Care home residents have created the imaginative plot for a new musical show to be performed by a symphony orchestra. .
Professional story teller and French horn player Jacqui Blore, who led the workshop at the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham, said it was ‘amazing’ with the level of enthusiasm far exceeding her expectations.
The plot for the musical involves everything from a romantic meeting between a circus juggler and pizza maker in Italy to a capsized yacht escapade and dramatic rescue. There’s an encounter with 1940s music hall star Dame Gracie Fields on the isle of Capri and the eruption of the volcanic Mount Vesuvius.
The fanciful storyline entirely invented by Pendine Park’s unconventional team will be put to music and performed by a string quartet from Wrexham Symphony Orchestra.
The original idea is a first for Pendine Park where residents are immensely looking forward to hearing the results. The show will take place in the facility’s new day room.
Jacqui, of Wrexham, who runs her own business, Piccolos Music and The Story Teller, said: “I’ve been a story teller for some time now and I can honestly say this is the best session I’ve ever done.
“The ideas were bouncing off the walls. There was a real team spirit, the residents came up with such fun and interesting plot lines and so quickly too. Their enthusiasm was unbelievable. My head is just buzzing. I can’t wait to get home and script it all into a musical format.”
Jacqui plays French horn with Wrexham Symphony Orchestra which launched the experimental workshop initiative in partnership with Sarah Edwards, artist in residence at Pendine Park.
Sarah said: “It’s a really unusual idea and we weren’t quite sure how the workshop would go, especially as it’s the first time we’ve done this. But the residents really took to it, the results were outstanding, everyone had a great time thinking up ideas.
“This project is perfect for us because the arts in general and music in particular are central do daily life at Pendine Park with the aim of enriching the lives of our residents and staff alike.”
About 12 residents took part in the workshop.
Jacqui explained: “It would have been easy for the orchestra to simply come along and perform a concert at Pendine Park but we wanted to make it more interactive and get residents actively involved in the creation of the show.
“The orchestra leaders thought the workshop would give residents a chance to inspire us with storyline ideas for the style of music we will play at the concert. I brought along worksheets with pictures on to give them a start but we really didn’t need them, as they all had such vivid imaginations.
“Often when I do a workshop like this it takes time for the participants to warm up and think of ideas for different characters and their adventures, but this group were exceptionally quick off the mark. From beginning to end it only took 40 minutes, whereas my usual workshops go on for well over an hour.”
Resident Christine Jones, 73, enjoyed thinking of interesting exploits for the characters to get involved in and was delighted that the two main characters in the story were named after her and her husband Colin.
“At first we had Colin as a policeman but then we decided he should give that up and join the circus, travelling the world,” said Christine.
Fellow resident Brian Jones, 69, laughed: “His speciality was juggling a truncheon. We decided he should go with the circus to Italy and buy a pizza during a break from performing, which is where he met the lovely Christine and they fell in love.”
From that point onwards the hero and heroine are involved in all sorts of crazy adventures.
Jacqui said: “They go to a fireworks display on Capri, enjoy a ride on a tandem, then randomly travel to Spain where they get married and have four sons. There’s a topical sub-plot, too, towards the end when they become peaceful political activists in Barcelona, getting involved with Catalonia’s bid for independence. It’s a crazy and diverse story like nothing any of my groups have come up with before.”
Jacqui now has the task of arranging a varied selection of music to suitably reflect the unusual storyline. This will then be rehearsed by Wrexham Symphony Orchestra’s string quartet in readiness for the live show.
Resident Sian Whalley, said: “The workshop was a great idea which had us all putting our thinking caps on. It will be fascinating to hear what Jacqui’s eventual musical arrangement sounds like.”
Jacqui added: “This is the first time we have undertaken a project like this but based on the success of this workshop I can envisage that Pendine Park’s residents could one day come up with a storyline to suit the entire orchestra.”
The orchestra, founded in 1969, has more than 50 members and is currently performing a series of concerts in aid of dementia charities. It recently donated £3,000 to Wrexham and Flintshire Memory Services at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.