in 2021 we are
July 23, 2021
Celebrating Aging Through the Performing Arts

 Since it is still July, we are remembering our entries in the 4th of July Parades in Ames. That is due to Kitty Fisher, who promoted the idea and got us signed up every year.  Steve Bellin and Skip Walter would go down to Ames Ford Lincoln and borrow a vehicle and that gave some of the performers a chance to ride the route along with the sturdy walkers.  Al Ravenscroft was always the star with his jump rope. (The rest of us could hardly walk that far and here he was skipping along!) 

We made sure the large SVS advertising banner was ready, and John and Jane Jacobson would lead the way with it, and then go stake it along Grand Avenue for the rest of the summer.  We had candy to throw, and one year Ronnie Lindeman blew gigantic bubbles.  But I think our favorite walk was the year that we had the food theme, “Lettuce Entertain You!” Skip Walter and Kay Berger dressed as chefs and then prepared a “lettuce” salad picnic at the bandshell for all the SVS participants! This group really knows how to party! 

We are so grateful for all these good memories! Happy summer!

Hint for this week's featured Senior Showcase video performance:
Golly!! July is hot! How about some September weather?

Who is the featured singer?
Make your best guess and hit the hot linked SVS You Tube Channel below to see this week’s Senior Showcase Video and answer (it’s already posted!!)
Answer: Richard Wood!
 “Keeping Up With Folks ”
Let’s read how some folks have been spending their time these past months 

Mary Jo Johnson: “I have been enjoying my bicycling, reading books and taking daily walks. My two cats walk with me. Some people walk dogs; I walk cats. I don’t need a leash either. They just walk right behind me. As a member of Northminster Presbyterian Church I do pastoral care which I feel is very important.
Pat Severson: “ I keep busy doing a lot of things. I like to visit family and friends over the summer and soon will be taking a trip to Minnesota. I love gardening and have worked in my garden a lot. The flowers are beautiful. My Mahjongg group as started up again and that is lots of fun. I am part of a Bible study group that has been meeting for over forty years.
You can send your quarantine projects and ideas to us at and we will share. Building community one project at a time.
Spotlight article: Keith Wirtz, SVS 1st Director"

Question: Going back to when you began your association with the Senior Variety Show, who came to you and asked you to become an active part of the show?  It was probably Cay Peet that very first year. As luck would have it, I had a good friend and college professor, Frank Brandt, who had attended a senior variety show in Branard, MN.  He brought back a videotape of the show and a manual of how the community college there produced it.  We used that as a starting place!
Question: What is your theater background?  I graduated from ISU in 1974, majoring in speech and theater.  While in school I was a part-time costumer which eventually led me to help with the Utah Shakespearean Festival for two years, and then to MURST (Memorial Union Resident Summer Theater) where I directed, performed, waited tables, tended the bar… the works!   I had been involved with Ames Children Theatre, ACTORS, and ISU Theater through the years before Senior Variety Show came knocking.
Did you have a favorite role during those years? It was probably when I was cast as one of the fathers in Fantastics, or the role of Seymour in The Little Shop of Horrors.
Question: What was your responsibility when you joined the Senior Variety Show?  Were there committees like the current production and creative teams to help get the show up and running?   I was asked to be the director of the first show.  In those first years there were only five of us putting it together. with Betty Boccella and Cay Peet heading the project. Chuck and I auditioned the performers and then met for a few lunches at the Broiler to decide the show order. 
 Question: What do you remember most about your first year of directing? We really hoped we could fill at least half the auditorium for the one production, and surprise! It was packed! And they had to turn people away at the door!
We only had about 8 individual or group acts so everyone did two or three numbers.  There was no time limit because we needed to fill up the show.  But it wasn’t too many years later that Chuck instituted the 3 minute rule because the word had spread and more people wanted to audition. My motto was: If you were interested in being on stage, I was interested in having you on stage… so we made room!

Question:  How many shows were you involved with?   I directed the first seven shows and then passed the baton to Mark Forbis but continued to help with almost every show thereafter. I continued to give input at the planning meetings and helped with the staging of the show itself.  In 2017 I came back to co-direct “Feelin’ Groovy! with Betty Boccella.

Question: At what point did you realize that there was no stopping this show?   After the first two years we began to realize, Holy Smokes, this is bigger than any of us thought!
Question: Who were some of the key people who inspired you during your first years with the show? Oh, ALL the performers! That is like being asked to pick a favorite child! Definitely Cay Peet and Chuck Jones, and Ireta Knapp who was the 90 year old pianist who played for the preshow entirely by ear,  Jim Okey, and Bob and Marilynn Curry, the college sweethearts who sang those beautiful duets.    And there was Bonnie Schaupper. She always asked me what to wear and I would say “anything sparkly!” “What shoes?”  “What do you have?”  “Well, I have red shoes.” “Then by all means wear red shoes!”
Question:  What has been your favorite show theme?  I really enjoyed the USO theme and Irving Berlin. I was my idea to have it “snow” for the finale of “White Christmas.” After searching country wide, we borrowed the used snow from the local Nutcracker production, and it came with feathers and sequins!
Question: Every director has stressful moments in working a show.  Do you remember any such times?  With so many acts, there are lots of moving parts….so it was always juggling the lights, sound, music, keeping everybody happy, safe, and helping them have the best performance and experience they could have.  Because of the age of the performers I wanted to be respectful of people’s time and endurance so we managed with only two rehearsals that show week. That in itself is stressful!  
Question: Were there special relationships that developed during the years with the show that have a place forever in your heart?  Well, being able to hand off the show to Mark Forbis who I’d known since days at the Maintenance Shop. I knew from observation that he was capable of directing the show and had the musical talent to go with it. I appreciated watching the show continue under his directorship for the next 15 years and enjoyed working with him.
Question: Is there a memorable moment from a show that has remained with you all these years? It had to be singing the duet with Chuck Jones when I turned 60.  We dressed as farmers and sang, “Plant a Radish” from Fantastics.
I was only 40 when the show began. So I was amazed that the show lasted long enough for me to reach the golden age of 60 to be in it!  (Now I am amazed that I’m here to tell this tale!)
Anything else you would like to share? Well, I’m still performing.  I sing with a men’s chorus in Des Moines and thought last year might be my swan song; but COVID hit and moved things back and now I find myself still at it!
Thank you, Keith Wirtz, for being a knowledgeable, creative “founding father” for the Senior Variety Show and for caring about the show and its special performers all these years!


Also take a look at and embrace the information on the flyer below. Share it with many others and partake at your favorite event. Enjoy SVS “Musical Telegrams”!!! Give us a call soon!
Newsletter humor by Steve Bellin:

Q: What do you call a blind dinosaur?
A: Do-you-think-he-saurus?
Q: What do you call a sleeping dinosaur?
A: A bronto-snore-us.
Q: What do you call a dinosaur that steps on everything in its way?
A: Tyrannosaurus wrecks.
Q: Why do dinosaurs have wrinkles in their knees?
A: They stayed in the swimming pool too long!
 *Riddle: What other animal gets pruney when in water too long? Human -O - Saurus!*


  “ MUSICAL TELEGRAMS”!! Call and sign up!!