Oh, to be 50 again.
In a way, Pigs Do Fly Productions is doing exactly that with the encore of their production “Fifty Plus – A Celebration of Life…As We Know It.”
Now the collection of seven 10-minute plays with themes on being middle-aged will get a reprise mounted at Showtime Performing Arts Theatre in Boca Raton. The show originally ran in May at Empire Stage in Fort Lauderdale.
Back then, producer Ellen Wacher told me for the Sun Sentinel that the concept derived from her work with the Screen Actors Guild, particularly a committee concerned with women over the age of 50 having a higher profile in film and television.
“Look at the ads on TV, and it’s all about the coveted 18-to-49 market,” she explained at the time. “As you go along, you feel more and more that you don’t fit. You just see it all over. There are over 300 million people in the U.S., and more than 100 million of them are over the age of 50, and yet entertainment just ignores us. I thought I’m tired, I’m mad, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
So then Wacher enlisted the help of Marjorie O’Neill-Butler, a local actor-director-playwright who put the call out in theater circles for original scripts. By the August, 2013 deadline, they had 353 submissions. “With another 50 that came in late,” Wacher says. “Believe me, I read all 353.”
In March of 2014, O’Neill-Butler and Beverly Blanchette, both of whom had signed on as directors, joined Wacher for a marathon read-through where they narrowed the field down to the final seven. They then recruited six actors who had to be at least 50 years old. The resulting production at Empire Stage sold out almost every performance of the 11-night run.
As for the name of the production company, Wacher says, “there was this article with Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and, I think, Sandra Bullock recognizing that they are very attractive and still working in their mid to late 40s. And the title of the article was ‘Maybe Pigs Are Flying’ and I said, ‘That’s it. That’s the name. Pigs do fly. It’s a statement. Instead of being ashamed, we’re proud.”
“Fifty Plus” runs August 14-24 at Showtime Performing Arts Theatre, 503 SE Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton. 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $30 Contact: 866-811-4111 or PigsDoFlyProductions.com.