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A showcase of seasoned talent

February 01, 2006|By By Lauren Hilgers

Before taking the stage on Monday, Pauline Blake took a moment to adjust her purple boa.

It was just the thing to compliment a rendition of "Hello Dolly".

Blake was one of the main attractions at the Joslyn Adult Center's biannual Senior Superstar Showcase -- an event where stars must have at least 55 years of experience.

"People who are entertainers want to entertain," said the event's organizer Marie Burnet. "This gives them a chance."

The showcase gives seniors a venue to perform for their peers, she said. The jokes they make and songs they perform come from a time when Elvis was king and Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House.

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"This is your hit parade," announced Burnet to the crowd.

Burnet started the event six years ago, and has been attracting a packed crowd ever since. This year all the participants in the show received certificates of appreciations from state Assemblyman Dario Frommer and state Sen. Jack Scott.

To make the show such a success, Burnet is constantly on the lookout for talent.

"She saw one of my shows and asked me to come down," said Vince Micelli, 74, who has been crooning jazz standards since the 50s.

"I was singing at the Coconut Grove when I was 21," he said.

Marilyn Shevitz, a singer and composer, said she came across an entry form while attending a sing-along class at the center.

"I handed it in to the front desk and thought, 'If I get a call -- great!'" she said.

The show attracts performers with decades of performing experience as well as those who have only recently found a passion for entertaining.

Fred Henley, who came as part of the Tuttle Square Dancers, said he's been practicing the dance for only one year.

"I love Burbank, and I love this center," he said. "I love this dancing because it clears your head -- you don't have time to think about anything other than what the man is calling out."

It is almost as exhilarating as riding a motorcycle, Henley added.

The event also helps seniors find other places to exercise their talents.

Shevitz, along with her friend Arnie Gordon, are part of a musical club that hosts meetings for musicians at the homes of local residents.

"Now we meet at least once a week," Gordon said. "We call it a hoot, which is short for a hootenanny."

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