Comedians, singers, tribute bands, illusionists and more
take to the stage in hopes of being booked to entertain at local retirement
communities. As many as 80 communities stage 10 to 15 shows each winter
The audience applauds during an entertainment showcase at the Valencia Falls community, west of Delray Beach. Ten entertainers performed in the afternoon and evening with each session drawing nearly 500 people.
Stephani Parker, a cruise ship singer, flew from Las Vegas to perform at the Moss showcase. She belted out Whitney Houston songs and drew a standing ovation.
Jacki Spiegel, of Valencia Pointe, said her community finds very good talent by attending the showcases.
At Valencia Cove, entertainment committee member Marcy Gever said she will likely attend all 10 of the showcases. It is a way to make sure your shows have a good variety. “You do not want to have all singers or comedians.”
Gever said committee members were texting back and forth while Parker sang. “We all agreed we wanted her,” Gever said. “Before she was finished, the committee chair worked through Moss to tentatively book Parker for next year. You need to work quickly as other communities are going to make offers as well.”
Performing in the showcases can be stressful. Singers like Parker have less than a half-hour to rehearse with a house band. Only so many will get offers.
The performers want as many bookings as possible. Entertainers that are a staple of the circuit can appear at 20 to 30 communities during a three-month span in the winter.
Howard Rapp, of the NYK-RAPP agency, introduced the Modern Gentlemen, formerly backup singers for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, at a showcase. The group is doing an 18-show run this year, Rapp said. This past summer, they performed at the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City.
Billie Wells, of Wells Entertainment, staged a showcase on Nov. 13 at Huntington Lakes, west of Delray Beach. The acts included a Simon & Garfunkel tribute duo who performed hits from the iconic folk-rockers’ 1981 Central Park concert. Other entertainers included an illusionist, a comedian and the Unreachable Stars, a group led by Jeremy Stolle, who is a “Phantom of the Opera” cast member. The Unreachable Stars appeared at a Wells’ showcase six years ago. Stolle said he passed up a tour in China to appear at this year’s showcase.
“That is how important the showcases are,” he said. “They are awesome.” The Unreachable Stars will perform 20 shows this winter. “We all look forward to January and February in South Florida.”
Comedian Cory Kahaney was well-received at the Wells’ showcase. She remarked that she has appeared at Century Village. “The crowd here looks like a junior prom.”
Then she ended her stint by telling the audience certain things you never hear in Delray Beach:
Remember the tattoo parlor.
I’ll have it exactly the way the chef prepares it.
It’s fine if they raise the assessment.