For skeptics and disbelievers, Memory Theatre Director Donald Walters might point out that this is how "A Chorus Line" got started. Broadway's longest-running show was, first, a collection of personal reminiscences. As with Walters' own production of "Recollections From a Rumble Seat," someone fashioned those memories into a script and assembled a cast to act it out.
"Recollections" is a collection of anecdotes about coming of age in the first three decades of this century.
Sixteen senior citizens from Pasadena, Altadena and Glendale got together a few months ago and talked about living without electricity, the flu epidemic of 1918, Charles A. Lindbergh's historic flight, vaudeville and rumble seats.
Then Walters hammered the stories into a 50-minute theatrical presentation, which will premiere today at 1:30 p.m. at Pilgrim Tower North, 560 E. Villa St., Pasadena. Admission is free.
The actors range in age from 65 to 92. There is
former vaudevillian John Bihary, who started out in the 1930s with Red Skelton. And there's Margaret Tinley, the cast's oldest member, who was a 19-year-old stenographer when she was struck with the dreaded influenza in an epidemic that killed thousands of Americans, felling even Tinley's own physician.
This is the fourth nostalgia production Walters and his Memory Theatre have put together. Walters, an actor and director who has worked in theater in New York and the Bay Area, says he now prefers working with older people.
"They're incredibly giving," he says. "They're willing to take chances on the stage, which is more than you can say for a lot of people."
"Recollections From a Rumble Seat" will also be performed at the Armory Center for the Arts, 145 N. Raymond Ave., at 2 p.m. March 14 and at Villa Gardens, 842 E. Villa St., at 2:30 p.m. March 21. Both are in Pasadena.