By Almeda Girod
When Olivia Mellan Shapiro, or as she prefers to be known Livvie, and her husband, Mike, moved to Garden View last fall, she began attending the sing-along events led by Phyllis Vandenberg. When they were suspended, Livvie’s lifelong passion for singing and dancing prompted her to revive them.
Livvie was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Long Island. Her mother, who was born in Warsaw, Poland, loved to dance. Since her father did not dance, Livvie became her mother’s partner, performing the Charleston, Swing, and Zorba the Greek, creating a wonderful mother-and-daughter bond. A favorite childhood memory involves Livvie performing a skit (based on an essay, “How to Persuade Parents,” written when she was 12) with Tony Randall as her father on the Arthur Godfrey show.
Livvie attended Mount Holyoke on a full academic scholarship and discovered she was an “artsy-fartsy girl in a school filled with math and science majors.” She created a way to fit in by writing spoof songs and poems about college life. Examples were songs on food, Sixteen Reasons Why I Won’t Date You and Gracious Living “to mess with these stodgy traditions.” Writing spoof lyrics has become a lifelong passion and has continued as she writes about psychotherapy, spirituality, stress management, and money psychology, as well as for college reunions.
Livvie was near completion of a doctorate degree in French theater, when her thesis advisor suggested, “You were meant to be a therapist.” She agreed and pursued six additional years of education and training, specializing in women’s issues and couples’ therapy, and eventually creating therapy solutions for financial psychology and financial conflict resolution. She has published five books and been a columnist for Investment Advisor.
She has facilitated two successful sing-along events for the 1940’s Club (Beatles and Oldies but Goodies), and these will continue in the spring. David Nation has created the words of the songs on PowerPoint. Livvie says he has been wonderful and has kept her “calm and sane.” Irv Slott and Paul Forbes have been song leaders.
Livvie credits Phyllis Vandenberg as being “awesome” and hopes to revive the “interest and vitality” of the sing-along events. Please attend each second Sunday at 3:00 p.m. in the Encore Theater beginning on January 13.