Fort Mill Times

Wylie assisted living residents go over the rainbow

There were lines and trebles and baritones, oh my!

The familiar sounds from “The Wizard of Oz” filled Lake Wylie Assisted Living Thursday afternoon. Residents and friends of residents dressed as all the usual characters, performing the biggest production to date for a group that gets together for the love of music.

“The Chorus at Lake Wylie Assisted Living was reformed about three years ago after a hiatus of several years and is comprised of residents as well as interested community members,” said accompanist Bobbie Otto. “The group meets weekly, for the pleasure of singing together and presents several concerts a year.”

Work on “The Wizard of Oz” began in January, with more practices in the past six weeks or so. When he wasn’t playing the great and powerful Oz, Larry Marraccini directed the production. He moved from unison to part singing, to drama.

“We keep escalating the difficulty of the things we do,” Marraccini said. “This was the most difficult thing we’ve done so far.”

Marraccini had a friend at the Lake Wylie facility. He also had a history as a high school band and choral director, dabbling also in summer theater. Otto, his wife, was a music major herself.

“We both have been involved in music all our lives,” Marraccini said.

Productions with the Lake Wylie group allow the couple to continue producing and directing shows, while keeping residents there “involved in something,” he said. The show Thursday was well received, a packed house of residents supported their neighbors and friends.

And why not? It likely was the only show in town where a former Normandy invader lined his face with whiskers and begged for courage.

“I come from a musical family,” said World War II veteran Dusty Rhodes, 90, serving on this day as the Cowardly Lion.

The hour-long show took many hours in the making. Hours performers were glad to spend together.

“For the residents, they look forward to having this rehearsal every Thursday,” Marraccini said. “It comes after their snack time and before their dinner time. They show up on time for their rehearsal and they’re not anxious to go to dinner.”

Performers were narrators Ethel Murry and Ardith Jabloncki, Fran Smith as Auntie Em, Lynne Fairley as the good and bad witch, Linda Eiler as Dorothy, Barbara Prall as the Scarecrow, Martha Radzyminski as the Tin Man, Rhodes as the Cowardly Lion and Tom Wirth as a narrator and guard.

John Marks •  803-831-8166