The Showtime melodrama Silver Fox Detective Agency by Rick Mauck continued the annual Santa Clara Women’s League tradition of having the most possible fun while raising the most possible money to support Santa Clara Senior Center health and wellness programs.
The annual March melodrama is always set in Doomstown, USA, aka Santa Clara. The 2019 action unfolded March 1 – 3 at the Community Recreation Center.
Attendees quickly got into the act by cheering for the numerous heroes and booing at the black-suited villains who appeared on stage.
“The louder the audience boos and cheers, the happier we get,” said Mauck, a Santa Clara resident and retired City employee. “The kids love it and don’t have to be quiet.'”
In Silver Fox Detective Agency or Tic-Tac-Toetag, set in the 1920s, three foxy, silver-haired female book club members add intrigue to their lives by starting a detective agency. They help the town sheriff root out evil. The toe tag is on a dead body that the women uncover in the Lima Mortuary and Saloon.
Mauck has written each homespun Showtime melodrama since 2011. He is assistant director to Robin Burdick. He also acts in the melodramas, always playing the honest sheriff in a white cowboy hat.
“It’s rewarding to write it and see people acting in it and growing into the parts,” said Mauck. “The parts come to life as they add their own personality to it.”
“After I learn my lines, I love to embellish my role,” said Arlene Rose, playing one of the silver-haired detectives. “Every show is a little different. Audience involvement changes it.”
The local cast members, mostly civic-minded amateurs out for a good time, numbered more than 20.
The melodrama is always followed by an assortment of impressive acts by local talent. Called the “olio entertainment,” it includes songs, dances, comedy skits and Santa Clara magician Phil Ackerly’s magic.
Over the years, Showtime has brought in more than $500,000. In 2018, the show cleared $13,000 for the Senior Center health programs.
“Producing Showtime is a lot of work, but we do a lot of good for our senior citizens,” said Women’s League president Marti Ragone, who cared for her mother during her last years.
“Seniors really need to have a lot of attention, especially in Silicon Valley,” said Ragone. “They get kind of forgotten. They get left behind because they’re not able to get out with people.”
Kathy Higgins, a front desk receptionist at the Senior Center, attended the Friday performance to support the cause.
“It’s an awesome health program and so many seniors really rely on the nurses we have for home visits. Also, for coming in to see a nurse whenever they need to,” said Higgins. “The three nurses on staff are very hard working.”
“The show was very entertaining,” said Linda Saenz, a first-time attendee who drove all the way from Sausalito to see her friend Ray Farnsworth play one of the villains. “I love the audience participation, and my six-year-old nephew definitely enjoyed it.”
Editor’s Note: Carolyn Schuk, Associate Editor of the Santa Clara Weekly, is involved in Santa Clara Showtime.