I was in Prince Edward Island in October giving a presentation at a conference that ended with a musical performance by a group called Young at Heart Musical Theater for Seniors (click the name to go to their website).
WOW! The well-deserved response by the 200 or so care-providers-to-elderly at the conference, to the play about a lady turning a hundred, was a standing ovation.
“Fascinating Ladies” (the title of the play) wouldn’t necessarily get the same response from a Broadway audience, but its unaffected Maritime style and connection among generations story convinced me that it would captivate the hearts and minds of the generation that now lives in nursing homes. Songs of the mid-20th century in precisely era-appropriate three-part harmony, and the kind of sentimentality that a tearbag like me can’t resist would work wonders for some of the frail people in facilities whom I know so well. What unassuming beautifully-done stuff .
The group is funded mostly through donations, and doesn’t tour much because of financial constraints. But wouldn’t it be interesting to see a randomized controlled trial of the effect of a presentation by these people on the doses and cost of antidepressants in long-term care? Imagine reinvesting pharmacy program dollars in a traveling musical show!
Consider contacting, supporting, and possibly inviting them to perform for you if you are really concerned about what it feels like to be old and frail, to live in the facility, and to not have a lot to live for. Two thumbs up!
You’re likely all familiar with the Young at Heart chorus from Massachusetts. I’m slow off the mark and just found out about them via NetFlix. There’s an absolutely fabulous documentary about them that came out in 2007. Here’s the description:
“Coldplay, the Clash and Jimi Hendrix will never sound the same once you’ve heard the Young@Heart chorus, a group of Massachusetts senior citizens who thrill audiences worldwide with their unusual — and unusually poignant — covers of rock songs. Stephen Walker’s humane and heartwarming documentary, which premiered at Sundance in 2008, follows the elderly ensemble as they prepare their latest show for public performances.”
It’s a wonderful movie.