VIRTUAL ENTERTAINMENT

Southwest Valley singer to perform in Fountain Hills Theater show

Kathleen Berger among 10 Valley singers featured in 'A Sondheim at 90 Celebration!'

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Litchfield Park’s own Kathleen Berger will be among 10 singers from around the Valley joining six Broadway performers Sunday, Sept. 27 for “A Sondheim at 90 Celebration!” virtual concert to benefit the Fountain Hills Theater.

The one-night-only event hosted by Executive Director Michael Wallot will celebrate the music of legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, who celebrated his 90th birthday in March. The show will begin at 6 p.m.

Broadway’s Sally Wilfert (Sondheim’s “Assassins”) and Eric Michael Gillett (Sondheim’s “The Frogs”) will perform along with Eric Jon Mahlum of “Wicked,” Doreen Montalvo of “Mrs. Doubtfire, Erin Mallov of “A Chorus Line” and Jay Montgomery of “Falsettos.”

In addition to Ms. Berger, Valley performers will include Damon J. Boling, Chanel Bragg, Kathy Donald, Nicholas Hambruch, Ariana Iniguez, Katie Lambert, Marc Marger, Kathi Osborne and Debra Qualtire.

Ms. Berger is a Litchfield Park native who has performed internationally in opera, musical theater and zarzuela for the last 35 years.

At Fountain Hills Theater, she most recently appeared as Aldonza in “Man of La Mancha” and as Lady Eugenia (among others) in the Arizona premiere of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” for which she won a Prizm award for Best Actress in a Minor Role.

“I was so delighted when Michael asked me to participate,” she said. “Singing the music of my favorite musical theater genius alongside these amazing people is an honor! I hope you tune in and enjoy!”

Attendance via Facebook and YouTube is free, but those who watch the show are encouraged to make a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit theater by visiting fhtaz.org/donate.

Mr. Wallot said the Fountain Hills Theater complex, 11445 N. Saguaro Blvd. in Fountain Hills, stopped live performances March 16, 2020, to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local guidance put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The theater’s production of “Footlight Frenzy” was canceled mid-run, and seven additional productions have been canceled as the facility remains closed to the public.

“The safety of patrons, actors, volunteers and staff has remained our top priority during this time,” he said.

Mr. Wallot and Artistic Director Peter J. Hill quickly collaborated to create Broadway Quarantine Cabaret, a weekly virtual show designed to keep audiences engaged and provide actors with a creative outlet during the shutdown. The first show streamed March 27.

In June 2020, the cabaret hosted “Reaching Across the Racial Divide,” its first-ever theater round table with Valley actors of color.

Weekly cabaret participants have included performers from the national stage, as well as Valley performers who have appeared in productions by Fountain Hills Theater and Fountain Hills Youth Theater, Phoenix Theater, Arizona Broadway Theater, Hale Center Theater, TheaterWorks, Mesa Encore Theater and many others, Mr. Wallot said.

Upcoming shows scheduled to broadcast at 6 p.m. Sundays on the theater’s YouTube channel and Facebook page include:

Sept. 20: Kelli James from the original Broadway cast of “Les Miserables” will talk about her career and how she achieved her dream role during “I Dreamed a Dream ... A Dream Role Cabaret!” Local students will also perform and share their ambitions.

Oct. 4: Sneak peek of the theater’s upcoming Broadway Drive-In Concert Series to screened outside the theater building at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in conjunction with Brock-Pro Entertainment, Productions will include “Broadway Jukebox,” “Carrie Underwood Tribute,” “GRL PWR,” “Voulez-Vous,” “Some Like it Yacht,” “Music of the Night, “Brockway” and “Monster Mash,” a Halloween celebration. The Oct. 4 broadcast is free; cost to attend the drive-in concerts is $45 per vehicle. Tickets are available at theater’s website or by calling 480-837-9661, ext. 3.

Oct. 25: Sneak peek at productions planned when the theater returns to live performances Wednesday, Nov. 4, including the musical, “4 on the Floor” and “Say Good Night Gracie,” a one-man show about the life of legendary comedian George Burns. Ticket prices and seating are available at the theater’s website.

Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at kosullivan@newszap.com or 760-963-1697.

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