by Debra Forbes
First, the singers. My job, after asking volunteers to control the refreshments, was to tend the door. But I had forgotten the U3A banner and I raced back to the OEC to retrieve it only to be horrified, on my return, to find the hall filling with people and that I had lost control of that door. Calm down, Debra, calm down – it was just all ‘the singers’ arriving early, lots of them, huge quantities of them. Shaun Islip had made a special request to his Open Door Singers that this was the premier event for the Seniors Festival and, if there was a choice from their personal calendars, then they needed to be at this event. It seems that they took the instruction to heart: instead of the expected 40 singers to provide us with the entertainment, we had 100 voices on stage and giving their all!
People who arrived early and holding the best seats were treated to extra delights from the singers as they warmed up their vocal chords and provided a good 20 minutes of song and a taste of the repertoire to come.
The room filled, Shaun steadied the singers and the audience, and the event began. The singers, 100 voices rose through the DCCC. If there was any melancholy in the room before this, it was immediately lifted as the voices of these 100 talented singers began their first song. The words of the songs were projected onto the facing wall to encourage audience participation and they did – even our Acting President, Guy Palmer, with his wife Susan, could be seen in the front row throwing their voices into the mix. Songs were drawn from popular music, contemporary favourites and some well-known classics such as You Made Me Love You, Mama Mia and You’ll Never Walk Alone, an amazing medley of songs – favourites from times perhaps more extroverted than now.
Some may remember Franciscus Henri of Hello Mr Whiskers fame, Hello Mr Whiskers came to our schools for our children and did impromptu songs, singing and writing sessions. Franciscus was there as both a chorus singer and a soloist and it was so amazing to hear the strength and depth of his voice.
Perhaps the highlight of the singing was Shaun’s presentation of a collection of songs from Les Miserables, in English. These songs were as moving and powerful as those presented in the musical theatre productions such as Hugh Jackson’s version of Les Miserables.
The afternoon ended everyone on their feet and many dancing to the final tune of Stay With Me.
At the end, door prizes were drawn, which was won equally by the choir and the audience, and there was a yummy afternoon tea for all.
The whole afternoon was terrific. Many, many thanks to the volunteers who came to specially help, the event would not be the success it was without you.
Finally, as a special treat for you, one of Shaun Islip’s helpers videotaped the event, edited it down to around 18 minutes, and placed it on YouTube. If you make it to the end, you’ll find Bill and I attempting a jive – in sneakers! Watch the video on YouTube.