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Couples Club show 'to promote neighborliness' in Bradford Woods

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For the North Journal
Gene Lechmanick (left) and Rose Lechmanick of Bradford Woods, playing whitetail deer that are members of the Venison Crips, chew on some tulips during the Wednesday, April 30, 2014, rehearsal of a skit that will be part of the Bradford Woods Couples Club's 28th biennial show, 'Caught in the Act.'

The Bradford Woods Couples Club began as a way for people to get to know others in the community, and the tradition continues with its 28th biennial play this month.

The event is set for 8 p.m. May 15, 16 and 17.

“Every other May is the show, and it's to promote neighborliness,” said Norma Liebenguth, a play co-producer. “Some of the houses are far apart, but this way, those who want to join the club can come see a show and join us.”

This year's play is called “Caught in the Act” and is about two burglars who break into a home in Bradford Woods, only to discover an entertainment system on which shows with a Bradford Woods theme are playing.

The show is a series of comedy skits organized by the changing of channels, said Liebenguth, 56, of Bradford Woods, who has been a club member with her husband, John, since 1991.

It takes about 100 club members to write, produce and put on the play, which is standing room only every night of the run, Norma Liebenguth said.

“It's a huge undertaking, but the only thing worse than doing it is sitting in the audience and wishing you would have done it,” Norma Liebenguth said.

Writers meetings begin in the fall before the play, she said.

“We informally throw ideas around, and it's a group effort,” she said. “The show slowly comes to fruition.”

Jennie Griffin, club secretary and the writer of a skit called “The Real Housewives of Bradford Woods,” said that the play helps those involved get out of their comfort zone.

“We're not actors or screenwriters,” said Griffin, 38, of Bradford Woods, a three-year member with her husband, Rob.

“It's stepping out of your comfort zone and learning a new craft while getting to know your neighbors and people you otherwise wouldn't meet.”

The profits from the play go to local organizations. In 2012, the play raised $7,600 that went to local churches, the Woodlands Foundation, the Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania, the Bradford Woods Volunteer Fire Company and the club's savings for the replacement of the stage at the fire hall. The show takes place at the fire hall, 4908 Wexford Run Road.

“We pretty much take over the fire hall for a period of time, with rehearsals and everything,” Norma Liebenguth said. “We're glad to have that facility as a venue for our comedy show.”

Despite the name “couples club,” the social club has grown since it was founded in 1957, Griffin said.

“It's certainly more inclusive of all the residents than the name might imply,” Griffin said.

“There are singles, widows, married couples and gay couples, so the club is better than when it started.”

With just under 200 individual members, the social club has become a way for the Bradford Woods community to become more cohesive, Griffin said.

“The play is entertaining and fun, and I hope it will make people laugh,” Griffin said. “It's unique and something you won't see anywhere else.”

Melanie Donahoo is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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