At 80, Amateur Talent Scout Can’t Stop Planning Productions

By: Karen Chaney

As a child in Taiwan, Teresa Yu set up a unique barter system.

“I’d hear popular songs on the radio, and I’d tell friends to sing parts, and if they followed my commands, they got candy,” the amateur talent scout recalled.

She branched into stage direction, tweaked the the Chinese translation of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and asked her grammar school classmates to read her rewrites.

Her affinity for performing arts has kept her company all her life, and as she kicks off her eighth decade, she looks to her peers at the Edgemere Retirement Community to sustain her creative spirit.

Drawn by its Tuscan architecture, range of care options, and proximity to her son’s family in Richardson, Yu moved there in August 2018 but soon noticed a void.

Gena Gray belly dances during the 2022 Edgemere Follies. (Photo: Courtesy Edgemere)

“When I came here, every Tuesday, we had a program, maybe a lecturer or an outside performer,” Yu said. “I thought, ‘This is very passive. Why don’t we just start a show by the residents for the residents?’”

She developed an Edgemere Follies variety show and recruited participants by approaching co-members of Edgemere Choir and posting a casting call sheet on the community bulletin board.

When people seemed unsure about their talents being stage-worthy, Yu rebutted, “Don’t worry about it. Since we don’t charge people, they can’t ask for their money back.”

The first year was a rollicking success, and Yu was happily planning the 2020 show when the pandemic prompted a pivot to video.

By 2021, the show was live again, and Yu invited Edgemere team members to perform, too.

With the 2022 show in the books, Yu has begun brainstorming and scouting talent for next year. 

When residents or staff members cross Yu’s path, she imagines them in her next production. 

“I’m going to ask him to be in the show,” she said, leaning forward in a conspiratorial whisper, as a potential cast member walked by during an interview this summer. “I thought he could sing Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof.” 

Yu said that although she is getting older by the minute, the show must go on. “I thought, ‘I’m 80; I’m too old to do this,’ but I really cannot stop myself.”

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