Seniors' talent show brings musicians, comedians to the stage in Mill Woods

Joe Silvaggio did it his way as he suited up with a bedazzled bow tie to sing his version of the "Ol' Blue Eyes" classic at the Mill Woods Senior and Multicultural Centre Friday night.

'Everybody has a talent,' organizer says

Joe Silvaggio kicked off the show with the Frank Sinatra classic, "My Way." (Kaylen Small/CBC)

Joe Silvaggio did it his way as he suited up with a bedazzled bow tie to sing his version of the "Ol' Blue Eyes" classic.

Silvaggio was one of the nine acts who performed in the first-ever seniors' talent show at the Mill Woods Senior and Multicultural Centre Friday night. 

Despite the slippery road conditions, more than 125 people attended the sold-out show, which included comedians telling their best jokes to musicians hitting the right notes. 

"It's nice for some of us older folks to get out here and try to entertain some people,"  first-time performer Silvaggio said afterwards. 

Original comedy skit 'The Model Tease' strutted their stuff to Meghan Trainor's "Me Too" as they told jokes to the packed house. (Kaylen Small/CBC)

The Mill Woods Seniors Association came up with the talent show as a way to keep its members active. Besides the thrill of being onstage, performers had a chance to win $150 cash prizes awarded by the audience and a panel of judges. 

"It's mainly for fun," said Karen Lee, program coordinator for the Mill Woods Seniors Association. "But we just like to add that competition aspect so that they bring it."

The event is about giving seniors a stage to show off their talents, she said.

"A lot of times, seniors are isolated and often marginalized, and I think this is the opportunity to showcase, 'Hey, you know what? We're still around, we're important, and we have a lot to offer in the community.,' " she said.

"I think that's the main thing. Also, just to have a good time."

"The Model Tease" kept the audience and themselves smiling as the jokes rolled on. (Kaylen Small/CBC)

Keeping it positive with the judges

Four guest judges included Coun. Andrew Knack and Arnim Joop, publisher of the Mill Woods Mosaic community newspaper.

"I think we keep it positive," Joop said.

"I'm not going to be the mean judge, you know, although I like the role of Simon Cowell," he added, referring to the former American Idol judge. 

Joop has been editing the Mill Woods Mosaic community newspaper for almost a decade. Events like this help promote community spirit and keep negative Mill Woods headlines of years past at bay, Joop said.

"I think it will encourage other seniors to pick up, maybe, a guitar or to sing or do a comedy act and be more active," he said.

Arnim Joop, second from right, listens intently to the program with his fellow judges. (Kaylen Small/CBC)

Combating loneliness

For the association, it's about bringing people together, and getting seniors involved.

"We have a lot of entertainers coming in," said Patricia Hinds, the treasurer of the Mill Woods Seniors Association. "And this is the first opportunity we've had to have the seniors participate themselves."

The association caters to the social needs of seniors, with events like breakfasts and day classes.

They are now extending activities into the evening. Seniors learn a lot through these programs, but Hinds said they have the opportunity to teach others something especially since they're sharp.

"Everybody has a talent," she said.

"We have lots of retired persons who have been in show business, who've been teachers, who have something to share with the community.

"It makes them more confident, it allows other people to see that they can participate too. And it just gets everybody involved and happy. We smile a lot."


Kaylen Small


Reporter and Associate Producer at CBC Edmonton // kaylen.small@cbc.ca // @KaylenSmall