Maggie Viveen began her performing career at six years of age, portraying a boy.
Eight decades later, this whirling dervish is still mesmerizing Geritol Follies audiences with a tap-dancing routine that knocks their socks off.
“Hiiiiii Maggie” has become a familiar greeting by audiences everytime the natural-born entertainer takes the stage at the Mohawk College Performing Arts Centre.
Follies director/producer Donna Dunn-Albert can’t say enough of what the octogenarian brings to the popular show that’s celebrating its 39th year of Christmas shows with 2 p.m. performances Dec. 5-7 and a 7 p.m. performance Dec. 7.
“Our audiences know and love Maggie. She is so full of life and is a firecracker on stage,” Dunn-Albert says of the 86-year-old dynamo who was born in Belgium into a family of entertainers.
“The people give me energy and I return the energy,” says Viveen. “It works for both of us. It’s gas. It feels good.”
Dunn-Albert, whose own grandmother was one of the Follies’ original cast members, has written and produced a Geritol Follies Christmas Show that’s sure to appeal to a wider range of people. Songs that have been popularized by everybody from Dolly Parton to Michael Buble are inserted into the usual avalanche of mirth, magic and mischief the Follies is both famous and infamous for imparting.
“With our audiences aging, I felt we really needed to appeal to a wider age group. I wanted to stay away from the same old, traditional Christmas carols and songs,” says Dunn-Albert, 52, a highly respected musical director/arranger with 35 years of experience in more than 125 different musical productions and theatre companies all over Ontario.
“So we’ve included a lot more modern Christmas songs and more modern arrangements to the old songs, and new harmonies and arrangements.”
Maggie, for example, will be clicking her tap shoes to Bette Midler’s Cool Yule and the Follies Fun Gang will be going Gangnam Style.
Another feature this year is the guest appearance of the St. Thomas More junior vocal Night Magic ensemble, made up of pupils from the feeder schools of St. Thomas More Secondary School. The children will share the stage with Follies members for several concert numbers.
And don’t ask us how she’s done it, but Dunn-Albert is bringing Elvis into the building. And not just Elvis, but the Jordanaires who backed up the swiveling hipster throughout his storied career.
Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling 905-528-8095.