In theatre there’s a connection that bonds performers to their audience, and vice versa. Beryl Ashton describes it as intimate and inclusionary, a force that leaves no one out, no one behind.
In 1967, Beryl began actively participating in an operatic society called Hastleons, named after two towns, Hastings and Leon of St. Leonard’s in Sussex, on the southern coast of her native England. The seafront theatre troupe produced two shows every year, with a special focus on the comedic operas made popular by Gilbert & Sullivan.
Growing up, Beryl loved to act and sing, so joining a dramatic and operatic society was a natural fit. “It was really about making so many wonderful friends,” said Beryl. “The camaraderie made it special.” Beryl said having the privilege to sing songs and entertain people gave her great joy. Among her favorite shows that she appeared in were a musically adventurous Orpheus in the Underworld, the ever popular The Sound of Music, and the Gilbert & Sullivan classic, The Mikado.
She moved to the United States in 2006, and eventually ended up in Georgia, where friends helped her find the perfect apartment at Laurel’s Edge, a United Church Homes affordable housing community located in Kennesaw.
While acting no longer fills her days, she still enjoys theatre and music. She remains active at age 74. Neuropathy keeps her off the stage because she cannot stand or walk, but it does not keep her from being engaged. She currently facilitates a life-group for her church, and organizes volunteers for the church-run consignment store and food pantry.
Beryl has discovered that theatre isn’t the only place that helps her feel connected. She finds that in her church and she certainly finds it in her home.