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Players make an appointment with Dr. Fraud

October, 2010

The Showtime Players, a troupe of senior citizens who had great success last year with their musical production Put the Blame on Mom, are back with Dr. Ziggy’s Psychadeli, which picks up where the first show left off.

In Put the Blame on Mom, the cast, which ranges in age from 65 to more than 90, lampooned psychiatry and the burden of guilt psychiatrists tend to place on mothers. It was the story of a group of women who turn against those psychiatrists.

It’s Showtime for (from left) Vera Kahn, Bobby Mendelson, Mayer Mill, Hannah Sheffren, Phyllis Waxman, Beverley Silverman. Photo: Martin Barry

Dr. Ziggy’s Psychadeli reintroduces Dr. Zigmund Fraud (played by Mayer Mill, 76), who has left his practice and opened a deli restaurant. Last year’s show ended when Ziggy’s mother told him he should marry Julie, his secretary. In the sequel, they have tied the knot and are running the deli, where an assortment of colourful characters come and go.

On stage set with tables and booths, smoked meat sandwiches, dill pickles and fries are ordered. Decades-old pop songs, some with modified lyrics, are woven seamlessly into the story. The show climaxes with a musical duet featuring dancing sensation Edgar Lion.

“My husband invested all his money with a crook—sort of an Earl Jones situation—lost everything,” said Hannah Sheffren, who plays Della, one of the female leads. “So I run to Ziggy to get some advice. Here I am destitute. They put an apron on me and I become a waitress in Ziggy’s deli.”

As the story progresses, Della sets her eye on another character, Harry the Bookie (Lou Schiff, 77), who’s rolling in money because of a large bet that’s just paid off for him. “I pretty much throw myself at him and he accepts it,” Sheffren said.

Interviewed in the midst of a day-long rehearsal at Congregation Beth-El in Town of Mount Royal, she admitted she was “quite exhausted right now. It’s quite a workout.” But, she added: “It’s also exhilarating. We have a good time. There’s a lot of laughing, a lot of joking.”

Last year’s and this year’s shows were written by 94-year-old Lil Levinson-Garmaise, whose best known work, Carmen Cohen, was first staged in 1957 and revived as Carmen on the Main six years ago. Levinson-Garmaise has taken a keen interest in the current production.

“I think there may be one or two people in our production who are younger than 70,” said Schiff, who is also producing Dr. Ziggy’s Psychadeli. He was in Carmen on the Main when the Showtime Players produced that show. According to director-choreographer Lorna Wayne, most of the musical numbers are elaborately “staged,” rather than improvised, presenting a greater challenge for the seniors, who are proving themselves up to it, she noted.

Musical director Nick Burgess, who arranged all the music, said: “We spent a good month and a half, almost two months, in a room just with a piano sitting down and learning all the harmonies for the show.”

Dr. Ziggy’s Psychadeli, Congregation Beth-El, 1000 Lucerne, Oct. 12-16, 7:30pm; Oct. 17, 1:30pm. $20; $18 for matinees. Info: 514.738-4766



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