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St. Helena’s Rianda House Readers’ Theater produces comedic skits

St. Helena’s Rianda House Readers’ Theater produces comedic skits

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Rianda House

Rianda House is located at 1475 Main St. in St. Helena. Call 707-963-8555 or visit the website for the monthly activities calendar: RiandaHouse.org

The pandemic hasn’t been a barrel of laughs, but Rianda House’s Readers’ Theater Group managed to salvage some chuckles with “Has This Happened To You?”

Despite the strictures of social distancing, the team produced three skits that offer a humorous perspective on how seniors grapple with technology, dating and big data.

“Computer Sales Lady” features a customer (Toni Allegra) trying to order a computer over the phone from a blasé sales rep (Terri Wuerthner).

“The Prize” is about two female residents of a senior living facility (Jean Martin and Gail Terminello) who’ve found a unique way to avoid disputes among women over a newly arrived eligible man (Carroll Cotten).

“Pizza” takes on big data as a hapless woman (Gigi Riopel) tries to order a pizza from the employee of a tech-savvy pizzeria (Dianne Fraser).

The cast and crew were the first to return to Rianda House since the pandemic, albeit only in groups of two at a time.

Partners2Media, a professional film company, filmed the skits in May and edited them over the last few weeks. The Readers’ Theater program is led by Carol Gruetzner, who has master’s degrees in acting, directing and dramatic literature.

Martin said she learned a lot about the importance of facial expressions, compared with traditional audio-only readers’ theater programs that are all about the voice.

“The constant changes of facial expression make all the difference,” said Martin, praising Riopel’s performance in particular. “Her face says it all.”

“We didn’t realize how good we were until just now,” Riopel said after watching the skits at the Cameo Cinema on Tuesday. “This was the first time I’d ever watched myself on film.”

“Hollywood next!” she said with a laugh.

The 23-minute program is available through June 18 at youtube.com/watch?v=MXzAfhf--kk.

No memorization is required to participate in Readers’ Theater, which meets weekly. To register, contact Elizabeth Cobb-Bruno at 963-8555 ext. 103 or elizabeth@riandahouse.org.

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