Senior community group Watermark Players perform virtual play about life amid the pandemic

When COVID-19 hit the region, the group went online to keep the show going.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- COVID-19 continues to have a dramatic impact on the arts, especially live performances. But a local senior community theater group decided the show must -- and could -- go on. With a little creativity and help from technology.

The Watermark Players decided to have art imitate life for their most recent performance they hosted virtually - writing and performing a musical comedy called, Ain't Congregatin' about life amid the pandemic with the help of Philly Senior Stage.

The play was performed under the direction of Steve Hatzai, a teaching artist with Philly Senior Stage.

Hatzai says the organization, "was designed to bring theater to retirement communities and to seniors in the Delaware Valley."

Eddie Schechter says he joined the Watermark players, all Logan Square residents, about a year and a half ago.

"We look forward to getting together every week," says Schechter. "And we literally have people from 64 to 104."

When COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders went into effect in March, Hatzai says they started meeting virtually to stay connected and the show evolved from there.

"This was a really a good opportunity to take that frustration and use it creatively," says Hatzai.

He says the show started because a few members of the group started writing lyrics to known songs. "The title came from a Fats Waller song, Ain't Misbehavin'," explains Hatzai.

"All of us contributed to the ideas and thoughts and jokes," says Schechter. In one of the songs, the Watermark Players sing about being careful walking the streets and staying six feet apart.

"It's a humorous story that pokes fun at COVID, the politics of the time," says Schechter.

Jokes aside, Schechter says they do recognize the seriousness of the virus, especially since some Watermark residents contracted COVID-19.

"We were very thoughtful and careful about what we did and how we did it," explains Schechter, "but humor is important for the soul."

"I thought they did phenomenally well," says Hatzai.

And Schechter agrees - "I'm very proud of all of us for what we were able to do."
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