The stage is nearly set for “As Time Goes By,” this year’s title of an annual show put on by seniors to help much younger performers get a leg up on the cost of a post-secondary education.
Members of the Vaudevillians entertainment troupe have sung and danced their way through their fundraising “bursary shows” since 2004 and, over the years, have raised nearly $115,000 to financially support performing-arts students at Douglas College in New Westminster.
“That’s a phenomenal amount, especially for a bunch of elderly people,” said Judi Georgetti, who joined the Vaudevillians three years ago and is the assistant director of two afternoon shows hitting the Surrey Arts Centre’s Main Stage on Nov. 3 and 4. She’ll also perform a couple of numbers, just for fun and fundraising.
As director and choreographer of the 15th annual show, Dan Minor’s job is to harness the talents of performers aged 63 to 86 years young, and also dance like only Dan can. In all, 15 golden-age performers will hit the boards.
“There are three large group numbers – ‘Broadway,’ ‘Down on the Farm’ and ‘The Night Club’ – plus an extravagant opening and closing,” Minor explained. “Solos, duets and trios are intermingled with comic sketches. Dance numbers include an old-time tap routine (‘Puttin’ On The Ritz’), a hoedown routine (‘Can’t Say No!’) and the loud and raucous ‘Can Can.’”
During 10 months of rehearsals at a church on 96th Avenue, and performances around the city, Minor says, “sometimes just remembering creates a challenge, but the love of performing, especially for seniors, is a blessing for us all.”
This year’s show is given some new wrinkles, so to speak.
Georgetti, a Cloverdale resident, noted the new sets built by Graham Lawrence.
“He’s 85, and he used to teach design at BCIT,” Georgetti said. “Their not real fancy, done mostly with cardboard and a lot of paint and glitter, and he did these in his little studio apartment. We’re putting them together and it’ll make a huge difference for the show.”
Another new addition, Georgetti said, is how the show itself is performed.
“One thing I noticed over the last couple of years is how (performers) were getting lost on that big stage,” she explained. “It’s going to be three big production numbers with sets, and people will stay on the stage, so we don’t just have a bunch of solos thrown together. That was sort of my contribution to it, to try that and see how it goes this year by doing these three separate little shows.”
Other key people involved this year are Barbara Hall as stage manager, Pat Trimble as assistant choreographer and costumers Doris Carruthers and Karin Arland.
Georgetti, 71, got involved with the Vaudevillians after she retired from nursing.
“I thought, ‘What am I going to do now? What am I interested in?’,” she recalled. “And I love theatre and love show business and things, and so I went on the internet to see what’s available in Surrey, and this sounded up my alley. I phoned Pat Trimble, her number was there, and she said, ‘C’mon out, we’re doing a show this week in White Rock.’ I saw it and went, ‘These are my people!’ I fell in love with the whole concept of it, and the fact that it’s raising some money for a good cause made it even better.”
The two performances of “As Time Goes By” are at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3 and Sunday, Nov. 4. Call 604-501-5566 for tickets and more details, or visit tickets.surrey.ca or thevaudevillians.com.
“Our crowd tends to be as old, or nearly as old, as we are, and in November nobody wants to drive at night in the rain, so I think afternoon shows are perfect,” Georgetti said. “And it’s still only $22 a ticket, with is pretty pension-friendly as well.”
With last year’s shows, the Vaudevillians were able to add around $8,000 to its bursary at Douglas Collage, she added.
“It costs us about $3,000 for the theatre (rental), and we do that through ticket sales, donations, sponsors that advertise in the program, things like that,” Georgetti explained. “We used to have a raffle but it was hard to get a decent prize, so last year we did a 50/50 draw, and that was good. I think it was $1,200 to us and $1,200 to the draw winner. We’ll do that again this year.”
Georgetti raves about the “really good show” set to hit the stage at the arts centre.
“My feeling is people are going to see something different, and something they’ll really like,” she said. “And it’s very encouraging to us amateurs when people come out to see the show, absolutely. It’s a tremendous amount of work, and people probably don’t appreciate just how much work. Some of the choreography Dan puts together, I just can’t believe they can remember all those steps. The dancers, they just blow me away. I don’t dance, but I watch them, and they’re amazing, they really are. Pat Trimble, for one, is a treasure.”