Seniors entertainment troupe The Vaudevillians will hit the stage for their 10th annual show at Surrey Arts Centre, Nov. 9 (2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) – and as usual they’ll be sharing their singing, comedy and hoofing skills to benefit a younger generation of performers.
Audiences enjoying the talented group’s old fashioned variety show can also be assured their ticket proceeds are going to a good cause – the group’s long-established bursary for Douglas College performing arts students.
To date they have raised close to $100,000 with their shows, $80,000 of which has been disbursed to 17 students over the years.
“The students awarded have been so grateful,” says singer/dancer Pat Trimble, a core member of the troupe, and wife of Jim Trimble, who will make a welcome return as master of ceremonies for the show, after a recent spell of ill-health.
It’s especially gratifying to the senior performers, the Trimbles said, to know that the bursary makes a difference for youth who have chosen the often-difficult path of entering the performing arts.
“Many of the students have written us that if it weren’t for the bursary, they wouldn’t be able to continue with their studies,” Pat said.
Another part of the Vaudevillians’ connection with young performers will be manifest at next week’s show – their co-sponsorship of the B.C. Junior Talent Competition at the PNE.
Sharing the stage with them will be this year’s winner, Tyson Venegas – an accomplished crooner with star charisma at the tender age of eight.
“He’s a singer, but he also plays piano and dances,” said Pat.
“He reminds me a great deal of Joe Given – who was also one of our scholarship recipients,” added Jim.
“He’s very quiet and shy,” said Pat. “But when he gets on stage he’s so confident and poised.”
The same could be said of the Vaudevillians themselves. Offstage, they may look like the grandparents and great-grandparents they are, but onstage they transform into dynamic performers, with a telltale light in their eyes and a lightness in their step that comes from staying active in a medium they love.
Helping spark their performances are such accomplished talents as dance teacher and choreographer Dann Minor.
“He and I have been dancing together for the last three years – he’s found a real niche with us,” Pat said.
The Vaudevillians troupe has also been reinvigorated by the arrival of a new director, Marilyn Remus, this year, the Trimbles said.
“She was originally from Victoria, but she moved to the U.S. in 1967,” Jim said. “She settled in Florida and was very active in musical theatre there.”
“She’s such a mentor – a real dynamo and very talented,” said Pat, adding that Remus has ensured there are five ensemble dance numbers in this show, as well as choreographed movement in all of the acts.
There are now 24 performing members with the Vaudevillians, ranging in age from the early senior years to 92.
“Every year we lose a couple and gain a couple,” said Pat, who, with Jim, is one of the two remaining original members from when the troupe was formed 13 years ago.
Members keep performing as long as they are able, but the challenges of the troupe’s rigorous performance and rehearsal schedule do, inevitably, lead to retirements.
“We do close to 30 performances a year, and rehearse once a week for 10 months, with two months off,” Jim said.
The Nov. 9 performance will emphasize all the professionalism – complete with full costuming and scenery – that the Vaudevillians have become known for.
“It’s a two-hour show with intermission, and all the usual vaudeville stuff – singing, dancing, comedy, solos, duos and trios,” Pat said.
Weaving it all together will be Jim’s light repartee as compere, she added, noting “I don’t know where he manages to get all those jokes from.”
Tickets for both the matinee and the evening performance are $20, available from the Surrey Arts Centre box office at 604-501-5566.