Seniors

Director John Hnat, playwright Rini McGannon Gauntner and music director Marge Adler discuss plans for rehearsal.

It might not be a Broadway musical, and it might not have big names, but a musical put on at the Rocky River Senior Center later this month will have a name many people will recognize.

“Scrapbook,” a musical written by Rini McGannon Gauntner, will be performed May 25-27 at the center, 21014 Hilliard Blvd.

For 30 to 40 years, McGannon Gauntner, 80, was with The Group, a local group that performed locally.

“It stood for Gro-Up,” she said.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. May 25 and 1:30 p.m. May 26 and 27. McGannon Gauntner is, perhaps, the real veteran of the stage, but she isn’t the oldest. That would be Dottie O’Neill, who is 90, McGannon Gauntner said.

“We have a few who are in their 80s, and we have a few kids that are in their 60s,” she said.

Directed by John Hnat, “Scrapbook” is a musical with parody songs. The music director is Marge Adler and the dance director is Jim Becker.

“I've been writing parody songs for years,” McGannon Gauntner said. “I've been writing them since I was a kid.”

This is not a new venture for the Senior Center. Members have put on shows for years. Even the pandemic didn't stop them.

A courtyard was used, and then the thespians wore plastic shields while on stage, with audience members spaced safely apart.

However, the 2020 show was delayed.

“We were practicing one about fairy tales that was shut down,” said Mimi Verdone, 64, who has a role. “There was a break, and then we started practicing outside. Once the center opened up, we had the show.”

“We were the only thing going on nationally,” McGannon Gauntner said. “We should have gotten more publicity!”

But there was competition outside. City Hall, on the same campus as the Senior Center, was building a new police station and jail.

“We were competing with the jail construction,” Verdone said. “And some of the people have hearing problems too.”

“Scrapbook” revolves around “the good old days.” It came about when McGannon Gauntner's granddaughter asked if she had a poodle skirt and she went to look for one in her attic. She found a scrapbook and began to think about “the good old days.” She realized they had done a skit about the “good old days” of the 1920s when she was in school. Many of today's group was with her then.

“We thought that it (the good old days) was the 1920s, the Roaring ’20s,” she said.“That started off pretty bad with Prohibition, and there was organized crime. Here we are in the ’20s, 100 years later. We'll start it off with a little picture. In the background, 'Moments to Remember' will be playing and then it'll come alive.”

Practice began in February and has increased as opening night approaches.

“We started off working one day a week on songs or dances,” Hnat said. “Then, we increased it to two days a week to work on the songs and dances together. In May, we'll increase it to three days.”

Tickets are free, but must be reserved by calling 440-333-6660.

“With the economy the way it is, people can come to this since it's free,” McGannon Gauntner said. “And you get lemonade and cookies afterward! It'll be an hour and a half of fun.”

Contact this reporter at blove@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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