Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Residents at Largo's Royal Palms take to the stage to belt out Broadway classics

They tapped their feet, shimmied their hips and belted out Broadway tunes.

About 30 Royal Palms senior living community residents, ages 78 to 98, took the stage Tuesday afternoon for A Splash of Broadway — The Royal Way.

The fully costumed production featured vignettes from about a dozen theater classics, including Cats, Oklahoma, Guys and Dolls and Damn Yankees. A few of the performers live elsewhere on the Palms of Largo campus.

About 60 residents from Cypress Palms and Regal Palms, two other communities on the campus, came to see the show. They clapped heartily and often sang along during the refrain of popular numbers.

The show, which was full of surprises, kicked off with Cabaret performed by the whole cast.

One show highlight featured the cast "baby," Phyllis Birnbaum, 78, as Lola. Donning a red sequinned dress and a black wig, Birnbaum sang Whatever Lola Wants as she sashayed around Bob Scheider, who portrayed Joe.

She shook her hips robustly, but later admitted she restrained herself a bit because she's recovering from back surgery.

Birnbaum and many others in the cast said they hadn't been on stage before Dee Ragan, Royal Palms lifestyle director, recruited them for the show.

Ruth Frick, who portrayed Grizabella from Cats, said she had been in a choir, but never theater.

"You can't help but get nervous," she said after the show.

Others had a bit of high school drama or a little theater in their backgrounds. And a couple, like Clark Sullivan, had a bit of professional experience.

Midway through the show, Sullivan, 85, blasted out Ol' Man River from Showboat, his voice rich and bold.

After the show Sullivan, who called himself a "born ham," explained that he used to be a vaudevillian in the Chicago area.

Some of the cast said they loved being on stage. Others said they relished the social part of rehearsing and performing together.

"It's a great way of meeting people," said Frick, 86.

Ragan and the assistant lifestyle director, Jim Abegglen, both ordained ministers of music, directed the show.

Each year, residents perform two Broadway-themed shows and a holiday show, Ragan said.

Ragan, who wrote narration and scenes to accompany the hit songs in the show, said she was hired about eight years ago to infuse arts and theater into the Royal Palms community.

"If I can keep their minds going," Ragan said, "I can keep them going."


If you go

If you want to check out A Splash of Broadway — The Royal Palm Way, two performances remain.

When: At 7 tonight and at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: The theater at Royal Palms, 200 Lake Ave. NE, Largo.

For information: Call Dee Ragan at (727) 437-1566.

Residents at Largo's Royal Palms take to the stage to belt out Broadway classics 08/04/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 4, 2009 8:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning Strikes! podcast: Preseason storylines to watch


    In this episode of our Lightning Strikes podcast, Joe Smith and columnist Tom Jones set up the preseason with storylines to watch, as well as expectations for the season. Will defenseman Mikhail …

    Will defenseman Mikhail Sergachev make the Lightning?
  2. Pinellas County to hire an expert to analyze lessons learned during Hurricane Irma


    Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard has his own opinions about the lessons learned from Hurricane Irma's reign over the area. But he plans to hire an outside expert to analyze what went right and wrong to better prepare for the 2018 hurricane season.

  3. Hurricane Maria slams Dominica, now takes aim at Puerto Rico


    ROSEAU, Dominica — Dominica's leader sent out an emotional plea for help as Hurricane Maria smashed into the Caribbean island causing "mind-boggling" devastation, but an ominous silence followed …

    A road is empty in Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Associated Press]
  4. St. Pete realtor Brandi Gabbard hopes to bring housing experience to city council


    St. Petersburg City Council candidate Brandi Gabbard looks at details and the long-term consequences when evaluating political decisions.

    Brandi Gabbard
  5. New York crowd gets glimpse of President Jeb(!)

    NEW YORK - He was gracious and measured, stern but sober - and tough on Russia - as he addressed the greatest challenges facing the United States.

    Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at a rally in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 15, 2016. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS) 1211446