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As a long-time volunteer at The Kate, Vivian Partridge has had the chance to see many talented performers take the stage. On Thursday, May 10, she’s taking her time in the spotlight with “One Moment in Time.” (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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Vivian Partridge loves the performing arts and says she has always wanted to do a real show with on a real stage with professional lights and talented performers. So, when the opportunity to produce her own concert at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook arose, Vivian, who also volunteers at the center, jumped at the chance.
“It’s just a big check off my bucket list,” Vivian says.
Vivian says the Thursday, May 10 show, “One Moment in Time,” will consist of Broadway show tunes and some light pop music. Vivian will perform alongside Tony Carrano, Kacey Elfstrom, and Laura Thoma under the direction of Shari Wilcox and with arrangements by Tom Briggs.
In preparing for the event next month, Vivian says “the hardest thing for me was getting the arrangements done. Working on the technical stuff like making sure everyone ends at the same time and that you’re in range.
“It’s not something you think about doing karaoke,” Vivian adds with a chuckle. “I’m very excited. It’s so different than anything else I’ve done.”
While the ensemble performance part is new, Vivian has been taking her voice studies seriously for years. A club performer in her 20s, she more recently began taking music lessons at the Community Music School in Centerbrook after one of her fellow volunteers at the Kate told her “it’s the place to go.”
Vivian moved to Westbrook in 2001 after a long career in the medical field in New York City. After moving to town, she began volunteering at the Kate as an usher. After a while she was asked to be a house manager at the theater, and eventually accepted.
As a house manager, Vivian does a little bit of everything from opening up the doors and setting up the bar to instructing the ushers on what do to do.
“I do a lot of things they don’t have a bartender or someone for,” Vivian says. “I’m kind of like a trouble shooter!” she adds.
The Kate is a performance space dedicated to the famous actress Katherine Hepburn, who lived in Old Saybrook for a period of time. The building has a museum dedicated to Hepburn and hosts various shows in its theater throughout the year.
Vivian only has positive things to say about the Kate and its volunteer opportunities.
“Oh, I love the Kate. It’s like a mini theater,” says Vivian. “It’s just a fabulous place to volunteer. Not to mention, the people are great. Some of the patrons have become my friends, I know them by name.”
Vivian has high praise for the wider variety of shows the Kate is able to provide to the public, as well as “the atmosphere.”
“All the stuff is so fascinating,” Vivian says.
Vivian says she has always had an interest in the arts, and when she first moved to New York she had hoped to become a dancer, but at that time, even though she was only in her mid-20s, she was considered too old. Vivian also had grown up singing in folk groups, and took voice classes for a time in Manhattan.
“I sung at some clubs on the East Side for a while and it was a lot of fun,” Vivian says. “Then my career took off and that was that.”
Vivian originally grew up in Rocky Hill with her one sister and five brothers. While she was growing up, her mother had a consistent message for her: She had to “have a career and not just a job”. Vivian says that during this time period, there were “very small choices” for careers for women.
After she spent some time volunteering at Hartford Hospital, Vivian decided she like it. Vivian eventually moved to New York where she oversaw an emergency room, and later worked for an HMO.
“The emergency room was a place for an adrenaline junkie,” Vivian says. “I saw a lot of the worst cases.”
That intense pace was great, for a while.
“Once you get into your 30s, you don’t wan to run around so much,” Vivian adds.
Vivian is still seeing patients as a nurse now, albeit in a much calmer environment. Vivian is a part-time nurse at the Oxford Academy, an all-boys boarding school in Westbrook.
“I figured it’s a good little retirement job,” says Vivian.
As for hobbies and interests outside of the Kate and Oxford Academy, Vivian has to pause to think, and even asks rhetorically, “Do I have spare time?”
One thing is for sure: You won’t catch her at home.
“I do not sit at home,” Vivian says.
Vivian volunteers her time working the polls at elections and enjoys reading and doing crafts, particularly making ornaments in the winter.
“I seem to be busy all the time,” Vivian says.
“One Moment in Time,” an evening of Broadway tunes and light pop songs featuring Vivian Partridge with friends Tony Carrano, Kacey Elfstrom, and Laura Thoma, directed by Shari Wilcox with arrangements by Tom Briggs, is a special volunteer presentation of the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook, on Thursday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $8, are available at 860-510-0453 or www.katharinehepburntheater.org.
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