How to celebrate 50 years of making a home for retired military officers and their families?
That was the question that leadership at Vinson Hall Retirement Community in McLean were asking themselves as that milestone approached. The answer? A Talent Show to showcase the lively spirit and joie de vivre contained within the complex on Old Dominion Road that offers independent and assisted living, as well as services for long-term, memory and rehabilitative care and wounded warrior transitional housing.
On Friday, April 5, more than 200 audience members packed the facility’s Kathy Martin Community Building Ballroom to enjoy the singing, dancing, musical performances and the comic antics of residents and Vinson Hall staff. The modest admission price of $10 helped support the Navy Marine Coast Guard Resident Foundation’s Innovation and Enhancement Fund.
“There really is a lot of talent on display here tonight,” said Vinson Hall CEO Libby Bush, just before it was “lights down and curtains up!” and the senior staffer had to prepare for her own moment in the spotlight.
Director of Facilities and Environmental Services Bob Polite served with aplomb as the evening’s emcee, introducing each act, sometimes taking part in the action, and always successfully coaxing the audience to let loose and join in, as well. Polite had them dancing in the aisles or their seats, as they were able, and singing along to a musical selection as varied as show tunes from “Annie Get Your Gun” or “The Pajama Game” to modern pop numbers.
VINSON HALL resident Midge Holmes and her “Motion is Lotion” dance troupe opened the show with an elegantly-costumed take on the “Macarena.”
Staffer Dante Stevenson was up next and did a well-received rendition of the Righteous Brothers “Unchained Melody,” followed by an accordion solo by resident Teri Gardenier, who explained that she had learned the music she would be playing as a child “oh, about 75 or 80 years ago!” on the mandolin, but was ready to give the medley of familiar tunes a try a la accordion. Not a bad decision, since the audience recognized each musical choice and either sang or hummed along.
At this point in the program, the senior directors of Vinson Hall wanted to prove that they could “bring it!” just like the residents, so they burst into the ballroom – running down the side and center aisles to take the stage and do their best to dance to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”
It’s probably for the best that they chose retirement living administration as their careers, but their efforts still won lots of applause along with some hearty laughter.
More laughter greeted the next act – Midge Holmes, again, this time with her husband Chris Holmes, although he was unrecognizable in his cow costume while Midge performed a riotous yodelling number.
Director of Development Devon Meier and Stephanie Lawrence showed off their acting chops in a humorous skit about feuding friends, then it was a full stage once again for an enthusiastic dance to the “Electric Slide.”
The night’s biggest laughs were reserved, however, for the “Somewhat Synchronized Swimmers” – Chris Holmes (sans cow costume), Glenn Bratcher, Dick Holm, Jack Hannon, Peter Linn and Ron Musselwhite – performing a water ballet complete with an appearance by a shark who arrived on stage to the theme from “Jaws” to terrorize the swimmers.
THE SHOW TUNES were next, and the audience members didn’t hesitate to join in, singing “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better,” and “Hernando’s Hideaway.” The principal singers were accompanied by the Vinson Voices choral group, who ended the show with the Vinson Hall Song, written by resident Beverly Moe who passed away, and sung by the chorus and all of the audience to the tune of the 1920s standard “Side by Side.”
When the applause had died down, it was time for the stars to greet their fans at a dessert and coffee bar and to accept their well-deserved accolades.
Although the residents of Vinson Hall often participate in creative events, this was the first major “Talent Show” production. “Who knows what we may have started here and what will be next,” wondered CEO Bush.
Vinson Hall was established in 1969, originally intended as a senior living community for Navy widows. With the support of the nonprofit Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation, the facility has grown over those 50 years to include all retired individuals and their families from all branches of military service and several government agencies, as well.