The Great Pretenders

Negaunee Senior Center acting troupe provides fun, creative outlet

Scott Collins of the Great Pretenders performs in “The Christmas Police,” a comedic skit, in front of a full house during a holiday dinner theater at the Negaunee Senior Center. The group, which meets at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays to practice, brainstorm and prepare for performances, is all about having fun and encourages anyone to participate, regardless of previous acting experience, Collins said. (Photo courtesy of Negaunee Senior Center)

MARQUETTE — The Great Pretenders, a Negaunee Senior Center acting troupe provides an avenue for local seniors to share their acting talents — or learn to discover them, as organizers say there’s no need for previous acting experience.

The group meets regularly at 1 p.m. each Wednesday to practice, brainstorm, write material, scout out ideas or do other activities related to getting their act together for performances.

“When they perform, it tends to be our most well attended presentation that we offer,” said Kristy Basolo-Malmsten, director of the Negaunee Senior Center. “I think it’s different, too; it’s different than what we usually offer, and people appreciate the arts; they appreciate the different opportunity beyond just information.”

Scott Collins, who has been a Great Pretenders member about a year, said he had fond memories of participating in Negaunee’s local youth theater — this inspired him to join the group at the encouragement of Pauline Lakenen, who had been involved with the youth theater at the same time as Collins and is now director of the Great Pretenders.

“I’m glad I did,” Collins said, noting that he has enjoyed the opportunity to rediscover the fun of acting.

Collins explained that the group is all about having fun.

“We’re very easy going, we don’t make anyone memorize lines … It’s all for fun,” Collins said. “It’s just social … It’s a reason to get out and socialize and have some fun.”

Keeping in the spirit of fun, the group likes to do comedies, Collins said.

This is appreciated by those who attend their performances.

“The fact that they typically do comedy certainly helps, too. Everybody needs a good laugh, especially this time of year,” Basolo-Malmsten said.

So far, they’ve put on several shows for the Negaunee Senior Center, adapting various skits for their troupe.

The group even put on a dinner theater for the senior center during the holidays, performing short comedies such as “The Christmas Police,” and “Mrs. Claus had a Monolog.”

They’ve also performed “The Speeding Ticket,” a comedy about an elderly woman who gets pulled over by police and gives the cop “the run-around,” Collins said with a smile.

However, the group’s first original skit is on the way, as Collins is working on writing a skit about the rich history of Negaunee.

“It’s easier if you know what you’re talking about; like they always told you in writing, ‘write what you know,'” Collins said. “So, it’s about Negaunee history, is what we’re trying to base it on.”

The group has already visited the Negaunee Historical Museum to research the skit, and hopes to debut a performance of it this summer with a comedic slant, Collins said.

“It started out serious but I think I can turn it into a comedy,” he said.

Collins encourages those who are interested to drop by for a Great Pretenders session — the only requirement is a willingness to have fun, he said.

Furthermore, even people who may not want to be in the spotlight can participate by working behind the scenes on costumes, scripts or sets, Collins said.

Even those who don’t directly participate in the group are grateful for the Great Pretenders.

“We’re grateful to Pauline for coming to us with the idea for the group. Even our seniors who don’t participate in the group, they get benefits from it; (they get) to attend the performances, which have been very popular,” Basolo-Malmsten said.

Collins said the Negaunee Senior Center also offers many opportunities for fun and socialization beyond the Great Pretenders group.

“They have lots of activities here. People love coming here, lots of card games, bingo, lunch,” Collins said. “This is quite a social hub for the older people in Negaunee and everyone’s welcome. You don’t have to be 55, any age is welcome.”

For more information on the Great Pretenders or the Negaunee Senior Center, visit cityofnegaunee.com/residents/senior-citizens-center/ or call the center at 906-475-6266.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.