A talent showcase that debuted this year at a Carrollwood movie theater has evolved into a series of fundraisers for local charities. Life Amplified productions are all-volunteer showcases for the spoken word and other talents. The next one, Life Amplified Salutes on Sept. 14, will benefit K-9s for Veterans, a local nonprofit providing service dogs to wounded soldiers and veterans. The idea was born when Deb Kelley of Town ‘N Country, owner of The WriteOne Creative Services, was talking with the operators of Carrollwood’s Tampa Pitcher Show theater. Why, she asked, did the movie theater not offer programs featuring the spoken word? Learning it was a question of manpower, she volunteered to spearhead such a production. “I literally raised my hand like I was in grade school: ‘I’ll do it; I’ll do it,’” she recalled saying. Kelley, a spoken word poet, became a producer by default, contacting performers to donate their talents. “That was in September and it was really slow to start. Then we started getting people wanting to participate, and it wasn’t just poets,” but an impressionist, mind reader, comedian and others, she said.
“There’s so much unknown talent in Tampa Bay, and this is really just an amazing platform,” she said of the theater at 14416 N. Dale Mabry Highway. She launched what was intended as a one-time benefit for Redefining Refuge, which combats human trafficking in the Tampa Bay area. At the end of the 90-minute show in January, performers and others asked, “When is the next one?” Kelley began organizing one for May, which drew about 75 people and benefitted Teen Edge, a local group that conducts a summer camp for girls and teaches self esteem. The 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 14 showcase, Life Amplified Salutes, will feature two dozen volunteer acts by local performers, age 8 to senior citizens. The Nine&Numb local comedy improv troupe headline the event and comedian SomeGuyNamedFrank will emcee. More than 30 sponsors providing items for a silent auction and raffle at the event include the Museum of Science & Industry, Busch Gardens, Carrollwood Cultural Center, Old McMicky’s Farm and Perfect Touch Events. “We’re hoping to fill the room to capacity, which is 200 seats,” Kelley said. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Tickets are $8 in advance online (lifeamplifiedsalautes.eventbrite.com), and for $10 at the door. A portion of the ticket price benefits K-9s for Veterans, 907 E. 129 Ave. in Tampa, which trains service dogs and provides them free to wounded soldiers and disabled veterans. [email protected] (813) 259-7124