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Show Biz II packs house, dazzles hundreds

Created date

August 1st, 2009

Left to right: George Erickson, Armand Ruby, Alice Tweedy, Peg Erickson, and Anne Marie Ruby take a ride on the trolley for The Trolley Song. The first performer onstage during Show Biz II aptly did so holding a sign that read "A Gift of Music." The recent performance by the Linden Ponds Singers was just that.

From elegant opera classics to colorful comedic favorites, the energetic Linden Ponds performers had sold-out audiences tapping their fingers and toes during the show s six-part medley of musical acts. More than 100 people were involved in the show, which was produced and directed by Lo Steele and performed for more than 760 people, including a group from Linden Ponds sister community, Brooksby Village.

Coming together

Eileen Barker dazzles the audience. Bob Sprenger (right) as Dolly. This weekend, everybody is talking about the same thing. The whole community is focused on this one event," Steele says. "Life will go on and each person will have their things to do, but just for a little while this community has been pulled together for this event. For me, it has been such a warm and magical thing."

Though the show featured memorable soloists, the opening and closing numbers brought out the entire ensemble of about 40, who filled the room with song, expertly holding their notes so long that audience members began murmuring in amazement.

Showgoers agreed the enjoyment multiplied because the musicians were also familiar faces; the majority of performers live at Linden Ponds, and staff members including Executive Director Nina Holt also took to the stage.

"It s nice to see the talent [of people] you know and see them shine," says Glendon Crowell, who lives at Linden Ponds and attended the show. He adds that part of the fun is the fact that he can even have dinner with the actors later.

Linden Ponds Acorn Pub stayed open late after the evening performances as cast, crew, and fans gathered to continue the celebration.

Lighthearted fun

While onstage, the animated singers donned silly costumes for a take on the Li l Abner comic strip. Delighting audiences, they told the story of Daisy Mae, played by Gina Herron, and her fondness for Li l Abner, played by Lo and Guy Steele s son, Guy Lewis Steele.

As Daisy Mae raced to catch Li l Abner, a flurry of characters sped by, including a muscle-bound Earthquake McGoon, played by Bob Lutz; Evil Eye Fleegle, played by Walt Power, who wore bright green sneakers and matching circular eyeglasses; and the show s technical director, Joe McStowe.

The Li l Abner scene also included spoken dialogue, which highlighted the amount of memorization an hour and ten minutes worth that went into the production.

"The people who perform now, many of them have been doing this with me for two years, and they are breaking stereotypes of aging," Steele says. "They have shown that voices can get better and change after you get to that age [and] they were able to do movements onstage that I wasn t able to do [with them] two years ago."

Harmonious presentation

Much of the choreography also took place offstage, with Roy Peterson as stage manager and master carpenter for the scenery, which was designed by Marty Saunders.

In front of the stage, a makeshift orchestra pit housed some of the show s stars, including piano accompanist Alma Petrillo and flutists Carol Ertman and Joe Roche.

In two years, the Linden Ponds Singers have put on five productions and entertained hundreds in the community s performing arts center, but for Carol Oliver, who lives at Linden Ponds