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StoneRidge residents prefer a little variety

By Kristina Dorsey

Publication: The Day

Published January 28. 2014 4:00AM   Updated January 28. 2014 8:59AM
Tim Cook/The Day
StoneRidge resident Joan Greene in costume as the Queen of Hearts as she rehearses her pantomime act during a recent dress rehearsal for StoneRidge's upcoming variety show.

For this variety show, talent knows no age-related boundaries. The performers are all residents of the StoneRidge Retirement Community in Mystic, and they range from 76 to 96 years old.

During a recent rehearsal, one woman, who sang in a few New York nightclubs back in the day, crooned the torch song "Love for Sale," with such lyrics as: "Love for sale/Appetizing young love for sale/Love that's fresh and still unspoiled ..."

Another resident read a poem she wrote about her childhood Thanksgivings, and yet another Charlestoned to "Button Up Your Overcoat."

Lisa Kennedy, activities associate at StoneRidge, has been wanting to do a show for a while, but the community's 10th anniversary provided the perfect celebratory reason.

What made her want to do a show, she says, "was the residents, because they're so alive and active and it's like no other retirement community I've ever been in. They're so involved with everything, with making people happy. I wanted to showcase who they are."

It did, though, take a little convincing to get people onboard. When she first put out a flier, seeking residents who wanted to participate, she got zero response. So she talked to people and little by little got acts onboard. They are borrowing costumes from Goodspeed Musicals for the event. They are getting piano accompaniment from Joe Grieco, a founding member and musical director of the band The Cartells.

On Friday, the performers gathered in the StoneRidge auditorium for a dress rehearsal - and what dresses they had. The dancer who will do a little Charleston donned a kicky, shimmery 1920s-style dress. A pianist who'll play "Singin' in the Rain" wore a glamorous peach gown.

The visual showstopper, though, was Joan Greene, dressed up as The Queen of Hearts. Her inspiration was part the Master of Ceremonies in "Cabaret" and the Queen of Hearts in "Alice in Wonderland."

She covered her face in white makeup, with her cheeks painted with red hearts, her lips accented by a heart-shaped bow of lipstick, and her eyelids shaded with a bright blue hue. Atop her head was a towering heart-shaped hat that Kennedy created, and teetering atop that was a tiara. Greene wore a scarlet velvet cape over a petticoat, with her arms covered by puffy white sleeves and long white gloves.

"I'm going incognito. I don't want anyone to know," Greene says of her get-up and make-up.

Greene - who teaches college-level anthropology - says she's never performed before.

Kennedy convinced her to jump in for the variety show, and so Greene is going to represent February (the show is formatted as each act representing a different month) by pantomiming to "My Funny Valentine" and handing out Hershey's Kisses in the Valentine's spirit.

Meanwhile, Fran Edlund, who manages the country store at StoneRidge, has rewritten "How Much Is That Doggy in the Window" to reflect that job, saucily making StoneRidge, McQuade's and other references of note.

When she performs that in the variety show, the 90-year-old will don a hat covered in coupons; she is known for her enthusiasm for couponing and says that she brought $16 worth of coupons on a Big Y trip.

Edlund has a rich work history, having been managing partner of a small brokerage house on Wall Street and then working as a sales coordinator for Clairol for 17 years. Early in her life, she served in the U.S. Coast Guard SPARS, which was the women's reserve, and ran stores for the men when they came into port.

"I was what they call a Storekeeper First Class," she says.

Kennedy says that the participants "are having a ball. They're loving it. They're excited, getting out, going shopping. Just for that, it's all around good for the spirits, good for their souls."

The variety show will be performed at 3:30 p.m. Friday at StoneRidge, 186 Jerry Browne Road, Mystic. It is open to StoneRidge residents.

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