The residents of Penn South retirement community have proven it: You’re never too old to play your dream role. As part of Music Theater International’s new Broadway Senior program, which adapts musicals in its library especially for a population of older performers, Penn South just opened their production of Fiddler on the Roof.
While the program is still in its pilot phase, licensing a title with Broadway Senior means large print scripts, suggested blocking based on a variety of mobility (walkers, wheelchairs, you name it), and other amenities. Penn South even partnered with NYU Steinhardt’s Drama Therapy program and the Jewish Association Serving the Aging, which means that those cast in the show receive one-on-one attention and support from students. And, for seniors, particularly those struggling with memory issues and dementia, musical theatre demonstrates therapeutic value.
“For me, it’s the people,” says Hilda Aronson, who plays Yente in the production. The 87-year-old was particularly struck by Steinhardt’s students. “I think they are the future and salvation because they took their artistic gift and they’re using it to serve.”
Penn South presents their production of Fiddler on the Roof November 21–24 in NYU’s Black Box Theatre. But beyond performing, the process has given renewed energy to the residents, and built new connections to the younger generation.
Flip through photos of the Penn South cast and their rehearsals below: