Centennial seniors take the stage with play featuring hospitality robots Larry, Curly and Moe

Community Life
rogue robots

Posted: March 19, 2024

Header Photo Credit: Dave Vitale

Holly Creek thespians create a space for adventure and fun onstage

Not many retirement communities can say their restaurants deliver food via robot. Even fewer can say that their own theater group has performed a resident-written and acted play about its robots’ antics. Holly Creek Life Plan Community in Centennial, however, can claim both.

Several years ago, Holly Creek leased three hospitality robots to serve customers at the community’s main Centennials Restaurant. The robots were a quick hit with the community residents, who named them Larry, Curly and Moe. The robots are programmed to bring meals from the kitchen to patrons in the restaurant and have proven handy helpers for the dining staff. Some residents, however, wondered what would happen if the robots secretly had a mind of their own.

Holly Creek’s hospitality robots Larry, Curly and Moe.

“At dinner one night, we were talking about robots,” resident Eve Glesne said. “One woman said, ‘You know, I saw them all go out the door one night.’ I thought it would be such a clever idea to create a play around that concept. The idea percolated. I shared with our local thespian group, and they loved it.”

What followed was a one-of-a-kind play that kicked off in 2024 “Robots Gone Rogue.” Glesne and Holly Creek residents Cil Stenman and Karen Ramsey collaborated to write the play, which playfully imagines the robots as sentient comedians: the robots refuse to properly deliver meals, sneak out of the restaurant and explore the community’s rec center and other amenities before their batteries run out, and they’re caught in the act. It wasn’t long before rehearsals were in full swing for an end-of-January performance, with a cast composed entirely of Holly Creek residents.

Resident Greta Lea, who performed the role of Moe, fully embodied her robotic character; delivering plates of food into the laps of her unsuspecting “patrons;” “wandering” around the stage as she explored the wider world; and joining “Curly” and “Moe” with the closing refrain “We’re not psychotic. We’re not idiotic. We’re robotic!” Theater is nothing new to Lea, who has performed in plays throughout her life.

Cast members practice for “Robots Gone Rogue” with robots on the left and diners on the right.

“It’s in my blood,” she laughed. Lea started performing at her country high school, majored in music and theater and then performed at the theater that would become the Denver Center for Performing Arts. When she moved to Holly Creek, Lea quickly joined the thespian group.

“Originally we staged around a table,” she shared. “Our first play was a complete spoof, making fun of things like speed bumps.”

“Robots Gone Rogue” was one of the group’s first fully staged plays, with residents physically acting out the robot’s antics.

“Since I’m a little hard of hearing, it is a bit more difficult,” Lea said. “But we help each other by knowing each other’s lines and reminding each other to keep facing forward and look across the theater.”

Holly Creek Thespians Director Carla Kem also helped focus and remind the actors while they practiced together over the weeks.

“Don’t forget you say ‘beep,’ ‘beep,’ ‘beep,’ as you come out,” Kem instructed from the first row of the auditorium set up in the community’s Fellowship Hall during one of their last dress rehearsals. “Curly—high fives. And don’t forget ‘beet salad’ is your cue to ‘go military.’”

Kem oversaw casting and direction for “Robots Gone Rogue” and “The Unicorn in the Garden,” which were performed back-to-back by two separate casts of Holly Creek neighbors. She majored in speech and drama and earned a master of arts in theater directing before teaching drama with Denver Public Schools for 20 years and volunteering for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts including talkbacks with audiences after plays. Now, decades later, the Holly Creek thespian group is giving her a new chance to share the art she loves.

“My husband and I moved here in June, and I wanted to act. I discovered the thespians group and found out that the previous director quit,” Kem said. “Several of the people here read my ‘new resident’ bio published in the community’s internal paper and asked me to help direct in the future.”

She has loved the process of watching the plays come to life and the opportunities it has provided to her neighbors as well.

“I gave everybody three weeks before we started rehearsing, and three scripts they could read from,” she said. “Then during the tryouts, I put people onstage together to see how they performed… Certain roles lend themselves to certain people.”

“Other than Greta, no one has had a lot of previous experience,” Kem said. “It’s exciting and rewarding to me to see people who have never performed before taking ownership of their roles, speaking up and enjoying it.”

One such resident was Don Folsom, who played The Husband in “The Unicorn in the Garden.”

Folsom got involved in the play when Carla called him and asked him to help.

“I have only been in one previous play here at Holly Creek, which was my first play ever,” Folsom said. “Being in these two plays has grown my admiration for everyone who participates in live theater — from directors and actors to production staff. It’s been challenging and fun. We all pitch in and participate, and it’s fun for everyone.”


On Jan. 31, Holly Creek neighbors packed out the community’s Fellowship Hall for the final performance by their peers. The play was a smash hit by all estimations. The thespians already have several more plays on the schedule, and Kem hopes even more residents, including those without previous acting experience, will step into the limelight.

“There’s no business like show business—you just feel it!” she said. “It’s been a growing experience for me too. And it’s helped me meet so many people here.”

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Holly Creek Active Senior Living Community is owned and managed by Christian Living Communities and is a full service life plan community. We offer active Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care as well as Skilled Nursing, and Rehabilitation. Holly Creek Active Senior Living Community is located in Centennial, Colorado and services the areas in and around Greenwood Village, Englewood, Columbine, Cherry Hills Village, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Heritage Hills, Meridian, Dove Valley, Stonegate, Parker, Aurora, Lakewood, and South Denver. We also are an ideal senior community for those in the zip codes 80122, 80120, 80121, 80111, 80130, 80126, 80129, 80112, and 80124.

A Neighborhood of Christian Living Communities

Holly Creek Retirement Community adheres to all regulations as written in the Americans with Disabilities Act and The Fair Housing Act and accordingly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, familial status, disability (whether it be mental or physical), or sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation).