Members of the Versatiles pose for a photo during a break at a rehearsal for a Christmas show in this file photo.

Letter: ‘Versatile’ performers don’t let their talents go to waste

Don’t be one of the forgotten ones, writes Susie Francis, founder of The Versatiles, a Cloverdale troupe of golden-aged performers.

By Susie Francis

It’s not until you sit down at a banquet or a party that the memory of some kind of entertainment that was performed at a convention or gathering comes to your mind and you think, “Why don’t we have entertainment like that any more?”

What people fail to realize is that those entertainers or musicians are senior citizens now, and like you, wonder what they will do with their retirement. In the last couple of years comments like, “I wondered what you were doing?” or “I thought you were dead,” keep cropping up when meeting

performers from a few years ago.

A lot of us had to go out and get a “regular job” to feed the family. When Disco and DJs came along with all the different sounds and songs, and the fact that you didn’t have to pay for a whole band, things changed.

We all became mechanics and salesmen or women, just to make a living. Some of us managed to keep going with the occasional “gig” but unknowingly, a whole style of entertainment was being lost.

I still liked the feeling of performing in front of a live audience and so with some of my retired friends, started up a volunteer performance group called the Versatiles, and we went out and put on full variety shows and sang and danced and made people laugh, as we had in the past.

It has been 10 years and we have had any number of people join and leave and return again because of the fun we have and the joy that we see on the faces of our audiences.

Festivals, hospitals, senior residences and elementary schools have benefited and enjoyed our old style of entertainment. Our oldest member is coming up on 94 and we take anyone who is  retired and over the age of 55.

To celebrate our 10th anniversary we are putting on two special shows on June 13, at Clayton Heights Secondary School. Don’t become one of the forgotten ones, letting your talent go to waste. Always keep a smile on your face and people wonder what you’re up to. You’re only as young as your imagination.

Susie Francis, crazy lady and director of the Society of Versatile Entertainers invites you to come and check us out every Monday at the Cloverdale Legion, 17567 57 Avenue, Surrey, at 12 p.m. or see us in the Rodeo parade. For further information, send a note to Susie at prop-shop@shaw.ca or call 604-613-3116.