I worked as an Emergency Physician until I retired in 2012. Searching for something to occupy my time, I joined a crew restoring old trolley cars for the Minnesota Streetcar Museum in Excelsior. While that activity has been a lot of fun, I still missed the opportunity to help others heal, enjoy life, and experience happiness. Music has the power to do just that. The last time I sang for an audience was when I played Max Detweiler in Sound of Music in High School (I sang three songs). Alive & Kickin has rekindled my vocal fantasy.
For 20+ years, Denise appeared in Twin Cities’ productions of Broadway musicals, including leading roles in Gypsy, Hello Dolly, The Rink, Follies, Cabaret, and Sweeney Todd. When she “aged out” at 63, she had no expectation of being able to do shows again. “Seven years later, Michael Ferrell called – and proved me wrong. Thank you, Michael, and thank you, Jason.
I grew up in Southwest Minneapolis. Music has always been my passion. I sang in the Southwest High School choir for 3 years and Elim Lutheran Church Choir for 20 years. I retired in 2001 after a 30-year career in Human Resources Health Care and manufacturing industries.
From 1993 to 2013, my husband and I owned conservation reserve acreage south of Montgomery, MN. From 1994 to 1996, we planted a variety of over 1,200 trees and wildlife bushes. I never envisioned that in my retirement years I would sing with a senior country music band or a popular senior rock band called ‘Alive & Kickin. I am so honored to sing with so many talented people.
I grew up in Chicago, but I’ve lived in Minneapolis longer than most natives. My husband David and I were married for 51+ years. I have 3 grown sons and 2 grandsons. I had a late-life career as a minister, ordained in 1990 by the United Church of Christ, and served churches in St. Paul, Wayzata, and North Minneapolis. I’ve been retired for 8 years, but still preach and do weddings and funerals.
“Shimmy, Patsy, Shimmy!” were words of encouragement as I danced on the bar at my father’s Black Cats Nightclub at age two. Since that auspicious beginning, I have sung with various choirs and with the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir for 25 years. I hold a BA, MA, and a PhD in counseling psychology, fueling a 40-year career at the U of M, leadership positions & activist pursuits to establish rights of women, people of color & LBGT persons. Since retirement, I have been extensively involved in another of my passions, the theatre, music, and the arts communities. Alive & Kickin is a kick in my butt! I can sing, create, and shimmy with abandon.
After a long hiatus from the stage, Duane has returned to acting, playwriting, and directing. He also co-founded a theatre company (Dual Theatrics), has appeared in film/videos, and of course, loves to perform with A&K! Before the hiatus, he performed across the upper Midwest and had the opportunity to perform in Greece and Turkey. Originally a Wisconsinite, Duane thanks Michael for the opportunity, with kudos to family and friends for their love & support.
I am excited and honored to be a part of the Alive & Kickin community. I have attended all the shows since their initial large performance on the Arizona stage. After 35 years of working in the Richfield Public School system, I semi-retired in 2017. My wife told me I needed to find a hobby, and I have always enjoyed performing so here I am. As you will see…… These Seniors Rock!
Ever since I watched “Your Hit Parade” and belted out Let Me Go Lover at age 5, I’ve always loved to sing, dance, and perform. My dance lessons included tap, ballet, jazz, and the hula…we performed all over Chicago. I was in musicals in high school and majored in theatre at the University of Illinois, where I played Aldonza in Man of La Mancha and my favorite role, Auntie Mame in Mame. (22 costume changes!)
Then real life took over and I entered the job market with no skills, so I became a Recruiter, which I thought was as close to acting as I could get. This led to a 42-year career placing administrative personnel, 37 of them as the owner of Apple Personnel, Inc. From 1984-2003, I was in a show group called Singsation, a younger version of Alive & Kickin. After that group dissolved, I was songless for a few years, so I joined the Edina Chorale in 2013. It was a good experience, but I missed the “show-biz” of a show group, so I was thrilled when I discovered this wonderful group…I’ve found my home!
It all started when I saw the A&K Flashback show. I was blown away! I cried, I laughed, and I felt so full of joy. I went out at intermission and asked what I needed to do to be a part of this group. I hadn’t sung with an organized group since high school…although I had been in a couple of church musicals. I auditioned and they said YES! It is a lot of hard work and some days my brain feels so full I think it will explode. But I am delighting in all that it means to be a part of this wonderful A&K family!
When I was 14, I was given a lead part in the school play. They put Black Jack Gum on my front teeth and my song was “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”. The song was outstanding and I won the best spirit of the day. In high school, I was given the lead for the National Conference- However, my lead led to the demise of our choir. I was so off key. I was laughed at and put out of the choir. I thought I’d never sing again and literally left any type of group choir or situation that had anything to do with singing or using my voice.
When I discovered I could sing all by myself- I came back- but there was no one who needed or wanted a singer with a voice in-between notes. But then I started singing solos, so I couldn’t blame anyone but me and it worked. I sang at weddings, funerals, church events, and all was well for a while. But my voice was an in-between note so I could never sing with anyone.
Now I’ve found a group that just wants to hear you sing- or at least carry a note. At the time in my life, I love coming of age.
My love of music, singing, and drama comes very naturally, as my father played saxophone in Sophie Tucker’s band, my three aunts sang with RKO radio, and my mother was an author of short stories and plays. She also had leading roles in community plays at Cambridge, MN.
My claims to fame are Queen of South Pasadena, CA, church choirs, praise teams, and performing in Music Man at Princeton, MN, as a pick-a-little lady. The best of it all, my husband and I sang to each other at our wedding in 1996.
Now, to add to the best, I have the amazing opportunity to be a member of the awesome A&K family!
Dorris Ann Moore
I sang in church and school choirs. I have been a widow for eight years and lost both parents within the last four years. I own my own house, car, and boat. My interests are reading, fishing, yard work, gardening, crocheting, and taking care of my two cats “Sheba & Cleopatra” and my sweet puppy “Missy”!
Mary Kay Fortier Spalding
As a young child, I loved the stage, 70 years later nothing has changed. I’m happy to still be doing what I love and grateful for a mind and body that allows me to perform. After dozens of plays and several movies, I am thrilled to be a part of the Alive & Kickin performers, who bring not only their wealth of talent and energy but also create a community of caring and kindness. It’s a perfect fit for me, as I am always happiest when sharing my creative spirit with old friends and new, both young and “well-seasoned”. Life is Good, Indeed!
I am a mother, grandmother, pharmacist and pharmacy manager. I live on a hobby farm with an assortment of critters and love world travel. At 63 years old, I was nudged by a friend to enter the Ms. Minnesota Sr. Pageant. Not knowing what my talent was, I chose to sing and the experience left me changed forever. My heart and emotions were so touched by this musical experience that I began voice training with Mary Laymon. Over the last 12 years, I have studied guitar, piano, voice and performance with the Guthrie and MacPhail Music Center. To my delight, this led to my fun “play” with community theaters, the award-winning documentary film, Pretty Old, and best of all the invitation to join Alive & Kickin!
I come from a musical family. My parents, all my siblings and my kids play anything from the piano to the violin to the trumpet and plenty of other instruments. I’m not the only singer, but I’m the one who turned ‘pro’ by joining Alive & Kickin. SInging provides great satisfaction, but so did working. I was a psychiatric nurse practitioner in the Minneapolis homeless shelters, intense and meaningful work that can’t help but shape a person. I have no acting experience, I’m learning every day from Alive & Kickin directors and my fellow performers.
After a spotty avocational career in choir, theater, and (even) operettas (including a small solo part in Amahl and the Night Visitors) – along with a lot of driving-while-singing (never got ticketed for that!) – I finally came to my senses and auditioned for a serious rock and roll chorus, Alive & Kickin. And I’m loving it! Previously, I had a 47-year career in environmental engineering and science, working on river, groundwater, and lake water quality as a consultant and in government service. I earned a PhD (University of Minnesota) while working, and before that a bachelor’s degree from Harvard.
I began singing solos at 4 years old with Cherub Choir in my hometown church. I longed to be Mary in the holiday pageants, but was always cast as the singing Angel! Much later, I performed with the Edgewater Eight at Edgewater Dinner Theater in Minneapolis, in a world-premiere performance piece at Jungle Theater in Minneapolis, and at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado and the National Orchestra in Mexico City, Mexico with the Minnesota Chorale. My church singing career ended with my 40th anniversary as professional soprano soloist/Cantor at St. James Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. How fortunate, and grateful, I am to perform now with the amazing Alive & Kickin ensemble!
As a child I called to the loons at our lake cabin in a beautiful soprano voice. But when puberty hit, my voice dropped to a deep bass. This helped in High School Theater, when covered in green grease paint; I became a very scary, singing Rumpelstiltskin. After a long break, I returned to singing at Edina High School as one of the dads in the Men’s Chorus, singing along with the students. I found out about Alive & Kickin, quite by accident, when I belted out “Happy Birthday” to David Ponthan. I love the enthusiasm, here, and the music! I can’t wait to return to the cabin this summer and hear whether the loons like Bon Jovi.
Born in Rolla, MO, but raised in St. Paul and active in YMCA camps, Boy Scouts (Eagle), and church. I served two years in the U.S. Army as an artillery officer, one year in Vietnam. Thirty-five years at Ford Motor Co. in assembly repair, Quality Control, and supervision. My wife and I have been married for 45 years and this is the first time we have had the opportunity to sing together.
I’ve been singing all my life, first with a sister’s trio, and in high school. I spent 7 years with “Showtime”, and 4 years with “New Fogey Follies”. I have also performed with Brooklyn Park Choral, Upstagers, Symhopknolls/On Stage, and the JCC Singers. I also got to play Yenta in “Fiddler on the Roof” and Bloody Mary in “South Pacific”. With my husband, Jack, I have four sons and two grandchildren. Singing and performing remain my passions.
I was born and bred in St. Paul, the oldest of seven kids. At age 7, my folks informed me I was joining the Holy Spirit Boys Choir. I came to love singing! The meaning of my life is my bride, Sue, for over 47 years! I was refined and polished by our 4 daughters and loved by our granddaughter and grandson! I spent my career in Catholic education, during which I heard every excuse and flat out lie ever imagined by teenagers across the land, but I loved every minute of it. I taught, coached, and was an administrator for 45 years. Last year, I went to this A&K concert, and the rest is history. A&K is awesome, and the people are even better! My folks would be proud!
I sang with my mother while we did chores together. We sang all the old “barbershop quartet” songs, like “Moonlight Bay”, “You Are My Sunshine” and “Paper Moon” in 2 part harmony. I bought “Hit Parade” magazine and learned all the songs by listening to the radio. I sang in the choir in school. I did a lot of a capella performances. I can’t remember when I haven’t been singing.
I sang with a variety of small bands at VFWs and Legions for many years. Worked with jazz trios and country bands just to be singing for an audience. I provided the entertainment at Surf Side Restaurant on Cooks Bay on Lake Minnetonka for their Sunday brunch crab feast. Then I took a break from all performing and worked in manufacturing to make a living. Of course, I practiced all my songs while I ran the machines.
Then I found Alive & Kickin, which gives me the opportunity to perform for an audience again.
Better late than never, I am living my dream. I am a ROCK STAR!
Born in New York, Normas was introduced to and fell in love with Broadway Theater at age 4. She has since appeared at Center Stage, New Fogey Follies, TRP, LakeShore Players, BCT, Minnetonka, Chimera, and Guthrie Theaters. She has also appeared in videos, print ads, TV commercials, and 6 major movies.
Mother of 2, Grandmother of 5, when not on stage, Norma works as an ASL Interpreter and in retail sales. She lives with her dog and 5 very dramatic parrots.
Singing has always been one of my passions. Starting out as a very young child in the church cherub choir and doing living room “performances” for my parents with my two older brothers, music has continued as a life force throughout the years through various choirs, musical theater, “lounge singing” and being involved with several bands while living in New York, as well as when I moved back home to Minneapolis. My passions took a back seat to motherhood and teaching public school for 30 years or so, though I always found time to keep the vocal muscles exercised through karaoke and the like. I no longer teach, and instead do freelance artwork and have been blessed to become a part of this wonderful group of people in Alive & Kickin. Oh, and I still sing karaoke every chance I get.
I started messing around with singing some 30 or 40 years ago. Singing in church choirs, cantatas, one-man shows, and karaoke. But it was secondary in my life. For 60 years, I was an avid golfer. I played twice a week when I was working and after retirement three to four times a week. In the winter, I would go to Arizona and play even more. After all that time, the old body started to wear out. First, a shoulder went out and I had to have it replaced. Then surgery on my back. That spelled the end of my golfing days. What to do now? At a Community Theater production, one of our cast members asked me if I sang, to which I replied that I try. She was a member of A&K and suggested that I try out for the group. I did and was accepted.
Now I have a new number one passion with A&K at practices and performances. I so enjoy seeing the faces and hearing the appreciation from those we entertain. I truly believe A&K was a godsend to keep me out of trouble.
I was made in Ohio but born and raised in South Minneapolis. I attended Washburn High School and the U of M. I was a USAF Sergeant in the medical and dental field. I owned a small plastic bag manufacturing company with 52 employees. I coached youth sports for over 25 years. I’ve been married to my beautiful wife Carol for 65 years, so far. I have two sons, one granddaughter, two step-granddaughters and two step-great-grandchildren: one boy and one girl. I have been singing with Alive & Kickin since the beginning and it has really kept me alive and kickin! It makes a difference. It gave me a purpose and I look forward to it every week, every rehearsal and every gig.
Wanda Ponto Sackter
The love of singing and performing started at an early age for me. Growing up in a rural community, my brother, sister and I entertained ourselves with singing and performing songs on special occasions. As I grew up, the LOVE of music became an intrinsic part of me, as I had opportunities to be in various high school musicals, 4-H Share the Fun and choirs. This led me to college where I had the opportunity to perform and majored in Theatre. Over the next 40 years, I had a career in IT and enjoyed performances as an audience member. A few years ago I joined Mt. Olivet Sr. Choir and started my second phase of performing. Upon my retirement, I auditioned with Alive & Kickin and was fortunate to be selected. I love the interaction with the other performers and aim to continue for years to come.
Music was a significant, formative, and integral part of my early life. The benefits of that carried forward when, living abroad as a young adult, the universal language of music became the magical connecting point in the communities where I lived. This was true in France when I became a pipe organist at the protestant church in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. It was also true while working with midwives in Madagascar and singing with a joyful, creative chorus of Malagasy women. Finally, in Bangladesh, I played piano with the international community’s performance of South Pacific. Now decades later, back in the USA and post-retirement, music resumes its important role as the tie that binds in Alive n Kickin.”
I started acting with Dudley Riggs Satire Theatre when I was 17. One evening, while I was performing on stage, I accidentally fell out of my strapless gown. Having survived the pressure and excitement of that moment, I went on to a successful 38-year career in public relations with five Fortune 100 companies before starting on my own company in 1992. I thought retirement was going to be boring but now I’m back on stage and loving it. I certainly hope there won’t be any other costume malfunctions because, God knows, I’m not 17 anymore! It’s wonderful to be part of a cast who are not competitive and to see how we all grow and change. Alive & Kickin takes a lot of energy – but it’s also life-giving!
I started performing and organizing other kids into performances when I was about seven years old and haven’t stopped in the 75+ years since that time. I’ve spent a lifetime as a producer, director, actor, and lay minister in the Episcopal Church, and I smile warmly at the roller coaster ride of my life. I’ve acted at a number of theaters in the Twin Cities, as well as in Tucson. Between 1968 and 1982, I was the director of Civic Arts Repertory in Walnut Creek CA. In recent years I’ve turned my attention to writing, and authored a children’s book in 2019. I sing too loudly, but mostly on key and in time. Alive & Kickin is surely a most wonderful organization for its members AND the communities serve, and our leaders are amazing! Stayin’ alive!
Dee Dee Buckley
I have enjoyed performing all my life, singing in choirs and acting in community theatre. I am very involved in the American Legion Auxiliary and was honored to serve as State President 2006-07. I love to travel and have traveled to 6 of 7 continents. I live in Roseville and enjoy being outdoors: working in my flower gardens, feeding birds, squirrels & ducks that visit my backyard or just relaxing in the splendor of a beautiful Minnesota day. I am so blessed to be part of Alive & Kickin. I haven’t given much thought about what I’m going to do when I get old!
I have been singing since I was a little girl, but nothing compares to my becoming a part of this Alive & Kickin family!! I am loving every minute of it!! It feels good to have the support of my husband, Roland, as well as our family and friends. I sang & danced with the Bloomington-based women’s show choir, NOTE-able Singers, for 7 years; and with Generation Gap and Singsation some years prior to that. My other passion, for over 36 years, continues to be my time at Corner House, a Child Abuse Evaluation and Training Center in South Minneapolis where I continue to conduct forensic interviews of children, teens, and vulnerable adults. Singing with Alive & Kickin helps keep me centered.