City’s only daytime, senior-focused theater company One Thirty launches its 10th season with a fan favorite

Gene Raye Price as Grace and Desire Fultz as Glorie.
Gene Raye Price as Grace and Desire Fultz as Glorie.

It was 10 years ago that Marty Van Kleeck was charged with a big task by the city: Create an artistic offering for seniors. As the manager of the Bath House Cultural Center, Van Kleeck considered both what would appeal to seniors, and what would be practical for their lifestyle.

“We came up with these theater shows that could take place at 1:30 p.m.,” says Van Kleeck. “Seniors can grab a bite to eat, see the show and have a full day, but still be home before the traffic starts.”

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It was the birth of One Thirty Productions, the Bath House’s only in-residence theater group which is dedicated to performances that look at aging and other topics relatable to seniors. The unique company marks its 10th anniversary season, opening today with a show selected by fans.

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“We gave out surveys last season, asking people to pick their favorite show from our history,” Van Kleeck says, adding that the fan base for these afternoon shows is dedicated.

“We used to go out and market these shows, now they always sell out so we don’t need to,” she says. “I have one group who books 600 people for all of our shows every year.”

The fans selected the heartstring story “Grace and Glorie,” by Tom Zigler, about an older woman who learns she is going to die, and the hospice volunteer who comes to care for her, but finds she is actually the one who needs saving. It later become a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. Van Kleeck will direct, and Gene Raye Price again steps into the role of Grace while Bath House newcomer Desire Fultz will play Glorie.

“Our mission is to produce theater seniors can connect with,” Van Kleeck says.

But, of course, the shows are open to everyone, and have a diverse following. The company has produced eight original shows in its 10-year history, two of which have gone on to be published by the famed Samuel French, Inc. in New York City, the country’s largest licensing house for theater.

“For a little company that you think is doing little theater for seniors, we’ve been very well regarded,” Van Kleeck says.

As they’re geared toward the retired crowd, the shows take place at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, March 8-25, at the Bath House. Tickets are $12 and going fast, call the box office at 214-532-1709 to reserve.

One Thirty Production’s 10th season will also include a chance to sit around the table with Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon and Betty Ford in “Tea For Three,” running May 10-27. “Trip to Bountiful” follows an elderly woman’s desire for the great outdoors and runs Oct. 5-15. Finally, the year wraps up with the holiday hit “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” from Nov. 29-Dec. 16.

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