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Small world, big talent at Hingham community

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July 26th, 2011

Let s get away from it all! the travelers suggested enthusiastically to a full audience in the performing arts center at Linden Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Hingham, Mass. The Linden Ponds Repertory Company s spring production, Show Biz IV, a Small Part of the World, traversed New York, Ireland, Central Europe, Italy, Spain, Russia, Africa, Israel, and Japan, before returning home to the U.S. and Linden Ponds. Seventy seasoned performers delighted audiences through carefully choreographed song and dance before a backdrop of elaborate and changing scenery. Opening and closing with I am a Small Part of the World, performed by Dick Erickson, Alice Tweedy, and the chorus, the show was a reminder of the enormity of the outside world and of the immense talent within Linden Ponds. It was so good, I d like to see it again, Julia DeGennaro said after the show. The scenery was gorgeous and the costumes they ve got marvelous voices, she added of the cast.

Song and dance reign

The ninth large-scale performance directed and produced by Lo Steele at Linden Ponds included solo and group vocal performances in multiple languages and genres. Husband and wife Victor Coronella and Gina Herron, who also help lead Linden Ponds opera club, sang operatic solos for the first time on stage. Victor gave a passionate performance of Vesti la Giubba, from Pagliacci while dressed as a clown. In a red gown in front of a backdrop of an opera stage, Gina sang O Mio Babbino Caro from Puccini s Gianni Schicchi with elegance and skill. Later in the program, Bob Wittenauer gave a powerful rendition of This Land is Mine, during the show s Israel segment. Dance prowess was also put on display from the beginning during a high-energy tap dance routine of seven women dressed as New York City paperboys. That East Side, West Side number drew cheers from the audience, as did a line dance to Locomotion in which 13 dancers were outfitted in railroad conductor ensembles, complete with LPRR (Linden Ponds Rail Road) badges. Just as the vocals, dance moves, and stage presence are sharper now that the repertory group has grown its resume, so too are the show s thoughtful details. Between numbers, short bits of humor had audiences laughing, as did community members who sped across the stage in electric wheelchairs behind cutouts of planes, trains, hot air balloons, and other modes of transportation as the show changed locations. They just put so much enthusiasm into it, it s fun, says Muriel Smith, who attended the show. Everything was so clever. Show Biz IV was the first performance showcasing the effects of a new series of projector screens purchased with proceeds from previous shows. An array of richly colored landscapes covered the back wall of the stage. The first sight of a vibrant green Irish hillside elicited murmurs of wonderment from the audience.

Team effort

Those involved in the show, which offered four performances, maintain it is a collaborative effort bolstered by support from numerous community members, both onstage and behind the scenes. It s fantastic, it s like a family, says Ramona Lagos, who lives at Linden Ponds and danced the tango with her partner, Rich McCarthy, in the Spain portion of the show. It s a great bunch of people; they re all very helpful, Rich adds. At the close of the show, master stage manager Roy Peterson called attention to the nearly 40 people who worked behind the scenes during more than 80 performances. Alma Petrillo was the music director for the show and members of the community s Kool Jazz group provided accompaniment, while Linden Ponds Community Resources Manager Joseph McStowe acted as technical director and consultant. The performances are an evolving, six-month journey, Lo says. When I start these programs, I write them specifically for the people here; it has to grow, it is a process. The process itself is an amazing and humbling thing that they will put their faith into me. The show not only entertains but also challenges stereotypes of the limitations of old age. We had people of all different abilities, Lo says. We have broken stereotypes. And the Show Biz IV performers did so with gusto, grace, and the promise as they sang in America, the show s final destination of unlimited possibilities.

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