BETHEL – Lynn Arizzi of the Bethel Senior Players sat at the edge of her seat directing a recent rehearsal of “Valley Forgery,” a comic one-act play that postulates a perchance meeting between Martha Washington, Fannie Howe and Marie Antoinette.

“We are a reader’s theater group,” said Arizzi, “We carry our scripts in our hands.” Carrying scripts allows seniors to participate in theater without the difficulty of memorizing lines, a concept, she said, that is being used at senior colleges all over the country.

Portland-based Osher Life-Long Learning Institute’s Senior Players performed last year at Western Mountain Senior College’s annual membership tea. Seeing the Portland seniors perform gave WMSC Chairman Jackie Cressy the inspiration to form a senior’s troupe for the Bethel area.

She learned of Arizzi’s background and asked her to take the lead. Arizzi took over as director/coordinator, collecting short plays through Internet searches and asking people to sign up. The group began meeting every other week in January in the basement of the West Parish Congregational Church.

Arizzi said she has always loved theater and jumped at the chance to lead the group. She brings a wealth of experience to the Bethel Senior Players, from teaching elementary school music, to supervising the entire music department in Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools, to participating in a Little Theater group.

Arizzi, also an accomplished pianist, looks forward to incorporating musicals into the theater company’s repertoire. As a music teacher, she directed numerous school musicals, cataloging each production in a brag-book library that lines one wall of her family room.

She and her husband, Joe, who also helped with the productions, still remember the names of many of the students she taught in the 1960s and 1970s, maintaining contact with them into their adulthood – to the point of attending one of their weddings almost 30 years later.

“Theater is really about making friends and having fun,” said Arizzi, saying of the 13 actors in Bethel Senior Players, “We have become a little family.”

The troupe is working on six one-act plays, with titles such as “Canker Sores and Other Distractions,” “Car of the Future” and “Slob School,” and the dramatic poem, “John Brown’s Body,” by Stephen Vincent Benet.

“These plays are not only funny and entertaining,” said Cressy, also a member of the players group, “but they also help us explore life’s complexities.”

The newly formed Bethel Senior Players gave its first public performance for the Bethel Area Rotary earlier this month and will provide the entertainment at this year’s annual senior college luncheon today. A public performance at the Gould Academy Science Building is planned for Sunday, May 21, and another some time in August for the new community performing arts festival.

Bethel Senior Players entertains upon request and accepts new members. For more information, contact Arizzi at 824-0080.

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