words!), Sandwich Players and Advice to the Players have continued to mount productions on the Sandwich stage, but this is the first musical in years, and certainly the first of its kind.
At least half of the 2019 cast and crew have connections to those historic Sandwich musicals. As a child, Heather Hamilton played under the grand piano while her mother Ellen Farnum was rehearsing; now, as Professor of Theater and Dance at Minnesota State University, Mankato, Dr. Hamilton returns as the new operetta’s Director.
Cast member Jean Knox remembers watching her mother on stage and thinking “This must be what Broadway is like!” Later she understood that the exuberant Sandwich productions had an enthusiasm and energy she missed in more professional productions. Many other cast members bring warm memories of past performances to this new endeavor. Some chorus members have been recruited from the Sandwich Singers and the Silver Lake Singers.
The Music Director is Peggy Johnson, whose children shared space with Heather under the grand piano; Assistant Directors are Mary Edes and Ellen Farnum.
The world premier of Elderville is sponsored by the Yeoman’s Fund for the Arts, which “promotes and funds programs and events that strengthen the bonds of community by reaching a broad range of area residents across the generations, exposing them to artistic excellence, involving them in the creative process, and leading them to lives of greater creativity, self-expression and joy.” Elderville promises to do all that and more!
Elderville, in one act and about an hour long, will be presented at the Sandwich Town Hall during Old Home Week for three evenings only: August 8, 9, and 10 at 7:30 p.m. Seating is limited, and admission is by donation. To reserve tickets E-MAIL email@example.com with your request. Tickets must be picked up by 7:15, after which they will be released to those on the waiting list and to walk-ins.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Ann or
David Wilkins at 603-367-8222
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