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!

Elvis Has Re-entered The Building

“For I can’t help falling in love with you….”

Few of us could help falling in love with Elvis Aaron Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll.” His crooning voice and swiveling hips captured the imagination of a generation. The new Baz Luhrmann film, Elvis,” explores the life of this music icon, from his childhood through his meteoritic rise to fame in the 1950s to conquering Hollywood throughout the 1960s, to his 3rd act dazzling audiences for almost a decade in Las Vegas. 

Do you remember the first time you fell in love with his music? Did you see the legend in concert? Or maybe you listened to him on the radio or heard his music at a sock hop? 

Did you fall in love with his impact and influence? This cultural phenomena created a new style of music and paved the way for future generations of singers and musicians. 

I fell in love with Elvis through his movies “Blue Hawaii” and “Jailhouse Rock.” As with his charismatic showmanship on stage, Elvis also captured our hearts on the silver screen. 

Now, a new generation is captivated by Elvis mania.  

From his first concert in Florida on May 7, 1955, to filming Follow that Dream in and around Citrus, Levy, and Marion Counties in 1961, Elvis and Florida left a big impression on each other. He even visited the Weeki Wachi Mermaids in July 1961!

What makes a man a legend? Even after his infamous passing on August 16, 1977, the world was not ready for such an icon to leave this world. Even notorious rumors implied he faked his death and is living a peaceful life out of the spotlight. Could he be residing in the Villages? It would be no surprise, given his past history with Florida. 

No matter what you choose to believe is true, the legacy of Elvis continues to live on today. He is so beloved that he has inspired decades of impersonators emulating and recapturing his greatness. With the movie premiere of the latest biopic, “Elvis,” a new generation is being introduced to the King. 

And that legacy returns to Florida again on September 27 at The Savannah Center.  

Elvis Forever featuring Richie Santa captures it all! The VOICE. The CHARISMA. The MUSIC. The LOOK. The EXCITEMENT. The LOVE for the fans. 

For fans new and old, Elvis has reentered the building! 

Let’s All Laugh… Shall We?

It’s true what they say… “laugh, and the world laughs with you.” 

Laughter is contagious. We’ve all experienced it. Have you ever found yourselves laughing, not at a punchline per se, but often we find hilarity in others’ laughter.  

And isn’t it the best feeling?  

Whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on TV or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughing does a body good. Laughter is the most extraordinary form of stress relief, and that’s no joke. It’s always fun to get together with people who also spontaneously laugh. Once the laughter begins, it seems as though everything that happens and is said is funny.

And let’s not kid ourselves. We laugh because it feels great!

So, let’s all get together and laugh.

And, we’ve got you covered. Two first-time performers are coming to The Savannah Center, bringing along the chuckles.

Joe DeVito – July 23rd

 “Joe DeVito from New York ruled the room…9.5 out of 10!”  
~The Montreal Gazette

Joe DeVito started as a journalist and advertising writer, spending a decade in that pursuit. It wasn’t until much later on that Joe gave into his coworker’s demands, taking a swing at performing so he could find fame. Always cracking jokes at the office, his coworkers saw something special in Joe but still joked that he should give his dreams a shot so they could finally get some work done.

Hailing from Long Island, Joe’s dreams were always of showbiz. Despite these dreams, he pursued a college degree and aligned his future with that of a reliable set. A desk job, a regular salary, and security, albeit at the expense of his dreams.  

After a few years of developing his act at comedy clubs in the Northeast, Joe received attention with his debut album, “First Date with Joe DeVito.” Whether taking on relationships, his Italian-American family, or current events, Joe’s comedy thrives with dead-on timing, unexpected twists, and sheer flights of lunacy. This recipe has made him a favorite at clubs and performing arts centers across the USA. At the top venues in New York City, Stage Time Magazine lists Joe in their “Five Comics We Love,” adding that DeVito is “one of the NYC scene’s most promising rising stars.”

From that office cubicle to main stages across America, Joe’s trajectory was quick, a testament to his wonderfully hilarious takes on life, love, family, and relationships. 

DeVito opened with a set that was as fast-paced as it was funny,” says the Long Island Entertainment News, adding, “he seems to have an endless pile of one-liners in his head, all of this 100% with just the right amount of self-deprecation.”  

Since then, he’s appeared on television more than 150 times, including Comedy Central, The Late Late Show (CBS), AXS-tv’s Gotham Comedy Live, Comics Unleashed, E! Network, CNN, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and more. Joe was also a semi-finalist on Last Comic Standing (NBC). In addition, he’s been a regular panelist on FOX News Channel’s Red Eye, Kennedy, and The Greg Gutfeld Show, discussing current events with a satirical bent.

Eric Dittelman – August 20th

“Once again, Dittelman blew our mind. This man is simply incredible! We’re dumbfounded!”
~Rolling Stone

Eric Dittelman is a native of Westboro, Massachusetts, where he quickly became interested in magic, improv, and all things comedy at a young age. While in college, he honed his skills as he performed on and around campus with various improvisation and sketch comedy troupes. “It wasn’t until college that I switched to mind reading and mentalism. That’s also when I started to dive into stand-up and sketch comedy in addition to improv,” says Eric. It wasn’t until after graduating that he became more interested in combining these skills to create an experience he calls “mystery performance.”

After years of developing this unique approach, Dittelman traveled to Las Vegas to study with some of the world’s top-mind readers while continuing his improv study.  

Fast forward to 2012, when Dittelman blew audiences away as the first-ever mind reader on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, where he was a season 7 Top Ten finalist and judges’ favorite. Howie Mandel was left speechless, telling Dittelman, “You are the REAL deal!

After which, an avalanche of opportunities presented themselves to Eric. First off was an appearance on Ellen, with Degeneres gushing, “Wow! That’s CRAZY! That’s AMAZING!” He has since appeared on Live with Kelly and Ryan (“That’s freaky! I don’t know how you do that!” ~Ryan Seacrest) and Penn and Teller: Fool Us. He has also been featured in Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone and was labeled “Best Male Performer” by Campus Activities Magazine. 

Dittelman says, “My main goal is to keep working and providing entertainment for all sorts of audiences across the country. I’m just thrilled I get to do what I love to do for a living and want to share with people.

Joe DeVito brings his hilarity on July 23rd, and Eric Dittelman will blow you away on August 20th at The Savannah Center.

Get your tickets today at:TheVillagesEntertainment.com

Broadway Heroes & Villains

It’s always about the good guys… but it’s arguable that the bad guys have the best tunes.

Resident Lifestyle Group SMASH Productions answers the calling for a Heroes vs. Villains musical showdown to let audiences answer the question while revisiting the characters we all know and love.

The idea for their production this September at Savannah Center, Broadway Heroes & Villains, originally came from a group member.

“This concept came to life when one of our performers was lamenting he would probably never get to perform Hamilton in The Villages, but perhaps we could do some songs.

 “And what about Phantom of the Opera? And Wicked? And Aladdin? Those shows have some great heroes – and villains. Wait a minute – why not do a show featuring Broadway Heroes & Villains? We have the opportunity to grab the audience’s attention to a variety of male and female characters in Broadway shows who were infamous as Villains as well as inspirations as Heroes.”

 This production is sure to keep all on their toes bouncing from beloved character to character- including the less loved, but well deserving, villains pieces as well.

When asked who the audience should expect to see and hear from at these performances group leader Susan Feinberg explains the cast will feature the stars from many recent Villages Productions,

“Our acclaimed cast of Broadway Heroes & Villainsfeatures the stars from many recent Villages Productions including Beauty and the Beast, Grease, Urinetown, Mamma Mia, The Producers, Nunsense, Carousel, 1776, My Fair Lady, Assassins, Evita, Rhapsody in Rhythm, Jesus Christ Superstar and more.”

With several combinations of ensemble pieces, trios, duets, solos and group numbers, one can imagine the hours of time put into this full-scale production. With overwhelming eagerness surrounding the beginning phases of the show, Susan explains some of the hard choices that had to be made.

“When we first started we had a list of over 130 songs we were considering including in the production, representing over 9 hours of material. It took the directors and artists almost 2 months and 8 iterations to distill that down to the 2 hour show set list we will be performing at The Savannah Center. Perhaps some day we’ll create a boxed set of all the fabulous songs!”

Make sure you don’t miss out on your beloved heroes including Maria from The Sound of Music, Jasmine and Aladdin from Aladdin and Shrek from Shrek, as well as unforgettable Broadway villains such as Miss Hannigan from Annie and the showstopper from the Ladies in Wicked!

Stars and Stripes on The Square!

The 4th of July was an event to be seen at Brownwood Paddock Square! With nothing short of twirlers, dancers, drums and a Patriotic Light show to cap off the evening!

Ronnie Dee and the Superstars took the stage at 4pm to kick off the evening of events. While enjoying the variety of Americana throw-back tunes, many wandered through the line-up of All-American vehicles presented by The Villages Classic Automobile Club, Heart of Florida Model A Restorers Club and Tin Lizzies of North Central Florida, all decked out in their Patriotic charm.

It was quite hot out, but that didn’t stop the crowds from spilling into and around the square. Craft beer sponsors, World of Beer, Sunny Pint and Tri-Eagle Sales, kept the samples flowing as people stopped by to taste brews from a variety of brewing companies.

At quarter to 9pm, the projection lightshow commenced with the oohs and ahh’s of the crowd that remained. Certainly a show worth waiting for!

The Villages Entertainment looks forward to presenting many more car-showcasing events like this one in the near future.

Break out those Christmas sweaters and décor because following up this event next weekend is Christmas in July, July 16th at Spanish Springs. Don’t forget to bring a new un-wrapped toy donation for the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Toy Drive.

Speaking of remembering, we couldn’t forget about the 25th Anniversary Cruise-In! Rescheduled from June to August 20th, what better time to celebrate the historic beginnings of The Villages Car Shows and Cruise-Ins?

We look forward to seeing you at our next Special Event!

A Star-Spangled Savannah Center

Upon first meeting others in The Villages, one of the first commonly asked questions is,

Where are you from?”

Though one might wear a shirt representing their hometown’s football team, drive a vehicle with a different state’s license plate, or debate the use of terms like “rubberband” or “gumband”, we’ve all become a part of The Villages community.

The 4th of July is a time to remember this unity and togetherness, and two groups performing for the holiday are doing just that.

Group leader of The Villages Hometown Band, Hugh Wicks, explains the excitement for their upcoming production of Patriotic Spectacular at the Savannah Center, July 3rd and what their upcoming concert is all about.

“Although our concert has always been an annual event, this year’s concert has been 3 years in the making. We started planning in the Fall of 2019, and are thrilled to finally be able to celebrate together again! The best part about this celebration is the joy and unity we all find in the music.”

This concert will be a combination of bands including The Villages Concert Band, The Villages Hometown Band and The Villages New Horizon band.

Hugh explained all band members were invited to participate in the celebration and this year, they will have just over 100 musicians taking part!

“We love playing together, and this concert in particular brings something special to the audience.”

Group leader of Evolution Dance, Frank Olive, is just as excited for their production of American Pride on June 29th and 30th.

“We have developed several new pieces that compliment some of our past patriotic favorites, giving us a product that we know our audience will thoroughly enjoy.”

Last year, you may have seen this group in their production of Celebrating America. Frank explained a little more in depth the focus of this year’s piece.

“This show will take our audience through a historical journey as a nation. We’ve used an array of great music and wonderful choreography to tell this story. All will enjoy moments of love, tears, joy and respect as we celebrate our men and women that protect our freedom.”

Both productions are sure to be a sparkling success celebrating America through the art of song and dancing. Make sure to get your tickets at the links below, and have a happy holiday!

Sizzling Summer At The Savannah Center

Are you planning to enjoy the quiet summer days here? Are you having family or friends coming to enjoy some time with you? If so, are you in luck! Victory Productions has a sizzling lineup of shows almost as hot as the Florida Summer Sun.  

In the coming months, The Savannah Center has a little something for everyone’s taste in entertainment!  

If you were fortunate enough to catch the official kick-off of The Savannah Center’s summer lineup, with such shows as NuthinFancy: The Ultimate Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute, as well Winter Dance Party, a tribute to the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens, then hold on to your hats for more!  

YOU have spoken, and we listened, bringing brand new acts to celebrate a wide variety of music. The Deal Goes On: A Tribute to Kenny Rogers will hit the stage on June 22nd to pay homage to the greatest gambler of all time. Kenny Rogers is revered throughout the world for his distinctive voice, riveting storytelling, and unparalleled command of the stage.  It’s no wonder “The Gambler” became an icon that grew from country star to musical legend. Tim Sells encapsulates all the subtle nuances, passion, and joy experienced at a Kenny Rogers concert.  Tim’s celebration of Kenny always leaves the audience begging for more!

The Deal Goes On: A Tribute to Kenny Rogers takes you on a journey through the career of an artist that sold old over 120 million albums worldwide and racked up some 24 No.1 hits including “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “Islands In The Stream,” “Lucille,” “She Believes In Me” and so many more.

What happens when Bruno Mars meets The Temptations? Evolution: Motown returns for an encore performance on June 24. Due to an overwhelming response after this exciting act debuted at The Savannah Center in April, several audience members are returning for this encore with friends and neighbors in tow! Such comments shared were, “Fabulous show! Don’t miss it!” “This group is amazing! We are going again to see them!” and “These guys can REALLY sing!! They are so entertaining! “

Fronted by four dynamic showmen, Evolution: Motown delivers all the moves, precise vocal harmonies, and fabulous showmanship of the best groups of this classic era. You’ll go on a trip honoring music by The Temptations, Four Tops, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, Bruno Mars, and many more. Fully choreographed and costumed, this is a performance you will not want to miss!

There truly is something for everyone, and it is a Sizzling Summer at The Savannah Center! 

We hope to see you there!

Driving The Dream

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For car enthusiasts and antique fanatics, The Villages Cruise-Ins are the place to be!

On the third Saturday of each month The Villages Special Events and Entertainment teams gather the best line up of vehicles from Resident Lifestyle Car Clubs in The Villages.

Cruise-In’s are the perfect place for those who share an interest in vehicles to gather and enjoy the collections, peruse the cars and cast a vote on their favorites. Even those less interested in the hobby can enjoy the live music and grab a bite to eat from local food vendors!

This month’s event is a little more special. June 18th marks the 25th anniversary of The Villages Cruise-In’s! At the 25th Anniversary Cruise-In event spectators and participants can expect music on the live stage at Spanish Springs where it all began with none other than the classic Rocky and The Roller’s!

Speaking of classics, we were able to talk with some classic groups looking forward to this big event, including group leader of The Villages Classic Automobile club, Will Vermilya.

“Our group has gone through several name changes, but this one has been around probably 7 or 8 years. We have some members though who have been around since the beginning when the whole thing started at Spanish.”

The Villages Classic Automobiles Club gets together to participate in many events throughout the community including car shows, exhibits, and more. They’re next gathering will be June 17th at Watercrest Buena Vista Assisted Living to celebrate Father’s Day.

Will explained a little more on why being a part of a club like this means so much to him and those a part of the group.

“It’s two things that make this hobby so great. One, it’s amazing to share a common interest with others without any other factors interfering. Two, sharing that interest with the public gives us the same feeling an artist has sharing an exhibit. We display our automobiles just the same as they present their art, and we love people enjoying and appreciating it with us and asking questions or wanting pictures taken with our art.”

When speaking with group leader Sandy Turner, president of the British Motoring Club, he explains a similar passion. The reason behind this club’s origin was primarily founded on a niche appreciation Turner wanted to share with The Villages.

“I had an English car that had been in my family over 20 years and when I went to my first Cruise-In at Spanish Springs I noticed there was very few British vehicles. I looked around and said, “Where’s the British Car Club?”.”

That’s when Sandy decided to establish The Villages British Motoring Club in 2019, now a huge hit with over 60 members and about 80 cars to show!

Sandy states,

“Keep your eyes peeled, as there may be events in the future involving the mash up of the ultimate British invasion between our group and The Hooligan’s band as we work with Special Events to get the ball rolling on something really cool!”

For now, make sure to mark your calendars and head over to Spanish Springs on June 18th to enjoy and join in on this historic celebration for The Villages and Cruise-Ins alike at the 25th Anniversary Cruise-In!

To Market To Market…

From Farmer’s Markets to Market Night’s there is plenty for vendors of all trades to buy and sell their product in The Villages.

At the beginning of every single month, during the first full week, there are general Market Night’s starting Tuesday at Spanish Springs, Wednesday at Lake Sumter and Thursday at Brownwood Paddock Square. These have become popular nights where great bands take the stage and vendors can sell their wares.

These events are more geared towards handcrafted items, and you can typically expect to see items such as handcrafted nightlights, golf car equipment, artwork, jewelry and more!

If you are a fan of locally sourced product, the Farmer’s Market’s every Saturday at Brownwood Paddock Square, currently from 9AM-1PM is the place for you to shop around!

At the Farmer’s Market’s one can expect to find everything from the freshest locally sourced tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries and whatever may be in season to homemade guacamole, pies and pastries! Yum!

If being a part of either Market is something that you take an interest in, feel free to apply here for the committee to review. If selected, someone will reach out to you on further details pertaining to requirements and commitment.

Aside from helping to coordinate Market Night’s and Farmer’s Markets The Special Events Team also puts on many other types of events that many are familiar with. One of these includes Hometown Halloween, which they have been prepping for since this February!

With so much work behind it, Villagers are certainly in for spooktacular fun and games at this year’s festival.

If you would like to be a part of the Hometown Halloween event, they are currently looking for extra hands to help out as Special Events Manager Chalsi Cox explains,

“Volunteers would assist with carnival games, tickets and the Haunted House. We are currently on the hunt for “scarers” for our revamped Haunted House this year, featuring 8 rooms and 5 hallways awaiting to fright!”

If you or someone that you know is interested in helping out please contact Melanie.davidson@thevillages.com.

Find Your Perfect Seat At The Villages Box Office

The Villages is a place of endless activities and entertainment. If you have ever been to a show at Savannah Center, bought a ticket to the movies or have attended a comedy night at Lazy Mac’s Laughs, then it is likely you are familiar with one of the largest parts of the team that makes these activities possible- The Villages Entertainment Box Offices!

We spoke a bit with the Director of Ticketing and Customer Relations, Yasmeen Stogden who started her Dreammaker journey back in 2016 with The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center.

“Though I was a customer relations liaison and box office clerk, my priority was always the patron’s experience. From the beginning, I recognized the passion/creativity of those around me and the support of a company that cares for its employees and patrons”.

These priorities and goals Yasmeen focused on created a higher standard of customer relations with patrons Villages led and eventually led her to The Villages Entertainment as Box Office Manager.

“When offered the position of Box Office Manager, I knew that position needed to be so much more.”
Yasmeen states,
“ It needed to provide a patron first experience, thus the Director of Ticketing and Customer Relations was born”.

Yasmeen may be the Director of Ticketing, but she has a whole team by her side to aid in servicing patrons so that all Villagers are able to take full advantage of the entertainment in The Villages.

For those who aren’t familiar, there are three ways that you can purchase tickets to The Villages Entertainment ticketed events. They are here on our website, by calling the Remote Box Office (352) 753-3229 or in person at a Villages Box Office Location.

CER Georgie Hill assisting a patron at Old Mill Playhouse Box Office Location

Remote Box office and in person experiences are directed through Customer Experience Representatives. Yasmeen states the objectives of these Representatives and how they are truly a personable hub of knowledge for “what’s happening” in The Villages .

“Our Representatives goals are simply to provide a patron first experience while meeting the demand on any given day or location. As a CER, the focus is to maintain resources on the hundreds of events we provide annually while also staying informed of community events as well.”

Betsy (Mary Beth) Norris, a Customer Experience Representative of 5 years, explains why the role is so important and what it means to her.

Betsy is pictured on the right at Old Mill Playhouse Box Office.

“I like when someone comes to my window and I have the chance to help them make the right choices to best enjoy their experience. It gives me such pure satisfaction! That way they don’t just leave my window with a smile, but the event too!”

For new employee Jane Dalton, it’s also about helping patrons when life happens.

“I love working in a place where you can be an integral part of someone’s happiness. The best part is helping ease someone’s concerns when it comes to returning a ticket or helping them find that perfect seat at a show.”

There is never a dull moment in Entertainment with such a variety of options to choose from at vast price points, times and locations.

If you are interested in what’s coming next you can always visit thevillagesenertainment.com, chat with a neighborly Remote Box Office Representative at (352) 753-3229, or visit one of The Villages Box Office Locations for the latest info and suggestions on what to see next!