To Tread, or Totter, across the Boards

[imgbelt img= laramieplayelvis510.jpg] No age barrier can hold back playmakers. The Unexpected Company of Laramie, Wyoming, is one of 2000 senior community theater companies having a ball nationwide.


The Unexpected Company and its Time and Time Again Players. They were holding auditions for their first production, “Hot Flashes.” I was in my mid-forties, younger than the suggested minimum age of 50. But I was also frustrated. I’d been a theatre major in college long ago and found myself without an outlet for singing, dancing, acting, and staying up half the night at technical rehearsals. As a middle-aged community member, I certainly wasn’t going to wander in to a college theatre audition and get cast as the crone granny. Alas, as a teenage Judy Garland once pouted in song, I’m just an awful in between. For me, theatre would have to wait.

Over the next few years I saw and heard more about the Unexpected Company, now one of more than 2,000 senior community companies around the country. Laramie’s Unexpected Company founding member Germaine St. John told me that “the energy exuded by the organizers was contagious. Their diverse backgrounds afforded a plethora of talent and experience in many forms of theatre, including performing, directing, producing, costuming, stage production, and publicity.” Indeed. Wyoming’s first senior theatre troupe, they staged and sold out productions each year. The productions were fundraisers, in most cases for the Ivinson Mansion museum and its converted carriage house, a community gathering spot called the Alice Hardie Stevens Center.

Since that first year they’ve staged professional scripts from ArtAge, an organization based in Portland, Oregon, that offers scripts written for senior players. They’ve also created original productions. For example, in 2007 they presented “Fables, Foibles, and Follies of Laramie City,” written and directed by company members Susan McGraw and Mary Jean Honeycutt. In 2008 they staged “Grecian Formula,” a musical comedy written by company member Carole Homer. It treats the music and storyline from “Grease” as though it were 50 years later, at the reunion of Danny, Sandy and the gang from Rydell High School.