Seniors dream of genie

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First Posted: 3/11/2013

When conjuring a magical genie in one’s mind, some typical thoughts occur: a lamp and a young man in flashy clothes, perhaps.

Well, going into the Actors Circle’s latest show, “Seniors of the Sahara,” you can forget all of that.

Instead, what you stumble upon is a geriatric genie who is fondly called “Eugene” by the master trying to pass him off as human. He is afflicted with lumbago, has a penchant for vodka and V8, and resides in a teapot.

“It’s not quite the genie she anticipates,” said Cathy Strauch of the main character, Sylvia Goldberg, who finds the magic entity. Strauch plays Fannie, a friend of Sylvie’s.

As can already be concluded, “Seniors of the Sahara” isn’t some epic tragedy, but a comedy that’ll have the audience chuckling all the way out the door.

Sylvie attends her grandson’s wedding in Israel and brings back what she believes to be a souvenir she purchased at an outdoor market. She gets much more than she bargained for in the form of the aforementioned genie in a teapot (played by Jeff Ginsberg).

As if keeping this find from her friends Mabel (Lorrie Loughney), Thelma (Regina Yeager), and Fannie isn’t enough, Sylvie also has to deal with Eugene’s former master, Savalas (George Cosmetis), who follows Sylvia home and threatens her because the teapot was sold to her accidentally by his wife.

The show is a riot from the start.

“I absolutely love the very beginning when Savalas and Refik (played by Casey Thomas) do their little bit and get the crowd going,” noted Strauch.

Strauch’s other favorite portion is her signature scene: a belly dance, something she was actually prepared for due to her college years.

“We did ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ back in college, and I played Tintinabula, so I learned some belly dance work back then. I finally get to use it after all these years,” Strauch said with a laugh.

The show is certainly a humorous one, but the tone wouldn’t be possible without a cast that not only interacted well together, but naturally. Strauch feels this is an absolute with this group, whose stage presence as friends goes beyond the bright lights.

“There’s actually a real friendship there,” she said of her work with the other cast members. “We have a really nice chemistry and we enjoy rehearsing the show, and I think that shows on stage.”