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‘The Geniuses of American Musical Theater’ fundraiser coming to Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater April 11

By Staff | Apr 6, 2011

On April 11, Herb Keyser (pictured) presents “The Geniuses of American Musical Theater,” which will feature performances by award-winning jazz singer/songwriter Bett Butler and the cast of the Ain’t Misbehavin.’

“They say the neon lights are bright, On Broadway. They say there’s always magic in the air,” or so the tune by The Drifters goes.

And on Monday, there will be magic in the air as Herb Keyser presents “The Geniuses of American Musical Theater” for the BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater fundraiser.

The evening opens with a performance by the Ain’t Misbehavin’ cast, and The Geniuses of Musical Theater show, followed by a dessert reception and a raffle drawing. The event will begin at 7 p.m. Monday at BIG ARTS Schein Performance Hall, located at 900 Dunlop Road on Sanibel.

The evening is being planned by Herb Strauss Theater Fundraiser Chairwoman Maddy Mayor, with Honorary Chairs Terry Igo and Cristin Bishara.

“Terry and I are delighted to serve as honorary chairs for this important fundraising event for the theater and BIG ARTS,” Bishara said. “It’s been a pleasure working with such a hard-working volunteer committee, and the dedicated staff at BIG ARTS. We’re looking forward to a successful evening on April 11, full of music, food and fun.”

Bett Butler

The Geniuses of the American Musical Theatre show explores the fascinating, and often troubled artists who wrote the enduring songs now known as American standards. Author Keyser tells stories about the lives and struggles of these Gershwin and Berlin, accompanied by performances of their songs by award-winning jazz singer/songwriter, Bett Butler.

His show highlights the amazing accomplishments of Broadway’s golden age, when many of these geniuses were at the peak of their careers. As some have suggested, perhaps many of these songwriters achieved such brilliant heights of creativity and inspiration because they had the good fortune to work in a world filled with so many other talented contemporaries.

Keyser has enjoyed a passionate love affair with the American musical theatre for more than half a century. Growing up in a loving family with two deaf parents, he embarked on a career in show business as a senior in high school, a path later derailed by his acceptance into medical school. Keyser is the author of four previous books and has appeared on Nightline, The Regis Philbin Show, HBO and CNN.

After the performances, guests will be treated to a dessert reception.

Mayor, the fundraising chairwoman, theater task force member and chairwoman of the new community theater, explained the “organization took over the Herb Strauss Theater last summer and has to date produced five outstanding productions on Sanibel. The theater reviewers from Sanibel, Fort Myers and Naples have written rave reviews about what this theater has been showing for this season.

“The next season looks as promising as this one has been and the community will be delighted with what is happening at the Strauss Theater,” said Mayor, who hails from New York City and has been involved with theater, teaching and social work in that Mecca of a city. “This summer there will be children’s theater courses offered and it is the beginning of developing community theater for the residents of Sanibel and Fort Myers folks, too.

The Sanibel community has encouraged her to become involved with many activities at BIG ARTS for the three seasons she has been a resident. She said she feels it is her “commitment to preserve live theater among all of the offerings of the BIG ARTS organization and keep this theater treasure alive in the sensational and unique community in the southwest part of Florida.

Tickets to attend the event, as well as raffle tickets, are now available. Raffle prizes include Congress Jewelers diamond starfish pendant or $2,500 Congress Jewelers gift certificate, a golf foursome at The Sanctuary Golf Club, and four season tickets to 2011-12 Herb Strauss Theater (select performances).

Raffle tickets are available at all three BIG ARTS locations and Congress Jewelers. Congress Jewelers is located in Periwinkle Place, at 2075 Periwinkle Way.

Raffle prize winners will be announced on April 11, winner need not be present. Raffle tickets are $25 donation per ticket or $100 donation for five tickets.

Event tickets are $75, and available at all three box office locations: BIG ARTS Center at 900 Dunlop Road, Gallery & Gift Shop and Box Office at 2244 Periwinkle Way, or the Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater at 2200 Periwinkle Way.

Theater attire is requested.

Call the BIG ARTS Marks Box Office at 395-0900 for ticket offers.

The fundraiser event is supported by sponsors Terry Igo and Cristin Bishara, Jerry Churchill and Maddy Mayor, John and Donna Schubert, The L.A.T. Foundation, The Sanibel-Captiva Trust Company, Brian Johnson, Congress Jewelers, Henderson Franklin, The Jacaranda, Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream and The Sanctuary Golf Club.

For information about concerts at BIG ARTS, to purchase tickets, to sign up for workshops, or to become a member, stop by BIG ARTS, call 395-0900, e-mail info@BIGARTS.org or log on to www.BIGARTS.org.