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Annual Showboat Variety Show at Charleroi High to remember 'The Way We Were'

| Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Shown practicing their dance moves for the 2013 Showboat Variety Show are, from left, Betty Frick of Rostraver Township, and Nancy Dunmeyer. Harvey Dunmeyer is shown as he rehearses one of his songs. The Monongahela Senior Citizens will present the 27th annual show at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 and 2 p.m. Oct. 12, 2013, at Charleroi Area High School.

This year's Showboat Variety Show will look back at the way things were in the Mon Valley.

The Monongahela Senior Citizens' 27th annual production titled “Memories” will travel down memory lane at Charleroi Area High School on Oct. 11 and 12.

The show-boaters' theme salutes the movie-title song, “The Way We Were,” made popular by singer Barbra Streisand.

The two-hour show will kick off with memories of bygone days read by Ester Harrison of Donora.

“She'll conjure up familiar memories about the old days in Donora, Monessen, Monongahela and the entire area, stores, attractions and things that were open at that time,” said John Cheroki of Donora, a member of the group's steering committee who serves as the show's production manager and emcee. “The chorus will hum or sing (the theme song) very softly in the background.”

The variety show will once again feature singing, dancing, instrumental music, joke telling, comedy skits and more.

Other songs highlighting the show will include “My Blue Heaven” and “Blue Moon,” Cheroki said.

Zach Mendola, 15, of Carroll Township, a member of the Mon Valley Actors & Artists, and John Baumgarten of Finleyville, 97, a songwriter, will return to the lineup this year.

“We still have both the young and the old,” said Cheroki, of the performers from throughout the Mon Valley.

Steering committee members Nancy Dunmeyer of Rostraver Township, and Debbie Ritts of New Eagle are among those stepping up to help long-time director Betty Frick, of Rostraver Township, with the production.

Ritts will be participating in the variety show for the third year. She will sing “Go Away,” a song made popular by county singer Lorrie Morgan, “Born to Be Wild,“ in tune with her personal motorcycling sport, and “Walk through the World With Me,“ a duet with Cheroki.

“It's a blast and it's for a good cause,” said Ritts of her participation in Showboat.

“We have a couple of new people this year,” she continued. “George Pasara will sing ‘Sixteen Candles' and ‘Wildwood Flower' on his Hawaiian guitar and Sal Turturice will do ‘Gold Mine in the Sky,' along with other newcomers.”

A comedy skit to the jingle of “Tiny Bubbles” will feature cast members Charles Groomes and Marian Saunders.

The Showboat Variety Show has been performing at the Charleroi school for the past five years.

Proceeds from the annual event help fund the Meals on Wheels program provided through the Southwest Pennsylvania Human Services Agency based in Charleroi. Last year's show, “Back in the Saddle Again,” raised $9,000 for the cause.

SPHS delivers between 450 and 500 meals to homebound seniors each day.

Rehearsals for Showboat are held on Tuesday evenings at the Monongahela center. New talent and volunteer helpers are always welcome, organizers said.

The 2013 show begins at 7 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $6 and can be purchased in advance at the Monongahela, Donora, Riverside Place (Charleroi), Perryopolis or Center on the Hill (Washington Township) senior centers. A meal will be served in the Showboat Café in the school cafeteria from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Cost for the meal is $5.

For tickets, call Alice Grimes, senior center specialist, at 724-258-9511, or any cast member.

Colleen Pollock is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.