And they rarely gain weight, Markowitz says, during the three-month hot-weather break when most travel, visit grandchildren and pursue such passions as golf. Although, he admits, a certain amount of the “body shift” that’s part and parcel of nearly every post-50 physique may materialize periodically.
The entertainers spent their earlier decades as “superhumans” in terms of skill, energy, flexibility and athleticism, says Markowitz, and now they’ve slowed down only enough to be regarded as “almost superhuman.” Injuries and sick days are no more common among them than among performers one-third their age, he says.
“They’re the survivors of a generation of singers and dancers,” Markowitz says. “The ones that are left are extraordinarily impervious to rust.”
And they cling fiercely to the stage, never resting on yesterday’s reviews or performance. “The thing I love above just about everything else is when someone who’s been coming to the show every year for several years says to me, ‘You get better every year,’” says Bell.
Each August, at the end of the annual hiatus, the performers must rehearse eight hours a day for the new production unveiled in October. Every number, every costume, all the music is different from the season before. But this isn’t a source of dread.
“It’s great fun to start from scratch and learn all over again,” says Naber.
There’s probably no explaining how they all keep at it year after year. “We just do what we know and love,” says Naber. And “God and the follies willing, I’ll be doing it for a lot longer.”
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Sharon L. Peters is a writer in Colorado Springs, Colo.