The Senior Variety Show began in 1995 as a one-time celebration of aging. It’s since become a beloved annual community tradition, providing a vibrant opportunity for Story County seniors ages 60+ to showcase their many talents. Featuring over one hundred performers each year, the show has raised over $200,000 in its first two decades!
In 2013, the show applied for non-profit status after being with Heartland Senior Services since its founding, and today is led totally by community volunteers who form a Creative Team, a Production Team and a working Board.
A big Thank You to the many Story County organizations, businesses, and volunteers who support the show and its community philanthropy!
To learn more about the history of the Senior Variety Show, check out these clips:
KHOI Radio Segment: http://khoifm.org/node/482
Senior Variety Show – Celebrating Aging through the Performing Arts (2018)
History Video (2011)
The History of the Senior Variety Show
By Betty Boccella (creator of SVS)
It all began with a book and a telephone call to a friend … it was 1995 and I was working at Heartland Senior Services. The staff was planning a special event and we needed some kind of entertainment. I had an idea. I had acquired what had become a favorite book several years prior entitled “Green Winter: A Celebration of Aging” by Elise Maclay. It was a collection of very thoughtful and passionate readings about growing older. I suddenly envisioned seniors presenting selections from this book in a “readers theatre” style. So I called Cay Peet and she pulled together a couple of her talented friends; and one bright sunny morning in May of 1995, a concept was born. Little did we know that event would become an annual tradition!
Shortly after that very successful readers theatre presentation, I asked my director at the time, Pat Hougen, what she thought about another idea I had. What if we had a show, with a variety of acts performed by all older adults and we sold tickets to it? Not only could we possibly raise some money for the agency, but we could showcase seniors and demonstrate that life doesn’t end at 60; seniors can still be a vital part of the community! So I got the go ahead from Pat. I called Cay Peet again and said, “Cay, I have this crazy idea …” And the rest is theatrical history.
The wheels began to turn. Cay knew Chuck Jones. Chuck knew Keith Wirtz. Keith knew Donna Erickson. We sat down to talk together and the Senior Variety Show was conceived. The first annual show was presented in September, 1995. There was only one performance and we were nervous. We had no idea if the show would be a huge success or a spectacular flop. But to the amazement and joy of the team that had put the show together, it was a sell out!
So here we are today, many years later, still enjoying this showcase of older adult talent. I’ve always said this show is a gift to the community … a treasure. How do you begin to thank the hundreds of seniors who have performed over the years; the many volunteers on the production and stage crews; and the audience members who have so faithfully filled the auditorium each year? There is something remarkable about this show. Remember that little book that inspired the whole thing? The Senior Variety Show is truly a celebration of aging!
Wow! 21 Shows! (1995-2017)
- A Song in our Hearts: A Celebration of Aging
- USO Show
- Irving Berlin
- Those Wonderful Years: Great Moments in Entertainment!
- Heartland’s 25th Anniversary
- Country Capers
- What a Wonderful World!
- KHSS: Radio of the Heartland
- There’s Something About Iowa!
- A String of Pearls
- Memories are Made of This!
- Hooray for Hollywood!
- It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
- HSS Friendship (the cruise of a lifetime!)
- Vaudeville, Variety, and VaVaVoom!
- Senior High School Musical
- Make ‘em Laugh!
- Under the Big Top
- Lettuce Entertain You!
- The Best is Yet to Come!
- Absolutely Animated!
- Aardvarks to Zebras
- “Feeling Groovy!” Celebrating the 60’s
- Simply Stellar!