By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Southborough/Westborough – The Southborough Senior Songsters transported audiences on a musical trip down memory lane with “The “40s Hit Parade,” presented April 26 and 28 at the Southborough Senior Center. Featuring 35 singers ages 60 to 91, the musical-comedy revue was produced and directed by Jim and Linda Duncan, of Westborough.
“This year, the singers wanted to do something with “40s music,” Jim said. “I remember listening to “Your Hit Parade” on the radio at my grandmother's house, so I came up with the theme “The “40s Hit Parade.””
The singers crooned classics originated by the Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra. The repertoire also highlighted Broadway show tunes and big band chart-toppers.
“The “40s was a great era for music,” Linda said. “The singers know all of the songs, so they'se comfortable singing them.”
In 2010, the Senior Songsters staged “The Fabulous “50s.” By popular demand, they gathered more “50s favorites for their 2011 presentation with golden oldies by Eddie Fisher, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, the McGuire Sisters and Hank Williams. Last year, they performed “The Sizzling “60s” featuring songs by Patsy Cline, Nat King Cole, Neil Diamond, Tina Turner and the Vogues.
“Doing this brings back a lot of memories,” Jim said. “People love the music they knew as a teenager. They love to go back to when they were young.”
The Southborough Senior Songsters started with six singers about 12 years ago when the Senior Center was housed in the Fayville Village Hall. Around that time, Jim had retired as an electronic engineer and began actively pursuing his passion of music. Now the songsters entertain at the current Senior Center for several holiday celebrations. Jim leads the weekly practices from fall through spring; Linda becomes more involved as they prepare for performances.
After premiering their annual musical revue at the Senior Center, they take the show on the road for audiences beyond Southborough. They perform at the Briarwood Continuing Care Retirement Community in Worcester, The Willows at Westborough, Christopher Heights in Marlborough and Wingate at Sudbury. They also lead a weekly sing-along at the Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Westborough.
Jim and Linda discovered their common interest in music when they met in 1994. In addition to being pianists, each plays the theater organ. On their first date, Jim serenaded Linda with his rendition of “Getting to Know You.” They married in 1996.
Throughout the past 11 years, the Duncans have participated in 22 concerts with the Westborough Community Chorus. Concurrently, they'se produced and directed shows with the Southborough Senior Songsters. At the end of the season, they invite the songsters to their Westborough home for a party.
“They love to come to our house because we have a piano and a theater organ,” Linda said. “We'sl play and play, and they'sl sing and sing. The last time, some of these people had gotten up early that morning, went to choir practices at different churches, and then went to the Senior Center to warm up before putting on the show. Then they came to our house for dinner and afterward we had a grand sing-along. At 9 o'slock at night, Jim started playing “Show Me the Way to Go Home” and “Goodnight, Ladies” – and they'se all still singing away. Finally, Jim said to me, “I think we need to get out the sleeping bags.””
For next year's show, the Senior Songsters are considering revisiting the “40s with different tunes.
“This is probably the best show we'se done because we keep getting more people and better singers,” Jim said.