Alzheimer's musical surprises and moves

"I was really skeptical," said Michael Lieber, who plays several roles and the accordion. "A show about Alzheimer's? I was afraid it would be a downer."

"I was embarrassed. I didn't want to invite anybody," said Annie Kontak, who plays Roy's agent. "Alzheimer's — it's an old person's thing. We don't think we're old."

Larry Hazard, who plays Roy, was worried about the humor. "You don't want people to think you're laughing at them," he said.

He stopped worrying when he read the lyrics by Lauren Krause, a speech pathologist and Avrum Krause's wife. They were excellent, he said, and entirely good-hearted.

Kontak saw that people attending the show were moved by it. When she finally invited some friends and neighbors, several of them cried.

She stopped being embarrassed. "I just got off it," she said briskly.

"It's a really good entertainment, and people will learn something and see it isn't so scary," Avrum Krause said.

"We demonstrate in our play how someone has dealt with this and continues on with his life. It's a very upbeat show."

And one that ended last week with the Alzheimer's support group members taking to the stage to tell how they have continued with their lives.

"You exercise; you do activities; you do all the things you're supposed to do; you do memory things," Hawley said.

"And you forgive yourself for having what you have."

The show was over, but the applause returned.

"Rock 'n' Roll AD" runs through March 29 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. For information, call 773-327-5252 or visit stage773.com.

blbrotman@tribune.com

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