Merry and Bright

The season is just around the corner and The Villages Entertainment has been working ‘round the clock to get the squares ready for the holidays! There is a lot of holiday hustle that goes into these events and more entertainment to be had! 

How many bows are there at Spanish Springs Tree Lighting this year? 

Setup for the tree lightings starts right after the final one ends the year before. The to-do list for setting up ranges anywhere from finding vendors, decking out the squares in and garland, checking that the strings of lights work, creating new decorations, and prepping the bars. This list doesn’t even cover the Tree Lighting’s Eve checklist which includes setting up tents and ensuring that the squares are ready for the festivities. 

The Entertainment Special Events team coordinates with the District, who provides the tree. The week before the Tree Lightings, Special Events comes out to hang garland and lights after dark. The concept behind doing all of this work after the squares have closed is to give the effect that the elves came in overnight, giving a holiday jumpstart to the season. 

Each square has a unique theme that is exhibited in the décor. Brownwood’s brand new Country Christmas theme plays on cowboy stars brilliantly accenting the essence of Paddock Square itself. Moving North to Lake Sumter Landing, Villagers can see the play on Coastal Christmas with the lights shining off the waters from the boardwalk. And with our final square, we get to experience Classic Christmas at the original Spanish Springs Town Square. With elements of greens and golds bringing you back to childhood, this square is decorated with 20 bows. 

How many years has the Entertainment team set-up Santa’s Sweetery? 

Visiting the Tree Lightings of Christmas past, the Tree Lightings used to include bunting and balloons, but the Entertainment team has made some changes resulting in the squares shining brighter each year. Since 2019, Special Events has put up the Tree Trail and Santa’s Sweetery, adding a festive feast for the eyes and ears. Now renamed Santa’s Village, this décor has become more in depth over the years. The Special Events team can’t wait to introduce how they’ve grown this year and are excited for what the future holds for Tree Lightings. 

How many strands of garland top a single bar hut? 

No Tree Lighting Festival would be complete without sweet treats for everyone. While there will be many food vendors at each lighting, Special Events will be setting up Santa’s Village which will offer Santa Snacks, the Hot Cocoa Factory, and the North Pole Photo Stop. 

Featuring various flavors of cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes and pie slices and candied apples from Yvonne’s Sweet Treats, 5% of proceeds from Santa Snacks will go toward the charity sponsored at each designated square. 

Don’t forget to get something from the Hot Cocoa Factory to keep warm! From classic Mrs. Claus Cocoa to flavors like the Merry Mint Mudslide, Irish Cocoa with Bailey’s Irish Cream, Fireside Cocoa with Fireball, or spiced Holiday Egg Nog, there’s something for everyone. This year, the Hot Cocoa Factory has added Santa’s Spiced Wine, a mulled wine to tickle the taste buds. 

For those who want to visit the bar huts, which are decorated with 7 strands of garland per hut, they will be open in addition to the Hot Cocoa Factory, selling classic bar beverages. 

What favorite Christmas couple will be making an appearance at the tree lightings?  

The day of each tree lighting, there will be live music at each square, with roaming entertainment, resident performer groups featuring your Villager friends, and of course the Tree Lighting Ceremony with Santa and Mrs. Claus to help plug in the trees. 

Beginning at 8pm, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be assisted by Visiting Nurses Association and Maestro Bill Doherty with The Local Vocals as the trees come to life. Spanish Springs will have a Christmas Parade provided by Recreation at 3pm the day of their Christmas Lighting. 

When the festivities have wrapped up, there will additionally be Menorah Lightings at Brownwood Paddock Square December 18th 1pm-4pm and Spanish Springs Town Square December 22nd 1pm-4pm. The Temple of Shalom of Central Florida will light the Menorah in celebration of Hanukkah in two different locations this year!

These Tree Lightings could not happen without the coordination of several teams as well as our sponsors. A big shout out to Consumer Cellular for sponsoring Brownwood’s Country Christmas and Light My Village for lighting the palm trees at Lake Sumter as well as the big oak at Spanish Springs.  

Don’t miss the Christmas Tree Lighting at the square closest to you! Mark your calendars: 

Rock, Roll, and All That Jazz

Over the years Savannah Center and the Nightly Entertainment venues have been a host to events put on by Rocky Productions, most familiar being Rocky & The Rollers.  

Rocky is back at Savannah with his Rocky’s Big Band Meets Rock and Roll this month! This is a multi-faceted show with music from the forties all the way through the eighties with a big band rock and roll sound. 

With Rocky, seventeen Rollers and other big band orchestra members, and three Rollets we can expect a great evening of BIG sound with this fun crew. Rocky has known some members for as long as twenty-three years playing around the country and the state! 

When asked about his favorite songs in the show, Rocky noted jazz classics like “In The Mood” and of course “Sing Sing Sing” with the big drum solo on his list of favorites to perform. We can expect to see Rocky behind the drums in his blue sequin suit on the evening of the show. 

Singer, Steve Santo is gearing up to perform the iconic Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra tunes, and Kathleen Kane will perform a “Proud Mary” that will blow you away! 

“I’m still very true to the music and it’s why I do this.” -Rocky  

Visiting the history of big band music and rock n’ roll, we can see the evolution as the horn sections of these big bands were absorbed into mainstream pop and the sounds were “amplified” resulting in “rock n’ roll”. Naturally, the two complement each other in the arrangements that Rocky and his crew have created and we can look forward to some modern favorites mixed with a big band sound. 

“You get a mixture of both sounds in one show, which is why audiences continue to show up for this special.” -Rocky 

Backstage, Rocky says that it’s enjoyable for cast members to get together and they often find themselves reminiscing over old shows they’ve played through the years. They also generally nerd out over how cool it is to play both genres in one show. “It’s fun for us because it’s the old stuff, but we get to do it LIVE!” 

The rehearsal process has certainly changed over the years. When the music charts are finished and are sent out to all players, they don’t commence with a full-blown ensemble rehearsal. The rehearsal starts in the comfort of their living rooms where they study their parts independently. Eventually, they break out into small groups over Zoom calls. 

The full group doesn’t gather until the day of the performance where they spend the day putting everything together on the Savannah Center stage. 

“Every single player we have on that stage reads music like a professor. We go in early at 9am the day of the show and rehearse 11 to 2:30 and then boom! The first show is at 4.” 

You won’t want to miss this show November 12th at 4pm and 7pm. “It’ll be one of the most musically exciting and thrilling shows because you get to hear things you don’t normally hear.” 

Rocky’s Big Band Meets Rock and Roll– November 12
Get your tickets here!

Can’t make it to Rocky’s big event? There’s more on the horizon from Rocky Productions.

Get your fix for the ladies of the 60s with Rocky’s Lady Legends of the 60s featuring Peggy March (“I Will Follow Him”), LaLa Brooks (The Crystals & “The Doo Ron Ron”), and Kathy Young (A Thousand Stars) revisiting your favorite tunes from way back when.

Put away your electric guitars and get ready to listen to Rocky and his crew “unplug” for Rocky Unplugged this January as he and his crew bring back this favorite show where everything is still all Rocky, but acoustic! 

Get into something good when Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits returns to The Villages this January.  A remnant of the British invasion of the 60s, you’ll hear your favorites like “Wonderful Worls and “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat”.

Rocky’s Lady Legends of the 60sOn Sale NOW!

Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone – With Special guest Rocky and The Rollers
– On Sale 11/16/22

Rocky Unplugged– On Sale 11/23/22

Check out more on our Ticketed Performances page!

Sawgrass Grove is Open

The wait is over and everyone can now head on down to Sawgrass Grove to enjoy entertainment!

Penta kicked off the opening October 20th at 6pm

Situated just off of Megisson Road, Villagers can enjoy our newest addition to the Nightly Entertainment line-up throughout the week:  

    • Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays  6pm-9pm 

    • Saturdays  12pm-3pm & 5pm-9pm 

    • Sundays  5pm-8pm 

With the Magennis Academy of Irish Dancers featured on select Saturdays and old favorites Villagers may recognize from Lake Sumter Landing, Spanish Springs, and Brownwood, Sawgrass Grove is sure to be a hit! Be sure to check out the lineup that will publish with the rest of the Nightly Entertainment on the fourth Sunday of the month! 

At the heart of Sawgrass Grove, this entertainment center is next door to a little bit of everything:  

    • -Check out some golf history across the parking lot at Ezell Recreation Center 

    • -Munch on goodies and find fresh produce at the Market on the east side of the courtyard 

    • -Get some ‘bangers and mash’ with friends at McGrady’s Pub 

    • -Grab a drink at the bar which will open at 3pm Sundays through Fridays and 11am on Saturdays 

    • -Or dance under the comfort of the shade structures with your favorite bands! 

Check out your upcoming entertainment for Sawgrass Grove as well as Spanish Springs Town Square, Lake Sumter Landing Market Square, and Brownwood Paddock Square here and we’ll see you there! 

It’s Electric!

It’s time to dig out your light up sunglasses, glow stick bracelets, and get ready to shine at Lake Sumter Landing for our 3rd Electric Light Party with Blonde Ambition!

What started as a glow party back in 2021 has evolved into an all-out light fest with light up handouts included. Mary Carlson, booking coordinator at The Villages Entertainment has been prepping for months for this party in the Entertainment garages. She shared, “[We] started small but now it’s gone into this larger thing. It will be every year in November and we’re already booked for next year!”

“We love to have everyone dressed in lights but we will also be throwing out light up batons and glow rings.”

This year we’ll be handing out over 1000 light-up gel rings and glow batons, along with 100 plus light-up beach balls for the crowd to volley in the air. That doesn’t include what Blonde Ambition will bringing to the stage. “Blonde Ambition Band is incredibly supportive of each other on and off the stage. However, we all love a little friendly competition! We are bringing hundreds of glow sticks and other glowing props with us and we like to see who can hand out the most to the audience! This year, the competition will be intense! “

BAR HUTS

With light-ups galore being prepared in the past months, there is still more to be done! Leading up to the party, the Entertainment squad will be preparing our featured drink, The Electric Elixir, a blue jello shot. In addition to this special beverage, we’ll also feature Blonde Ambition’s feature drink, The Blonde Bombshell to keep the party going. Be sure to say hi to your favorite bar staff members as we will have every bar hut open with an additional beer and wine tent for easy access.

DAY OF SET UP

The day of the party, you may see team members out at the square decorating. Depending on the extent of decorations for each Light Party, this process can start as early as 7am and last until 4pm. The Entertainment office also gets an interior makeover the day of the party, with staff members putting chairs on their desks at the end of the work day for stilt walkers to sit on while on break, and moving cubicles to create space for the hula-hooper to stretch out before heading out to perform.

SHOUTOUTS

Our crowd control members also play a hand in helping set-up and additionally bring calm to the chaos for the night. Decked out in neon vests, they ensure safety for our events and we couldn’t enjoy the party without their constant support and you may see them help usher in our performers throughout the nights.

With this event constantly growing, we would like to add a big shoutout to our sponsors Mid Florida Agencies and The Skylight Contractor for supporting this event and give a big welcome to our first ever vendors for this event Oh My Dogs, BBQ Brazil Express, and the Kettle Corn Cabin.

“The Electric Light Party is unlike any performance we get to do on a regular basis! Blonde Ambition Band literally has an opportunity to light up the night! We love seeing our audience’s creativity in the awesome costumes they put together and providing the entertainment to have the time of their lives! Between the kickin’ music, the fun atmosphere, and most importantly, the incredible energy and excitement from the audience, the Electric Light Party is an unforgettable experience!” – Blonde Ambition

Come light up your night November 10th. The party starts at 5pm and the Electric Light Stroll will begin at 6pm. This free event won’t be one to miss!

The Hills Are Alive

 

In early 2020, SMASH productions held auditions for The Sound of Music. With Covid following soon after, the production process was put on a pause. After 2 years, the wait is over and audiences will get to experience the heartwarming story this November.

Inspired by the real life Von Trapp Family Singers, The Sound of Music follows the story of Maria, a nun who just can’t ever seem to do things right. Maria is tasked with the job of governess to the seven mischievous Von Trapp children. With patience and kindness, Maria breaks down the walls of the Von Trapp children and their very strict father.

Susan Feinberg, producer at SMASH productions shared, “This is the largest cast we have ever had in a SMASH show. Director Bob Stehman has worked hard with our adults and kids to create a real family of singers and dancers to bring the show to life.”

Playing the leading roles of Maria and Captain Von Trapp, Pinky Bigley and Lee Mueller have been hard at work with choreographer Barb Byers perfecting the Rodgers and Hammerstein music we all know and love.

Set in the background of pre- World War II Austria, characters like Max (Tim Casey) and Baroness Elsa (Kathy Chesley-Williams) help to usher in balance to the more serious topics of the time period that take place throughout the show.

With fourteen singing nuns to lift spirits led by the Mother Abbess, played by Bonnie Williams, we can expect to hear some of our favorite songs asking the comical question of “how do you solve a problem like Maria” and we can’t forget the inspiring lyrics of Climb Ev’ry Mountain. Music director, Mary Ann Rockenbach will lead the choir backed by a live band.

Of course, no production of The Sound of Music would be complete without the cast of singing and dancing Von Trapp children, many of which are cast from The Villages Charter School. Audiences can look forward to a beautiful dance number from oldest Von Trapp child, Liesel (Emily Veri) and Rolf (Shay Yael) in the iconic Sixteen Going on Seventeen and the whole crew of kids singing the renowned Do-Re-Mi.

The hills are alive and Villagers can look forward to seeing this beautiful story unfold at Savannah Center on November 8th – 10th with 2pm and 7pm performances. A portion of proceeds will go to The Villages Shrine Club. Get to a box office or visit our website to purchase tickets today!

Our Shows in History

 

At Victory Productions, we recognize that inherent emotions rise to the surface when experiencing various forms of entertainment. Not only are the shows we present built on stellar, quality performance, but we also don’t shy away from the immense historical context in which many shows indulge. 

Artistic works often run the gambit of the performance spectrum, from those that scratch the surface of emotions to others who explore the depths of feeling. And beneath the surface, at times, even more context inspires these artistic works. 

At Victory Productions, we strive to present art that invokes past memories, filled with notable moments and cultural movements. The shows lined up this fall are a testament to that dedication:

Here are three examples:

One of the most significant historical movements, the Tupperware Party, is still alive and well. But did you know that Tupperware was unsuccessful when it was first introduced? 

Tupperware was first introduced in the 1940s, but no amount of advertising or store displays could entice customers to buy this everyday kitchen convenience. 

Tupperware could not sell itself, literally!

 It wasn’t until the early 1950s that the original hostess of the Tupperware party, Brownie Wise, came onto the scene. Brownie was convinced that the best way to sell this product was by demonstrating its function and necessity to modern women. Hence, The Tupperware Party was born. Not only were these gatherings a perfect way to introduce and sell the product, but they became social events that spread across the US. These gatherings were so successful that all products were removed from store shelves, and Tupperware became available exclusively through these parties.  

Today, Tupperware is still a household name. Although the party aspect cooled down over the past few decades, along came Dixie Longate. The entire experience has had a renaissance and has the attention of a new generation thanks to Dixie’s Tupperware Party. Today, Dixie is the #1 personal seller of Tupperware in the US and Canada.  

If you haven’t ever attended a Tupperware party, or if you need to replenish your supply, don’t miss Dixie’s Tupperware Party returning to the Savannah Center on November 3. Filled with hilarious tales, heartfelt accounts, and a little empowerment and homespun wisdom, Dixie leaves your heart a little bigger and your food a little fresher.

Another show we have lined up celebrating historical movements is Hotter Than July: Stevie Wonder Tribute Band

Did you know Stevie Wonder’s Album Hotter Than July is dedicated to Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.? Or that the song “Happy Birthday,” featured on the album, was written as a campaign to establish a national holiday of remembrance in honor of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.? Even the album sleeve cover of Hotter Than July serves this purpose. On one side of the sleeve is a photograph of Martin Luther King Jr, with a dedication written by Stevie Wonder of Reverend King’s bravery and efforts toward change and the importance of honoring his memory.

It read:

“It is believed that for a man to lay down his life for the love of others is the supreme sacrifice. Jesus Christ, by his own example, showed us that there is no greater love. For nearly two thousand years now, we have been striving to have the strength to follow that example. Martin Luther King was a man who had that strength. He showed us, non-violently, a better way of life, a way of mutual respect, helping us to avoid much bitter confrontations and inevitable bloodshed. We still have a long road to travel until we reach the world that was his dream. We in the United States must not forget either his supreme sacrifice or that dream.

I, and a growing number of people, believe that it is time for our country to adopt legislation that will make January 15, Martin Luther King’s birthday, a national holiday, both in recognition of what he achieved and as a reminder of the distance which still has to be traveled.

Join me in the observance of January 15, 1981, as a national holiday.”

~Stevland Morris, aka Stevie Wonder

Celebrate this momentous victory and join us for Hotter Than July: The Stevie Wonder Tribute Band on November 20 at The Savannah Center.  

Almost every one of this generation knows about Simon & Garfunkel’s Concert in the Park. And how could you not? It was one of the biggest concerts in music history.

After almost more than a decade removed from Simon & Garfunkel’s successful run atop the music charts and their subsequent breakup, the duo reunited for what would become one of the most famous concerts of all time. The pair reunited for a night of music on the Great Lawn in New York City’s Central Park. The event occurred on September 19, 1981, and attendance was estimated to have reached upward of half a million people. A broadcast of the event on the burgeoning cable movie channel HBO and an accompanying double album contributed to this night of music going down in the annals of music history. 

What most don’t know, however, is that there was one song broadcast on HBO that was cut from the album release. A newly written but unreleased song (later to appear on Simon’s “Hearts and Bones” album), “The Late Great Johnny Ace” was set to be debuted at the show. During the performance, an audience member ran onto the stage shouting at Simon, “I need to talk to you!” The man was carried off by security without incident, but Simon, obviously startled, finished the song. The incident provoked associations with the song lyrics, in which Simon speaks as a first-person narrator concerning the deaths of Johnny Ace, John F. Kennedy, and John Lennon. Lennon’s murder had occurred only 9 months earlier, not far from the concert site. For Simon, a friend of Lennon and a native New Yorker, the experience was surprising but not entirely concerning. Said Simon, “He’s messed up the song. It’s hard enough for people to grasp a new song. My reaction was not, at the time, one of fear. I think he was stoned. He wasn’t threatening, although it might’ve looked that way.”

“On a cold December evening, I was walking through the Christmastide

When a stranger came up and asked me if I’d heard John Lennon had died

And the two of us went to this bar and we stayed to close the place

And every song we played was for the late great Johnny Ace”

Johnny Rogers and Lee Lessack return to The Savannah Center on November 4 with Simon & Garfunkel: Live in Central Park [Revisited]. And while you might not be hearing “The Late Great Johnny Ace,” you’ll be sure to experience the rest of the setlist presented just as it was on that historic night in New York City 40 years ago.

We couldn’t be more interested in these sorts of small historical details. You might even say that we are nerds for entertainment history. We believe these historical tidbits, found when diving deeper into the account of these cultural moments, lend great gravitas to these performances. 

After all, entertainment is current. It is alive. Even when it is history.

If you’re at any of these upcoming shows, or any Victory Productions show at The Savannah Center, please come say hello.  And, please, if you have them, share some of your historical entertainment anecdotes with us. 

We hope to see you there!

Keep Calm and Candy on

Knock knock…
Who’s there?
Phillip!
Phillip who?
Phillip my bag with Halloween candy please!

Start stocking up for The Villages Entertainment 2022 Candy Drive!

We are collecting candy for the Hometown Halloween Trunk N Treat so ghouls and goblins ages 12 years old and under can have a safe and fun environment to trick or treat this year in Brownwood Paddock Square.

How do programmers like their candy corn? Byte-sized!

We will be collecting candy September 19th through October 21st. You can visit us at:

When you donate 3 bags of wrapped, unopened candy at October Market Nights, you will be entered in a drawing for a Spooky Basket including free drinks from our Town Square Bar Huts, front row tickets to Haunted Illusions at Savannah Center and more sweet surprises!

Where do ghosts get their candy? At the ghost-ery store!

Hometown Halloween will take place at Brownwood Paddock Square for our first ever two-day Halloween celebration, 4pm – 9pm with acts like The Rundown Band, Blue Stone Circle, Resident Performer Groups, and more!


Two days of fun means double the candy will be needed at this event. We appreciate any donations that can be made. To make sure you are entered into the drawing for a Spooky Basket make sure to attend the Market Nights:

Oct 4th | Spanish Springs
Oct 5th | Lake Sumter Landing
Oct 6th | Brownwood Paddock Square

Oct 18th | Spanish Springs
Oct 19th | Lake Sumter Landing
Oct 20th | Brownwood Paddock Square

Meet Linda Romanello

They say it takes a Village, and that sure is an understatement. Victory Productions is one of the arts outreach organization responsible for bringing some of the exciting and innovative entertainment offerings to The Savannah Center. They are adept at delivering memorable performances and just as skilled at developing a team behind the scenes making it all work seamlessly.

Victory’s mission is to build a team full of the best and brightest: those who exemplify professionalism and those brimming with passion for live entertainment. Simply put, we want to round out our team with individuals who, if they weren’t working a live performance, they’d be sitting front row. After all, we are fans first!

Victory Productions is proud to introduce to The Villages our newest team member, Linda Romanello.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a theatrical Stage Manager?

I’m from El Paso, Texas, and I started college pursuing a degree in performing arts. I was always involved in choir in Middle School and Theatre in High School, and my goal was to have a career in theater. While studying at the University of Texas at El Paso, I accepted a position in Orlando with the Disney College Program. Leave it to Disney to lead to romance. I met and fell in love with my husband. Quickly after that, we were married and got pregnant. My degree program required students to complete a semester in scene building or working backstage. These tasks, however, weren’t ideal while pregnant. So my Director and Advisor suggested that I take the semester and focus on Stage management, and I truly fell in love with Stage Management. I transferred to UCF, where I entered the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Stage Managing program. Ever since graduation, I’ve been working as a freelance stage manager.

Since joining Victory Productions as a Stage Manager, what shows have you stage managed at The Savannah Center? 

Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings in December of 2020, Guys and Dolls in the fall of 2021, and Always…Patsy Cline earlier this year.  

From Stage Managing, and for about a year now, youve been working as part of Victorys backstage management team. What are some of the most significant differences between working backstage on theatrical performances versus concert performances?

On the theatrical team, I’m part of the process of bringing a show from concept to fruition. On the concert side, because I’m not part of creating the show, I am just part of managing and facilitating the day of the show. I’m also sort of a spectator. I’m often seeing the show for the first time. It’s exhilarating to be backstage and have a front-row seat to these performances. It’s also fascinating learning how shows are booked, how they’re promoted, and how they’re marketed.  

What is the most surprising thing youve learned about the concert side of the entertainment business?

The delicate nature of the relationships. Victory Productions often welcomes return performers and shows built on solid foundational relationships. With Theatricals, the actors, directors, and stage management have a strong respect and relationship needed for collaboration. With concerts, I was shocked at how similar of a bond. Returning acts know us and trust Victory and The Villages with their products. 

What has been your favorite show youve worked on at The Savannah Center since you began in this new position?

One Night in Memphis has been my favorite show so far. It makes sense that it would be my favorite because, at its core, it’s a theatrical production married with a concert. 

What new shows are you most excited about coming to the Savannah center? 

Tonights the Night: The Tribute to Rod Stewart (October 11th) and In the Air Tonight: Celebrating the Music of Phil Collins & Genesis (October 22nd) because I’m confident those will become Villages’ fan-favorites. I’m also very excited about Constantine Maroulis Performing the Hits of Journey & Foreigner (October 26th) because I grew up with American Idol. I fondly remember watching him during his season on the show. I’m excited to see where his journey has brought him and that The Villages residents will get to see him live on stage. 

We have some of Villages Fan Favorites returning, as well. Absolute Queen, The Rocketman Show, and Almost ABBA. Can you tell us about your experiences working those shows during previous visits to the Savannah Center?

Absolute Queen (October 19th) is always so fun! They are full-out, the show has so much heart, and it’s unbelievably authentic when they perform. Almost ABBA (October 20th) is pure nostalgia. They have the looks and movements down, and it’s so much fun with the other staff backstage. They are dancing along with them backstage, mirroring all the moves. And they share stories of the songs, invoking memories of people and places that transport them back to the days of disco. And, The Rocketman Show (October 25th) is a giant sing-along. Residents know every word to every song, and the energy in the Savannah Center is tangible. 

Is there anything youd like to add?

It warms my heart to sit in the audience, watching the residents, and see how much joy and excitement entertainment brings to The Villages—feeling the energy and seeing the smiles. I think that makes me feel we are doing something important. 

Something’s Coming

“Something’s coming, something good…”

These lines from the musical West Side Story are a great preface to the upcoming Savannah Center show.

With iconic lyrics and sweeping melodies from songs like Tonight and I Feel Pretty to songs with exciting dances and a Latin beat like Mambo and The Rumble, this Romeo and Juliet retelling has been a staple in the musical theatre circles since its stage debut in the 50s. After experiencing a release of the movie last year, Village Resident Group leaders Alex Santoriello of Pro-Am Performing Arts and Joan Knapton of KC Productions are thrilled to team up and unveil their very own production of West Side Story.

Joan Knapton, leader of KC Productions, shared her enthusiasm for the upcoming show. “The music is gripping and enchanting and along with the dance, this show is a classic. I was so fortunate to get it from the house in New York in order to produce it here in The Villages.”

Throughout the rehearsal process, members of KC Productions and Pro-am Performing Arts have been putting in the work to make this classic their own. “Our cast loves the challenge this magnificent show brings. They are so proud of themselves and they are surprised that they can do so much more than they ever thought they could.”

Kicking off rehearsals with a workshop in June, Joan credits choreographer Diane Vargas for her efforts in leading a workshop where performers could build on their dance skill. “That workshop set the stage for the real stuff.” With so much choreography and a tight knit group, the cast was bound to share a few laughs. When asked about the intensity of the choreography, Joan said, “With the leaps and jumps you can imagine once in a while someone falls on their behind and that is a hoot.”

One of the larger group numbers, Mambo, or the dance at the gym, is a selection of the cast’s favorite moments. “Sassy, fast, and a challenge,” we can expect to feel the friction between the Sharks and the Jets introducing some great tension on the stage!

KC Productions and Pro-Am Performing Arts have paired up and are offering 10% off when you purchase the bundle for West Side Story this Fall and Man of La Mancha in Spring. Right now, Man of La Mancha is only available through the bundle—so make sure not to miss out!

Check out a Villages Box Office Location near you or get your tickets online here.

West Side Story will be at Savannah Center October 29, 30, and 31st at 3pm and 7pm. Come see this delightful cast and keep up with upcoming information on Man of La Mancha coming this March!

Creepin’ It Real With Special Events

HAUNTED HOUSE

Black paint, fake cobwebs, and spooky foam signs. These are just a few of the items you’ll see when you enter the warehouse where The Villages Entertainment Special Events crew is hard at work prepping for this year’s Hometown Halloween. Featuring a newly designed haunted house, Brian Mullany, Special Events Assistant Manager, discussed the initial concept creation that inspired their set design.

“The haunted house contains the dreams and nightmares of a widow who just watched her son leave for a war he would never return from. Once you step inside, you will enter her memories and dreams and watch as they are turned to her nightmares.”

THE HEART OF DESIGN

The backdrop to every Special Event wouldn’t exist without a team of designers and builders. Special Events Designer, Melanie Davidson, said that discussions on this year’s Halloween design began as early as the day after Halloween last year!

This year, Special Events is excited to reveal new facades to their haunted house. Created with lightweight foam, the haunted house has been designed to emulate a creaky old house. “[It] gives you that spooky, eerie feeling you want to feel going into a haunted house.”

BRINGING LIFE TO OLD MEMORIES

Special Events Coordinator and Specialist, Stan and Cody, think people would be surprised to know how much of the material is recycled from previous events. “We repurpose everything we can.” While this requires taking the time (and having the patience) to deconstruct old sets, it’s a comfort to know that at the end of the day, those resources will be reborn as a new piece of art for Villagers to enjoy. “We’re bringing new life to old memories”.

A great example of this comes with the Halloween sets they are currently constructing. While there are spider webs and creepy crawlers to be imagined on one side of the facades, the flip side of each set is already getting primed for their Christmas events this winter!

Anyone wanting a sneak peak of what’s to come for Halloween will want to visit The Villages Entertainment tent during Heritage Festival at Brownwood Paddock Square on September 30 or Spanish Springs Town Square on October 7. Here, Special Events team members will be displaying some of the set along with sharing information on brand new carnival games, this year’s new maze, and the upcoming rock wall that will be brought in for Halloween.

With “scaracters” and haunting decorations, this year’s Hometown Halloween is sure to be a treat for those with a passion for anything spooky.

TRICK OR TREAT

Starting soon, The Villages Entertainment will begin the collection of unopened bags of wrapped candies for their annual candy drive. This candy drive supplies the Trunk or Treat event at Hometown Halloween. Last year, The Villages Entertainment collected twenty-seven 18-gallon totes stuffed with candy. Hometown Halloween will be a two day event, meaning the demand for donations is higher than ever! While excited for the two day event, Special Events Manager, Chalsi Cox, expressed the need to spread the word. “We need more candy!”

Donations will begin September 19th and end October 21st with collection bins located at Regional Recreation Centers, Box Office locations, and at The Villages Entertainment tent at upcoming Market Nights.

JOIN OUR CREW AT THIS SPOOKTACULAR EVENT

With so many new and exciting activities, Special Events is calling all volunteers for future events. They’re looking for scare actors (or “scaracters) and monitors for the haunted house, ticket takers, and carnival game attendants. Anyone interested can contact Melanie Davidson at Melanie.Davidson@TheVillages.com

Don’t miss our TWO days of Hometown Halloween this year, October 28 and 29 at Brownwood Paddock Square featuring The Rundown Band, Blue Stone Circle, Trunk or Treat, The Villages Resident Lifestyle Performance Groups, new games, and our newly designed haunted house. Enter if you dare!