By Matt Wiley
“Broadway Comes to Tampa” is turning lucky number 13 this year, as several top Broadway stars will once again be coming to Saddlebrook Resort & Spa Tampa in Wesley Chapel for the New Tampa Players’ annual event on Saturday, May 12, 6 p.m.
“Expect many new faces,” says Doug Wall, president of the New Tampa Players (NTP).
Only one of this year’s confirmed Broadway guests, Natalie Toro (“Les Miserables” and “Cats”) has attended the event in the past, so attendees will be treated to several different artists that they likely never have had a chance to see perform in person.
“I try to bring new faces each year,” Wall says. “I definitely like to keep it fresh.”
He says that about 60 percent of past attendees have such a good time that they end up attending again the following year, many from out-of-state and from all over the Tampa Bay area.
Wall says he is expecting a big crowd this year, since the event is being held over Mother’s Day weekend. He says he expects that many who plan to attend will make a weekend out of it at Saddlebrook, treating Mom to a spa getaway and a Broadway concert to top it all off. Hopefully, this year’s attendees will be surprised by the variety of artists performing and the musicals for which they are known.
This year’s “Broadway” event will be the fourth year at Saddlebrook and, in addition to Toro, will feature the talents of Sandra Joseph (“Phantom of the Opera”), Luba Mason (“Jekyll & Hyde” and “Chicago”), Lawrence Clayton (“It Ain’t Nothin but the Blues” and “Dreamgirls”) and Chuck Wagner of “Les Misérables” and “Into the Woods” fame. The group will be putting on a concert in which they sing many of the Broadway songs that made them stars, as well as others of their own choosing.
Wall is also pleased to announce the appearance of special guest star Michael Lanning, who has lent his voice to several national brands ( including Chevrolet), spent six years with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and starred in the Tony-Award-winning production of “Frank Wildhorn’s The Civil War.”
In previous years, Wall’s cousin and Broadway composer Neil Berg has provided the musical accompaniment for the show, but he will be absent from this year’s performance so he can to receive a prestigious humanitarian award from the Ellis Island Society in New York City on the same night. Berg’s wife and Broadway star of “Phantom of the Opera” fame Rita Harvey will be by his side to receive the award. Luckily, says Wall, he has Sandra Joseph to fill Harvey’s spot. Wall’s saxophonist brother Greg, however, will be performing again this year.
“The entertainment value is second to none,” says Wall of the annual event. “We take the stars out of New York and put everyone in an intimate setting. Everyone gets to have an amazing evening and hear some major stars sing their most popular songs.”
Proceeds from the event will go to help raise funds for a community theater, which has been in the works for some time (see page 10). To help raise funds, the event also will feature a silent auction and a raffle, with the Grand Prize winner receiving an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to see two Broadway shows.
Broadway Comes to Tampa is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Saddlebrook Resort & Spa in Wesley Chapel. Tickets cost $175, or $1,750 for a table of ten and are available by calling 386-9333 or online at BroadwayComesToTampa. com. For tickets and questions, including sponsorship opportunities, please contact Doug Wall at 781-1171.
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