Why do so many Village On The Isle residents circle the first Tuesday of each month on their calendars? Because they don’t want to miss the Cabaret—one of the finest shows this side of Venice. Patsy Wilson, a Village On The Isle resident for six years, serves as the Cabaret’s emcee and planner. She explains how this energetic floor show came to be.
“Thanks to funding from our auxiliary, we have this beautiful player piano that can play songs by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet and such,” she explains. “So about two years ago, we said ‘Let’s put a cloth on it.’ We could dim the lights, share some music and humor with our friends and turn it into a great evening.”
One of the terrific things about Cabaret night is that it gives residents a chance to get away without going away. The evening starts with a delicious chef-prepared meal at the Hibiscus Dining Room, the jewel of our community. Then at 7:00, folks grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and head to the Matthew Hall lobby for some live entertainment.
But if you want a good seat, you’d better get there early. “We usually fill the lobby and have to seat the overflow crowd in the hall next door, where they can view it from our big-screen TV monitor,” Wilson says.
From jazz to jokes, there’s something for everyone
“An embarrassment of riches” is how Wilson describes the acts that grace the floor of the Village On The Isle Cabaret.
The show usually opens with a song that has a cabaret theme to it, and always ends with a rendition of “Good Night Sweetheart.” But in between these two mainstays, anything can happen.
“We don’t hold auditions, so both amateurs and professionals are welcome,” Wilson states. “Just the other night we had a harpist perform and we’ve had several saxophone players entertain us too.
“It’s also a treat when Tony Armagno and Alicia Bauer, who sing in Italian and French respectively, perform for us. Alicia really knows how to work the Cabaret floor, and they recently performed a duet that was a big hit.”
Other folks love to show off their hidden talents as well. “Johnny Albu, who makes chili in our kitchen, also plays the accordion. He’s always a crowd pleaser when he performs in the Cabaret,” Wilson says.
Wilson is always amazed at how gifted her fellow residents are. She fondly recalls Suzanne, who used to sing Patsy Cline favorites. “Suzanne could perfectly imitate the unique crackle of Cline’s voice, which made songs like Crazy and You Belong to Me sound so authentic.”
“After our last program, people told me that they would have paid forty dollars to see a show like that.” Wilson brags. “But here, it’s absolutely free.”
Big plans are on tap for December
Some Cabaret nights feature special themes, including “All About Jazz” and “the Duke, the Count and the King,” which showcased the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole. “People are always asking me what the theme will be” Wilson confides. “Sometimes I tell them, sometimes I don’t. A little mystery goes a long way.”
Not surprisingly, the final Cabaret of 2023 will be quite the extravaganza, and Wilson can’t wait to spill the beans. “This year, we’re having a real treat. Dave Sayer from the Zebra Lounge in Venice will be at the piano playing old and new favorites. He’ll be joined by a Broadway singer, so you can bet there will be a lot of show tunes.”
Fellow Cabaret enthusiast Joan Cox agreed with this concept, and now does all the twinkling lights, balloons and other beautiful touches. “Joan helps crystalize the programs that make our Cabaret so special. We couldn’t do it without her,” Wilson says.
Sometimes, particularly around the Holidays, audience members also share their favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas memory, or a bit of trivia related to the theme of the day. It’s all part of the delightful blend of humor, music, relaxation and camaraderie that are the hallmarks of the Village On The Isle Cabaret. And it’s been a particular delight for the people who make it happen.
“When I moved here, someone asked me who I wanted to be, and my answer was ‘Victor Borge,’” she laughs. “Now I can at least be a foolish imitation.”
“We couldn’t have done this anywhere else!”
One of the best things about life at Village On The Isle is that our management team encourages residents who want to pursue interests, like the Cabaret, that are a little outside the box.
“Even though the Cabaret is a night-time program, Village On The Isle let us do it our way (apologies to Frank Sinatra). And I think it might have been much harder at another retirement community.”
If you’re ready for a fun, secure and maintenance-free life, then start your next act at Village On The Isle. Put down the knitting, the book and the broom and call 941-202-4451 to learn more or schedule your visit.