Upcoming play about going against the establishment at rest home

HUMBOLDT — In an assisted living facility, a 83-year-old woman rebels against the establishment by taking hula lessons, hosting poker games for money and ordering pizza.

In Spirit!, the latest performance by the Humboldt Theater Club, Clara Panowski, a young-at-heart maverick living at the Happy Hollow Rest Home, provides joy to her fellow residents and dismay to the manager as she bends the rules to boost spirit at the facility.

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Annette Magus, the play’s production manager, said the club chose it because it was a good fit for the community.

“It's centered in an assisted living facility and there's a lot of facilities like that in town here,” she said. “It was a cute story. It had a good message, so we thought we'd give it a shot.”

Performances of the play begin Feb. 14 and go until Feb. 16. Auditions were held in September, with the group meeting weekly starting in October. The cast is made up of a mix of old and new actors to the theatre club.

On top of being the production manager, Magus plays Esther Oriole, Clara’s roommate who is dealing with dementia.

“She's very innocent in a lot of ways and so she responds quite often in cute little innocent ways, but she's got some substance to her and every once in a while, that comes out where she knows what's going on.”

A big challenge in playing the character, Magus said, is staying true to somebody who has dementia.

“There's lots of times where what she says is funny, but we don't want to make fun of her, so that's the biggest challenge, I think, is to to keep it true to life and to realize we can laugh with people, but we shouldn't be laughing at them.”

The club has had lots of community support in making the play possible. One behind the scenes challenge the club has been having is recruiting actors for their plays.

“It's hard to get people interested in acting,” Magus said. “It's hard to because for a lot of people taking them out of their comfort zone, so it's hard to encourage and get enough people out to actually have enough for the roles in the plays that we've selected.”

Magus said people should come see the play because it’s a great way to relax and enjoy themselves for an evening, spend time with friends and support the arts community.

“I think it's important if, if we're going to keep things like this in our in our community, we do need people to come out and support us.”

Spirit! will be performed at the Community Gathering Place, with doors opening on Feb. 14 and 15 at 7 pm, and Feb. 16 at 1:30 pm.

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