AUBURN — The atmosphere was lively at the Auburn Residential Care Center on Tuesday afternoon. More than 20 residents and their family members filled the center’s common room, where they were treated to a 45-minute show by residents of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs Home of Maine. 

The variety show, which residents at Odd Fellows had been planning since January, consisted of sing-along tunes and savvy jokes. They were welcomed with laughter, singing, clapping and hand-holding by the audience at ARCC. At times, Auburn Residential Care resident Aurora LaCasse rose up and danced around the room.

“We’re not too old to have fun,” said Rosemary Thompson, an Odd Fellows’ resident who decided to take part in the show after activity directors Diane Treacy and Margaret Sjostrom thought up the idea this winter. The directors hoped to give residents an opportunity to have fun and be altruistic.

“They want to entertain people just as themselves, to make
them laugh and bring joy to them,” Treacy said. 

Treacy and Sjostrom took the group on the road after its performance at home on June 16 was well-received. Last Tuesday, the seven Odd Fellows’ women — dressed in patriotic colors and donning red, white and blue necklaces — performed the first of what they hope to be a monthly show on the road for local nursing homes and residential care centers. The next will be held at the Chapman House in Auburn on Aug. 20.

The show began with a sing-along to “Three Blind Mice,” where toy
mice, cat ears and a cat tail were used as props. It ended with a rendition of “God
Bless America,” where residents stood and waved flags. They performed a host of other sing-alongs in between. Treacy also entertained
the audience with jokes and outfit changes, while Sjostrom, a singer, performed classic
ballads including Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and Vera Lynn’s “White Cliffs of Dover.”

The Odd Fellows’ residents, some of whom had performed at grand functions, churches and high schools in their past, said they chose well-known songs like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Somewhere Over the Mountain” to make it easier for the audience to sing along. “I guess you’d call them down-home songs,” said Thompson.

ARCC resident Lillian Cyr knew the words to “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” During the performance, she charmed fellow resident Danny Flagg when she took his hand and passionately sang along to the romantic ballad. “I don’t have time to tell him I’m in love with him,” Cyr joked.

Rita Cote, activity director at ARCC, said many residents with French ancestry particularly enjoyed the performances of “Frere Jacque” and “Alouette.” She added that the show was wonderful and ARCC may put on a variety show of its own if there is enough interest.

It was precisely the goal Treacy and Sjostrom had in mind when they put the event together. “We wanted to maybe get residents in other homes to start doing this,” Treacy said. “We want to destroy the myth that nursing homes are an end-all to life. You can have as good a life even when you’re in a long-term facility.”

Directors at both centers reiterated the importance of keeping their residents active and fulfilled by planning activities and trips and scheduling performances they believe residents will enjoy. Because of budget cuts, however, the amount of entertainment each center can bring in has been cut.

Cote said she was grateful for the free show the Odd Fellows put on for the center. Along with Cote and the ARCC residents, the July 14 show also welcomed in some family members. Aurora Lacasse’s three daughters, one who flew in from Connecticut and another from California, were in attendance to watch their mother dance to the tunes. 

Aurora Lacasse, right, receives applause after dancing to “How Much Is That Doggy in the Window” during the variety show at the Auburn Residential Care Center. Rosemary Thompson, left, Doris Watkins and Florence Parsons are residents of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs Home of Maine, who performed for residents of Auburn Residential Care Center.

Diane Treacy, activities director for the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs Home of Maine, performs with residents of the residential and nursing care facility during a show at the Auburn Residential Care Center. Front row from left are Rosemary Thompson, Doris Watkins and Florence Parsons. Back row from left are Diane Morissette, Yvette Boisvert, Dolores Dumont and Lorette Poulin.

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