Two dozen seniors are sitting on grey metal folding chairs in a community center gymnatorium in Northampton, Massachusetts. A couple of people are falling asleep, the rest are looking over their large-print lyric sheets trying to follow along as their wiry-haired choir director leads them in a new song for their upcoming concert. Their upcoming rock concert.
It's just another rehearsal for the Young@Heart Chorus, a group of 70- to 90-somethings who offer older perspectives on new rock songs, such as The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" and Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia." It's the latter that members are puzzling over today as 53-year-old director Bob Cilman tries to explain his vision for the trippy tune.
The senior singers, most of them fans of classical and opera, don't get it, but they follow their leader just the same. After all, this is the man who introduced many of them to music CDs and who's led them on multiple European tours, including a performance for the king and queen of Norway.
Stephen Walker's documentary follows Bob and his Young@Heart choir for the seven weeks leading up to their Alive and Well concert, a sold-out, one-night-only show in their Massachusetts hometown. We watch these singers, aged 74 to 92, carpool to and from practice, wrestle with health problems, struggle to get in the 71 can's in Allen Toussaint's "Yes We Can Can," practice at home by singing along to music videos, perform music videos of their own to The Ramones' "I Want to Be Sedated" and the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive," iron their shirts and lace up their orthopedic shoes before a performance, and discuss the eclectic mix of songs in their repertoire.
Along the way, we meet several of the more colorful choir members, including Eileen, ...1
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