Stepping Out

Senior Idol hopefuls set to rock Long Island

Popular competition for over-50s to showcase their talents


Get ready, Long Island! Twenty talented senior citizens are going to rock ‘n roll, sing, dance and more across the Huntington High School auditorium stage in the latest edition of NYS 50+ Senior Idol.

These dynamic performers, all age 50 and over, intend to bring the house down with their unique and standing ovation-worthy performances as they compete for the title of 2017 Senior Idol on Nov. 12 at 2:30 p.m. A first prize award of $1,000 will be presented to the winner.

First held in 2005, and for the next four consecutive years, the contest continues to attract an array of long-hidden and dormant talent among the older crowd.

“We got some calls through the years asking about Senior Idol,” says the event’s co-producer Frank Trotta, the publisher of 50 Plus Lifestyles magazine for the last 25-or-so years. “So we decided to bring it back.” Trotta is also the former mayor of Bellport, and was also the director of the Suffolk County Office for the Aging. He is co-producing the show with Ms. NY Senior America State Administrator Marleen Schuss.

During the tryouts, held during the last few months at the Massapequa Public Library’s Bar Harbor branch, the place resounded with the vocal stylings of Perry Como, Bon Jovi, a dead-ringer for Tina Turner, and a sprinkling of Broadway tunes, just to name a few of the acts. The preliminary judges had the task of narrowing down the 100-or-so hopefuls to a lucky and talented group. A different set of four judges will decide the winner.

“What I liked best was not only listening to the magnificent talent that surrounded us, but hearing the experience and background that each of the contestants brought with them,” Trotta said while watching the final audition last month. “The applicants ranged from retirees, to homemakers, to teachers, to attorneys and more. I think it makes perfect sense for them to share their talents and their own personal stories.”

Trotta likens the upcoming competition to the variety shows that were popular on television years ago. “Now, there are just reality shows. Senior Idol is a real family show. It’s a great opportunity for everyone, young and old, to come and see what these people can do.”

Channeling Mark Twain and Tina Turner

Rob Alvey, 65, of Garden City, was chosen as one of the contestants, and he has a unique act: he brings Mark Twain to life in a comedy-parody soliloquy tribute to the author-humorist.

“My wife suggested I enter the contest doing this ... and it was on my bucket list,” says Alvey, who by day is a senior scientist and geologist with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in the Superfund division, and is, he added, “the one person on Long Island who helps keeps your drinking water safe.”

Alvey, who just had open heart surgery last month, will be retiring in about a year. He has almost two decades of experience on the stage, having acted in community theater with one of his three daughters.

“I’m really not an actor or a singer or a dancer,” he says. “I really love original comedy. About 10 years ago, my middle daughter was taking photos for a college assignment, and after some other costumes, we ended up with the Mark Twain character. I looked like him, and I thought ‘I could do something with this.’”

He says his act is “kind of like creating what Mark Twain (who died in 1910) would be like if he was alive in the 21st century. So, we’ll see what happens. It was fun to see so many people trying out [at the auditions] and that they appreciated my act.”

Dolores (DJ) Brown, 74, has been dancing for as long as she can remember. She was selected as 2nd Runner Up in the 2010 Ms. NY Senior America pageant — and hasn’t looked back since. “Age is just a number,” she says. “And I believe in giving back. It’s what you do with your life that’s important.”

Brown who works in retail, volunteers at a convent in Amityville, teaching the nuns and senior citizens how to salsa dance in her spare time. “They love it!” she says, She plans to rock the auditorium with her energetic Tina Turner-style act. “I’m very excited and humbled to be chosen to be in the Senior Idol contest.”

“As New York State Administrator of NY Senior America for the past 15 years, I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to meet New York’s most talented performers,“ Schuss says. “The entire experience has been exhilarating as well as entertaining. I do hope you will grab your hat and your friends and come see for yourselves the variety of talents of these top-notch performers.”

The other contestants include Mike Cuomo, Hicksville; Celeste Belletti, Bronx; Dolores Brown, Wyandanch; Ernest Cannava, Blue Point; James DiNapoli, Merrick; Larry Dubin, East Meadow; Darie Ehrlich, Babylon; Sean Farrell, Wantagh; Jerrold Fuller, Brentwood; Teri George, Medford; Richard Lanna, Dix Hills; Laura Lorenzo, Mastic Beach; Mary Malloy, East Rockaway; Pamela Merrill, Laurelton; Henry Simpkins, Elmont; Tony Tufariello, Copiague; Joan Tyler, Bayside; Theresa Walton, East Norwich; Kathy Bondhus, Rockaway Park.

NYS 50+ Senior Idol

When: Sunday, Nov. 12, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Huntington High School, 188 Oakwood Rd., Huntington.

Tickets: $25, $20 for groups of 10 or more, $35 at the door. Call (631) 286-0058 ext. 112 for tickets and for more information.