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How this ‘Grumpy Old’ gathering put a song in my heart

There’s nothing quite like the energy of a community theater tech week. Lights going on and off. Microphones squeaking. Sound effects sounding at the wrong time. And yet the cast knows that somehow it will all come together by opening night.

Such was the atmosphere when I dropped in on the JFed Players tech rehearsal for “Grumpy Old Men: The Musical,” the ensembles’ first onstage performance since Covid became a household word.

Although they presented several Pandemic Playhouse productions on Zoom and even one outdoor performance in the last two years, being back on stage again is a wow.

I was caught up in the excitement as soon as I entered the theater. Whatever I had been thinking about before I walked in was washed away with foot tapping to the music and laughing out loud. The cast, a balanced mix of veteran JFed actors and newcomers, gives life to a folksy charm that is as endearing as it is funny.

The musical comedy is the story of two aging men, neighbors who have been feuding for most of their lives. The fun begins when a beautiful woman moves into the house across the street and the men become romantic rivals for her affections. The themes of rivalry, jealousy and seniors’ interest in sex play out as though they were written for this particular cast.

The feel-good musical did its job. It made me feel good.

I have a long history with the JFed Players. My late husband was one of the founding members. His love for acting and his fellow actors was his passion. He wanted every show to be the best they have ever done. I think he will get his wish with “Grumpy Old Men.”

The musical number, “Life is About Livin’,” was being rehearsed just before I left. I found myself humming the tune as I walked to my car. And I felt joyful.

Good theater does that.

The limited engagement which began on March 26 plays through April 2 at Porticos Art Space in Pasadena. Times and tickets at Phone (626) 445-0810.

Email [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @patriciabunin

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