Joe Turner might be 70 years old, but he isn't planning to spend the rest of his life in a rocking chair.

"The way he sees it, his life is just beginning," said Terence Williams, who plays Joe in UpStage Theatre's comedy "Shades of Gray."

The company opens James Morehead's play on June 15. Performances will follow on June 16 and June 22 with fathers in the audience receiving complimentary refreshments during the Father's Day show.

The story isn’t complicated. Joe moves in with his daughter and son-in-law Carrie and Nathaniel, played by Sharell Stevens and Troy Kennedy. Carrie is controlling and overprotective and wants Joe to take it easy.

She tells him he's old, but as Joe sees it, age is a state of mind.

"He says, 'You're only as old as you feel,'" Williams said.

That’s when he begins paying visits to a local strip club, where his grandson, Easy, played by Darien Bell, has been named resident artist — the painting, not dancing, kind.

The club has hired Easy to paint women on its walls. Joe doesn't judge Easy, because he, too, has found a different direction in life at the club through a stripper named Katie Brown, played by Blu Anderson.

Katie is young, sexy and is falling for Joe, which doesn't sit well with Joe's daughter.

Meanwhile, Joe's 17-year-old granddaughter, Mae, played by Alaina Green, sees her grandfather as an inspiration. Her parents want her to go to college, but she wants to marry her boyfriend.

Her parents say she's too young, but her grandfather says age is a state of mine. Shouldn't his philosophy apply to her as well?

But Joe's best friend, Acie, played by Claude Sterling, has a different philosophy.

"He believes that you're the age that you are," Sterling said, "and Joe should act his age."

For Williams, the role of Joe marks his first stage appearance after spending almost three decades coaching high school football in Louisiana and Texas. He was bitten by the acting bug after watching his niece, Trinitee Thyssen, play the lead role in UpStage's April thriller, "The Bad Seed."

"This will be a different kind of audience than the kind I was used to on Friday nights," Williams said. "Still, the Friday night audiences in the football stadiums and the audience in this theater expect to be entertained, and I'm ready for that."

He said his character believes "you are who you are. Why should you spend your life being something that others want you to be? Why should age made a difference?"


'Shades of Gray'

UpStage Theatre's summer comedy

WHEN: 7 p.m. June 15, 3 p.m. June 16, 7 p.m. June 22.

WHERE: UpStage Theatre, 9401 Cortana Place, Entrance No. 1

TICKETS/INFO: $24 at (225) 924-3774 or upstagetheatre.biz 

ALSO: Father's Day June 16 matinee will include complimentary refreshments for all dads 


Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.