Rows of residents sit quietly in the dining room of the Rosewood Residence, waiting for the show to begin.
When stage manager Ainsley Kendrick enters the performance space to make sure the microphones are ready for the three cast members, a wave of excitement ripples through the crowd.
Her smile indicates it won’t be too long now.
Then, at precisely two o’clock, the music starts and Allison Kelley, Kelley Mooney and Suzanne Wilkie take their place on stage.
The talented trio has come to perform “Generations of Fascinating Ladies”, a musical tribute to the female artists and girl groups of the last century. (Produced by Young at Heart Musical Theatre for Seniors, the show is written by artistic director Catherine O’Brien, with music arrangements by Sean Ferris.)
Over the next hour they sing songs made famous by the Boswell Sisters, Andrews Sisters, the Macquire Sisters, Etta James, the Chordettes and others.
It’s a tightly choreographed show, with many period melodies woven into the mix.
“If we try to cover (all of it) we would be here until the next century,” Wilkie jokes with the audience, which also includes family members and visitors from the community.
Residents are responsive to the music.
They tap their toes to the strains of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Sugar in the Morning” and sway from from side to side when they hear “Bye, Bye Blackbird” among others.
And, after a few songs, the trio invites the audience to join them.
“We love it when you sing along so it’s not so hard for us,” they say.
At first the residents are quiet.
But when Mooney picks up the mike and starts to sing, “Silver Threads and Golden Needles”, instantly she’s in concert with 30 or so other voices in the room.
Seeing the song hit a chord with residents was her favourite part of the show.
“It gives me such a joyful feeling to see all those people know and love a song and join in and see how happy it makes them. It’s something that comes back to us,” says Mooney, when the show is over.
Kelly’s joy came seeing everyone’s reaction to the food medley that includes, “Sugar in the Morning”.
“Most of the choreography is geared to make people laugh. And we try to ham it up. So getting a reaction a reaction out of the audience was really satisfying.”
The stop at the Hunter River community care facility is one of 30 the musical revue will make during its tour, which runs until May 5. The venues include manors, community care facilities, hospitals, and various community halls.
At the Rosewood Residence, audience members stayed after the performance to enjoy oatmeal cookies, fruit drinks and, of course, to meet the performers.
“The show was very, very good. I love listening to their harmonies,” says resident Christine MacInnis.
It was also a hit with the staff members.
“Getting a chance to enjoy the music and be around other people puts a smile on everybody’s faces,” says personal care worker Julie Ford.
“We’ll be hearing about it for days and days afterward.”
If you are going
Public performance dates for Generations of Fascinating Ladies:
- April 14, 2 p.m., Seniors Active Living Centre, Charlottetown. For tickets, call 902- 628-8388.
- April 14, 7:30 p.m., Kings Playhouse, Georgetown. For tickets, go to www.kingsplayhouse.com or call 1-888-346-5666.
- April 20, 7 p.m., Milton Community Hall. For tickets, call 902-566-3154.
- April 27, 7 p.m., North Rustico Lions Club. Admission is at the door.
- May 1, 12 p.m., Cornwall Civic Centre. Tickets are available from the Cornwall 50 Club.
- May 3, 7 p.m., St. Paul’s Church, Charlottetown, special fundraiser. Tickets are available at the door.
Behind the scenes
- - Young At Heart Musical Theatre For Senior is a not-for-profit, charitable organization, based in Prince Edward Island that provides professional and original musical theatre productions for senior citizens in long-term care and retirement facilities.
- - For more information, go to http://yahtheatre.com.