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Celebrations!

Linden Ponds performers bring a year of holidays to life

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January 24th, 2012

In Celebrations! the seasoned cast and crew of the Linden Ponds Repertory Company brought a year of holidays to life in their tenth large-scale theater production. The Hingham, Mass., Erickson Living community s performing arts center hosted three sold-out performances by the community s most musically inclined residents. From an elegant harmony of Seasons Come, sung by Earle and Eleanor Buzzell and Maria Moyer at the show s onset, to the finale of Hallelujah, the Linden Ponds Singers entertained audience members, who whistled, cheered, and sang along to carefully selected musical numbers highlighting the best of the calendar year. Commemorating the New Year and 2012, the Year of the Dragon, performers began with a delicate Chinese song wishing prosperity, followed by the joyous entry of a dragon carried around the stage in a dance by performers. In February s Let Me Call You Sweetheart, sung by George and Peggy Erickson, who dressed as the king and queen of hearts, the audience was treated to the first of many sing-alongs. A floor-to-ceiling screen on stage prompted the lyrics.

Onstage comfort, finely-tuned balance

Directed and produced by Lo Steele, the show s nearly 70 singers demonstrated prowess and comfort on stage. With multiple shows under their belts, the singers injected a finely-tuned balance of comedy, emotion, and drama into their performances. Eleven men wearing hearts on their vests followed the Ericksons with a theatrical rendition of My Heart. For March, Howard Bengele and Bill Wilcox sang Deep in the Heart of Taxes, putting a comedic spin on a popular American tune about Texas. The month of May brought husband and wife Victor Coronella and Gina Herron, who gracefully sang Will You Remember, in their first on-stage duet. For September, Bob Wittenauer s nostalgic rendition of September Song was followed by Walt Power and Joan McGrath s silly return to grade school in School Days. November began with the humor of Turkey Jokes. December s holiday tunes embraced both the lighthearted and serious, including a solo performance by Linden Ponds own executive director, Ian Brown, who sang O Holy Night.

Crowd pleasers

Along the year s journey, upbeat crowd pleasers brought numerous singers and even animals on stage. The Happy Feet Tappers delighted audiences while spinning colorful umbrellas in a dance to April Showers. Following the Tappers, an Easter parade of elegantly dressed couples and two dogs sauntered across the stage. A second parade crossed the stage for the Fourth of July, featuring a colorful cast of spectators, marchers, and floats. The parade also included a car carrying Ms. Linden Ponds, Uncle Sam, and a number of Statues of Liberty. In addition to music and fanfare throughout the show, two younger performers treated audiences: Abigail Smith, granddaughter of Ross and Mia Smith, who live at Linden Ponds, and Alex Boyle, who works as wait staff at Linden Ponds. Both gave energetic, theatrical performances. As the show came to an end, the singers united on stage for a finale that included a powerful call-and-answer performance of the singers and soloist Abigail Smith in The Prayer. Finally, the singers and audience joined forces for a joyful Hallelujah.

Cohesive group

A seasoned ensemble that includes talented singers, dancers, musicians, scenery painters, and technicians, the Linden Ponds Repertory Company has grown in size and ability through the years. It has been a great joy to be with a team of residents and staff who were motivated to build a Repertory Company here in Linden Ponds, Lo says. I am pleased that we consistently have sellout shows, but the real accomplishment is the involvement of so many residents in a project that gives them renewed spirit and vigor, she adds. As the singers exited the stage, an impressive backstage crew entered. Scenery Director Marty Saunders, Music Director Alma Petrillo, Musician Joe Roche, and Master Stage Manager Roy Peterson are among the longtime pillars of the company who remain off stage. Bill Gavin, Joan Mahoney, Mark Batchelder, Vivian Bleakney, and Barbara Avitabile also helped facilitate smooth performances, while staff members Joseph McStowe, Thomas McGivern, and Elizabeth Patton played important supporting roles. As another year begins at Linden Ponds, the talent continues. Lo says, despite the hardships dealt each of the performers, The hours spent in rehearsal, the excitement of performing, the approval of fellow residents at the end of a production give times of respite for everyone involved. Much like a holiday.

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