Seniors and youths will come together for “Talent Extravaganza,” an intergenerational talent showcase set for 11 a.m., Saturday, February 26th, at the Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica. Admission is free. Miles Playhouse is located within Christine Reed Park.

“For about the last five years there has been a senior talent show,” says Jaime Nack, Santa Monica’s volunteer program supervisor. “The intergenerational show came about from talks with the leadership at the Police Activities League (PAL) about having kids volunteer to help at the senior show in some way.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity for seniors and youths to interact with each other and spawn more activities in the future.”

She adds that since Miles Memorial Playhouse is dedicated to youth programming it was a natural fit to combine a youth show with this year’s senior talent show.

“We try to make it as professional as possible and give them the feel of actually doing a show,” says Michael Brooke, community services specialist with Santa Monica’s Senior Recreation Center and organizer of the event.

Keeping it on a professional level Brooke holds auditions, a dress rehearsal the day before the show and Joe Traina, who has a production company, volunteers his time as stage manager of the show.

The Police Activities League, which provides educational, cultural, social and recreational programs for Santa Monica youths and students ages six to 17, also held youth talent shows in the past and felt it would be nice to intermix its show with seniors, according Patty Loggins-Tazi, Santa Monica Police Activities League director.

The majority of the 20 or so acts on the bill will be performed by seniors, according to Brooke. “We have a belly dancer, a 70-year-old gymnast who does the splits, singers and a trumpet player,” he says.

Loggins-Tazi says the youths from PAL will contribute about six acts to the show, mostly singing and dancing and all very current and trendy.

Of the seniors Nack says, “Some performers have casting agents come and check out their act, and some have agents. Patti Lapearl has impersonated Zsa Zsa Gabor for the last few years but I think she’s looking for someone new. Patti has an agent.”

Morris Hattem, soon turning 88, will dance a number from the musical Chicago called “All that Jazz.” Hattem teaches line dancing at the Santa Monica Senior Recreation Center and encourages seniors to line dance saying, “Rather than rock in a chair do this and you don’t even need a partner.”

He tried to get his students from the recreation center to dance in the talent show but he said many are too shy and don’t like to be in the limelight.

Hattem, a professional photographer, also spends his time, “motivating elderly people and people with wheelchairs or walkers to dance. How do I do that? Well, I look in their eyes, smile and they smile back, I put some music on, hold them and make them stand up.”

“I get a little high from it and I feel good about it,” he says of his reasons for participating. “Someday, hopefully not too soon, I may be in one of those retirement places, and I hope someone will entertain me as I’ve done.”

Brooke says the intergenerational show allows teens and seniors to mingle. “Seniors in general hesitate to relate with teens due to a lack of exposure beyond grandchildren, and kids have a lot of misunderstandings about seniors and about what they can do. Working together, kids see age doesn’t limit you.”

“The kids find seniors like some of the things they like and start to think that maybe seniors aren’t that old; and seniors are such good mentors,” adds Loggins-Tazi.

Nack expects to see an increased draw due to the youth component of the show.

Hattem suggests that other seniors come over and see what it’s all about so that next time they can come down and do “a little tap dancing, read poetry, anything, just be a part of the scene and it’ll make you feel good.”

Information, (310) 458-8644.

Julie Kirst can be reached at: juliekirst@yahoo.com

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