The energy was running high at the May 2 dress rehearsal for Hearts Ever Young’s upcoming annual show – this year titled “Love That Song” – at Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta. Local pianist Sean Fleming, the group’s musical director since 2012, led the large cast of men and women through a lively program of vocal and dance numbers, beginning with show-opener “Another Op’nin’, Another Show” from the popular musical “Kiss Me Kate.”
The musical lineup of “Love That Song” features hits from previous Hearts Ever Young shows – such as “Hit the Road Jack,” made famous by the late Ray Charles, and the well-known title song of the 1952 film “Singin’ in the Rain” – as well as new pieces, such as the 1963 Beach Boys song “Surfin’ USA,” performed by a ukulele group. A number of the Hearts Ever Young women, including producer and artistic director Carol Teel, are featured in a seated “chair-tap” segment, performed to the popular 1929 song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” Occasional skits provide comic relief to the “Love That Song” program.
“It was probably the best dress rehearsal we ever had,” said Teel in a recent interview. Teel is supported by assistant producer Charlie Kettell and choreographer Carol Cirigliano, both of whom have been with Hearts Ever Young since day one.
The 50 women and men in the cast are all age 65 or older, Teel said. One cast member, Lila Blechman, is 95 1/2. Teel said the group has been rehearsing once a week since October for the “Love That Song” show.
Hearts Ever Young came into existence in December 2010, the brainchild of Teel, who was inspired by the widely known, Massachusetts-based Young@Heart Chorus, whose members are at least 70 years of age. Teel, who is a very young-looking 71 years of age, has taught jazz, hip-hop, and tap dance. She keeps her own dance chops in shape by studying adult tap at Rockport Dance Conservatory and ballroom dancing at Swing & Sway Dancing in Rockland.
A promotional brochure for Hearts Ever Young captures the spirit behind the group: “Hearts Ever Young members believe that the process of aging brings increased understanding, perception, tolerance, and knowledge about our world in all its variety. To share the rich store of experience with others, we have chosen the medium of music, the symbolism of dance, the humor and seriousness of the spoken word, all conveyed from the platform of the theater stage.”
Teel boils it down to this: “Sharing together, getting to know people, and watching each other perform” is what it’s all about. No one who wants to be a part of the group is turned away, she said, adding that a number of experienced performers have joined Hearts Ever Young over the years.
“The late Janet Fields sang with the USO show, Val Gorrill performed on the London stage, (and) Merrill Shea sang professionally and joined our chorus,” Teel said.
Backing up the “Love That Song” performers will be The H.E.Y. Makers band, featuring Fleming on piano, banjo player David Fields, John Strong on ukulele, bassist Chuck McGregor, and drummer Allen Millet. Fields is also a member of the Hearts Ever Young cast.
“Love That Song” will run Thursday-Saturday, May 18-20 at Lincoln Theater, 2 Theater St., Damariscotta. The May 18 show will begin at 7 p.m.; the May 19 and 20 shows will start at 2 p.m. A suggested donation of $10 will be gratefully accepted at the door.
Call 563-3346 for more information.