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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: March 27, 2017

Troupe of older actors portrays the challenges of aging in ‘The Whales of August’

Written by: Bob Keyes
Penny Davis-Dublin (left) and Muriel Kenderdine star in the Daytime Players production of "The Whales of August." Photo courtesy of Daytime Players

Penny Davis-Dublin (left) and Muriel Kenderdine star in the Daytime Players production of “The Whales of August.”
Photo courtesy of Daytime Players

The Daytime Players, a theater troupe of older actors, will present “The Whales of August” with the Saco River Theatre in Buxton beginning Friday night. The play, which premiered in 1980, tells the story of two widowed sisters who live together at their island home in Maine and pass their summer days watching whales from the porch and reconciling their complicated relationship.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Old White Church, 15 Salmon Falls Road, Buxton. Tickets cost $10 and are available at the door.

This production of “The Whales of August” features an age-appropriate cast. It stars Muriel Kenderdine, 87, who has been acting in Portland since 1954. She plays 86-year-old Libby. Penny Davis-Dublin, 70, plays the role of 75-year-old Sarah.

Kenderdine has acted with most theater companies in Portland over those 63 years. She appreciates the Daytime Players because the company caters to older actors. “It’s great, because we meet in the daytime, we rehearse in the daytime and most of our performances are in the daytime. I don’t drive after dark anymore. If we do have an evening performance, someone will drive.”

She’s never seen “The Whales of August” — either the play or the 1987 movie, which starred Bette Davis, Lillian Gish and Vincent Price. She likes the script because it speaks the truth about the challenges of getting old. In the play, the younger sister, Sarah, cares for her needy older sister, Libby. Sarah feels trapped, wants to be on her own and thinks about romance.

“It is important for people to know what senior citizens go through, and a lot of that is brought out in this play,” Kenderdine said. “Libby is cranky a lot of time. She is almost blind and has other physical problems. That is all a part of it.”

Other cast members are Peter Allen, Sallie Chase and John Ersek. Katy Marshall directs.

The script by David Berry deals with important issues brought on by aging, Marshall said — whether to forgive long-standing grievances, whether to risk falling in love again and how to navigate the economics and frailties of old age.

A younger cast would be challenged to handle those issues with the convincing credibility of an older cast, Marshall said.

Kenderdine’s role models are Angela Lansbury and Betty White. She’s sung and acted in musicals, comedies and dramas, and has appeared in movies and on TV. She’s played Ethel in “On Golden Pond” three times, and her favorite roles are Mrs. Patrick Campbell in “Dear Liar,” Jean Marie in the Hank Beebe musical “Turnabout” and Mrs. Clackett in “Noises Off.”

As widely known as Kenderdine is for her stage work, she may be better known in the theater community as editor and publisher of “Cast & Crew,” a bi-monthly newsletter about the theater scene in Maine and New Hampshire.

WHAT: “The Whales of August” by the Daytime Players
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Saco River Theatre/Old White Church, 15 Salmon Falls Road, Buxton
TICKETS & INFO: $10 at the door;

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