New love is in the air at New Wrinkles.
A newlywed couple will take part in the 28th annual Fresno performance starring people age 55 and older. Michael Smith and Cynthia Kaitfors-Smith fell in love while rehearsing – on and off stage – for last year’s show.
This year’s show, “A Salute to the Silver Screen,” is jampacked with singing and dancing in honor of movies produced since the 1920s. It opens Thursday, May 26, with a show for donors, sponsors and friends, and continues through June 12. Michael Smith and Cynthia Kaitfors-Smith’s winter wedding makes them the eighth married couple in this year’s cast of 55 performers.
You are never too old for love.
It was love at first handshake – sort of – when they met at a Super Bowl party in 2014.
“He comes and he takes a hold of my hand at the end of the party and says, ‘It’s really nice meeting you.’ … It was just love,” Cynthia recalls. “I went, ‘Whoa! Who is this nice man?’ ”
Michael doesn’t remember this moment, but he does remember seeing the beautiful Cynthia for the first time while rehearsing for New Wrinkles. They were both new to the production last year.
“I saw her across the way and was enamored by her beauty,” the 68-year-old says, “but I was much too shy to go ahead and do anything.”
He fondly recalls the sailor’s shirt and capri pants she was wearing that day.
“Just the way that she fit them – they really enhanced her attributes,” Michael says with a dreamy smile.
A few practices later, Cynthia got a sweet, but fleeting, moment of encouragement. Michael approached, said hello, gave her a hug – and then went on to hug another lady. Cynthia’s heart dropped, but not for long.
“She’s a very attractive lady,” Michael says of the 69-year-old Cynthia, “so I thought that there was a lot of competition from other male cast members, so I really didn’t want to push. I kind of did it on the sly and eventually I realized she was in no active relationship, so that’s when I felt more at ease.”
Cynthia helped open the door. The lifelong dancer noticed Michael might need some help learning his steps, so she offered to help. Later, they started dancing together outside practice at his home, starting in May of 2015.
They thought they were being discreet, but their New Wrinkles family was onto them.
“People would walk by and we’d touch hands or something,” Michael recalls, “so one by one, they became cognizant that we were actually having this relationship.”
Here we thought we were hiding everything, and we weren’t hiding anything at all.
One of the cast members, aware that Michael was dating someone, followed him out of New Wrinkles practice one night to see who the lucky lady was.
“He texts his wife, ‘Oh, it’s Cynthia!’ ” Cynthia laughs. “It was like high school all over again.”
Cynthia was divorced and Michael widowed. They say their children – Cynthia has two sons, and Michael two daughters – are happy for their newfound love.
Michael proposed to Cynthia at home one evening in August.
“I could see that she was getting teary-eyed the farther that I went,” Michael says. “It was like a five-minute proposal.”
“And then you sang,” Cynthia adds, “and then I did cry.”
Last week, they laughed together about not being able to remember the name of that song.
“Senior moment,” Cynthia says happily.
They were legally married in November, but married in church Dec. 31, 2015.
Even as we age, we are all entitled to be happy.
They’re crazy about each other.
“He’s so kind,” Cynthia says. “A kind soul, has a strong faith, but he’s so funny. I laugh like I have never laughed. I mean, I giggle. I literally giggle until I’m crying. He has this dry sense of humor that just cracks me up.”
“For me,” Michael says, “it’s just she has an inner beauty as well as an outer beauty, and she is very intelligent and very sincere and very positive in her outlook on life, even though she has had things that could have drawn her down.”
During this year’s New Wrinkles show, Michael and Cynthia sing a duet together, “Good Morning,” from the musical “Singin’ in the Rain.”
New Wrinkles’ director and choreographer David Bonetto is proud of them and all the cast. He says New Wrinkles is the longest continually running production starring an all-senior cast in the United States.
“This show is very complex,” Bonetto says. “There are 50-plus numbers that have costume changes. We are looking to pay tribute to all the aspects of the movies from the 1920s to current day.”
The Fresno City Council is also impressed, recently declaring May 19 New Wrinkles Day in Fresno.
Theater manager and technical director Jeff Barrett sings the cast’s praises.
These are qualified, talented people.
“These are qualified, talented people. … Some are better than others,” he adds, “but there’s no lack of desire to entertain.”
And with eight married couples performing in this year’s show, the audience will have plenty of love to cheer for (a total of 290 years of marriage, combined).
All the couples say performing together has strengthened their bond. Michael and Cynthia are looking forward to growing their young love alongside their New Wrinkles family.
Sitting together on a bench outside the stage last week, Michael reaches for his bride’s hand before sharing the moral of this story.
“You are never too old for love,” he says.
“No, you are never too old for love!” Cynthia confirms, as the two share a kiss.
Cynthia thinks of a song by Frank Sinatra, “The Second Time Around,” and starts humming the words: “Love is lovelier the second time around.”
Looking at Michael, she says with a smile, “That’s us.”
- 7:30 p.m. May 27, 28, June 3, 4, 10, and 11 and 2 p.m. May 29, June 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, and 12.
- Fresno City College Theatre, 1101 E. University Ave. in Fresno.
- Tickets are $16 and are available online at newwrinkles.com or at the Fresno City College Box Office, 1101 E. University Ave. in Fresno, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Or call, 559-442-8221.
- Auditions for the show begin in September and cast members typically practice five to 10 hours a week, March through May. More information is available by calling the box office at 559-442-8221.