By Mark Ambrogi
The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre has a mission to bring entertainment into the lives of fixed-income senior citizens.
Thus the organization has been holding its SneakView programs for nearly three decades. A recent $10,000 grant from the Central Indiana Senior Fund will help support the program in the future.
“We open our final dress rehearsals for each of our main stage productions to the underserved senior community,” said Catherine Dixon, managing director of the Carmel-based Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre. “These are folks living on fixed incomes that usually have mobility challenges. They could have trouble walking or can’t drive at night. We treat it like a real performance. It’s a free opportunity to access theater.”
More than 200 senior homes are invited each year. Dixon said the emphasis is on senior homes serving low-income populations.
“The retirement communities arrange group transportation,” Dixon said. “The majority come on buses.”
In addition to the main stage productions, Dixon said there is an opportunity to see the annual Junior Civic Theatre musical in June with performers ages 7 to 14 and a performance by the Civic Theatre Young Adult group with high school-aged actors.
Dixon said most of the grants her organization has received from the program through the years have come from the Central Indiana Senior Fund.
“With each main stage production, we have significant expenses with constructing a set, costumes, marketing and reaching out to our SneakView folks because that is a separate marketing campaign,” Dixon said.
Dixon said in recent years they have expanded their reach by doing SneakView on tour where the performers visit the senior homes.
“When you treat people with dementia with a little music therapy with musical theater, it has a really great regenerative effect,” Dixon said. “Because not only do they remember the words to the song, they remember where they were and who they were with when they saw the show.”
Dixon said during the visit the actors perform and there is talk about the history of the show and current events during the time when the musical was popular. Dixon said the goal is to make 10 SneakView visits per year.