By Larry Blustein
HOLLYWOOD - It was less than a half hour before showtime last Sunday night and Edina McGrath was running around trying to make sure that this year would be the best ever.
At the vibrant age of 87, McGrath is the director, producer, choreographer and founder of what has become a late spring/early summer ritual at the YMCA in Hollywood.
From the start of the year - back in early January - McGrath was busy casting, planning and getting the word out about the Fifth Annual Snappy Seniors Talent Showcase. Once again, the true star of the show, did an outstanding job as hundreds packed into the gymnasium to watch nearly two hours of mind-boggling talent on display.
"This is the best event they have ever hosted," said Robert Klein, who has come to all five of these neighborhood productions. "The talent was outstanding and things went very smoothly all night."
Indeed, a production of this nature does not happen over night - and many hours had been put in by McGrath and several others who range in age from the early 50s to the late 80s.
The theme of this year's talent extravaganza was "Cruising Around The World" - and it was evident from Master of Ceremonies John Fell's airline uniform that this was going to be a world-wide evening of travel and song from throughout the world.
As McGrath and Vince Zappone started the night off with "Let's Get Away From It All," favorites such as the cast performing "Cumbia Latin Fiesta" (Colombia) and a tremendous performance by Ricardo Ribeiro, who belted out "Because We Believe" (Italy) - and visited such places as Ireland, South Pacific, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Israel, Mediterranean and the United States.
"I cannot say enough about this show," Dania Beach resident Meridyth Tanner explained. "I came to watch my neighbor and was really blown away by all this talent. This was really something very special."
From performers Cecile Dery and Roger Gamble, who excited the crowd with his Elvis selections, to Georgette Bannon, Gina Allchin, Rosa Maria Diaz, Denise Florea, Brenda Fletcher, Tony Herrera, Nurys Javier and Laura La Torella, everyone was impressed.
Todd Kant's annual rendition of "You Raise Me Up" brought the crowd to their feet - as did the huge voice of Jon Villars, who sang "Younger Thank Springtime" (South Pacific) and Nessun Dorma (Italy).
Along the way, those who came out were also entertained by talented Elissa Levine, Janetta Pasquale, Maria Parotti, Sonia Salazar, Samuel Salva, Kit Salva, Sandy Samuels, Nick Sanchero, Ralph Squeglia, Norma Zumaeta, Willie Citelli and Rachel Menton.
"What an outstanding cast we had this year," McGrath said. "Behind the scenes people such as Margarita Bursurto, Lynn Friedman, Pushpa Khurana, Eddie Adams, Jeffrey Menton, Ian Combrinck-Graham, Joshua Morales and Catherine Shapiro were huge to this production."
In addition, choreographers such as Vanessa Russo, Lenora Li Puma and Lisa Kerr truly made the production special.
As McGrath and the cast mingled with those who came out to support them on this night, talk was already centered on 2016 and what great voices and dance numbers we would all see!