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Talent is ageless, performers prove

Comedy, song, dance. The Good Life Games Senior Talent Show has it all - and it is free.


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 24, 2000

LARGO -- Talent doesn't fade when your hair turns gray.

That was apparent Thursday at the Largo Community Center, when silver-haired singers, dancers and the Largo Senior Kitchen Band entertained about 500 people, mostly seniors, at the fifth annual Good Life Games Senior Talent Show. Whether it was the way she told the slightly risque jokes about "senior moments" or her bubbly personality, Pat Pennachio, 78, of Largo garnered the most laughter.

She told about a grandmother "who was 91 and never needed glasses. She drank from the bottle."

Pennachio, who teaches mah-jongg at the Largo Community Center, is also a member of the Kitchen Band, which opened the show with three snappy numbers.

Jeni Hillary, a retired 25-year Clearwater High School teacher, accompanied herself on the piano as she belted out two songs.

On the second one, titled Men, she told the men in the audience to close their ears and women to join in on the chorus.

She got the women singing: "You can't beat 'em because they're bigger than you. You can't live with 'em and you just can't shoot 'em."

At the end, she got a big hand from the women, but a few playful boos from men.

A poignant moment came when Largo resident Joe Gilmartin, a songwriter and veteran singer, sang a love song he had written to his wife, Mildred, who was in the audience.

"I dedicate this song to my wife, who has never heard this song in public before," he said, half-singing and half-talking in the style of the late comedian George Burns.

During intermission, he went over to his wife of 47 years and kissed her on the cheek. The couple, both 67, have lived in Largo for a year.

Before that they operated a television appliance store in Virginia. They have three grown children and six grandchildren.

"It felt fantastic when I heard Joe sing to me," said Mrs. Gilmartin. "There were a few tears, too."

Gilmartin, who used to sing with the U.S. Army Band and has been writing songs since 1970, had a good feeling about the song he sang Thursday, You're Special to Me. "I've recorded four songs, but never got a gold or platinum. Maybe on this one -- I feel I've got a hit here."

Before the show began, Jack and Alberta Maltby, who live in Pennsylvania but winter in Largo, sought out some choice seats near the front of the auditorium.

"This is my second year attending these shows," said Mrs. Maltby.

"Some of the acts are better than others. But, you can't beat the price (admission was free). Also, you get refreshments."

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