September 29, 2008

They’D Like to Teach the World to Sing ; Seniors Stage Show With Global Flair


A red silk tulip brightens the scene in my "office" this morning. The tulip was given to me by Gen Gurnee, one of 13 performers in Horseshoe Pond Place's eighth annual variety show. This year's show was entitled "Around the World in 80 Minutes."

Gurnee will celebrate her 93rd birthday this week. She was dressed as a Dutch girl, complete with yellow pigtails and a hat made for her by Millie Giovanitti. She danced through the audience and passed out tulips to the tune of "A Little Dutch Boy and a Little Dutch Girl." Gurnee's family came from the Netherlands.

Each of the other performers did an act and were costumed to represent each of their countries of origin.

The show opened with the audience and the ensemble singing "God Bless America" together, followed by a greeting from each performer in the language of the country each represented.

Cora Arthur and Colette Farland-Vogt sang, "O Canada" in the languages of Nova Scotia and of the Province of Quebec. Elizabeth Walsh, dressed in red, white and green - the colors of Hungarian flag - gave a brief history of that nation and its many flags.

Alice Cremin and Janet Sharkey (Ryan and Clancy) sat at a bar in an Irish pub and swapped corny jokes. They were followed by a pantomime of songs from Fiddler on the Roof, representing Russia, by Carroll Waterman as Yentl, the matchmaker, and Noriel Waterman acting as the three girls looking for husbands.

Janet Sharkey, a matador, and Jackie Tocci, the bull, illustrated Spain with a mock bullfight. Tocci's costume had been converted from that of a cow from a previous show. She had braised the crow's feathers into a tail for the bull.

Beryl Shepard and Beryl Pinard, true descendants of the Abenaki Nation of Native Americans, greeted us in the Abenaki tongue.

"Aloha from Hawaii" brought two talented dancers on stage doing genuine hula, in grass skirts and flowered leis. Ethel Keniston and Gladys Ruttenberg were fantastic in their roles, as were all these white-haired performers.

Doris Gifford and Sarah Colby accompanied the players on the piano. Ernie Robert accompanied some skits on his keyboard. He sang an Italian love song and played the maracas for the hula dancers to dance to a rendition of "Lovely Hula Hands."

For the show's finale, Millie Giovanitti had made brightly colored aprons for each of the cast members. They closed, singing "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," and each saying "Goodbye" in the language of the country they had portrayed.

Two months of hard work culminated in fun for both actors and audience.

"We usually start in July and usually have weekly rehearsals," Noriel Waterman said.

I asked her who decides on a theme for the performance and who writes the show.

"We all do," Waterman said. "We meet and come up with a variety of ideas and then settle on one we all go for. Each performer plans a scene and develops it. Most do their own costuming. Somehow it all comes together."

"We would never have the show without Noriel," Gifford said, and, "we couldn't have a show without Doris at the piano," Waterman said.

Why do I tell you all this? To alert you to 80 minutes of lighthearted fun that happens every September. Everyone is invited; admission is free. There are afternoon and evening performances, and parking at Horseshoe Pond Place is ample. See you there next September.

Originally published by MARY KIBLING For the Monitor.

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