The cast strolled in like this wasn’t acting, but their true selves being given a chance to emerge. Introduced by the narrator and MC Alberta Williams, they seemed perfectly comfortable and at home on the makeshift stage that was the community room.
The setting was simple—four women sitting around a table with a tea set and a platter of doughnuts sitting in the middle.
Each woman successfully brought their own flavor to the group. They were cast as a renowned flirt (Lola—Barbara Wetherbee), a know-it-all (Prudence—Lois Davis), a newly wed (Betsy—Marie Russell) and the Alaska loving outdoorswoman, (Sara-Eleanor Beck).
The evening was mostly soaked with jokes poking fun at blonds, senior citizens and tales of life at Chambrel. For example, Betsy, who was played by Marie Russell, told a joke while they were talking about weight loss. She said, “I try to lose weight, but it keeps on finding me.”
This was just a taste of how the night progressed.
Another joke revolved around the infamous stereotype that blonds are slow. “What does a blond say if you blow in her ear---thanks for the refill.”
There was even a segment where each character broke out into song, explaining their personality through song. Lola’s theme song was “What Lola wants, Lola gets.”
A few jokes were even supported by a number of characters. There was one instance where Sara, played by Eleanor Beck, asked Lola why the number on her apartment had been turned to 0000. Prudence, played by Lois Davis, told her, “didn’t anyone tell you that management is going to reorganize our apartments according to our IQ.”
The heartbeat behind the play, Eleanor Voss, described the Chambrellas as being the “Golden Girls of Chambrel.”
The Chambrellas is an original play written and directed by Eleanor Voss. It was performed in front of a modest audience, mostly composed of residents, in the community room of the Chambrel Brookdale Senior Living home.
For both the cast members and director, the play was mostly about having a good time. According to Voss, there were no auditions. She simply approached each person, asked him or her if they wanted to be in the play, and they said yes.
“Fun and silliness,” Voss said. “That’s what it was all about.”
She said there was no deep source of motivation behind her play, but admits she took some lifetime experiences and added to the play. A large piece of inspiration simply came from living at Chambrel, but for the most part she just does it for fun.
“I don’t know where it comes from, it just comes from somewhere,” Voss said.
Barbara Wetherbee said she had a good time playing the flirtatious Lola.
“She was an interesting character, nothing like my character,” Wetherbee said. “I’m really not a dumb blond, and I used to be a brunette, so I figured let’s try it.”
Playing Prudence was a challenge for Lois Davis because she is nothing like Prudence, but she decided to play the role anyway since Voss was such a good friend of hers. In reality, Prudence describes herself as being “fun and liberal.”
“I think we all played opposites,” Prudence said.
It’s true that many of the actors had to play roles opposite their actual personalities, but this didn’t seem to be the case with Eleanor Beck. Voss actually chose her because she really had some Alaskan outdoorsman experience. She told the tale of how she and her husband took a road trip from Barberton to Alaska.
Besides camping and being outdoors, Beck was even a hunter, but she would never hunt deer. The one time she ran in to a buck, while hunting squirrels, she slowly waited for it to leave because she did not want to get gorged.
“I never liked to hunt anything that was bigger than me,” she said.
Voss said this was her third play she has written since living at Chambrel. She even has another one near completion.
According to narrator Alberta Williams, this is the first time a play was written and performed by Chambrel residents. She hopes that it catches on and inspires other residents to do the same.