Local entertainment troupe proves that senior performers are “Better Than Ever”

Hollywood and Broadway may seek youth but a local performance troupe is proving that being “young at heart” is a lot more fun. The Better Than Ever Independents, affectionately known as the Sassy Seniors, can be found singing, dancing, acting, performing comedy skits and much more every month of year, except January and February.
“We are similar to a vaudeville troupe and we welcome anyone with an interest in theatre who wants to help out behind the scenes or be on stage,” says Jan Wire of Oakdale, who serves as secretary for the troupe, in addition to performing.
These Sassy Seniors can be found livening up the lives of others at a variety of venues around the Pittsburgh area, including senior residences, nursing homes, church socials, private parties, reunions and AARP meetings. “We get booked up quickly each season,” Jan says. “Each season of shows has a different theme. Last year’s was the Fabulous Fifties. We did 12 regular shows and six holiday performances. This year’s theme is Give My Regards To Broadway. Most of our numbers are very familiar to our audience—songs from Debby Reynolds and Frank Sinatra, for example—and our reward is to see a smile or or toe tapping.”
The idea for the group originated in 1990 at what is now Robert Morris University. Back then, the group was called the Robert Morris College Independents. In 1997, the Independents split into two separate entities and the core group was renamed The Better Than Ever Independents.
Along the way, the membership age was lowered to 50 to include more Baby Boomers.
Currently, the youngest participant is 57 and the most senior member is 94. The 20 current members hail from all parts of the Pittsburgh region. The group rehearses twice a week at the Presbyterian Church located at 1201 Fifth Avenue in Coraopolis.
If you are interested in becoming a Sassy Senior, call the group’s director, Pam Hawley at (412) 735-3770 or (412) 492-0497; or email Jan Wire at jangary2@hotmail.com. Auditions are bit required to join the troupe. Members pay annual dues of $12.
By Gina Mazza
For Pittsburgh Senior News