Andy Sandberg & Broadway Guest Stars Raised their Voices to Celebrate the Hermitage’s 20th Anniversary Season 

On Monday evening, March 20th, the Hermitage celebrated its 20th Anniversary Season with a concert featuring Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg, returning to his roots as a performer.

“This is my first time doing anything like this in about twelve years,” Sandberg shared from the stage. He performed an evening of classic and contemporary Broadway songs, with a few other pop favorites, as well as original songs by Hermitage alumni, including award-winning composers Adam Gwon and Rona Siddiqui

Siddiqui also served as music director for the event and accompanied Sandberg on piano. “Rona is a brilliant composer and dream collaborator, and I am so honored that she agreed to be a part of this special evening,” Sandberg added.

Sandberg announced up front that the evening was not going to be a retrospective. “If we were to attempt to celebrate the two decades of Hermitage history, the nearly 700 Hermitage alumni, and the thousands of original works that were created in this time, we’d be here for a lot longer than 90 minutes!” He went on to say that this would be an evening of music and celebration, and that’s exactly what was delivered.

In addition to performing a number of the evening’s songs himself, Sandberg was joined throughout the evening by Broadway stars who are also friends and collaborators of his. The evening featured performances from recent Tony Award nominee Jeannette Bayardelle (Girl from the North Country, The Color PurpleShida), Tony Award nominee Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Wicked), Lucille Lortel Award winner Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer (Beetlejuice, A Catered Affair, Something Rotten), and Sarasota’s own Ann Morrison (Merrily We Roll Along, LoveMusik), who is also a proud Hermitage alum. Jay Armstrong Johnsonhad to bow out due to an illness, so Raleigh Mosely II, a frequent performer at Hermitage events and known to Sarasota audiences from his work with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, stepped in on just one day’s notice. The 90-minute concert featured showstopping solo performances, along with memorable duets that Sandberg shared with Bayardelle, Kritzer, Morrison, and Mosely. In addition to Siddiqui on piano, the cast was joined by Beth Callen on guitar. Both Siddiqui and Callen recently worked on the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Strange Loop, written by Hermitage Fellow Michael R. Jackson. Tony Award-winning Broadway star Gavin Creel (Hello Dolly, Into the Woods, Hair) introduced Sandberg via video. Additional short video tributes celebrated the impact of the Hermitage, displayed the unparalleled beauty of its Manasota Key campus, and spotlighted a number of Hermitage alumni wishing the organization a “Happy 20th Birthday!”

“It was an absolutely unbelievable evening that blew us all away,” added Hermitage Board President Robyn Citrin. “We knew it would be something special, but this was one of the most entertaining nights I have ever had in Sarasota. Andy’s incredible voice surprised us all, and the guest stars were extraordinary. The energy and talent in that hall was something that can’t be captured in words. This event was pure magic, as only the Hermitage can deliver!”

See more photos in the Observer’s A & E section, or click here for the full photo set from Hermitage Artist Retreat/Bywater Collective.

Between sponsorships and ticket sales, the event raised nearly $200,000 for the Hermitage and its ongoing hurricane repair efforts. “I’d say $200,000 for a great cause and a one-night benefit concert is something to celebrate!” Sandberg added. “The number of people who came out to celebrate the Hermitage on Monday night is a testament to the reach and impact of this one-of-a-kind organization – and we’re just getting started!”

Thanks to generous underwriting from sponsors, all proceeds from ticket sales directly benefit the Hermitage Artist Retreat.