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Enjoy Magazine

Life is a Stage

05/03/2014 02:44PM ● By Paul Boerger
Story and photo by Paul Boerger

Siskiyou Senior Players

Are you ever too old to kick up your heels, be creative and just have fun? The Siskiyou Senior Players, ages 57 to 81, think not. Eight years ago, Joan Lucas of Broadway, movie and television fame who starred in “Singing in the Rain” with Gene Kelly brought together a group of seniors to act, sing and dance in Mount Shasta. The effort was dedicated to enhancing the lives of seniors and entertaining the community at local events and a year-end show. Lucas passed away in 2009, and the mantle of directing the Siskiyou Senior Players, taught as a class open for ages 50 and up at College of the Siskiyous in Weed, was taken up by Leon Grabowski in 2011.

Grabowski is one of three original members still in the group, and he said he volunteered to be the leader three years ago because “I loved it so much that I wanted to see it stay alive.”

“We write and choreograph almost all our own material and members are encouraged to contribute,” Grabowski says. “We satirize the culture, attitudes and politics of our community. This year’s show is entitled ‘The State of Confusion, A Mockumentary on the State of Jefferson.’ We don’t just throw the show together. This is a high level of entertainment.”

For those not in the know, the June elections contain two measures that aim to separate Siskiyou County from California. And yes, expect sharp writing, engaging musical numbers and finely honed performances.

Grabowski echoes the sentiments of the other Players when he notes that one of the group's priorities is to just have fun.

“It's a family. We look out for each other, take each other to doctor’s appointments and call each other when we’re down,” says original member Suzie Boyd. “I was brought into the group by Joan. She was so inviting. I felt needed, necessary and excited and I love to make people laugh.”

Laughter, indeed, is a huge part of the Siskiyou Senior Players, from the sounds of hilarity that echo every year off the walls of the standing-room-only performances in the Black Box Theater at College of the Siskiyous to the heartfelt togetherness at rehearsals, where there are no mistakes, just support with a humorous jibe and correction with a smile.

Thamar Wherrit is the oldest member of the cast at 81, and is an original Player.

“If it isn’t fun, we don't do it,” Wherrit says. “At this age, we have the opportunity to engage our creative juices.”

Each year’s performance has a theme and the group provides equal opportunity when it comes to taking shots at all political and cultural persuasions. 

“We take no prisoners,” Wherrit says of the group's outrageous skits.

The Siskiyou Senior Players sport a lot of gray hair and wrinkles, but there is no lack of energy, creativity and camaraderie that translates into a highly entertaining theater group that show no signs of slowing down. 

In addition to the year-end performance, the Players are available to perform at community events and special engagements.

Siskiyou Senior Players
May 9-10, 7 pm; May 11, 3 pm
Black Box Theater, College of the Siskiyous, Weed