Senior Follies ready to take the stage

Seniors rehearse for the 16th annual Mercer County Senior Follies.

HERMITAGE – Seniors will take a walk down memory lane this weekend for the 16th annual Mercer County Senior Follies.

The Temptations, The Jackson Five, The Four Tops, Aretha Franklin and The Beach Boys are just a few of the artists being showcased in “The Sounds of the ‘60s” at 6 p.m. today and 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Hickory High School auditorium.

“It’s going to be a blast for the audience,” said Maureen Murray-Jaklic, music director. “Because probably they’re going to be more familiar with this music than a lot of other shows that we’ve done because of the era.”

This is the first year the show will go on without its founding member, Murray-Jaklic’s mother, Donna Murray, who passed away in November.

“It’s bittersweet,” Murray’s daughter said. “It was her passion. She started the ball rolling.”

Murray-Jaklic has been music director since 2004, the first year of the follies.

“A lot of people asked me if we were going to do anything for her. This is the biggest tribute to her of anything,” Murray-Jaklic said. “So if you want to pay tribute to my mom, come see the senior follies.”

A newcomer to the follies this year, Phil Leach, 69, of Farrell, has been enjoying himself throughout the rehearsals.

“It’s a lot of work,” he said. “It’s fun, though. I’m learning a lot.”

Leach owned an acoustic music store, Phil’s Woodshed on Diamond Street in Mercer, for a while and is no stranger to playing music. The vocals, though, took a bit of adjustment.

“As far as putting harmonies together, I wasn’t used to it,” Leach said. “It’s the singing I have to get used to.”

Leach made a trip to the Shenango Valley Senior Center on Buhl Farm Drive to inquire about the follies.

“Next thing I know, I got a music book under my arm and I’m signed up for a T-shirt,” Leach laughed. “I’m still learning, but I am all ready.”

The choral ensemble director and stage manager for the follies, Julie Kerr, said the seniors work so hard each year to put on a successful event.

“Sounds of the ‘60s, we feel like it’s really going to be a crowd pleaser,” Kerr said. “It’s great music. I think the friends and family are really going to enjoy it.”

Kerr said the follies is such a nice variety show each year.

“If you like singing or dancing or comedy, there is such a nice variety of all of that,” Kerr said. “With several acts that are traditional ones that people expect to see every year and then there’s a few new twists.”

Kerr, who is also choral director at Hickory High School, said she is thrilled to be a part of such a great community outreach every year.

“We love supporting our local senior center and we’re glad that we have one in our area,” Kerr said. “We’re always thrilled to host it at Hickory High School and we’re excited because it’s a great exchange with the high school kids. We roll out the red carpet for our seniors each year.”

Profits from the show go to pay off the Shenango Valley Senior Center’s debt.

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