By Matt Wiley
Saddlebrook Resort & Spa in Wesley Chapel is a ritzy joint, but on Saturday, May 11, it will have all the glitz and glamour of New York City’s “Great Whie Way,” as the stars of the Broadway stage come back to town for one night only.
For the 14th year, the New Tampa Players (NTP), Inc., presents the “Broadway Comes to Tampa” (BCTT) dinner gala, which literally brings the stars of Broadway’s most famous stage productions to Saddlebrook Resort, located off S.R. 54 in Wesley Chapel, to perform their hits for a small crowd in an intimate, dinner atmosphere.
“This being our 14th year (doing BCTT), I’ve decided to bring back some of our most requested performers,” says NTP president Doug Wall. “All of the stars are different from last year.”
Returning to the BCTT stage after a year’s hiatus is Neil Berg, Wall’s cousin and renowned Broadway and Off-Broadway composer, who in years past has provided narration and the musical accompaniment for the event. He missed last year’s event to accept the prestigious Ellis Island Congressional Humanitarian award, a worthy excuse. Berg is the composer of the off-Broadway musical “The Prince and the Pauper,” as well as the Broadway-bound adaptation of the classic buddy movie “Grumpy Old Men.”
In addition to bringing back some favorites, Wall says he also has brought a new face to the event. Kate Shindle, who starred in the Straz Center’s creation of “Wonderland” (as in Alice in Wonderland) in 2010. Shindle also has appeared in the Broadway productions of “Legally Blonde,” “Cabaret” and “Jekyll & Hyde.” In addition, she also has appeared in TV’s “Gossip Girl” and in the Academy Award-nominated 2005 film, “Capote.”
This year’s BCTT also will feature Capathia Jenkins, who has appeared on Broadway in “Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me” and “The Civil War,” as well as on TV in “30 Rock” and “The Sopranos;” Danny Zolli of “Jesus Christ Superstar” fame, who most recently was named lead singer of “The World Rock Symphony Orchestra;” Rob Evan of the platinum-selling band the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, who also has appeared on Broadway in the original cast of “Jekyll & Hyde,” performing in the lead role in front of more than 1,000 audiences.
BCTT veteran Greg Wall, Doug’s brother, will once again be bringing his saxophone skills to the stage, which he also has lent to numerous film scores. Also returning to BCTT is Carter Calvert, best known her role in the Tony-nominated “It Ain’t Nothing But The Blues.”
Although Saddlebrook certainly is a premier venue for such an event, NTP has been working for the past several years to secure a permanent home for its stage productions and special events, which the theater troupe has been planning on constructing on the land located across Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. from the entrance to Hunter’s Green. “Red tape” and funding issues each have both played their part in preventing the construction of the theater thus far, but Wall says that NTP is still working toward a home of their own. BCTT is the main fund raiser for the project each year.
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 386-6687 or online at BroadwayComesToTampa.com. For tickets and questions, including sponsorship opportunities, please contact Doug Wall at DNW122@AOL.com.