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Celebrating in style

Great Oak Clubhouse opens doors to entertainment

Created date

June 11th, 2015
people on an outdoor terrace

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

—Oprah Winfrey

To mark the momentous opening of the Great Oak Clubhouse, Ponds’ second clubhouse, the resident-run entertainment committee recently delivered a full weekend of festivities, including a piano concert and champagne reception, a talent show, and a guest performance by the acclaimed Loudoun Jazz Ensemble. 

“We wanted to give our residents something special, unlike anything we’ve done in the past,” says entertainment committee member Patricia (Pat) Lund.

Great Oak Clubhouse added a highly anticipated 240-seat, state-of-the-art performing arts center. Complete with a raised stage, video screens, and high-tech audio equipment, the theater will be the main venue for performances, lectures, and special events.

“When planning for the opening weekend, we felt it was important to give our residents the opportunity to christen the stage,” says Community Resources Coordinator Elisabeth Longworth. 

To that end, residents not only planned for the weekend but also took on the roles of performers, back-stage crew, videographers, ushers, and ticket sellers.

“We’ve been looking forward to the Great Oak Clubhouse for some time,” says community member Phyllis Lynne. “The weekend celebration was a glimpse into the many ways the new space will enrich our lives as residents of Ashby Ponds.”

Something for everyone

The celebration began on the evening of May 29 with an entertaining piano recital from community member Barbara Hanson entitled “From Beethoven to Broadway.” Following the performance, guests enjoyed a formal champagne reception.

“I am extremely honored and consider it a privilege to be asked to perform,” says Barbara, who attended the Peabody Conservatory of Music at The Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Md. She also taught music at the Congressional Schools in Arlington and Alexandria, Va. She now performs regularly at Ashby Ponds.

“I gave lots of thought to the selection of music for the performance,” she says. “I decided that an interesting mixture of music would be the most appealing to my neighbors. I selected some well-known, pretty, and familiar pieces. I even added several patriotic numbers since the performance fell between two very important American holidays—Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.”

The following afternoon, Ashby Ponds residents and staff members participated in the community’s fourth annual talent show. 

Guests were entertained by more than 15 acts, including a rendition of the popular Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars hit “Uptown Funk,” performed by Ashby Ponds residents and staff, and the Ashby Ponds’ drama club presentation of the skit “Where is Columbus?” 

Ashby Ponds Executive Director David Gallagher even got in on the act by performing in a skit called “Lou Buys a Computer,” based on “Who’s on First,” a comedy routine made famous by Abbott and Costello. 

The celebratory weekend concluded on Sunday afternoon with a sold-out performance by the Loudoun Jazz Ensemble. 

Benefits galore

To ensure that all members of Ashby Ponds enjoy the opening weekend entertainment provided by their neighbors, the resident-run video group utilized the new technology provided in the Great Oak Clubhouse’s control room to film each event and broadcast it throughout the community. 

“The elevated stage and the new fixed camera overlooking the theater help us provide better footage than we’ve been able to capture in the past,” says video group member George Menassa. “Having a dedicated space for performance also eliminates the distractions we combated when filming performances taking place in the Cardinal Clubhouse lobby.” 

With the opening of the Great Oak Clubhouse, lectures, weekly movies, and other group events will now take place in the performing arts center.  

“It also means that the Cardinal Clubhouse living room will return to a living room,” says entertainment committee member Annie Bartholomew. “And with many activities moving into the new, increased space at the Great Oak Clubhouse, we hope that more people will join and become involved in all that there is to do at Ashby Ponds.”

“The more venues we have, the better,” says Terry Lowe. “It’s possible to go somewhere every day and do something you really enjoy.”

Another new venue, the Acorn Deli, adds to the dining options at Ashby Ponds. Located outside the performing arts center, the New York-style deli, with an outside seating area, offers community members the option to enjoy menu items all day, while the other campus restaurants are open only during specified dining hours.

“The new deli is a great place to enjoy a coffee, pastry, or sandwich after a presentation or performance,” says Phyllis. 

“We are very food focused here,” says Annie. “The Acorn Deli is a wonderful new place to go and spend time with friends.”

Continual enjoyment

As the summer continues, Ashby Ponds residents will continue to discover the benefits of the Great Oak Clubhouse. In addition to the performing arts center, video control room, and Acorn Deli, an art studio and gallery as well as additional classrooms are available for use.

“We will no longer be limited by the space restraints that come with having only one clubhouse,” says Phyllis. “This is an exciting time to see what we can do with these wonderful new additions.”