Meadow Lakes Resident Louis DiPietro Reflects On Why It’s Never Too Late
Louis DiPietro, a 91-year-old resident of Meadow Lakes, moved to the East Windsor community with his wife to continue a life of comfort, stability, and activity. With the support of friends, family, and the Springpoint community, he eventually began work on an original musical comedy about “life, love, and the lives we lead.”
In August, DiPietro and the It’s Never Too Late production team and cast premiered their first reading of the script to a packed crowd at the Meadow Lakes auditorium. Moving forward, DiPietro hopes to reach a larger audience and show more people that It’s Never Too Late.
Springpoint recently sat down with Mr. DiPietro at Meadow Lakes to discuss his work, inspiration, and what he hopes might come next for It’s Never Too Late.
Can you give us a brief overview of It’s Never Too Late?
DiPietro: “It’s the effect that a chance meeting between two former lovers have on seven other people, and how it all evolves. The drama is interspersed with comedy and music [10 songs in total] throughout. I finally end it where they all come back together. The [three couples] really haven’t resolved anything – they are all just friends going through with life. I made no resolution; no one has really changed. They’re still all the same, but that’s life! You never know what’s going to happen.”
What inspired you to start this project?
DiPietro: “I was inspired after watching the movie ‘Separate Tables’ . You have all these people staying at this resident hotel, and they all eat at separate tables despite knowing each other. One of the residents [played by David Niven] has a minor run-in with the law, and this simple incident ultimately affects all of the other characters. And after all this drama happens, when they pan to the closing scene, there they are, all still at separate tables. Nothing has changed despite these intense interactions! I then said to myself, ‘Hey, this could be a play. But a play isn’t enough for this, there needs to be music to emphasize the drama and feeling involved.’
At first, I thought I’d focus on some sort of a crime, but I didn’t think that would work for a musical. Then I finally hit on the idea of two former lovers, because that’s just natural. So that’s how it all evolved, and it took me about a year and a half to write that.”
How did you find the actors?
DiPietro: “I used a talent agency – the same one Meadow Lakes uses here for their productions. [The agency] sent me the director and music director, and they auditioned the actors which were then selected as cast. They were very good to work with.”
DiPietro also worked with a music composer, Louis Josephson, who is currently in his final year at Julliard.
“Louis and I worked on the script and music, going back and forth. I interviewed four composers, and as soon as I met with and spoke to [Joseph] and received a sample of his work, I knew I had the right choice.”
What is your experience in writing screenplays?
DiPietro: “I always liked music, so after I retired, I started a chorus. We’d go around to different locations [places like Meadow Lakes] and sing. During these shows, I started to write skits which I’d then insert into the musical programs. The chorus enjoyed doing it and the audience seemed to like it. That was the extent of it before I saw this movie that just struck me. It’s amazing how it just sticks with you. It was a lot of fun – and a lot of work – doing it!”
What’s the future of It’s Never Too Late?
DiPietro: “Hopefully we’ll try and bring this forward, bring this into a theater. We want to bring this to a wider audience. For the reading at Meadow Lakes, we invited a lot of people and we had a pretty good showing. We had younger people show up because I wanted their feedback. We do have some theaters in mind in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Not New York yet! But overall, it went over pretty well.
The reading was initially designed for just Louis [Josephson] and me, to see it up and how everything works. But we also wanted to see it through the audience eye. Usually you don’t do that – usually you have a workshop and then a reading. But we combined this into a workshop and a reading and put it up in front of an audience.”
DiPietro’s son, Joe DiPietro, is also an established playwright, lyricist, and author. He is best known for the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis, for which he won Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. He also wrote the book and lyrics for the long-running off-Broadway show I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
DiPietro: “I’ve been really connected through him for these past 30-40 years. We’ve gone to readings, we’ve seen plays, we’ve been actors… So that made me more receptive to the theater, hearing him talk about it. I’d say, ‘Hey, Joseph, how’d you get this idea?’ And he’d say, ‘Oh, well, I read the book.’ A lot of theater plays come from playwrights reading about it in a book and being inspired. It’s really hard to develop a truly original idea.
I never thought I would write a play or musical, but you never know what’s going to happen.”
How has the Springpoint and Meadow Lakes community really supported your creative work?
DiPietro: “Springpoint allowed me to use the auditorium. They had previous things scheduled, and they cancelled them all or moved them around. They let me use the auditorium for free when there’s usually a cost involved – they gave me free reign on that. They provided the sound equipment and team and everything else to support this. The Director of Activities [at Meadow Lakes] was very supportive, if I needed anything they provided it. They were just great. Everything I wanted, they’d say, ‘Okay.’ They allowed me to advertise and put up posters anywhere I wanted. And they provided the audience! Which is a big one.”
Someone said it was the largest turnout they every had – the auditorium was filled, all the way to the back. They had to put out more chairs. There was a big line of people afterwards. Some of my friends wanted to talk to me and they said, ‘I couldn’t even get to you it was so busy.’ It was very gratifying. You write these works, and you want people to enjoy them.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
“I don’t like to message things, but the only thing I wanted to convey is don’t give up. Things can go wrong in your life, but it’s not like the end of the world. You just keep going on, and things just work out. One of the worst things to do is give up, because then what do you have? There’s a line in the play that goes, ‘There’s so much going on the world today, it takes your breath away.’ And it does. Now here’s all these people [at the end of the play], after all of the fighting and drama and everything else that went on, here they are, they’re still together. Nothing has changed. They’re just going to go on here, life just goes on. So, let’s keep going. One line of a song goes something like, ‘Let’s forget the past and look to a new tomorrow.’ That’s the one message I wanted to get out there.
I always wanted to be a baseball player. In high school that’s what I thought of myself, a baseball player. So, I tried to make the Minors, and I couldn’t, so my heart was broken. I felt a little bit like June’s character. I wasn’t as wounded, but when Spring Training came around for about 5-6 years after I left, I really felt like, ‘Why did I give up?’ But then I saw men in the Minor Leagues, still trying out in their 30s. The longer you go, of course the harder it becomes. You better find something else, but it’s not easy to do. But that helped me with the June character – I knew how she would feel. But in her case, I took it to the extreme. She never could get over it.”
The Meadow Lakes reading of It’s Never Too Late from August 25 is now available to watch on YouTube.