Waterbury Palace Motivational Series Highlights Life's Second Acts

Theaters know something about second acts. The Palace Theater in Waterbury is giving the stage to Connecticut residents who have created second acts in their own lives.

The inaugural Second Acts series starts this fall in the theater’s intimate 100-seat upstairs Poli Club space. Some of the presentations in the series include music and performance elements, but most take the form of personal tales of later-in-life change that others may be inspired by. The speakers range in age from mid-50s to late 70s.

“We were looking for people who were able to give a strong presentation,” says Marcucci, the Palace’s marketing and public relations officer. “So it was natural that some of them would be entertainers. Still, this is offbeat. It’s different from what we usually do.”

“We live in a time that supports trying new things,” says Marcucci, who created the series. “People are saying ‘I have a lot to offer; there’s a lot I still want to do’.”

Marcucci was inspired to create the Second Act series when she attended an event at the nearby Mattatuck Museum.

“Last fall we held a costume exhibit at the museum to help promote “The Phantom of the Opera” when it was here at the Palace,” Marcucci says. “I met Nancy Schuler, who told me how she was 62 years old when she started writing little monologues for the theater. She’s 68 now, and her plays have been seen in New York.

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“I host and produce a radio show for the Palace on WATR. I thought I would add a new segment to the show called Second Act for stories like Nancy Schuler's. Then I thought this could be more than that. I got approval from Frank Tavera, the Palace’s CEO. I was able to get some funding from the Connecticut Community Foundation. Then it was my charge to find the right people to be part of the series.

Schuler, a personal trainer-turned-playwright and actor, will speak on Nov. 10 at noon.

But first up — at 6 p.m. on Sept. 7 — is Tom “The Suit” Forst, a retired sales executive who has forged a new career as a blues guitarist. Forst, who released his first solo album in 2016, is bringing members of his band to assist in his presentation.

Then there’s Garrison Leykam, who left a full-time gig as a record producer and singer and songwriter to become certified as a career coach. Leykam, who’s also been a stand-up comedian and a radio talk show host, will do his Second Act talk March 26 at 6 p.m.

The other speakers will be businessman-turned-mystery novelist Martin Herman at 6 p.m. on Oct. 23; sleep coach Brooke Packard at 6 p.m. Dec. 4; author and genealogist Eric Lanzieri at noon on Feb. 23, 2019; hypnotist James Mapes with his motivational talk “Imagine That!” at 6 p.m. April 23; former Wall Street lawyer Jeff Savage — now an actor who had a small role in the recent film “Chappaquiddick” — on May 7 at 6 p.m.; and integrative health coach Aingeal McLaughlin Murray at 6 p.m. June 25.

If the first series of talks goes well, expect a second Second Act series. Marcucci also occasionally does Second Act segments on her WATR radio show, including interviews with people she’s met while arranging the Palace series.

The inspirational and motivational aspects of the series are already apparent, Marcucci says.

“Some of the speakers have already connected with each other. They want to see each other’s presentations. It’s beautiful, to see that human connection.”

Second Act runs monthly from September through June. Tickets are now on sale; admission to each presentation is $25. A Choice Package of any five in the series is $100 and a full-series pass to see all nine presentations is $180. A cash bar will be open in the Poli Club. 203-346-2000 and palacetheaterct.org.

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