Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Theatre Brookhaven welcomes local elderly community

Jacqueline Sastre
The “Brighton Beach Memoirs” set depicts a 1937 household.

The Carrollton Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Center’s residents viewed “Brighton Beach Memoirs” presented by  Theatre Brookhaven on March 1. With mumbles of anticipation coming from the residents as they were settling into their seats, Tina Santiago, Carrollton Garden coordinator, said the night was going differently than usual. 

The residents, whose days usually end at 5 p.m., had come together for a cocktail hour, followed by dinner before ending the night sitting in the audience of a 7:30 p.m. show.

Darise Error, Brookhaven theatre director, said, “It is important for the young actors to have an audience for whom they can share their hard work and pieces of their souls on stage at night.” Residents at Carrollton Garden had the opportunity to walk in others’ shoes, as well as benefit from the positive effects of theater art.

The show transported its audience into the life of a complex and bustling Jewish household in the late Depression era of 1937 in Brighton Beach, New York, with 1930s big band and jazz playing before the show and a set depicting the inside of a two-story house with classic floral wallpaper and a touch of the art deco flare the period was known for. 

The play is a semi-autobiographical story following the life of the young teenager Eugene Jerome, played by Sasha Crouch, who shares a glimpse of the bittersweet moments in a struggling family’s life and the integrity of familial love. 

The coming-of-age comedy had the residents cackling at the successive sly and witty one-liners. 

One resident shook his head and chuckled loudly at one joke that led the others to grin and point out in agreement. During the play, residents all around nodded as they smiled at the scenes of hope and forgiveness. 

Both Santiago and Error credited Suzette Vaquera, college coach of recruitment and community outreach, for her kindness in reaching out and organizing the residents’ trips to the shows. 

People  residing at Carrollton Gardens came to see the theater’s Fall 2023 shows: “Women and Wallace” and “A Christmas Carol Puppet Show.” Vaquera said throughout her years of recruitment, she has not served the senior citizen population and wanted to change that. 

Santiago said, “In moments like this they turn into children once again and simply enjoy the camaraderie. It is a wonderful time for them all whenever they come out and support the younger generation that is starting off.” 

She also said the Brookhaven drama department has opened their hearts to the residents and has always made them feel welcomed.

At the end of the night, the residents applauded the cast for their memorable performance and greeted them as they left the theat. With jackets, cardigans and blankets, the residents headed toward their van and were ready to wrap up their eventful night.

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