Having a Ball Doing the Second Act
Two women with a passion for a good story
Sheree Marcucci of the Palace Theater, left, was inspired to create a 2nd Act speakers series by Litchfield actress Nancy Palmento Schuler.
Photo by Douglas Foulke
Jennifer Lopez has some Litchfield Hills competition when it comes to owning the charm quotient deriving from a “second act” in a life story with a powerful, poignant narrative. In her latest film “Second Act,” set for a late November release, J.Lo plays “a big box store worker who reinvents her life-story and shows Madison Avenue what street smarts can do,” says IMDB. In real life, Nancy Palmento Schuler of Litchfield is living a second act as an increasingly successful actress and playwright after a 30-year career as a personal trainer.
Schuler’s story is being featured in a “2nd Act” series of monthly presentations of “after-50 life stories” at the Palace Theater in Waterbury. It began in September with Blues Hall of Fame musician Tom “The Suit” Forst, a former corporate executive, and continues through June 2019. Programs are 45 to 60 minutes, followed by a Q&A. Schuler speaks Nov. 10 at noon. Details and ticket information are online at palacetheaterct.org.
“Nancy is the inspiration for this series,” Sheree Marcucci, the marketing and public relations officer for the Palace Theater, told a WATR Radio audience in August during a live broadcast of her show “Your Palace, Your Place” announcing the “2nd Act” series. Coinciding with the fall open house for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the UConn Waterbury campus, the broadcast featured guests Schuler, Forst, and author/genealogist Eric Lanzieri.
Marcucci and Schuler, who’s 69, met at a Mattatuck Museum cocktail party last November associated with the Palace’s presentation of “Phantom of the Opera”. They instantly bonded; sharing an affinity for Waterbury, where Schuler grew up, and a passion for a good story.
When Marcucci subsequently had Schuler on her radio show for the first time, their dialogue catalyzed Marcucci’s inspiration to create the new series featuring “ordinary people talking about the extraordinary things they are doing in the 2nd (half) Act of their lives.”
“I’m having more fun now than I’ve ever had in my life,” Schuler says, demonstrating a dramatist’s instinct to withhold some of the details in order to preserve anticipation for seeing her November presentation live. What’s already gone out over the airwaves is temptation enough. After 30 years as a personal trainer, Schuler retired. To keep active, she began ballet lessons, fencing and writing lessons, and taking classes through the OLLI program.
The Waterbury theater troupe Shakesperience was presenting at OLLI one day and discussed plans to create a play about Waterbury neighborhoods, describing a vision for senior citizens from OLLI to collaborate with students. “This was right up my alley,” says Schuler, who got involved and wrote a narrative about her Italian grandmother as part of the process.
The reception was positive, and “from there it just had legs,” says Schuler of her second act. She eventually presented her narrative about her Italian grandmother at the New York Public Library and the Manhattan Repertory Theatre. “That’s when everything changed for me,” she says of transitioning into acting lessons and intensifying her writing.
“It’s only been two years,” she says, “and I’m having a ball with this.” The bonus is having “a job” again—and one with increasingly lofty accomplishments, which she’ll reveal in her “2nd Act” presentation in November.
As for Marcucci, she’s not only excited about the caliber of guests lined up for “2nd Act” but has been inspired to pursue her own second-act personal growth. “I recently learned pole dancing,” she told the radio audience listening in August.
2nd Act: Nancy Schuler, 11/10 at 12pm—palacetheaterct.org