BRISTOL - A long running variety show, the Old Members Show, has been a venue for the people of Bristol of all ages to showcase their talents singing, dancing and performing for 76 years.
“The OMs started the show in the 1940s to showcase the talent of Bristol on stage,” Don Coombs, chairman of this year’s OM Show and vice president of the Older Members Association said. “In those days, it was a lot of vaudeville and things you can’t do now with the political correctness of the world.
“The first show took place in the auditorium of the Memorial Boulevard School and it was held there for many years until the 1960s.
“After that, a few shows were held at Bristol Eastern High School and then it moved again to Bristol Central High School. In 2008 the show came to St. Paul Catholic High School, where it has been ever since.”
Coombs said that last year the show celebrated its 75th anniversary with the culmination of its decade-themed performances which were working their way back to the show’s origins in the 1940s.
These shows showcased the music and fashions of a chosen 20th century decade, complete with period costumes and iconic settings such as 1950s diners and USO shows. Each year, the show director chooses a specific theme and this year that theme is “No Place Like Home.”
“We wanted this year’s show to celebrate Bristol and so we have chosen very family-oriented songs that mothers and sons and fathers and daughters can perform together,” said Coombs. “We will bring the children into it more than we’ve done in the past, where they got at most a three-minute number.”
Coombs said that the OM show includes performers ranging from 5 years old to 80 years old. The performer who has been with the show the longest is Donna Lafleur, who has participated in it for the past 30 years.
Alan Stone, president of the Older Members Association and chairman of the 2014 and 2015 OM Show, has performed in it since he was 3 years old. Coombs has been with the show for 10 years.
“The first year that I was involved was very exciting,” he said. “I was working the lighting and I was amazed at the backgrounds and the unique performances that the OMs put together. I come from a theater background so I am always partial to the OM skits. We always keep quiet about exactly what they will be until the night of the show. Not even the directors know. I can say that there will be a lot of good numbers this year and it will be unique to see performers of all ages singing and dancing together. To see that level of choreography and harmony of sound - I think people will really enjoy it.”
Performers have been rehearsing for the show since January, Coombs said. Highlights, he said, will include a popular contemporary song called “Home” performed by teens and an “all girls number” that will close out the show.
The 76th Annual OM Show, organized by the Older Members Association, will be held at the auditorium of St. Paul Catholic High School at 1001 Stafford Ave. this Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The two-hour show will include an intermission. Coombs said that there will be 18 performances and 70 performers altogether. Proceeds will support the Bristol Boys & Girls Club.
Admission to the OM show is a $20 donation to the Bristol Boys & Girls Club, which the Older Members Association is affiliated with, or $15 for the Saturday matinee show or $10 for children.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.