Drama has played a very important role in my daughter’s life this past year. (In fact, as I type this, I’m sitting in a rehearsal for Peter Pan Jr.) Being part of a production has been wonderful for her. She’s been part of something bigger. She has a new confidence about her. She absolutely loves theater. So, when a friend of mine told me about a play being put on by this group called the New Wrinkles, I was excited at the chance to introduce my daughter to something different than what she’s been experiencing.
I didn’t really know what to expect. I wasn’t sure what the play was about, if it was a play or a musical, or who the group was. All I knew was that my friend was part of it, it was at Fresno City, and it was called All That Jazz.
When my daughter and I arrived, we were greeted by a wonderful front of the house helper. We were then lead to the back, and were given VIP treatment! We got to see where the performers practiced, and were even able to watch them rehearse for a bit. After that we traveled to the stage, where the band was getting ready (directed by Darryl Dote). Once we were introduced to everyone, we stood on stage, behind the curtain. Now, I’m not on stage very often. In fact, the last time I was on stage might have been when I was a duck in some tap recital. I think I was 3 or 4. Oh, and once when I was 5 or so, when I played Raggedy Ann. I also fell off the stage, thus ending my career in acting. 😉 All this to say, I was excited to be standing on stage. I enjoyed seeing it all set up for the performers. Also, my daughter seemed to be thrilled to be behind the curtain. It really was pretty cool! After checking out the stage for a bit, we headed to our seats. A couple of the other VIP’s actually sat on stage, sort of being part of the show. What fun!
While we were waiting for the show to start, my friend came over and gave me some information about the cast. The New Wrinkles are a group for people ages 55 or better, they have been around for 27 years. Every year they sign up for a course at Fresno City, but don’t always meet there. Some of the group starts in September, while the rest start in January. Everyone takes dance class with David Bonetto (the Director) and vocal lessons with Dede Nibler (former director of Roosevlet School of the Arts). This is a very dedicated group of people, who take this seriously, yet still have fun. They are not just students of a class, they are friends and family. One of the members of the New Wrinkles family is Mary Jane, who is 91 years old. (She’s proud of this, so I’m not sharing anything she wouldn’t share herself.) During the first act, Mary Jane has a tap solo. A tap solo!!! I’m in my late 30’s and I can’t even do Zumba.
Once the show started, my daughter and I had smiles on our faces from start to finish. (Well, with some tears near intermission.) The story takes place in a Speakeasy during the 1920’s, spanning through the 1940’s. Jazz songs and dances are chronicled, through music, for each era. Watching the progression of music and dance was simply beautiful. I loved that the play introduced my daughter to new music. She had only heard of 2 or 3 of the songs. And really, I had only heard of about ¾ of the songs myself. My daughter said she really liked the songs from the 20’s, which surprised me.
Throughout the play I kept thinking about my grandparents and how much they would really love the show. Many people in the audience were of an older generation, and I bet the songs and dances brought back memories. I could tell it did for some of the performers. They really seemed to love what they were doing, which made me love the performance even more.
There is still time to see one of the shows (and I would highly recommend it).
The remaining shows and times are:
Friday, June 12 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Saturday, June 13 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Sunday, June 14 at 2:00pm
To get tickets call the Fresno City College Box Office at (559)442-8221.
After the show, stick around for a bit and talk to some of the cast. They all come outside and greet everyone. They are all so kind and willing to talk to you, sharing some great stories and information about what they do. I think it was a great encouragement to my 12 year old daughter to see how her passion for theater could continue on throughout her whole life.
To the New Wrinkles – Thank you so very much for sharing your talent with us! Job well done!