‘Dinosaur divas’ light up the stage

By Sheona Burns

The word “diva” evokes some pretty common stereotypes of actresses garbed in pink feather boas and sparkly evening gowns.

But Patricia Easter, a veteran singer and self-confessed diva, doesn’t look the part.

In plain black slacks and a simple grey sweater, the 64 year-old vocalist explains, “I’m not really a diva. I’m more of a dinosaur diva.”

Easter “the dinosaur diva” is the choral director and actor in an all-seniors’ play, Pearls on Ice.

Since she retired from her job as an accountant a few years ago, Easter has focused on doing what she loves best- performing.

“I just love to entertain people,” she says. “I’m looking forward to doing the show. It’s going to be great.”

Pearls on Ice, written by Sharon and Gary Smith, includes a cast of over 50 seniors between ages 55 and 80.

The play follows the story of an all-female hockey team based in the fictional town of Jollywood. The girls encounter trouble when a conniving new coach plots to blow the team’s annual game against the neighbouring town.

Pearls on Ice is the second production sponsored by the Good Companions Seniors’ Centre and will hit the main stage July 4 and 5 at Centrepointe Theatre in Nepean.

“It’s just going to be a good old-fashioned melodrama,” says Marilyn Murphy, a tap dancer who will perform in the play. “There’s a lot of good music, good acting and good dancing. We’ve got some great talent here and it’s generally unheard of to have a show that’s all seniors, so it’s great.”

Murphy, who’s been dancing “since birth,” says she thrives off performing in front of an audience.

“I love the attention,” she says. “I’m just a terrible ham.”

According to Easter, the psychological benefits of performing are tremendous.

“The idea of taking on another character somehow makes us forget our own foibles and problems,” she says. “A lot of the seniors live alone, so the play rehearsals give them a sense of belonging. It really makes you feel like you’re a part of something.”

Murphy says it’s also important to have an all-senior’s production because it provides more opportunities for an older generation of performers.

“There isn’t much demand for senior citizens in local theatre groups,” she says.

“All the good roles usually go to young people. Just because you turn 55 doesn’t mean you want to stop performing.”

Lynne Barnhouse, a 64-year old jazz dancer, says she’s glad she joined the cast.

“You really feel like you’re a part of a community and that’s important,” she says. “They’re a great group of people who all work well together so I’m sure the show is going to be a great success.”

Tickets for Pearls on Ice can be purchased for $15 at the Good Companions Seniors’ Centre on 670 Albert St.

Pearls on Ice won’t be Easter’s last curtain call the “dinosaur diva” doesn’t plan on leaving the spotlight just yet.

“You can’t keep us old dogs chained up,” she says.

“We’ll just keep going until we fade away.”