Singers recall Broadway for seniors


Tears of nostalgia pooled in Catherine Smith's eyes at the conclusion of Six Children and a Little Brother's production of Broadway tunes.

"I'm so glad I came," said Ms. Smith, 86. "I really enjoyed it."

The show by a troupe of children that performs at various nursing homes and senior centers throughout the county "brings back happy times," explained Charlotte Kraemer, activity director of the Knollwood Convalescent Center in Millersville.

The youngsters are "real energetic and showy," she said. And they make the seniors "forget that they're in a nursing home."

This was the second appearance at Knollwood for the troupe, seven children with acting and singing experience who center their show on a theater chest of old props in the middle of the stage.

Each performer pulls a hat, a boa, or a heart out of the chest, and is inspired to sing a song, usually from the 1920s, '30s or '40s.

Jason Whittle, 13, of Severna Park, is inspired by a few old handkerchiefs to sing "Got to Pick a Pocket" from the show, "Oliver." With a near-perfect English accent, he proceeds to prance around shouting and pointing out to an audience that laughs along.

Young Whittle, a member of the Children's Theatre of Annapolis enjoys his work. "I do it for my audience's pleasure," he said, "for my pleasure and for the fun of it."

Kara Williams, 11, also of Severna Park, joined the troupe because she enjoys singing, especially to seniors.

"It brings back memories for them," she said. "Just look at their reaction. I performed for my grandpa and he says so."

Other members include, Amanda Weir, 11, Jessica MacMillan, 10, Corey Nolet, 8, Matt Gettier, 12, and Cami Nolet, 13 -- each of whom gets to choose a solo to sing.

Six Children and a Little Brother was the brainchild of Kathy Nolet, a teacher at Shipley's Choice Elementary in Millersville, and director of the Merely Players of Millersville.

Ms. Nolet, of Millersville, said she figures seniors should be entertained all year round, not just at Christmas and other special holidays.

"I have a great mix," she said. "I've got kids who want to perform and seniors who want kids to perform for them. The reaction has been outstanding."

The children begin practicing in June and performing in July. By their last show, the troupe will have put on 11 shows with only eight practices.

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