In patriotic hats, hula skirts, feather boas, flowers, jewelry and sparkles, a cast of 25 seniors will stage the Hollywood YMCA’s first Snappy Seniors Fun Follies Show on Sunday.
The mini Broadway show’s cast of seniors, ages 55 to 92, has been rehearsing more than three months for what they say is the greatest show the YMCA has ever presented.
“We have some snappy seniors who refuse to sit down and do nothing with the rest of their lives,” said Edina McGrath, who came up with the idea, is producing, directing, choreographing and participating in the show. “We want to bring happiness and joy, and share our talents with other people.’’
The show, which runs about two hours, will feature 27 numbers including a patriotic march to You’re a Grand Old Flag, a Caribbean calypso, New York New York, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, and others.
“Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to be in the show business,” said Marie Tito, who will be performing six numbers. “This gave me the opportunity to make my dreams come true. At this stage of the game I thought this would never happen.”
This is the first time that every member of the cast but one, will be participating in a Broadway performance. They except a full house in the 350-seat YMCA, mainly friends, family and fellow seniors.
“My daughter is coming from Texas to see me,” said Gracelyn Ferguson, who will solo with Somewhere Over the Rainbow. “This will be something that I can put in my memoirs after I finish.”
McGrath had been organizing shows for the past eight years at her senior mobile-home community, but after her retirement last year she joined the YMCA and met a group of active seniors.
She brought the idea of a mini Broadway to YMCA coordinators after realizing that some of them were bored. When she got the green light, she began casting the program and scheduling two hour rehearsals, three times a week.
She choreographed the songs with simple, easy-to-follow steps and encouraged her cast to bring out their natural talents.
“At first I didn’t want to do it but then I decided to do my Hawaiian dance,” said Joan Haring, who will perform the hula. “It became fun. I got to teach the other ladies and I sing all the old songs.’
One sure crowd pleaser is bound to be the Ziegfield Girls, who will dance to A Pretty Girl in long gowns and fancy jewelry, designed to showcase their glamour and grace.
“We are going to show the world what a woman really is,” McGrath said. “It won’t be one of those old variety shows with a bunch of old ladies. There are going to be a lot of surprises.”
In the past moths cast has become a family. They have made the YMCA their home, a safe place to meet others, exercise and spend their days.
“I like the sociability of this. People like me that are getting older, need to be around younger people and around good influence,” said Eleanor Lowery, the oldest member of the cast. “At 92, I thank God that I am able to do this.”
The nerves, the excitement and the expectation comes down to Sunday’s performance, but above all, the seniors will enjoy showcasing what they have been diligently practicing for months. The YMCA and the seniors hope to make this an annual activity to incorporates the seniors and the community.
“We want the world to know that seniors are very important,” McGrath said. “Seniors have all the time in the world so we want to encourage them to use their talent, get up, move, dance, rejoice and sing!”