JCC Showtime performers in action, left to right: Nassa Selwyn, Jocelyne Hallé, Marshall Berger, Dawn Hurwitz, Daniella Givon, Debbie Cossover and Arnold Selwyn. (photo by Binny Goldman)
Sunshine and song greeted the 120 people who gathered to enjoy a BBQ lunch and watch the sensational JCC Showtime perform on June 27 at Congregation Beth Tikvah.
Toby Rubin, executive director of the Kehila Society of Richmond, welcomed everyone and explained the event’s agenda. She then highlighted two of the society’s outstanding volunteers, Stacey Kettleman, who at one time had been co-president with Rubin, and Sylvia Yasin, a 90-year-old dynamo who had directed the set up of the whole room.
Marilyn Berger, president of the Jewish Seniors Alliance, which partnered with Kehila to present the afternoon’s program, noted that it was the fourth and final session in this year’s Empowerment series. The lunch’s theme, “A smile on your face – a song in your heart,” was brought to fruition through the dedicated efforts of Gyda Chud and Shanie Levin. The food – salads, beef and vegetarian burgers, fruit and chocolate cake – was catered by Kettleman and her staff.
JCC Showtime’s Debbie Cossover explained that the troupe consisted of volunteer performers who have been together 13 years, with their next show making a total of 200 performances so far. The group was created by Beryl Israel, who immigrated from South Africa in 2002; he had been involved with a similar group there and was inspired to establish one here.
The afternoon’s program began with Marshall Berger singing “Showtime,” accompanied by the group’s pianist, Muriel Morris, and aided by sound technician Gary Zumer. The crowd was transported down memory lane with nostalgia-laced songs such as “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” complete with suitcase; Cossover’s foot-stomping rendition of “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun”; heart-tugging duets by Arnold and Nassa Selwyn, which included “Together,” “Do You Love Me?” from Fiddler on the Roof and the particularly crowd-pleasing “I Remember It Well.”
The “Hello, Dolly!” number charmed the audience, as well, as it actually included a visit from “Dolly,” a life-size doll that danced in the arms of Berger and Selwyn, both men vying for her attention. Another fun number was a chorus of cowgirls sequence, which required precisely timed twists and turns. And “Tzena Tzena” and “Hava Nagilah” set everyone’s hands to clapping, as the audience joined in with Berger and Selwyn on the last stop on a world tour of songs.
Clever costumes, with outfit changes accomplished in mere minutes, and intricate choreography achieved the illusion of instant scene changes and delighted the audience, which showed its appreciation by loud, sustained applause.
Rubin remarked in thanking the performers that she doesn’t mind growing old now that she has seen what seniors can accomplish. She noted that audience members were from the Weinberg Residence, Louis Brier Home and Hospital, L’Chaim Adult Day Centre, Jewish Seniors Alliance and, of course, Kehila Society.
Attendees left wanting more – some smiling, some singing – all buoyed by the afternoon’s session. I’m still humming.
Binny Goldman is a member of the Jewish Seniors Alliance of Greater Vancouver board.