TOPS CARES: YOUNG HEARTS THEATRE

 

Fairy tales can come true

It can happen to you

If you’re young at heart


Frank Sinatra had a hit with the song “Young at Heart” in 1953, and it has been recorded many times since then. Cast members of Louisville’s Young Hearts Theatre sing the song at the end of each production, a tradition they’ve been doing for four decades.

Young Hearts Theatre has been continually active since 1979, when the late Eloise Terry formed the organization. She was a dancer who toured with the USO in the 1940s and was part of the cast of a children’s television show that aired on WHAS in the 1950s. Young Hearts Theatre is a nonprofit all-volunteer group that puts on two big productions a year, one in the spring and one in fall.

“We write our own productions, using mostly vintage songs,” said Janet Peak, president of Young Hearts Theatre’s board of directors. “You don’t necessarily have to have any expertise in dancing or singing. If you show up to audition, you’re in.” She added that is always a plus “if you are a little goofy.”

Young Hearts Theatre is an outlet for connection and creativity for anyone in the area who is 60 or older. “This is a way for seniors to remain active, to keep our brains and creativity going. And connect with other people,” Janet said. “The golden years aren’t so golden if you’re widowed or isolated. This is a great way to feel vital again.”

As a community theater and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Young Hearts Theatre doesn’t charge admission. While there are no ticket prices, donations are always gratefully accepted. The organization then earmarks a portion of donations for a scholarship fund that goes to students at Ursuline Academy and Sacred Heart.

In addition to cast members and musicians, the group welcomes those who can provide show biz mentoring, expertise or general moral support. Backstage people are needed for props, lighting, design and all the other elements that go into a stage production. Rehearsals take place in the basement of Hikes Point Christian Church and performances are at Ursuline Academy. A separate group, the Rockerettes, will perform dance numbers choreographed by dance supervisor Victoria Young. In between the big productions of the year, smaller groups take mini shows on the road, performing a program of songs at assisted living facilities, nursing homes and church groups.

There are around 50 people loosely involved with the organization. “Several of our members are snowbirds,” Janet said. “There might be a dozen or so that go to Florida over the winter.”

The spring production for 2020 had to be canceled, but Janet has already talked with Sacred Heart and reserved the auditorium for June 2021, at which time fans and friends will get to see “Once Upon a Summer,” a production written by board member Jane Burke.

Founder Eloise Terry would have been pleased with the “do what needs to be done” spirit of this year’s board of directors. To protect the safety of both members and audience, Young Hearts Theatre stepped back in the spring of 2020, yet remained in touch with one another and made plans to reconnect in 2021. Eloise passed away in the summer of 2019, two weeks shy of her 104th birthday. She had always said her goal was to make it to the last verse of the song “Young at Heart.”


And if you should survive

To a hundred and five

Look at all you’ll derive

Out of bein’ alive.


Posted on 2020-12-02 by By Kathie Stamps | Courtesy Photos
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