Never (Ever) Too Late

Re­tired and heed­ing the the­atri­cal muse

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - DEPARTMENTS - BY KATHY GREY

TI TRY TO DO THINGS THAT SCARE ME. THAT’S WHAT YOU DO. IT’S CALLED LIV­ING.”

—BRENDA KENSLER

hey worked tire­lessly, ded­i­cat­ing their lives to suc­cess­ful ca­reers and par­ent­ing. And then came re­tire­ment. Liv­ing among us in South­west Florida are three who took to the stage later in life.

CAP­TUR­ING THE MO­MENTS

A life­long sales­man, Harry Lichtc­sien was a 40-year devo­tee to Toastmasters, where he ex­celled in im­promptu speak­ing. “I’d drive 100 miles to get to a meet­ing,” he says.

In 2005, Harry Lichtc­sien was di­ag­nosed with colon can­cer, un­der­went surgery and was con­sid­ered can­cer-free un­til it re­turned in 2011 with a Stage 4 di­ag­no­sis. Two-plus years of chemo­ther­apy later, treat­ments ran him down phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally. In a se­ries of di­vine mishaps, Harry and his part­ner, Bon­nie Gross­mann, at­tended an im­pro­vi­sa­tional com­edy show at the Cen­ter for the Arts Bonita Springs. Harry was called on­stage to add sound ef­fects. His Toastmasters his­tory pay­ing off big time, Harry was a hit.

He took im­prov classes, and he and Bon­nie formed the troupe Harry’s Se­nior Mo­ment with a core group of class­mates who “adore him and wanted to be part it,” Bon­nie says. Af­ter eight months of re­hearsal, Harry’s Se­nior Mo­ment de­buted in 2016 at the Al­liance for the Arts in Fort My­ers. The troupe has per­formed at the Off Broad­way Palm, Cin­na­mon Cove, and on Harry’s 83rd birth­day, Avow Hospice in Naples for the open­ing of its pal­lia­tive care cen­ter. The im­prov troupe of Harry’s Se­nior Mo­ment has been in­vited back to the Off Broad­way Palm for a week­long gig in May 2018. “You have no idea how you make us feel,” one au­di­ence mem­ber with Stage 4 can­cer told him.

But Harry knows ex­actly how it feels, and that im­prov led him to “en­joy my life hav­ing can­cer. It changed the mo­ments of my life.”

WRIT­ING WITH SUR­GI­CAL PRE­CI­SION

S.R. “Bob” Max­einer Jr. was born May 27, 1923. In the late 1950s he founded Sur­gi­cal Con­sul­tants in Min­nesota, for 33 years prac­ticed as a gen­eral sur­geon be­fore re­tire­ment. He and his wife, Pa­tri­cia, moved to Sani­bel in 1987, where he im­me­di­ately joined the Sani­bel Is­land Writ­ers Group, now in its 35th year. There, the small tribe of scribes meets weekly to share and ex­am­ine their work.

Max­einer has two pub­lished books: The Trans­plant Web, a novel, and Wild As­para­gus, a col­lec­tion of short fic­tion. A the­ater devo­tee, At 94, writer Bob Max­einer (left) cease­lessly seeks in­spi­ra­tion for his work. Brenda Kensler's the­ater de­but was at 55.

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