It's never too late to take centre stage

A hint of drama has arrived at a Bupa Aged Care in Traralgon... A not-so-young girl in a red cape is on the run from a wolf, while a dastardly doctor and a wicked witch watch on with glee.

It may not sound quite like the fairy tale from your childhood, however, the producer and director of ‘The Saga of Little Red Riding Hood and Co’ hopes the tale is just as (if not more) entertaining for both the audience and the cast alike.

Bupa Recreation Activity Officer, Jennifer Delicato’s competitive spirit was awoken when she discovered that a neighbouring nursing home had won the region’s mature aged talent quest “Yallambie’s Got Talent,” last year.

“I thought, that’s it! We’re going to give them a run for their money this year,” she tells speaking from the “rehearsal room” in the Victorian aged care home.

There was no audition process as such, with Jennifer inviting all who wanted to take part in the fun to get involved. She even convinced a few who weren’t sure if they were ready to tread the boards.

“It was really just for anyone who wanted to be part of it,” she admits.

The wolf in red riding hood
“We took the story of Little Red Riding Hood and adapted it to make it more entertaining for the audience.”

The production’s leading lady, Pat Campbell, plays Little Red Riding Hood. She has been a resident at Traralgon since it opened 18 months ago and her foray into theatre has taken her by surprise.

“I never thought I’d be doing this,” says Pat. “I think I must have just got caught up in all of the enthusiasm!”
Aged care residents in costume for play
The cast rehearses once a week and had a dress rehearsal on Friday 16th December. 

Above everything, the cast of six were looking forward to showing their families what they’ve been up to, because it’s not every day that you get to shine on stage. 

“I think we’ll have been working on it together long enough to feel relaxed,” says Pat who hopes her daughter and four grandchildren will make it to see the show.
Little boy holding up a card
The most senior member of the cast, 93-year-old Fred Walters who plays the ‘Dastardly Devilish Doctor Richard,’ has immersed himself in the play wholeheartedly.

“Fred’s really thrown himself into the play,” says Jennifer. “He’s been really keen on playing the part. The enthusiasm from all of the cast has been great. One of our residents, Shirley, was very shy and didn’t want to play a speaking role but wanted to be involved. She’s playing a tree and helping prompt, but seeing her involved has been wonderful. 

Aged care resident in play
“It’s been really great for all of them as their friendships have grown through the process.”

They may be older than the average starlets, but the cast of the play do not allow that to dampen their humour. 

“We’ve had no facelifts for it,” quips Barb Howse. “I’m playing Red Riding Hood’s mother and she has to give me a kiss. I have no idea how she’ll find me under all of my costume.

 “I then have to move quietly back out of the scene but I’m in an electric wheelchair so I think it’ll be a bit difficult to move quietly,” Barb laughs.

Jennifer has gone above and beyond to create this show. Spending hours creating papier-maché props, sewing together costumes and conducting dress rehearsals. Her dedication and commitment to helping make the residents happy and fulfilled is a really fantastic example of the difference careers make to others. 

And although ‘The Saga of Little Red Riding Hood and Co’ may have begun in the spirit of competition, the production has blossomed into so much more.
Cast of red riding hood
“Someone recently asked me if I would be disappointed if they don’t win, but I’ve already won already,’ she says. “The residents here have been absolutely fantastic, they come every week when they don’t have appointments to attend to. 
 
“To me it’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s been a pleasure. It might not be perfect on the night but it’s going to be fun, and that’s what I want,” tells Jennifer.
 
Sadly, one of the cast, Zelda Gay, passed away and ‘The Saga of Little Red Riding Hood and Co’ will be dedicated to her.
 
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Crowd reaction to the play

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