Popular acts come back to The Villages

Martyn Jenkins, left, and Eddie Biss perform with the Absolute Queen tribute band, which will appear at Savannah Center for shows scheduled over three days in late April.

Savannah Center opened its doors for local theater group performances in December, and it will soon take another step forward. Next month, the performing arts theater once again will host popular acts such as Absolute Queen, bringing another element back to The Villages lifestyle. The Villages Entertainment has kept a close eye on entertainment locally and around the country to see how people are responding, Executive Director Brian Russo said. “We’ve started to see it turn where people are getting comfortable again. That mixed in with a large amount of people getting vaccinated made us feel this was the right time to add some shows,” Russo said.

Those shows will include the Bronx Wanderers from April 5-7, Alex Santoriello’s “Simply Sinatra” April 9 and 10, Bill Doherty and Music Live Inc.’s  “Spring Fling: It’s Time to Sing!” on April 16 and  Absolute Queen on April 26-28.

Tickets can be purchased online at thevillagesentertainment.com or at any Villages Box Office location.

Russo sees this as a first step toward offering bigger names again at the venue.

“After we get through these first few runs of shows we’ll know more, but I’m hoping we can really get back to normal schedules this summer and into the fall,” he said.

Longtime Villages performers The Bronx Wanderers will return with classic pop, rock and oldies at 3 and 7 p.m. April 5-7.

Father and son Vinny and Vin A will perform everything from Paul McCartney to Frankie Valli with some funny dialogue in between in the somewhat off-the-cuff show.

“We look forward to coming back,” Vinny said. 

“It’ll be different and it’ll be fun,” Vin A added.

Alex Santoriello will star in encore performances of “Simply Sinatra” following a successful first run in February, “simply because really people love Sinatra,” said Santoriello, a veteran Broadway performer. “I did four shows last time and it sold out in little more than a week.”

Sinatra fans will have more chances to catch the show at 3:30 and 7 p.m. April 9 and 10.

Santoriello’s “Lucky Seven” band including Krystof Srebrakowski on keyboard, Jerry Bruno on percussion, Jerry Bravo on contrabass and Michael Abbott, Dave Flanigan, Chuck Mander and Paul Holtzman on horns will join him onstage.

“‘That’s Life’ always brings the house down. It’s a great song,” Santoriello said.

Additionally, Bill Doherty and Music Live Inc will present “Spring Fling: It’s Time to Sing!” at 3 and 7 p.m. April 16 starring Victoria Sexton and Scotty Tomas. They will perform hit songs from musicals like “Mamma Mia!,” “Jersey Boys,” “The Sound of Music,” “Grease” and “West Side Story” as well as recognizable standards.

Over the past two years, Absolute Queen has brought Freddie Mercury and company to life in sight, sound and energy at Savannah Center.

The band, including frontman Martyn Jenkins and Mike McMahon, James Creer, Eddie Biss, Tim Lowry and Joe Murphy last performed here at the Open Air Concert Series in December.

They will likely have audiences singing and dancing along again at 3 and 7 p.m. April 26-28.

The show will include an updated setlist with songs like “Play the Game” and “I Want to Break Free” with a medley from the Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack.

It will also include video, some new stage elements, and a shiny new jacket à la Mercury.

“I just want them to get up and have the best night and enjoy themselves and forget about the last year,” Jenkins said.

More acts are coming to Savannah Center in May as well, including H2O: the Music of Hall & Oates on May 4 and 5; Fleetwood Flashback on May 8 and 9; the Rocketman Show on May 12-14; the Platters on May 16-18; and A Tribute to the Music of John Denver starring Jim Curry on May 26-28. Showtimes are 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets for those shows will go on sale March 24.

Safety measures at Savannah Center including cleaning between and after each performance, requested masks, limited capacity and socially distanced seating will still be in place.

For more information about safety measures and upcoming shows, visit thevillagesentertainment.com.

“Without sounding too cliché, we’re adding another piece of The Villages lifestyle back after closing everything down last spring,” Russo said. “I’ve been saying all along, we’re taking baby steps, but always steps forward. This is another step in that direction.”

Staff Writer Liz Coughlin can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5304, or liz.coughlin@thevillagesmedia.com.