Update: Alden Theater Opens with New Seats Today
McLean Community Players Perform Adult Comedy “Social Security”
Update: Alden theatergoers tonight will be greeted by brand new seats. The McLean Community Center literally just put the finishing touches on the refurbishing of the 425 seats in the Alden Theater.
These is the first updating in 22 years. The seats cost a bit over $160,000--- $16,000 more than originally budgeted. But the MCC board said the additional money would buy comfort and longer life to the seats coverings.
Since this is opening night, there is a very nice reception after the performance of Social Security.
ORIGINAL STORY SEPT 13. Mid-life crisis, infidelity, aging parents, defiant teens. These real-life problems are the basis for the uproariously funny ”Social Security” – the McLean Community Players (MCP) season opener Friday at the Alden Theatre.
Written by playwright Andrew Bergman (screenwriter for “Blazing Saddles” and “The In-Laws”), “Social Security” tells the story of Manhattan art dealers Barbara and David Kahn, whose urbane existence is uprooted when Barbara’s sister Trudy drops off their aging mother Sophie so she and her husband Martin can fly off to Buffalo to save their wayward daughter. In walks Maurice Koenig to the rescue, an elderly artist who injects a little spice into Sophie’s life.
Director Shayne Gardner said, “These days, people want to laugh, and this show will definitely make them laugh, because there are so many funny things going on: Barbara’s arguments with her mother, Martin’s description of his daughter’s behavior, or David’s witty remarks. And the old lady gets her man in the end; what more could you ask for in a comedy?”
Gardner’s interest in community theatre began as a child actor. Over the years she has worn many hats as a stage hand, in set production, producing, writing and directing. Her first experience directing was for MCP’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play” in 2009. Gardner prefers directing comedies. She claims, “Comedy is easier than drama.” Although she has not directed any musicals as yet, that is her “next mountain to climb.”
Gardner came to MCP as a crew member and over the years worked her way up to director. Occasionally she works with other nonprofit theater companies, such as Artstream in Arlington, her town of residence. Her broad background of experiences has helped in directing – “knowing all the pieces of what goes into a show results in a better finished product,” she said.
Gardner, the business manager for Randi, Korn & Associates Inc., a museum evaluation consulting firm in Alexandria, is also a board member of the MCP. She was delighted when the Selection Committee chose “Social Security” for this season’s slate of productions. Several years ago Gardner’s own mother portrayed the role of Sophie in a production of the play. Gardner said, “Now my mother is about Sophie’s age, the situation hits close to home. … I identify on a personal level.”
Although "Social Security" deals with real issues of the “sandwich” generation, it is a comedy. As Gardner aptly said, “It is really mostly a comedy with a sweet undertone of relationships.”
John Barclay Burns plays Sophie’s knight in shining armor – artist Maurice Koenig. A retired professor emeritus of religious studies at George Mason University, he has been acting for over 50 years, since he was a child in Scotland. “Social Security” is Burns’ third production with MCP, after assuming supporting roles in “Oh, Coward” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Since retiring in June of 2010, he has been acting non-stop. A member of the British Players, Burns has also performed at the Little Theatre in Alexandria and the Silver Springs Stage.
At first, Burns was a little dubious about “Social Security.” The play was new to him, and after a first read, he was not sure it was terribly funny. However, once rehearsal began the play became alive and the actors gelled. Burns said, “It’s very funny. A very 80s play. … The family attitudes and the sexual liberation. … The audience will laugh. We have good chemistry.”
Kim Thornley, a dance and creative dramatics instructor who portrays the role of Trudy Hayman, agrees with Burns' view of the show. She said,” I think this production of 'Social Security' is a hilarious hoot of a show.”
Since middle school, Thornley has been involved in the performing arts, but this is her first production with MCP. She is thrilled to be in this production of “Social Security” and said, “[We have] a very talented and dedicated cast, staff and crew.”
Social Security at Alden Theatre, 1234 Ingleside Ave.
Sept. 16, 2011 – Oct. 1, 2011. Ticket Price: $14 - $16
Additional Information: www.mcleancenter.org/alden/box-office.asp
Please note that with adult language and situations, this slice-of-life comedy is suitable for audiences 16 and older. There will be a reception following the performance Friday evening.