Some of the greatest stars the music world has ever known descended on Homeland on the final Friday of 2017. Residents heard from The Supremes, Doris Day, Michael Jackson, and the Chairman of the Board himself – Frank Sinatra, singing some of his greatest hits.
Of course, the legendary performers were just there in spirit, but Homeland Center’s first Lip Sync Battle featured great performances that drew plenty of laughs and great memories.
Contestants impersonated the artists singing popular songs or staged their own versions and featured residents, staff, volunteers, and even children from a local child care.
First-floor skilled care residents and staff donned homemade nun habits and smiled broadly as they sang the version of “Hail Holy Queen” made famously funky in the Whoopi Goldberg movie, “Sister Act.” Ellenberger Unit residents and staff bopped their hands to “Rock Around the Clock.”
A group of residents and staff calling themselves “The Wedding Singers” offered a nuptial tableau. Resident Larry Smith played a parson to real-life married couple Raymond and Betty Caldwell, while Activity Coordinator Dee Smith and volunteers Martha Morgan and Angie Murray wore matching bridesmaids’ headpieces. Their song? “Chapel of Love,” of course. At the end, Ray kissed his bride under a shower of confetti.
Resident Phoebe Berner took the stage for a solo act to the song that made Doris Day famous, “Sentimental Journey.” When the song reached the lyric, “Got my bag, got my reservation,” Doris/Phoebe picked up a bag from her side. As she sauntered off the stage, she took off her scarf and waved it to the delighted audience.
And then, the familiar “hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo” introduction of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” began, and in strutted the Gloved One himself. Actually, it was Activities Assistant Director Gillian Sumpter dressed in a black wig and red jacket. Her energetic dance moves, including interaction with residents circled on the floor, expertly mimicked Jackson’s leg kicks and even his signature moonwalk.
When Gillian finished, her 6-year-old daughter Maliah took the stage, executing intricate dance moves, splits, and tumbles that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd. Where did Maliah learn those moves?
“From her mama,” Gillian said after the show. “That’s all she does at home – shake it up, shake it up.”
Where did Gillian learn her moves?
“From my mama,” she said.
A resident passing by smiled when she saw Gillian, now out of costume. “Oh, you crazy thing!” she said.
The show concluded with guest artist Norman Spangler’s Frank Sinatra tribute. The Lebanon, PA-born singer first saw Sinatra perform in 1966 at The Sands in Las Vegas.
“When I went to Frank’s grave, I said, ‘Frank, you’re going to be my backup singer,’” Spangler joked. “The ground starts shaking, and I got the heck out of there real fast.”
Then, he launched into such Sinatra standards as “Love and Marriage,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” and of course, “New York, New York.”
Volunteer Martha Morgan said she appreciated the interactive enjoyment for residents. Activity Coordinator Dee Smith noted that the event engaged residents from every corner of Homeland – personal care, skilled care, and dementia care.
“Loved it!” she said. “I hope we can do it again next year and maybe grow it a little bit each year. There was quite a bit of participation, and everyone had fun.”