Thursday, June 14, 2018

The ‘Whitney Houston Show’ will soon be in JAX

“The Greatest Love Of All: The Whitney Houston Show” starring tribute artist Belinda Davids, announces first national tour, for one spectacular performance at Jacksonville’s Times-Union Center on Saturday, July 21, 2018.

The tour announcement comes hot on the heels of star Belinda Davids’ lauded performance on Fox TV’s Showtime at the Apollo Christmas Special in December 2017, where her spine-tingling rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’ – on the very stage where Whitney Houston filmed her famous Greatest Love of All film clip, no less - earned her not only the awe of host Steve Harvey and an enthusiastic ovation from the live audience, but over 10 million views of the performance video on Facebook in the days following.

Though this is Davids’ first major U.S. tour as the principal of “The Greatest Love of All: The Whitney Houston Show,” she’s no stranger to US audiences, having toured extensively as a backing vocalist for the likes of Keri Hilson, Keyshia Cole and Monica in earlier years.  Davids says of her return to the U.S.,
“This is the birthplace of Whitney - her home and her essence and the place and experiences that made her the incredible person and artist that she was. I know Americans hold her memory dear, and I’m first and foremost a Whitney fan myself, so I cannot wait to be surrounded by others who treasure her just as much as I do. Every audience, every fan that I perform to is special, but I know that this tour will be particularly special.”

Audiences across Europe, the UK, Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Davids’ home country of South Africa, have already been wowed by the production, which has been touring since 2013.  A five-piece band, backing vocalist and choreographed dancers will accompany Davids on stage as she pays tribute to Houston with live performances of I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “How Will I Know,” “I Have Nothing,” “Didn’t We Almost Have it All,” “One Moment in Time,” “Queen of the Night” and 15 other chart-topping hits.

Showtime Australia’s international production house, led by respected long-time father and son team Johnny and Jono Van Grinsven, in the roles of Producer and Technical Director respectively, has put together custom-designed lighting, theatrical effects, and more than 20 different hand-crafted costumes to complete the sensory spectacle and keep audiences enthralled through the course of the two-hour show.

The Greatest Love of All:
The Whitney Houston Show

DATE: Saturday, July 21, 2018
TIME: 8 p.m.
Take a look
HERE to see if she will be coming to a venue near you.

LOCATION:Times Union Center Performing Arts
Moran Theater
      300 West Water St.
      Jacksonville, FL 32202

TICKETS:start at $44 plus applicable fees, and may be purchased online at FSCJ Artist Series, sponsored by VyStar Credit Union (the official presenter of the Jacksonville show), or by calling (904) 632-5000 between 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

‘The Oak Ridge Boys’ bring a variety of sounds to JAX

Staying in town or leaving for vacay, you’ll want to celebrate your love of music by purchasing your tickets and making summer plans and great memories.  One of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music industry that combines Classic Gospel, Country, and Patriotic music is coming to Jacksonville/Orange Park, Florida.  The Oak Ridge Boys” will bring their “Shine the Light Tour” to the Thrasher-Horne Center, on July 20, 2018 at 8 p.m., for one night only.

They’ll bring a string of hits that includes the pop chart-toppers: “Elvira,” as well as “Bobbie Sue,” “Dream On,” “Thank God For Kids,” “American Made,” “I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes,” “Fancy Free,” “Gonna Take A Lot Of River,” “Y'all Come Back Saloon,” and many more.  Throughout their career, they've amassed 12 gold, 3 platinum, and 1 double platinum album, plus 1 double platinum single, and had more than a dozen national Number One singles and over 30 Top Ten hits.

The four-part harmonies and upbeat songs of the Oak Ridge Boys have earned them multiple Grammy, Dove, CMA, and other ACM awards as well as garnered a host of additional industry and fan accolades. In 2008, they were awarded the coveted Academy of Country Music Pioneer Award. And on October 25, 2015, The Oak Ridge Boys were honored with induction into the esteemed and elite Country Music Hall of Fame. Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring three decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition, to a stage show widely acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere.

“I feel like I can do what I do on stage just as good now as I could 20 years ago,” says tenor Joe Bonsall. “I plan to be rockin' my tail off out there as long as I'm healthy. The people who come out, who bring their families to see us, deserve everything I've got.”

Bass singer Richard Sterban comments,
“I think our stage show is one of the reasons for our continuity. We're still having fun doing this. We love what we do. Getting on stage and bringing our music to people is still what we live for.”

The Oak Ridge Boys
Shine the Light Tour

DATE: Friday, July 20, 2018
TIME: 8 p.m.

LOCATION: The Thasher-Horne Ctr.
      St. Johns River State College
      283 College Drive
      Orange Park, FL 32065

TICKETS: range from $29 - $89 with all fees included, and may be purchased in person, online at THcenter, or by calling (904) 276-6815 between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday – Friday.  The Thrasher-Horne Center is a performing arts venue and conference center owned and operated by St. Johns River State College.  It is located on the Orange Park campus at 283 College Drive in Orange Park, Florida.

Restoration continues at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens

Following Hurricane Irma, the Museum’s safety committee reviewed emergency preparedness procedures and updated it based on effects from Irma, a practice that the safety committee performs following each storm.  New areas of preparedness have been identified and will be implemented.
The Museum is looking into mitigation options, to minimize damage in the future.  For example, plants that are more tolerant of salt will be planted, and sealed lighting fixtures will be installed that can be submerged for a period of time.

Garden reconstruction remains a major undertaking and focus. The Cummer advisors, WLA Studio, are preparing comprehensive recommendations that honor their inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places while being mindful of practical environmental considerations.  Much of the necessary infrastructure repairs, including new electrical and irrigation systems, will be completed over the summer.

The Cummer Gardens anticipate being ready to put plants in the ground late fall or early spring and look forward to sharing more details about their grand reopening celebration soon.  Stay tuned and please keep the restoration donations coming.

The Florida Theatre - a venue not to be overlooked

The historic nonprofit Florida Theatre in downtown Jacksonville has been recognized by VenuesNow magazine as the #1 “Top Stop” in Florida for 2018, for all venues with up to 2,000 seats.  The designation honours the Florida Theatre as one of the most important stops in the state for touring artists. The venue rankings were determined by attendance from June 1, 2017 through April 31, 2018.

VenuesNow is a leading international trade publication that covers the business side of entertainment and sports, particularly as it relates to venues. The designation honored the Florida Theatre’s “
Outstanding performance!”

The Florida Theatre’s attendance of 140,323 during this period bested the 1,871 seat Barbara Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers with attendance of 137,944; the 1,741 seat Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota with attendance of 133,201; the 1,168 seat Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale with attendance of 63,003; and the 800 seat Capitol Theatre in Clearwater with attendance of 46,486. The Florida Theatre seats a capacity of 1,944.

The Florida Theatre also presented the most shows during this period, with 134 taking the historic theatre’s stage, as compared to 109 at the Barbara Mann, 96 at the Van Wezel, 79 at Parker Playhouse and 90 at the Capitol Theatre.

Florida Theatre Vice President of Programming Kevin Stone said, “’The ‘Top Stop’ designation validates the work we’ve been doing to improve our offerings across all genres of music, dance and theatre. If you are a touring artist working in Florida, the Florida Theatre has become an important part of any serious tour itinerary.”  Stone is responsible for booking the Theatre’s performances.

Numa Saisselin, President of the Florida Theatre said, “Jacksonville is becoming a serious entertainment center not just for North Florida and Southern Georgia, but for the entire State of Florida. We’re pleased to play an important part in that effort with our partners, and our brother and sister venues and arts organizations in Jacksonville.”

The historic, nonprofit Florida Theatre is sponsored by Community First Credit Union. For a complete list of upcoming events or to buy tickets visit the Theatre’s official web site.

Florida Theatre

128 E. Forsyth St.
 Jacksonville, FL 32202
 (904) 355-2787

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

‘I’m A Star Foundation’ scholarship update

I'm A Star student servant leaders raised the money through their Jacksonville HELPS (Homeless Students Empowered through Leadership, Partnership & Service) Celebrity Basketball Game fundraiser last summer.  The foundation gave away $15,000 in scholarships to college-bound homeless students in June of 2018.

14 students, identified by the Duval County Homeless Education Department, received scholarships for college.  The amounts were $500, $1000 and one student received $2000.  The students were selected based on essays that they wrote about where they see themselves in five years.

Since 2013, I'm A Star student servant leaders have raised a total of $96,500 through Jacksonville HELPS, and donated all proceeds to the DCPS Homeless Education Department.  This years’ Jacksonville HELPS Celebrity Basketball Game is set for Saturday, July 21st at Paxon School for Advanced Studies.

“I’m A Star Foundation” was established in 2010.  I'm A Star Foundation is a non- profit organization comprised of students (ages 12-18) who develop solutions to improve their communities. An acronym for “Smart, Talented and Resilient” students, the Foundation draws 35 volunteer student servant leaders from middle and high schools across Duval County each year. Founder and Executive Director Betty Seabrook Burney is a former Duval Co. School Board Chairwoman who achieved the distinction of having all chronically low-performing schools exit the state of Florida’s intervene list by the end of her term.  I’m A Star Foundations students have been featured in various press outlets, including Florida Times-Union, ABC7Chicago and The Huffington Post.

'Luke Bryan' sings his way to JAX

For one night only, Luke Bryan - What Makes You Country Tour will be coming to Jacksonville, Florida with Special Guests - Jon Pardi and Morgan Wallen on Friday, June 22, 2018, at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Why not do yourself a favor and get up close and personal with Luke Bryan, one of American Idol’s celebrity judges.

Country music superstar Luke Bryan is a two-time Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year, a five-time host of the ACM Awards and performer of the national anthem at the Super Bowl in 2017. He has sold over 10 million albums; 40 million tracks and his songs have been streamed more than 3 billion times. He has had 18 career No. 1 singles and has headlined arena tours and sold-out stadiums across the U.S., performing for more than 5.6 million fans in the last three years alone.

When the sixth song from his Kill the Lights” album hit the top of the chart, Luke became the only artist in the 27-year history of the Billboard Country Airplay chart to garner six No. 1 singles from one album.  Luke's previous two albums, Tailgates & Tanlines” and Crash My Party”, both generated five No. 1 singles.

Since the debut of his first album in 2007, Luke Bryan has placed 18 singles in the No. 1 spot, sold 10 million albums, 40 million tracks and accrued back-to-back double-platinum albums, earning the title of Top Country Artist at the Billboard Music Awards two years in a row. His now Platinum selling album “Kill the Lights” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 and top Country Albums Charts, going on to become the best-selling country album of 2015.

    Luke Bryan
"What Makes You Country Tour"
with Jon Pardi and Morgan Wallen

DATE: Fri. June 22, 2018
TIME: 7 p.m.

TICKETS: $48 and $123.  All seats are reserved.  Tickets are also available at Ticketmaster.Com, or at The Tom Bush Family of Dealerships box office, (800) 745-3000. at Veterans Memorial Arena online, or by calling

LOCATION: JAX Veterans Memorial Arena

300 A Philip Randolph Blvd., Downtown
      Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 630-3900

‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ steers into the Alhambra JAX

Are you staying in town for June and July?  Well, why not make plans to get tickets for a fantastic show to celebrate 50 years with one of the world’s favorite films, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (the musical of the same name) opens at the iconic Alhambra Theatre & Dining.  Audiences of all ages will be flying high with the show’s mixture of madness, intrigue and exuberance.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will take guests on a fantastic musical adventure with an out-of-this-world car that flies through the air and sails the seas.  The “Flying Car” has been created, “in-house,” and will take center stage for this show.

Filled with amazing stage spectacle and unforgettable songs, including the Academy Award-nominated title song, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Based on the beloved 1968 film version of Ian Fleming’s children’s book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a family-friendly blockbuster that audiences will find “Truly Scrumptious.”
  This summer family show is presented by Snyder Heating and Air Conditioning.

Can the loveable but whacky inventor, Potts, along with his two children and the gorgeous Truly Scrumptious outwit the bombastic Baron Bomburst who has decreed that all children be banished from his kingdom? What happens when the children are caught and imprisoned with the other youngsters by the evil Child Catcher? Will it all end happily-ever-after?

A little about the show:
Originally billed as “the most phantasmagorical musical in the history of everything,” Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a fantastic musical adventure featuring an out-of-this world car that flies through the air and sails the seas. It tells the story of eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts who, with the help of his children, Jeremy and Jemima, and the ever-lovely Truly Scrumptious, sets about saving a former Grand Prix-winning race car from the scrap heap.

Soon they discover the car has magical properties, including the ability to float and take flight! After word gets out about its extraordinary abilities, trouble ensues when the evil Baron Bomburst decides he wants it all to himself, launching Caractacus, Jeremy, Jemima, and Truly on a series of high-flying high jinx to save the miraculous motorcar.

Originally written as a novel for young adults by famed James Bond author and creator, Ian Fleming, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was adapted by Roald Dahl into a quirky but charming script for the hit 1968 MGM motion picture. The film transformed the story into a musical by adding songs written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, composers of several Disney classics including: Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats, among others.


When adapting the show for London’s West End in 2002, producers were faced with the daunting prospect of bringing the indomitable personality of Chitty to life - including seeing the car take flight and set sail - live on stage.  The Alhambra now faces similar challenges for its production.  Designed, developed and built by Alhambra Set Designer Ian Black and Technical Director, Dave Dionne, the resulting “flying car” will not disappoint (but the secrets cannot be revealed just yet).  The London production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, ran a record-setting three and one-half years and was nominated for two Olivier® awards. In 2005, the Broadway production of the show received five Tony® Award nominations, 10 Outer Critics Circle® Award nominations, and four Drama Desk nominations.  Call or stop by for your tickets today!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

DATES: June 13 — July 29, 2018

SUMMER SHOW TIMES: Evening shows Tuesday through Sunday start at 7:30 p.m.  Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and dinner is served until 7 p.m.  Saturday Matinees begin at 1:15 p.m.  Doors open at 11 a.m. and the brunch served until 12:50 p.m.  Sunday Matinees are at 1:50 p.m.  Doors open at 12 p.m. and the meal is server until 1:30 p.m.

DRESS: “Gala Night” (Friday June 15, 2018) attire is “Dressy/Formal/Black Tie”.  All other shows could be “Business Casual” or “Sunday Best”.  In addition to the traditional menu options, there will be a special children’s buffet for younger guests.

TICKETS: Prices range from $38 – $64 and $35 for children under 15 years.  Family 4-Pack is only $149.  Ticket prices include: a plated dinner served to your table, an incredible show and prime parking.  Group sales of 20 + are available upon request.
    **Price does NOT include gratuity, professional photos, or orders from the bar**

LOCATION: Alhambra Theater & Dining
12000 Beach Blvd.
       Jacksonville, Florida 32246
       (904) 641-1212