Jacksonville’s fabulous Alhambra Theatre and Dining closed out 2019, a year filled with many outstanding sold-out productions, which included their traditional New Year’s Eve Gala. Suggested attire included formal wear and 1920’s flapper era garb, and we saw many many ladies in beautiful dresses this year.
The party began around 6:00 pm in the lobby and library with wait staff offering champagne flutes and fine appetizers (best-ever appetizer: Classic Oysters Rockefeller). Seating followed at 6:30. Dinner included Lobster Bisque or Caesar Salad and four entrée choices: the most popular was Filet & Maine Lobster with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Other choices included deviled crab, seared chicken breast, and a vegetarian offering with three-cheese tortellini. The third course offered a dressed-up triple chocolate cake. Gluten-free and sugar-free desserts were, as always, available on request.
Dinner was followed by music, beginning with a Linda Ronstadt tribute by the talented Debra Rider, a singer and songwriter. Her performance was captivating: she looks like and sings like Ronstadt! This was her debut as a headliner in the tribute series although she has appeared as a backing vocalist in previous shows. Several members of the Crescendo Amelia Big Band performed with Debra.
As soon as the first song began, the Alhambra’s dance floor filled up and stayed that way leading to a crescendo countdown to 2020, followed by the exuberant blowing of horns and hundreds of balloons dropping from the ceiling. To make sure the merrymakers weren’t going home hungry, Chef DeJuan’s team put out a hearty midnight breakfast buffet.
The upcoming show (January 9 – February 9) is ”Love Letters,” starring long-time Alhambra favorites Tod Booth and his wife Lisa Valdini. The show will be directed by their daughter Jessica Booth, who grew up on the Alhambra stage and is now an actress based in New York. We’ve seen “Love Letters” several times in the past at other venues, and are really looking forward to this production!
In addition to an outstanding selection of stage plays, the Alhambra has an After Dark Series with tribute shows. Upcoming performances between January 20 – March 1 include shows inspired by the music of Fleetwood Mac, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney, The Everly Brothers, and Elvis. Yes, Elvis! According to the box office, the standard charge is $67 dollars, $79 dollars for Elvis, and includes dinner.
As noted above, the New Year’s Eve Gala was a sold-out evening. While we’ve heard that tickets for the welcoming of 2021 likely won’t be available until fall, we recommend reserving as early as possible if you want to go.