Saturday, June 7, 2014



An anxious and excited hush fell over the audience in the Concert Venue Theater last Thursday, June 5th.  As the 14 contestants returned to the stage for the last time, each waiting nervously for her name to be called, they knew down deep in their hearts that only one of them would win the coveted title of MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 2014.   They had all done their best in the four categories of  Evening Gown, Philosophy of Life, Talent, and Personal Judges' Interview, and the endless wait onstage for the Judges' results had begun.
This year, the quality of contestants, and the diversity of talent was impressive, and it made for a delightful afternoon variety show as well as a hard fought Pageant.  Included in the afternoon's entertainment were performances by the GRANDE DAMES CHORUS under the direction of Josephine Araniti, MSNJSA 2007, the NEW JERSEY STAR DANCERS, under the direction of Brenda Christian, member of the NEW JERSEY CAMEO CLUB, and solo performances by Johanne Santori, MSNJSA 2006 & State Pageant Director, Fran Lundeen, NEW JERSEY CAMEO CLUB member, Dr. Sandy Greco, MS SENIOR AMERICA 2003, and Carol Dugan, MSNJSA 2012.   The audience was treated to a special performance by Carolyn Corlew, MS SENIOR AMERICA 2013.  

Outgoing Queen Vanessa Shaw, MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 2013, gave an entertaining farewell performance.  In lieu of a farewell speech, she persented her life story in Song with Dialogue.  Of particular charm was bits of her tribute to the late Eartha Kitt, who was an influence in her life and career.

But it was DIANE BEEBE who turned out to be the "woman of the hour", captured the judges' favor, and emerged as the new Queen.  She looked lovely and composed in her choice of evening gowns, had an uplifting philosphy of life, and her song "Bring Him Home", had a touching poignancy and was well sung. 
There were other ladies who placed in the competition, and who make up the QUEEN'S COURT for 2014: they are:  Mary A. Morris/Manchester, 4th Runner-up; Leah Whelan/Southampton, 3rd Runner-up; Patricia Genovese/Dover, 2nd Runner-up; and Patricia Andrews/Manalapan, 1st Runner-up.

And now, the adventure for Diane Beebe, her Court, and the rest of contestants begins.  As Queen, Diane will have the responsibility of promoting the positive aspects of aging to her age related constituents.  The rest of the "Class of 2014"  are invited to join the NEW JERSEY CAMEO CLUB to begin their journey as well.   As members of this prestigious organization, they will get the opportunity to tour the width and length of the Garden State and use their God-Given talents to entertain a wide variety of audiences.
Many thanks to Johanne Santori, State Pageant Director, and to everyone in the Pageant organization, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to produce a most spectacular and successful MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA PAGEANT 2014.  Their experience and expertise brought out the best in all the contestants.  They were responsible for successfully carrying out this year's mission:  "It's Never Too Late To Become The Woman You Were Meant To Be".

Monday, June 2, 2014


Won "Exellance Over All" Statue, Certificate of Appreciation and Cash Prize of $50.00 

Won "#1 in Senior Pop" Statue, and Certificate of Appreciation

Won"#1 in Senior Broadway" Statue, and Certificate of Appreciation 

Seniors "down the shore"  were encouraged to audition for a new competition called PERFORMING ARTS IDOL, which was presented by the Performing Arts Ensemble of New Jersey.  The event was held on Sunday, June 1st at the Algonquin Theater in Manasquan. 

The Performing Arts Ensemble, a non-profit 501(c)3 arts organization,  was founded in 1987 by Evelyn Gardell, a former professional dancer, and is based in Red Bank.  The mission of  the PERFORMING ARTS IDOL competition is to bring together, showcase and provide opportunities for exposure for New Jersey's great talent from a variety of performing arts disciplines.

It would seem like a daunting task for a panel of judges to score singers, dancers, novelty acts, ranging from 6 to 96, but this fledging competition managed to rise up to the job.  In Act One, the singers competed and were interspesed with group dance numbers, which provided entertainment only. The contestants were judged in their own age groups which were as follows:    Kids, 12 and under .... one/dancer;  Teens, 13-17 ...  five/all singers;  Adults, 18-54 ... two, one male singer and one novelty act;  Seniors,  55+ ... 5 singers/1 impersonator.  

Act Two started off with a company ballet, then was followed by an all-dance competition, seventeen in all, which consisted of solos duets, and one ensemble number.  The contest took 3 hours, and its success was due to a tireless backstage staff, who kept the performers moving on and offstage quickly and efficiently.

In the end, it turned out to be a "feel good" event, and everyone won something ... a certificate, trophy and 3 people won $50.00 in cash.  Among the six Seniors, three ladies from the NEW JERSEY CAMEO CLUB, not only sang well, but raised the bar for the rest of the contestants, regardless of age.  After the opening dance number, Josephine Araniti, MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 2007 was the first contestant.  She sang UN BEL DI, from Puccini's opera, MADAME  BUTTERFLY.  Diane Beebe sang  THE PRAYER, and Jo Ann Gordon, MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 2008, sang  COME BACK TO ME.  All ladies received warm and generous applause from the audience.  

In the end, everyone went home happy ... parents and grandparents who paid good money to send their kids to the Performing Arts Ensemble, were happy to see their kids developing into graceful dancers, and the those in the related arts,  got the chance to donn their finest "duds" and sing/dance/or whatever ....  on the stage of the Algonquin Theater. 

Will this concept of "lumping the arts together", with all age groups, and showcasing them in a competition last?  Who can tell?  One thing though, it did change the format from an all-dance to a variety show.  This reporter is not one to discourage any arts groups from trying to include Seniors in competition.  Rather, it should be left up to the Senior him/herself to decide whats best for them.