We cover a vast array of topics at Freddiesetgo. These include but are not limited to: Cancer, overcoming adversity, maintaining motivation, diligence, the paleolithic food pyramid, medical / surgical success stories / failures, and musical theater. I insist these topics ARE related and like life’s ability to blend storylines, I feel I can usually relate to anyone stopping by.
“I am the protagonist in my own ever unfolding, fantastic journey…just as you are the heroine or hero of yours….in this we are bound.”
Today our storyline takes us to the Lillian Booth Actors Home where myself and a group of fellow musical theater performers traveled to support my favorite not-for-profit Sing For Your Seniors. It’s a collection of Actors in New York city who donate their time in-between auditions, show schedules, part time jobs and then (you guessed it) Sing for Seniors! We travel around Manhattan, Jersey and most boroughs giving 1 hours concerts to seniors in Community centers, Hospice care, Cancer hospitals, Veteran Centers, Methodist homes and full time care facilities. The magic of the experience is the perfect exchange between performer and audience member. We simply show up with our audition book (containing songs we know backwards in high heels) and we put on a show for those who need it most.
If we are friends on Facebook you’ll see me post about the experiences from time to time. I often send out requests for Singers to join the brigade. It’s changed my life. I am a better human being because of it. I believe the layers and degrees in which we can grown are limitless…this past Monday was no exception. Shall we?
The Lillian Booth Actors Home
Month after month this location is quickly becoming my favorite place to perform. The day begins with a beautiful car ride out of the chaotic city, through autumns best and brightest colors to the Lillian Booth Actors home. For those not familiar with this location everyone living in this full service care facility is linked in some way to the world of performance. Whether your father worked on the tonight show, orchestrated tracks for film, stage managed productions or you performed in some of the most famous Broadway shows of all time…..you have a place at the actors home. This demographic makes for an extremely well versed audience. If you are singing something from South Pacific you’d better nail every lyric or someone from the original broadway company may call you out!
As always our first session of the day takes our four singers to the dementia ward. Most of our audience is wheel chair bound and in some state of withdrawn consciousness. But as we sing for half the hour, as it always happens, toes start to wiggle, fingers start to tap, and limbs that were frozen just a moment before raise to the sky in celebration. This is what it means to be in the room where it happens…nothing short of magic. I wish everyone could experience this unique power of music, working its way into parts of the mind where words have not traveled for years. Awakenings my friends. Our time with these patients is short, but with a smile the compassionate staff ensures us the effects last for weeks.
This Magic moment:
One of our favorite audience members is named Bob. Bob has performed in over 9 Broadway shows as a dancer including original companies of Fiorello, Texas, Li’L Darlin’, Zeigfeld Follies of 1957, and I had a Ball. Bob does not have much to say but he will stand, dance, shuffle to most songs. His body possessed by ghosts of rhythm and rhyme. Having grown accustomed to the dance, I had taken my eye off his steps for a moment. As he regained my attention I noticed Bob had made a place beside me at a the table near the back of the performance room. His frail hands reached the distance of the aged wooden desk and clasped my book of sheet music. Slowly he leafed through the pages, staring lovingly at the text. An idea, the spark had entered his mind and his face filled with color. He remembered. He remembered packing that book into a nap sack and making his way through the crowded streets of manhattan. He remembered placing his book of songs onto a piano and auditioning for dream. Like a mailman’s letter carrier, a dentists pick, or a stylists comb…he looked complete. He picked up the folder and holding it to his heart, looked at us and smiled.
To pull one truth from life in my short time here, it is that we are here to learn, maybe in some way heal. One could visit these centers and at times feel sad at the loss of function, the limited mobility or loss of multiple senses. To the contrary…the beauty lies in the fact that while many of the treasures of youth have been stripped away, the soul is strong. Bob, nearing the end of his journey, like a new born child had found a pure moment of honest joy and we were present to bare witness. To these residents the simplest gesture, touch or song brings infinite joy. Music and dance hold more worth than piles of gold. The currency we are giving is joy, and had our audience not traveled the long and weary road of life, it’s value would have remained unknown.
I could tell you a run down of what we sang. I could go on and on about how special it is, this thing that we are doing week after week. But what I need from the community I live and work in is help. I need participation on a grass roots level. If you are inspired or moved by this company then head over to the Sing For Your Seniors Website and sign up.
Don’t wait for another post from me or a friend who is involved in this incredible group, do it today. You’ll be contacted and soon on the way to a concert for the audience who needs it most in your city.
Last but not least! Each session is special in it’s own right, but today’s cast was incredibly talented. For giving up a few hours of their day please send love to Megan Marod, Steve Carl McCasland, Kristen Trahan, Lauren Cupples. Celebrate the good they put into the world today on social media or in passing in the city.
That’s all for now..till next time…Freddie Set Go!