Staging the Impossible – Clermont Park Featured in American Theatre Magazine

Clermont Park, a Masterpiece Living Community, was recently featured in American Theatre magazine for their production of Fiddler on the Roof. Reporter Eliza Bent wrote in her article, The Age Advantage: Senior theatre is forging ahead in unexpected and adventurous directions:

As my reporter`s folder labeled “silver fox” grew with press releases and articles, one e-mail in particular caught my eye.

Dr. Annabel Clark, a former Denver University theatre professor and teacher at the Iliff School of Theology, described a recent production of Fiddler on the Roof that residents of the Clermont Park Retirement Center (part of Christian Living Communities, a chain of retirement villages) had performed under the direction of Alison Mueller, Clermont`s life enrichment coordinator. Clark, a 90-year-old retiree who lives at Clermont, was the assistant director.

Mueller was a professional actor in the Denver area before starting work at Clermont. But more than her professional theatre background, Mueller spoke about the two philosophies that Clermont has embraced within the last few years, called “Masterpiece Living” and “the Eden Alternative.”

“These are successful, research-based aging initiatives that focus on cultural change as related to aging,” Mueller explained. Retirement communities get certified in these philosophies, which encourage treating people with respect and dignity. While some retirement centers may inadvertently foster loneliness and boredom, the Eden Alternative and Masterpiece Living approaches espouse principles that engender individualism, so that residents do things for themselves. “The idea is that the staff is here to support them in growing, and not to do things for them,” says Mueller.

Since the two initiatives have been implemented at Clermont, Mueller has witnessed a change in staff and residents …