This year’s Oakhurst Got Talent Show (originally called Seniors Got Talent) promises to be extra special for performers and audience members alike.
The event honors the memory of Zona Cahill, a longtime Sierra Senior Society volunteer, and founder/director of the show. Cahill died earlier this year, after a long battle with cancer.
Benefiting the Sierra Senior Society, the show will be held 3 p.m., Oct. 16, at the Oakhurst Community Center.
Danny Roberts, 58, assistant manager and maintenance worker at Oakhurst Mobile Home Estates, has been in every show since its beginning in 2010.
“I’m the grandfather of the show,” Roberts said. “Zona took a guy who didn’t deal with stage presentation and literally turned him into an entertainer. I’ll always participate in this event because of her. When she first approached me about being in the show, I was very resistant. I’m a shy guy and not into being on stage. I only sing as a hobby. One day Zona was walking by my place to get her mail. My windows were open because it was warm outside, and Zona overheard me singing Sinatra. She thought it sounded like Frank, but knew it couldn’t be Frank.”
Cahill’s determined persistence melted Roberts’ weakening resistance, who said he caved-in when he was told the senior center was self-supported, received no funding, and how important the talent show was to the center.
During his first audition, Roberts sang “Fly Me to the Moon.” Throughout the entire song, he kept his eyes closed or focused on the floor. Nowadays, it’s quite a different story.
“Before, if someone looked at me while I was singing, it was like being slugged in the stomach. I couldn’t breathe. But Zona told me to look over the heads of the audience, that they would never know, and that when I bring joy to people, it doesn’t go away,” Roberts recalled. “She said that was what my singing does, brings joy ... Zona was such a nut ... she told me to put some WD40 on my hips while singing Elvis, to shake and move for the senior center.”
While living and working in the San Fernando Valley, JoAnne Benson decided to audition for the show. She had family in the Mountain Area and enjoyed visiting as often as possible. She met Cahill at her audition.
“The first song Zona ever heard me sing was ‘Where the Boys Are’ by Connie Francis,” Benson explained. “We became fast friends and I talked to her a lot by phone before retiring and moving to Ahwahnee in 2011. We were all aware that Zona had cancer. She fought it for five years undergoing three bouts of chemotherapy and radiation ... I think the talent show is what kept her going all those years.”
While the show initially began as Seniors Got Talent, open to seniors only, it has transformed over the years to a variety/talent show for all ages.
In this year’s show, Benson, who prefers country and songs from the 1950s and 60s era, will sing “Where the Boys Are” in Cahill’s honor, and will also join Roberts, both dressed in 50s garb, for a song and dance number to Brenda Lee’s “Sweet Nothin’s.” Benson’s daughter, Kami Brown, and granddaughter, Amber Holmes, will also perform a duet during the show.
Roberts, whose repertoire includes tunes from 1940-60s era, including Elvis, Sinatra and Bobby Darren, will perform “Teddy Bear” by Elvis, and “Fly Me to the Moon.”
“This is an important event because every cent we make goes to the senior center,” Benson said, “which was a very important part of Zona’s life, and continues to be significant for those seniors who live in the community.”
Doors open at 2 p.m. Tickets for the show are $12 and are available at the door.
Details: (559) 658-2200.