ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Glenn Kessler, organizer for Swampscott’s Got Talent, practices the song “Cinnamon Girl” by Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
SWAMPSCOTT — Swampscott will be showing off its talent next month.
The fifth annual “Swampscott’s Got Talent” show will be Sunday, May 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Swampscott High School. Tickets are $7 at the door. The show is open to all ages, and expands beyond Swampscott residents to include those who work in or for the town, but who might live elsewhere.
Tryouts are May 1 and 2 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the high school. A dress rehearsal will be Friday, May 5 at 6:30 p.m.
“I think it’s a great community event,” said Swampscott resident Glenn Kessler, who organizes the talent show. “There’s a lot of emphasis in town on sports and that’s understandable. But I think there’s a lot of talent that we have here that people don’t know about.”
Some of the proceeds from the show, including ticket and food sales, and donations from local businesses, will be benefit the Class of 2018, and Media Arts and Media Literacy.
Kessler, who has been organizing the show by himself for the past two years, said half of the proceeds will go toward the Gary Sinise Foundation, a nonprofit which benefits veterans, first responders, their families and those in need. Sinise is an actor who played Lt. Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, among other movie and television roles.
“We’re fortunate enough to live in a beautiful town like this,” said Kessler, 64. “But most of us haven’t had to deal with having to go to war or having to put their lives on the line as first responders … By giving back to an organization like this that helps people that have protected us and defend us, I think that’s something that the town and the kids in the class can all be very proud of.”
Kessler, who also performs in the show with his band, Gerry and the Atrics, said the event usually raises $2,000 to $2,500. He’s hoping that with the addition of the Gary Sinise Foundation as a beneficiary, more organizations will want to donate more.
Kessler said the show started as an idea from the Recreation Commission, when he was a member. The event was run by the commission for two years, and was continued by Kessler and David Van Dam, a selectman at the time, before Van Dam dropped out.
Kessler’s daughter, 16-year-old Mallory Kessler, a junior at the high school, co-produces the show and also serves as stage manager.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Mallory Kessler said. “It actually raises a lot of money for charity and for our class.”
There are usually 20 to 22 acts in the show, which are mostly dancers, singers and musicians. In the past, acts have ranged from a young girl who sang a song from the Disney movie, Frozen, to senior citizens line dancing, Kessler said. He said the goal is for people’s faces to hurt from smiling so much.
“We do live in a small town and there’s just a lot of hidden talent out there, and you never know,” Kessler said. “From year to year, it’s always different.”
Gayla Cawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.