Art of Aging: The King of East Jabip

HAMMONTON, N.J. (WPVI) -- A father and daughter are taking center stage at the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, New Jersey with a play about Alzheimer's Disease.

Kelly McCarthy wrote The King of East Jabip specifically for her 80-year-old father, the Philadelphia actor, Tom McCarthy.

"He wanted a character who still wanted to do big things in his life even though he's of a certain

age," said Kelly.

"I'm tellin' ya - Doyle's back in the game." "Jack, you don't go to work today. You work part-time, remember?" Ah, yuh." (Line from play)

The play tells the story of Jack and Nora Doyle, an Irish-American couple getting on in age.

"I didn't set out to write about Alzheimer's disease. It just came into the play," said Kelly.

"Nora, what if I forget? Nora, what's going to happen to me if I can't remember?" (Line from play)

Kelly adds, "I know it's a big subject to tackle. After I started to write it, I wanted to make sure I honored it."

Kelly consulted with 2 neurologists and family and friends impacted by the disease to ensure the story-line was authentic.

Tom McCarthy plays "Jack Doyle."

He said, "It's difficult to play an Alzheimer fella because I've seen a couple close to my family who have it. It's just a terrible disease."

Kelly adds, "It seems everyone is either affected by a family member that they have that have Alzheimer's disease or some type of dementia. Or someone they know."

"Jack, you saw a neurologist." "Is there something wrong with me?" (Line from play)

"There's times when it gets dead silent where you can hear a pin drop because it's hitting raw emotions," said Tom/Jack.

While the subject matter is serious, there's a lot of humor in the play as well.

"I don't even look in the mirror anymore. I don't recognize the stranger looking back. He's old and gray. His earlobes are growing longer by the day." (Line from play)

Kelly says, "Humor brings people into a story, and then, after you bring them in, they're able to handle the sadness of the story."

And there are plans to turn the King of East Jabip into a film with hopes of showing it in theaters around the region.

Ted Wioncek III is the Co-Artistic Director at Eagle Theatre.

He said, "It begins a healing process for those who have gone through this, and for those who may prepare to go through it."

"It's wonderful to write something that you think is going to help change people," said Ted.

"The King of East Jabip" runs through October 9th at the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton.

Fore more information about programs for seniors, visit the Art of Aging section.
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