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(Posted 11 a.m., Feb. 27)
Latest OOPS production shines irreverent light on our golden years
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

The latest Orleans Older Players class took to the stage Saturday night for the first of three weekend performances of the production "Opps, We're Doing It Again" at the Shenkman Arts Centre.

David and Lyne Shackleton perform "Baby It's Cold Outside" during the Orleans Older Players production of "Oops We're Doing It Again". Fred Sherwin/Photo

Written, directed and produced by Susan Flemming, the play is set in a retirement home and revolves around preparations for a talent show.

The residents are an eccentric collection of seniors, most of whom have been recruited to take part in the show against their wishes.

The director of the residence is Hanna Spitzle, played by Kim Riley, who, when she's not glued to her Blackberry, is holding staff meetings and changing the designation of the recreation activities director to the life enrichment co-ordinator.

The job of co-ordinating the talent show is left up to Vicki Birtwhistle, who is played by AnneMarie Neilson. She's assisted by Althea Screech, whose most notable fashion accessory is an ankle bracelet.

It seems Screech, who is played by Monique Ricketts, received a community service sentence after being banned from Walmart for 10 years for defacing copies of a Justin Bieber's CD. Her assigned task at the retirement residence is to act as the resident vocal coach.

The residence also has a custodian named Duane Bentright who is played by Shenkman Arts Centre custodian Andre LaCasse. Bentright gets a little bent out of shape when he meets fellow handyman Artie Cannon, played by Randy Bellini, who has been brought in to act as his assistant.

The residents are an interesting bunch, to say the least. Marjorie Howick, who is played by Sue Ashton, is the resident card shark. She pretends to be confined to a wheelchair so that her friend Candace Buckett, played by Celine Nadeau, has something to do in wheeling her around the retirement residence.

Cordelia Vanderlea and John Senior Jr. are played by Lyne and David Shackleton who are husband and wife. Senior is the resident curmudgeon who wants nothing more than to be left alone, or at least that's the facade he portrays, while Cordelia is in constant pursuit of his affection.

The newest resident is Olive Hoyle, who has been dropped off by her daughter Jennifer, played by Jessica Smith. When Jennifer finds out the residents are planning a talent show, she decides to stick around to see if she can shoehorn her way into the production.

The final member of the cast is Sandra Mortimer, who plays the annoyingly perky recreation coordinator Honey Wheeler.

The script is filled with great one-liners and plays up the eccentricity of the characters.

One of the highlights of the play is when the Mr. Senior and Cordelia perform a duet of "Baby It's Cold Outside".

Celine Nadeau's performance of "Smelly Cat", originally sung by Phoebe Buffay in the hit series "Friends" was a real hoot as well.

Other memorable moments include the opening ensemble when the cast gets to show off their chorus line skills in a spoof of the Britney Spears song "Oops, I Did It Again" and the scene in which Marjorie and John Senior Jr. "race" for the remote control from opposite sides of the stage. She in her wheelchair and he in his walker.

The cleverly written play includes pre-recorded snippets which are used to tell the audience what the characters are really thinking. For instance, Majorie only uses a wheelchair so that Candace can feel useful, and John Senior is really a warm-hearted man who is enamored with Cordelia.

The Orléans Older Player class is about as amateur as amateur theatre gets. Most of the members have never performed in a play in their lives. They either have children who are enrolled in the Orléans Young Players Theatre School or they have friends who are involved with the group.

For more information about the Orléans Older Players class visit www.oypts.ca. Enrollment is already underway for the next session which begins March 21.

"OOPS We're Doing It Again" continues on Sunday with two performances at 2:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets are available at the door. $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.


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