BWW Review: SENIOR STAR SEARCH a Resounding Success
On Sunday July 12 the Pink Lady Jackie Goldberg and her producer partners Barbara Van Orden and Amanda Blake Secola presented their unique Senior Star Search competition for the very first year 2015 to a sold out crowd at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Barnsdall Park, Hollywood. It was such a resounding success, a real love affair with the public, that hopefully the event will be an annual occurrence. Seniors perform exceedingly well, as well as anyone at any age. Age has nothing to do with talent and drive, a fact which was assuredly proved during the course of this show. All contestants ranged in age from 55 and up with the oldest contestant Nick Pietroforte, age 86. Accompanist for the program was maestro par excellence Ron Snyder.
14 contestants performed, with James Gray serving as Master of Ceremonies. Gray is a brilliant actor and song and dance man who is best known in Los Angeles for his sensational Fruitcake Follies presented every December at the Casita del Campo restaurant in Silverlake.
Gray brought each contestant center stage, announced each one's name and age and then asked a question like What is your fondest memory from a past performance? or Tell us about the time you wanted to pinch yourself so you would remember the excitement of that particular moment. The winner of the competition Sandy Mack age 65, answered her question the best: What would you tell young people today about performing? Her answer? (somewhat like this) Listen to your elders and what they have to say, as they have made valuable contributions and were once in the same position that you find yourself in now. Runner-up to Miss Mack was Terri Olsen, age 58. The other twelve participants were: Lambert Guadez, 55; Lisa Stanley, 57; Ruby Hayes, 62; Phil Jeffrey, 67; Karen La Croix, 67; Dan Collins, 68; Butch Dubarri, 72; David Curtis, 73;Tony Munoz, 76; Sandra Miller-Erkus, 81: Dominick Morra, 82; and Nick Pietroforte, 86, all of them very talented performers...and winners in their own right.
Distinguished judges for the competition were casting agent Michael Donovan, theatre director David Galligan, talent agent Steve Stevens, Sr,, TV director Michael Kelly and Academy Award winning actor George Chakiris. Every performance from the 14 contestants was noteworthy. Sandy Mack essayed a very unusual arrangement of "Over the Rainbow" and Terri Olsen's selection was an earth-shattering rendition of "Come Rain or Come Shine". Other highlights of the afternoon included the presentation of award certificates from Mayor Garcetti's office to Jackie Goldberg, Barbara Van Orden and Amanda Blake Secola for their invaluable commitment to the community organizing Senior Star Search. There was also a Lifetime Achievement Award presented to choreographer Miriam Nelson, about to turn 96, for her continuous commitment to the arts in Hollywood. This is the first Lifetime Award in the very first Senior Star Search competition.
Other memorable contributions for the event came from dancers Joe Giamalva and Susie McGiver Ewing, who performed a little dance while the audience eagerly awaited the announcement of the winner. Celebrity guests included Alison Arngrim, Dawn Wells, Jerome "Ro" Brooks and Lee Purcell.
Stay tuned for details about next year's contest and about a future theatre dedicated to senior artists!
(photo credit: Bill Dow)
(top photo of winner Sandy Mack)