From left, happy attendees Barbara Marx, Allison Grosfield, Ann Moore, Ivanie Finsvik and Linda Edgar at Puttin’ on the Ritz. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

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iSociety: Rochelle Rose

The nonprofit Center for Successful Aging upstaged itself again this year with its third annual musical variety show, Puttin’ on the Ritz. The show commands a loyal following of seniors and community members of all ages, and again sold out the 800-seat Marjorie Luke Theatre on the campus of Santa Barbara Junior High School.

“This year, we wanted to shake things up a bit,” director Rod Lathim said. “So we decided to build a theme featured around songs and sketches from the Roaring ’​20s and early ’30s.”


To get everyone’s toes a tappin’, the show kicked off with the iconic tap dance performance of “​Puttin’ On The Ritz” by Fred Astaire shown in video on the theater’s giant  screen.

The rollicking, two-hour variety show was emceed by Catherine Remak of K-LITE and featured singers, dancers, comediennes, actors and musicians aged 55 and over, along with multigenerational acts.

Making their debut for this year’​s show was the Cheers! Quartet, an all-female, award-winning a cappella group; Jazz Plus (Dixieland, Blues and Swing with a touch of New Orleans-style jazz); and Karen Sweene.

Among those making encore performances was the beloved pianist Gil Rosas, the Silver Follies dancer, a performance by internationally acclaimed actress and opera singer Kim Holmquist, and Ulysses Jasz Band, a revivalist jazz group that focused on songs from the 1920s and early ’30s.

Actress Nancy Nufer performed a hilarious spoof of Puttin’ on the Ritz as a would-be celebrity chef’ demonstrating recipes using Ritz Crackers.

The hardworking planning committee included LaShon Kelly, board president Bobbi Kroot, Gayle Golden, Marty Golden, Lynda Fairly and Frank Newton, along with the Center for Successful Aging’s executive director, Gary Linker Ph.D.

Major sponsors included Sharon Kennedy Estate Management, Steven Handelman Studios, Casa Dorinda, Union Bank, Mission Group Architects, Montecito Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Airbus, Jonaki and Jonah Egenolf, the Van Dykes, Louisa and Stewart MacDougal, Julie and Jack Nadel, Leslie Bhutani, Chuck Blitz, the Access Theatre Fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation, and many others.

Judy and Rob Egenolf were presented the second annual Spirit of Successful Again Award for their broad and generous support of so many community causes, including seniors and health care.

The Puttin’ on the Ritz event is the only major fundraiser for the Center for Successful Aging.

“We are very fortunate to have such a wealth of artists here in Santa Barbara who are willing to donate their time and talent to participate in our event,” Kroot said.

“This event raises the funds needed to sustain CSA for the entire year, allowing us to provide vital services for the senior community, free of charge.”

These services include:

» Senior peer counseling

» Careline telephone call program

» Pet therapy program

» Enrichment activities

» Successful Aging newspaper

The Center for Successful Aging is located at 1815-E State St. in Santa Barbara. Click here for more information, or call 805.898.8080. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at rrose@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.