Kendal Follies Lighten Up Moody Winter Blues

Life is a cabaret. Or at least it should be, according to Kendal at Lexington resident Susie Lynch, a self-professed “ham” who loves to sing and entertain.

Bring on the Fun!

“Winter grips us tighter in sometimes moody blues,” wrote Susie in Kendal’s resident newsletter, inviting one and all to share their talents in a “Kendal Follies” variety show to chase away the blahs on January 19.

Inspired by the frivolous comedy shows in which she sang and acted in her hometown, rural Texas, Susie wanted to bring that same brand of levity to the stage in Kendal Hall. “I thought it would translate well here,” she said.

Talented Residents and Staff

While Covid initially waylaid plans for the show in early 2022, Susie and Marketing Associate Kevan Kavanaugh persisted in wrangling the theatrical gifts of fellow residents and staff. “Susie kept pushing us (mostly Paul Cormier and me) to schedule another meeting and get it going,” said Kevan.

“There is a lot of talent here,” said Susie, noting that some residents and staff from Kendal at Lexington community participate in the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Theater in Lexington, whose director, Joellen Bland, accompanied the Follies on piano.

On stage were 12 resident acts of dancing, plays, skits, monologues, and singing (Susie rendered a hilarious parody of “My Favorite Things”…Maalox and nose drops…). Paul Cormier, chairman of the residents’ Culture and Entertainment committee, took the lead as the event organizer, director, and “emcee extraordinaire.” He was also more than game to put on the ham in several dance routines, including belly dancing!

Behind the scenes, residents Bob Bradish and Burrell Fisher served as stage directors and technicians, respectively. Kevan explained, “we needed someone to be the stage manager and “run the show.”  Bob Bradish agreed to do it, even though he had never stage managed before, and he did a great job!”

Staff, too, shed their work personas to show a different side of themselves. Kevan exercised his community theater chops, Fitness Manager Victoria Forman kicked up a glittery Rockettes routine with resident dancers (featuring Paul as the bungling “Rock” in a spangled sash), and who knew Marketing Director Jessica Buhler had such dazzling dance moves?

Everyone’s In on the Act

Born to the spotlight or not, everyone was invited to channel their inner entertainer; no auditions were required. Country line, two-step dancing, and a few short-act plays added fun and laughter to the show.  Even the audience got into the act, doing the chicken dance midway through the show and joining “The Kendal Guys” at the end in the ever-popular “YMCA.”

“Kendal is a very inclusive place,” said Susie, “and it’s all in fun. I’m out there; I don’t mind making a fool of myself.” Karaoke – always forgiving – is also in the works for fun-loving residents.

Still, Susie is serious about keeping her alto voice healthy, taking voice lessons and performing with the Kendal Singers, led by resident Renate Chapman.

Encore, Encore!

While the “bleak moody blues” can’t be gone soon enough, the light-hearted Follies have some already thinking about next winter.

“I hope you’re at work planning next year’s show,” remarked more than a few to Susie. “I think it was a hit!” she said. “And laughter really is the best medicine.”

The 2023 Kendal Follies Line-up:

TitleGenrePresented By
PreludeMusicJoellen Bland
IntroductionsMaster of CeremonyPaul Cormier
Waiting for the MatineeOne act playMelou Peigari and  Kevan Kavanaugh
Rock and the RockettesDanceVictoria Forman. Renata Chapman, Meg  Stackpole, Ruth Tafel & Paul Cormier
    Charles Figgat and the     Lexington Bank RobberyHistorical monologueJack Page
My Favorite ThingsMusicSusie Lynch with Joellen Bland
The Stray CatsCountry Line DancingTom and Karen Whaley and dancers
Special Event “Chicken Dance” Audience
Kendal KickersCouples Country DancingTom and Karen Whaley and dancers
Margaret Fuller SlackA monologue from Spoon River AnthologyMelou Peigari
Mark TwainOne act playShay Peters and John Winfrey
Belly DancingDanceJessica Buhler
I Am HerbertOne act playJack Page and Joellen Bland
YMCASong and danceThe Kendal Guys