Many big-name acts in store for January

Peter Noone walks onto the stage as his band plays the intro for the classic hit “I’m Into Something Good” to start his show “Herman’s Hermits staring Peter Noone” at Savannah Center on Saturday.

A packed crowd cheered and applauded for “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” and “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” singer Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits on Saturday at Savannah Center. Noone was just the beginning of a large lineup of big-name entertainers set to perform in The Villages this month. Patrons of The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center and Savannah Center can look forward to shows featuring artists such as The Righteous Brothers, Neil Sedaka, Branford Marsalis and more, as well as the opening of Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins” at The Studio Theatre Tierra del Sol. The reason for the high volume of big-name acts is because January and February are the months most touring artists wish to travel through Florida, according to Elizabeth Constant, booking coordinator at The Sharon.

Additionally, after nearly five years, The Sharon has gained a reputation for being a premiere performing arts center in Central Florida, Constant added.

“The top-billing artists see their fellow colleagues have been here and are willing to check us out and play a gig,” Constant said. “Over the years, it’s gotten easier to book the bigger-name acts as we continue to host popular artists.”

The Righteous Brothers, Sedaka and Englebert Humperdinck have performed sold-out shows at The Sharon before and don’t want to miss the chance to perform for another packed house, Constant said.

“There is clearly a want for these artists in our community, and I want to be sure everyone gets the chance to see these outstanding performers,” Constant said.

The Righteous Brothers will hit The Sharon stage for concerts Thursday and Friday.

Tickets are available through all Villages Box Office locations but are extremely limited.

Next, singer, songwriter and composer Neil Sedaka will perform a sold-out show at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at The Sharon, followed by Engelbert Humperdinck at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 and 21.

“We’ve worked with Engelbert several times before,” said Fernando Varela, Central Florida tenor and executive director of Victory Productions, which is bringing Humperdinck’s show to The Villages. “He’s an iconic romantic singer. I remember listening to him as a kid, and I’ve even performed some of his songs myself. I think it’s a treat every time we get to bring someone in who is a master of their craft like he is.”

Tickets for Humperdinck’s concerts range from $75-$150 and are available online at thevillagesentertainment.com or at any Villages Box Office location.

Over at Savannah Center, popular jazz artist Branford Marsalis will perform at 7 p.m. Jan. 20.

Marsalis is a saxophonist, composer, band leader and educator who has performed around the world and become known for his contemporary artistic excellence, according to his official bio.

Tickets range from $55-$70 and are available online at thevillagesentertainment.com or at any Villages Box Office location.

At The Studio Theatre, the third show of season four, Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins,” will officially open Jan. 24 and run until March 1.

“Assassins” features historical figures who have attempted to assassinate U.S. presidents.

“‘Assassins is a feat to produce,” said Whitney Morse, artistic director of The Sharon and The Studio. “We have not shied away from many challenges this season, and ‘Assassins’ is no exception. It will be amazing to see this musical on its feet.”

The show has many characters, a complicated score, plenty of dancing and special firearms effects, Morse said.

“This is our first show to employ firearms as an effect, and I think that alone will be very dazzling,” she said. “The riveting and true stories these characters have to tell are amazing. The show is a crash course in American history set to music.”

The show fits into The Studio’s season four theme of reaching across the political divide because it is a cautionary tale about people who took their beliefs too far, Morse said.

“I think it is important to look at those stories and learn from them, so that history doesn’t do what some say is inevitable: repeat itself,” she said.

Finally, award-winning comedian Louie Anderson will perform at 5 and 8 p.m. Jan. 31 at The Sharon.

Anderson also is being brought in by Victory Productions.

“Louie Anderson is a veteran comic,” Varela said. “He’s done everything in the comedy circuit, TV shows, movies and comedy specials. I think people will respond really well to him. He’s a clean comic, so you won’t hear a bunch of obscenities. I think people will leave with sore bellies from all the laughing.” 

Tickets for Anderson’s show range from $45-$65 and are available online at thevillagesentertainment.com or at any Villages Box Office location.

Anderson said in his show, he will joke about family, being fat and being over 60.

“I’ve been doing comedy for 41 years now, and I’m having a blast,” he said. “I still love doing it. Stand-up is my first love and one of my favorite things to perform.”

His goal for the show is to make people laugh hard, have a great time and be relieved of their troubles.

“Stand-up is a great communicator and laughter is a great healer,” he said. “It’s good for both me and the audience to get out and do stuff like this. I’m looking forward to it.”

Senior writer Kristen Fiore can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5270, or kristen.fiore@thevillagesmedia.com.