Many of the grannies we know are sweet, kind, easy going people who love to spend time with their grand-kids, but there are some who are full of energy and have time for other activities also. In a statement released by Randall Hartzog, Director of Marketing and Communications at Theatre Memphis, two of these grannies will perform in the Mel Brooks satirical musical, “The Producers” at Theatre Memphis. Here are the details.
Off season workouts apply to more than just the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team players. The Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas are a group of about 30 men and women over 50 years of age who entertain during Grizzlies home games and their energy is infectious. So much so with Connie Tilton and Charlotte Mabry that it sometimes spills over into other performing activities … such as being featured in a stage production of The Producers at Theatre Memphis.
The two “Grannies” making their theatrical debuts are active “seniors” who both happen to be teachers. Tilton, 70, retired a few years ago and was encouraged by her daughter to look into the Grizzlies program because she loved dancing so much. “I never really had any training … well “back then” some … but you know nothing to really prepare me for what I am doing now,” Tilton says. “I’m in my third year now as a Grannie and I love it. Certainly keeps me active.” Mabry, 65, now teaches at the Bowie Reading and Learning Center having retired from the Memphis City School system in 2006 and she has been a Grizz Grannie, in total, for two seasons. To her the dance group “sounded like fun” and went in totally unprepared for what to expect as well. “Actually, one of the Grandpas was in one of my Weight Watcher meetings and he made it sound so exciting, so I tried out!”
With the Grizzlies involved in post season games this past year, both Tilton and Mabry were already doing more than what was expected of them, but when Theatre Memphis was searching for people to fill an 18-person chorus line of dancing “little old ladies” for their 2015-16 season opener The Producers, they were intrigued. “We contacted one of the entertainment directors with the Grizzlies and asked if they could send out an audition notice and we got some hits,” says Jared Johnson, one of the choreographers for the TM production and the one who had the original idea. There were several who were interested but many were unable to commit because the rehearsal and performing schedule was so demanding. But Tilton and Mabry were determined. “All it took was one look at their enthusiasm and spark and I knew we had a couple of real stars,” laughs Johnson. His co-choreographer Christi Hall agrees, “They were able to follow direction and were absolutely not afraid to try whatever we asked them to do.”
Cecelia Wingate, director of The Producers, saw even more potential in them when she heard that they could sing, “You just don’t have all that fall into your lap just when you need it every day. Boy, were we blessed. They are the real deal.” Wingate has even featured the two in other ways throughout the show which includes some rather physical comedy. “Ooh, it is great fun,” giggles Tilton. Mabry nods, “We didn’t know what to expect or that this would be such a welcoming experience. It has been such a concentrated effort but we knew of the commitment it took. We are having the best time.” Tilton laughingly adds, “It’s hard work, Grit and Grind!!”
The Mel Brooks satirical musical, The Producers, opens August 21, 2015 and runs through September 13, 2015 with performances on Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. For tickets contact the box office at 901-682-8323 or go online to Theatre Memphis. Theatre Memphis is located at 630 Perkins Ext., Memphis, Tennessee.
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