The Old Academy Players get curious

Normality is a matter of perspective. It’s the theme explored in The Curious Savage, which will be performed at the Old Academy Players in East Falls on May 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15.

The John Patrick-penned play is directed by Paul Muscarella, who has acted, directed and volunteered on the production committee of the non-profit theater for 15 years.

“It’s a play about the inside world versus the outside world,” Muscarella says.

The play concerns Ethel Savage, an aging and eccentric widow whose children commit her to a mental institution because she wants to donate her husband’s $10 million inheritance to charity. 

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“She’s sent away against her will, and her whole story is a contrast of who’s crazy and the so-called normal people,” Muscarella says.

Susan Lonker plays the leading role of Mrs. Savage, who befriends the other patients in the institution. It marks her 13th year performing with Old Academy Players.

“I’ve done drama and comedy before, and this play has both,” Lonker says. “There are some real tender moments that will really touch people.”

Lonker first experienced the Old Academy Players when she went on a date to one of its past performances. It inspired her to volunteer for the Old Academy’s female version of The Odd Couple soon after.

“The man has been in and out of my life, but the theater has stayed,” Lonker says.

Grace Kelly performed during the start of her career at the Old Academy Players, which boasts of being “in continuance performances since 1923” on its web site. Despite its deep roots in the Philadelphia theater community, Lonker says most Philadelphians are unaware of its existence and heritage. But all newcomers are welcome to get involved with its productions.

“There have been people who have walked in off the street, and I’ll have them painting set pieces a few minutes later,” Muscarella says. “We’ll find a way to put you to work.”

Tickets for the The Curious Savage – the Old Academy Players’ 471st production – are $12. For more information, go to

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