Will Yancey sang and pranced like The King.
Beneath a gleaming overhead light and vaulted ceiling still decorated with icicle lights and shimmering snowflakes, he punctuated the words of “Don’t Be Cruel” by dancing Elvis-like across the raised stage at Rainbow Village RV Resort, just south of State Road 54 in Zephyrhills, Fla.. according to the Tampa Tribune.
Lampooning the ravages of age, he grabbed at a phantom back spasm and tugged at an imaginary hamstring pull. More than 250 people, most of them residents at the retirement community, clapped enthusiastically and sang along.
In less time than it takes to say, “Thank you, thank you very much,” Yancey was onto Eddy Arnold’s “Make the World Go Away.” By the end of the first verse, he had climbed down from the stage and was on his knees, crooning to a smiling woman seated in a folding chair.
“Do you remember when you loved me?” Yancey sang, his silver bolo tie glittering in the light.
The crowd laughed.
According to Sue Flynn, manager of the RV park, Wednesday night’s crowd, although it practically filled the community clubhouse, was a little light.
“We still have some residents who aren’t down here yet, and we have some people in the hospital,” she said. “What we do here is done at a lot of resorts, but we’re even getting people from other cities.”
Jim and Lynne Cummings, for instance, drove from Valrico to attend Yancey’s show. It’s a trip they make monthly.
“We like the variety of entertainment and the people here are great,” Jim Cummings said. “We’ve been coming here for years. We don’t stay here, but they’ve said that as long as there’s space, we’re welcome.”
On Yancey, who performed songs by Conway Twitty, Ronnie Milsap, Charlie Rich and a host of others, he added: “This guy is really good. He could probably go to Las Vegas as a single headliner.”
Flynn and the others at Rainbow Village seemed to take great pride in their entertainment, much like officials at similar nearby communities, such as Betmar Acres and Gem Estates Mobile Home Park, which have continuously provided entertainment to their residents for years.
Last month, for example, Betmar Acres hosted ballroom and holiday-themed dances. The community has its own chorus and dance clubs, and has even presented one-act plays.
Last week, Gem Estates hosted a variety show starring “Carol and Jonnie,” a duo from Branson, Mo. Through the years, the community has presented entertainers as diverse as Homer Noodleman, who sang like Elvis, talked like Miss Piggy and played guitar, banjo, clarinet, accordion, penny whistle, piano, and tenor and alto saxophones.
At Rainbow Village, Flynn said she has been manager for 14 years and coordinated entertainment the entire time. She said she finds many of the resort’s acts by simply “going to different (entertainment venues) and making friends.”
Four more shows in the community are scheduled through March, a time when many communities for older residents scale back entertainment.
“After March, a lot of people start returning home to do their taxes,” Flynn said of seasonal residents. “We start up again in November and December every year with Thanksgiving and Christmas shows.”
On Wednesday night, Yancey performed for about two hours.
Resident Richard Stickler said he enjoyed the show, even as he was working security.
“It means a lot to the residents” to have entertainment, Stickler said. “It’s a way to get out and get to know everybody, you know?”
Yancey did a song by Hank Williams Sr., sang early 1950s rock ‘n’ roll and belted out the Brooks & Dunn classic, “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” while nearly a dozen people line-danced down an aisle.
Not long after taking the stage, Yancey performed Joe Nichol’s “What’s A Guy Gotta Do,” featuring the lines:
“What’s a guy gotta do to get a girl in this town?
“Don’t wanna be alone when the sun goes down”
When the song was over, Yancey asked the crowd: “So, just what does a guy have to do to get a girl in this town?”
“They’re all taken!” one woman hollered.
“No, they’re not!” called another.
Laughter filled the room.