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‘Lily Grace’ leaves audience laughing at Elks Lodge

January 31, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Elks Lodge was packed Thursday afternoon as a St. James City actress portrayed Lily Grace causing the crowd to continuously break out into laughter and applause as the performance continued.

Bonnie Kellen, Ladies of the Elks president, said they sold 120 tickets for the Jan. 24 performance.

Those who attended the afternoon of entertainment were also treated to lunch, which consisted of chicken napoleon and holiday squares for dessert.

Article Photos

Denyea Clarkson Swartz portrayed Lily Grace during the Ladies of the Elks luncheon Jan. 24 to a crowd of 120 women.

Kellen said she is very pleased with the raffle due to them raising $429, which is the largest amount collected for a raffle.

Carol Phelps, the Ladies of the Elks state president, held the winning ticket for the basket.

The money raised from will go towards charities that the Ladies of the Elks support.

Three years ago Denyea Clarkson Swartz performed her hilarious comedy during the Ladies of the Elks luncheon.

"We are so pleased to have her back again," Kellen said.

Although Swartz has been acting since she was five years ago, it was not until five years ago when she really dove into community theatre. She said it all started five years ago when the pastor of First Assembly of God in Fort Myers asked her to create a character.

That character, Lily Grace, Swartz said was based on her mother and grandmother. She said her look is her grandmother and the sayings that are shared during the performance came from both her mother and grandmother.

She said on average it takes her about a week to write the script, about a month to tweak it and a month to learn what she wrote.

"Writing is my favorite part," Swartz said about the creative process.

When it comes to the performance she said she enjoys making people laugh.

"I feed off of the laughter," she said during her performance. "I'm very fortunate to have warm hearted people that laugh (in the audience.)"

Swartz enjoys the character Lily Grace because it is her alter ego. The character is described as being feisty, funny and fired up.

"I get to say things that I would never say," she said, adding that any creative expression is a release of the inner self.

The next Ladies of the Elks luncheon will be held on Feb. 14 featuring "The Mind Must Be Convinced," a one-woman performance by Janina Birtolo depicting the life of Ida Tarbell.

Tickets are $20, which includes the lunch and performance. Call Ann Thomas at 283-0415, Joan McCaffrey at 283-5379 or Pat Barnhart at 283-4042 for tickets.

The ladies are also gearing up for their March 8 Indoor Garage and Bake Sale. The event will be held from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge. Individuals are encouraged to drop off their gently used donations the morning of March 7.



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